I know the recession has had dire consequences for many people, some of whom have lost their all, but here is a good story for a change. The recent economic downturn has hit Pakistanis as hard as it has people in the west, forcing many to sell off their businesses and try a fresh start. Having lost the bookshop he owned for 30 years, Shiraz Ahmad decided to get on his bike and do something about it. He now rides a rickshaw loaded with books of every description and earns a living selling to bookworms street to street. ‘They used to come to me,’ he says, ‘now I have to go to them.’ Happily it would seem trade is brisk and there is no tax on his rickshaw. Continuing with the economic crises, food in Greece gets more expensive by the day, as does everything else (petrol is now 1.82 a litre) and some Greeks are doing their shopping elsewhere, out of the euro zone where food is cheaper. This applies particularly to those living in the north on the border with Bulgaria. But is it a case of swings and roundabouts? You need to fill up the car with that very expensive petrol to make the trip.
Growing up in Durban, South Africa one was quite used to seeing Indians walking around in what looked suspiciously like pyjamas but one hardly expected to find the same phenomenon in Europe. However, it would seem the Irish can be rather reluctant to get out of their nightwear. A notice has appeared at a Dublin social welfare office warning claimants that "pyjamas are not regarded as appropriate attire when attending Community Welfare Service at these offices". It is believed the decision was made after a number of people complained and it is not the first time sleep wear has made headlines. Two years ago, Joe McGuiness, the principal of St Matthew's Primary School, Belfast, sent a stern letter to parents saying wearing pyjamas on the school run was "slovenly and rude”. Last year a head teacher from a school in Middlesborough, England, also asked parents to get properly dressed before the school run. Evidently some parents are not only wearing their pyjamas when they drop their kids off but when they pick them up and even attending meetings in them! Do they ever get dressed? Maybe they just can’t afford to. The issue gained even more prominence when a Tesco store in Cardiff, Wales, put notices up asking customers not to shop in their pyjamas or go barefoot. The manager said it was because other customers could be offended. People have been seen walking around Mayfair in London in their pyjamas and evidently the fashion houses of Paris and Milan have gone into promoting pyjamas in a big way. Columnist Joan Birnie said night wear "should only be worn in the house. It's slovenly, it's wrong - pyjamas are for wearing to bed. They are definitely not for outside wear," she said.
It is STILL raining! Since well before Christmas I doubt we have seen more than ten hours of sunshine and last night we had it big time including a thunderstorm, howling gales and hail like pigeon eggs. The previous day I discovered my study was flooded. Somehow the water managed to seep in beneath a double glazed window and my desk and the floor were awash. We have had everything except snow – maybe that’s still to come. It might be the end of Feb but who knows?