Reputation Eradication


If I were to list a few adjectives to describe my own characteristics then quite a few come to mind. Like creative. Chatty. Loyal. A little bit impatient. Funny. Friendly. Opinionated. Stubborn. A little bit hot-headed. Instinctive. Passionate.

If you were to ask my husband he’d have a fairly similar analysis: creative, a right blether, loyal, impatient, hilarious, keeps chatting to all and sundry, OPINIONATED, stubborn, impulsive and hot-headed, follows her instincts/illogical, passionate. I think he’d also enumerate: untidy, a good cook, smart, thoughtful, kind and reliable. In private he’d probably also add sexy. But that’s his own, very unique, point of view.

Furthermore, were you to phrase the question to any of my kids, their answer’s would go something like this. Creative. Never shuts up. Loyal. Impatient. Funny. Social. OPINIONATED. Stubborn as a mule (which they’d say proudly). Instinctive. They’d also have their own contributions. Protective – our dragon mother. Tidies up when guests announce themselves. Has a huge laugh that was embarrassing when we were little, but was pretty cool when we got older. Embarrassing in general. A good cook. Wise. Strict. Helpful. Annoying. Unnecessarily anxious. Storytelling. Nosy.

I know all of this well. We often played a game at the dining table that the children had learned at school, where we told each other the other’s characteristics. When each kid hit a certain age group, it became an obsession.

A few months ago I was asked to be part of a panel who answers questions, mostly with regard to advertisements, but based on my own opinions about anything and everything. I get paid for the honour. Literally cents for each questionnaire (I started months ago, do a questionnaire most days and I still haven’t made my first 10 Euros). Obviously, I’m not in it for the money. I’m in for the chance to say exactly what I think. About advertisements. About corona. About supermarket policies. About the government. About holidays. About the media.

But there’s this little issue. I have very little brand awareness. I have a few brands that I know and like but apart from that I just tend to ignore them. So sometimes I’m hit with a questionnaire and I’m really rather clueless.
Then to top it all, this thing happened the other day.

I was sent my questionnaire. I opened it with glee, wondering what I’d be asked to give my opinion on now. (I’m still waiting to be quizzed on what to do about Trump, Brexit, the school system, the neighbour’s constant need to keep drilling – will our semi collapse at some point because there is no actual wall left? Though, to be fair, I have been able to direct some sensibleness with regard to environmental policies within supermarkets etc). Again, unfortunately, the subject was advertising (that one comes up far too regularly, in my opinion) but at least this time they’d tried to make it a bit more fun.
I had to play a game. It was a kind of click game, and at first I had to do practice runs which began with easy steps and then built up to the grand finale. I had to click all over diverse magazine entries. I clicked merrily away on various things that drew me.
Suddenly, my clicking frenzy was over. I’d mastered many clicks. I am after all an internet professional. And, I’ve played many a round of candy crush and am a true expert in clicking.
Swiftly a new page uploaded on my screen, with one single question.

“What was the last film you watched at the cinema?”

I was thrown slightly. I knew that I’d been to the cinema quite recently. To the drive-in cinema. It had been our very first experience of a drive-in. We’d watched a film on the enormous screen. Cricking our necks and wishing we’d brought even more cushions. And maybe some popcorn. And less salty crisps. Perhaps a blanket… What was the film called? It was German… A comedy… I remembered I had specifically looked for a German film because I hate watching dubbed English films. I get totally confused lip reading in English while listening to alien German voices. Nope. Gone. I’d have to look it up. But I had absolutely no idea what it was called. So I typed “German comedy” into the internet. Then I searched. No, no, no… “German film comedy”… No, no, no… “Recent German films”? Ah there it was. Das perfekte Geheimnis!! (The perfect secret – brilliant by the way, really funny, do watch it if it comes to drive-in cinema near you). So I typed D-A-S was that the right article? I doubled checked… Yes, ok P-E-R-F-E-K-T check no? It has an E on the end? Why do they randomly keep adding E’s or ER’s or EN’s even ES’s? Come to think of it, why do they sometimes make the simple A into an Ä? How do I spell Geheimnis? Check. Enter.

My children and my husband may also tell you that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Except when it comes to tidying. And maybe an overthinker?

The screen refreshed and the new question reverted me back to my previous clicking experience. I had to list all the objects I’d seen and all the brands.

I’d been had. They’d distracted me with a simple question and now all I could remember seeing was an onion and a radish. And I’m not entirely sure it was actually a radish. Don’t they know about my storytelling tendencies? Don’t they know, by now, that I would need time to look up the information they required so I wouldn’t make a mistake? Don’t they already know that I don’t really care about brands much at all and what I really want is to tell them, at length, all about my thoughts on Trump and Brexit and the lack of a speed limit on the Autobahn and my disdain at us still using fossil fuels, and that my new favourite author happens to be David Mitchell and that I recently read Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, but I much preferred White teeth. That I believe in the right of abortion, although I would dread having one myself and would find it a very traumatic experience. That I believe you are beautiful if you are homosexual, trans, straight, black, white, religious, atheist, male or female as long as your soul is good and kind. That I think the additional costs to move house are ridiculous. That I love travelling but don’t mind one jolt if I never ever fly again.

The next page was, in my mind, a little sarcastic. It told me that we are all able to forget things. Then it presented me with a huge list of brands and asked me which ones I’d seen in the click exercise.

Was it a trick question? Were all those brands in the game or only some of them? Besides, another of my characteristics is honesty. I actively struggle to tell any lie. So I clicked on just two.

I had to fill out my age: 48.

Sigh.

Now the survey company believes I am a 48 year old woman who has a worryingly high level of forgetfulness. But that I can still spell “Das perfekte Geheimnis”. Almost as if it were my native tongue.

The next questionnaire will probably be a health one.

Corona Diaries Part 2


Phew!

We’re all still breathing, kicking, bickering and plundering toilet roll. Touch wood. I’m not attempting to jinx anything said while slapping my own head ferociously.
My husband doesn’t believe in jinxes. There’s no word for jinxing in German. So he believes it doesn’t exist. But we know. That is, the rest of the family and I. And we are quite accustomed to smacking our own heads if tables/bookshelves/garden fences are unavailable. This does make us appear slightly stranger to our German acquaintances.

Some of you have asked me how I am and I admit, it’s a difficult question to answer.
Mainly because my mood swings have become, quite frankly, erratic. But from talking to other people and watching the news, I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Some days, I am the great achiever. In actual jobs. Not just in online shopping. Other days, the minutes fade into hours and I can’t remember what I’ve actually done. Other than eaten a bit of chocolate, watched a show and washed my hands.

It took me some time, but I came to the realisation that my self-worth is closely linked with my ability and actual activity in doing stuff for others and if I don’t manage to achieve that, my self-worth buggers off to the bottom of a cliff somewhere.
I’ve not managed to completely sort that out yet. Let’s call it a work in progress.

Way back in March I stopped working, as many did. I buckled down with homemade soups, crossed my fingers and my toes and sometimes held my breath. Our battle plan was how to avoid coming into contact with the virus and how not to contaminate anyone else, should we get it. We avoided people. We remained in our own little bubble and used more soap in a few short months than we would normally use in a decade. We consumed the news. We became experts in reading and interpreting graphs and statistics. We gardened. We missed our children and our friends. I missed work. My husband, on the other hand, revelled in his new found home office and worked even more than he normally does. I attempted, at random times, during the day and during the night, to find a possible delivery slot for our supermarket shopping. I read. I discovered new shows. I nodded off during the day and sometimes found that I couldn’t sleep at night. I got the scissors out and chopped away at my daughter’s hair and it turned out not too badly.

So far, touch wood, no one I know personally has been really sick. There were a few precarious moments, like when my son needed to be tested. At first, I wasn’t too bothered as I was really sure that he was suffering from pretty bad hay fever and I thought that the doctor’s were being rightly cautious. But while we were driving to the GP’s outdoor testing centre in the carpark, my son nonchalantly admitted that the wife of a colleague had tested positive and the colleague had been sent home. My son had forgotten to mention it previously. My brain imploded, right there and then. But after a few seconds I managed to pick up all the pieces and glue them back together while simultaneously driving the car. And in front of the doctor we appeared relaxed and unvexed.
The test was negative. Hay fever was the cause of his itchy eyes, sneezing and loss of smell. Wine was drunk in celebratory merriment.

PHEW!!


My life has changed beyond all recognition. I have discovered my own green thumb giving life to extraordinary vegetation and colonies in the garden. I say extraordinary because the potato plants that thrived in the high bed turned out to be rape seed (how does that even happen?) and the broccoli and cauliflower shot but never produced any broccoli or cauliflowers. The lettuce did it’s best to take over the garden. The coriander flourished while the chives and the rocket just decided not to grow. Not only that, the whole garden seemed to develop some kind of mass growing competitiveness. I keep having to cut back the wisteria as it’s continually venturing into the neighbour’s garden as soon as I turn my back. The neighbour can’t stand us already, without our vines invading his territory! The apple tree, despite being considerably hacked back by me at the beginning of spring, has sprung so many apples it’s in danger of toppling over. A pretty weed seeded itself next to the rose arch, it seemed so innocent at first… Now its thick wooden stem has massacred the clematis and we have no idea how we’ll detach it from the archway. Maybe a chainsaw… Then there’s the ants. I found these ‘stones’ in the high bed. Nope. Not stones. Ant nests!!!

Lack of human contact has seen me talking to the dog even more, who often appears confused by my tales. I also try to banter with the plants. But unlike the dog, they rarely respond.

I find myself even more agitated by the neighbours. It’s one thing not to speak, even when we’re in a crisis. But one neighbour got chickens. Live chickens!! And my problem is, I can hear them, but I can’t see them. I drag the dog all over my suburb in pursuit of visiting any old farmyard animal and now I have chickens opposite my house!! Only being able to hear them is deplorable.

I have discovered I am still terrible at sewing. I have made mask upon mask. Each one takes hours because I spend so much time fixing them. And they have so much stitching they look more like thread than actual material. Now, as my daughter has returned to school, they are being thoroughly tested by the washing machine. And they are not always passing muster.

My health so far, has been unaffected by Covid itself, but because I’m not constantly coming into contact with germs, my asthma has greatly improved while my Crohn has been exacerbated considerably. So much so, that it’s become difficult to leave the proximity of the house most of the time or think about starting to work again. But I will see a new doctor next week. So hopefully we’ll find a way forward.

How are you doing?