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Odds and ends to help beat the January blues

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari
Ajoa Yeboah-Afari
Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

There was a time when I used to put on my CV as one of my hobbies, “collecting useless information”.

I meant I was interested in quirky bits of news as well as reports on odd, or strange things; amusing, incredible, eccentric or fascinating.

An example: “About 10-20 per cent of all cats are, unfortunately, either born deaf or develop deafness over time.”

I mean, of what use is this typical example of ‘useless information’? But I find such facts intriguing!

These days, thanks to the internet and WhatsApp/social media platforms I guess there would be no shortage of illustrations if I needed to add to the compilation for my curriculum vitae.

Some of the social media contributions are so astounding or bizarre that one can only conclude that the old saying, ‘it takes all sorts to make a world’ is an understatement.

Anyway, as is universally acknowledged, January is a month when accountability for one’s excesses of the previous month rears its ugly head.

Therefore, it’s a month when one needs to gather plenty of cheer from life’s odds and ends; things to amuse or provide distraction to end the Christmas bills and January blues affliction.
Consider the following news report:

Ghana News Headlines

For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page

1. An Immigration officer (in London) was so sick of his wife that he put her on a terrorist watch list – so she couldn’t get home from Pakistan.

The officer added her to the register of people banned from flights into the UK while she was visiting family overseas.

When she went to the airport to get her return flight back, officials told her she could not board the plane and did not explain why. She called her husband - who promised to look into it – but left her stuck in Pakistan for three years while he had the “time of his life” ….

But, as the saying goes, ’God is not asleep’. The husband got his deserved punishment; in a totally unexpected way.

The officer was caught out when bosses vetted him after he went for a promotion.

They realized his wife was on the watch list and asked him for an explanation.

He had no choice but to confess what he had done, and was fired. – Orange News.

2. A picture of a signboard was circulated without comment, but its message was clear.

The signboard read: “POETRY FARM FOR SALE”.

Surely, as poems don’t grow on trees, it’s not a farm of poems the advertiser was offering, so it must be a ‘POULTRY FARM’ that was being advertised.

It has long been established that the English Language and spelling are not the strong points of our signwriters! The evidence is all over the place, notably on kiosks, store fronts, ‘tro-tro’ and other commercial vehicles.

3. And how about this mocking view, about some religious leaders – and their unquestioning, loyal followers – evident in this terse statement?

“It’s only Africans who buy anointing oil for protection from a pastor who has 7 bodyguards.”

No names are mentioned but who does/do the cap/caps fit? Any guesses?

4. Above a picture of an aggressive-looking man is a text with the heading: “Job interview for a security guard’.

“Interviewer: Can u speak English?”

“Job seeker: Will the thieves be from England?”

What a cheeky response!

Now to other matters. The first is:

5. A news item which when I first heard it on the BBC I wondered if it was some kind of prank.

However, it was a genuine news report, that the UK Government had appointed a MINISTER OF LONELINESS!

Another report stated: “The U.K. has appointed a Minister for Loneliness (Tracey Crouch) to deal with what Prime Minister Theresa May called ‘the sad reality of modern life’ for too many people.

Mrs May said she wanted to “address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.”

That was followed last year, by the launch of a ‘Loneliness strategy’ by the Government.

The Prime Minister confirmed that all doctors in England will be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services by 2023 …

Around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month, another report said.

Imagine that, a government Ministry to solve the problems of the lonely!

6. But, on reflection, maybe Ms Crouch’s appointment is not so strange, because earlier I had seen a video of a ‘Happiness Police Patrol’ at work in Dubai!

Yes, Dubai, currently a popular destination in Ghana, the largest of the cities in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, has long had a Happiness Police!

The patrol stops drivers “who have done something good on the road, or for the community” shown safe driving practices – such as seat belt on; not speeding – and gives the drivers.

‘Happiness Vouchers’, gift vouchers or certificates which they can redeem for rewards.

In their view, just as drivers can be penalised for negative practices, good behaviour, too, should be rewarded.

Food for thought for the Ghana Police Service?

* * *
7. The heading of the following passage from ‘TheGrowingInvestor’ gives an indication of the gravity of what follows:

“PLEASE READ SLOWLY”, it advises. Then these thought-provoking statistics follow:

“If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your body, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you’re richer than75 per cent of the entire world.

“If you have money in your wallet, and can go anywhere you want, you are among 18 per cent of the world’s most wealthy people.

“If you are alive today and healthy, you are more blessed than the millions of people who will not survive this week and die.

“If you can actually READ and UNDERSTAND this message, you are more fortunate than the 3 BILLION people in the world who are blind, deaf or illiterate.”

Then the writer concludes thus:

“Life is not about complaining.

Life is about thousands of other reasons to be grateful and happy.”

Yes, I agree that with the above sentiment.

Sometimes it seems that we’re so busy listing our problems that we forget to count our blessings.

And maybe this collection isn’t so useless, after all.

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