Category Archives: General

First, erm …

I’ve been watching a CNN series on First Ladies …

  • Eleanor Roosevelt – fought against segregation and then chaired the committee that produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Jackie Kennedy – who showed such grace and style, restored the White House, but above all reminded us what dignity in adversity looks like.
  • Nancy Reagan – not my personal favourite, but she gave us the example of devotion to a partner and helped steer Ronnie into meeting Gorbachev.
  • Michelle Obama – another campaigner for human rights who, more than anything, gave a very human face to the White House.

Sort of begs the question – apart from putting up some bloody awful christmas decorations and wrecking the Rose Garden, what exactly did Melania do?

Hell Hath No Fury …

… like an off-duty staff nurse trying to get some kip!

One of the side benefits of living on this estate is that we’re only 300 yards from a major hospital. That means that something like a third of the households here have a member who works there – the majority of them on shift. Most residents appreciate this which is why it generally remains a nice quiet place to live.

The new family at the half-way house at the end of the terrace faced the full wrath this afternoon. Karaoke in the garden followed by full-volume (c)rap music is not what we’re used to – and bass that can be heard over the noise of a jet-washer is definitely beyond the pale.

Fifteen minutes into this al-fresco “performance” and we witnessed the glorious sight of Sister Clarinda in full battle-colours – dressing gown and fluffy slippers – emerging from the flats opposite like a heavy cruiser under full throttle to launch a broadside of “just-what-the-fuck-do-you-think-you’re-playing-at” – the secondary armament instantly letting fly with  “I’ve-just-done-a-12-hour-shift”!

Much “terribly-sorrying” and we’ve returned to glorious quiet and can hear the birds again. Saves me belly-aching to the housing association!

Yodelling Crap

We suffer, in the UK, from some of the worst customer service in the western world.

I leave aside the running sore of the Southern rail shitstorm to tell you the tale of two companies.

Firstly, there’s Virgin Media – a largely well run organisation which has been providing me with telephones and internet very efficiently for many years. So much so that I recently decided to get an upgrade of our mobile phones.  At this point I should have reminded myself that part of the judgement on a company should be based on the contractors they employ.

Why the hell does Virgin use Yodel?

The process of upgrading was relatively painless and we were assured that the phones would be delivered the following day. Waited in ALL day, watching the tracking links on Yodel’s website. Got to 9.17pm and the status suddenly changed from “Out for delivery” to “Sorry we missed you. We left a card”.

Now, I don’t mind so much that they didn’t deliver yesterday, although it is disappointing and somewhat of an insult when you don’t get what’s been promised. No, what really pisses me off is that Yodel lied about what had happened.

They first claimed that the driver tried to deliver, but we were out so they left a card. This is not true. I was at home waiting for them at the time. No-one called and no card was left, which means that I can’t even arrange to go and collect it!

I challenged Yodel on this through their online chat facility only to be told that the driver had reported that he had not been able to find my house – in 2016, with a satnav built into every mobile phone?. If I lived at the end of a dirt track on Exmoor they should still be able to find me. But I live on a well-known, well-lit road, so I don’t accept that pathetic excuse for an excuse for one moment.

Utter codswallop! And it confirmed that Yodel were telling porkies – if they couldn’t find the place how could they leave a card! Clearly the driver had got to the end of his shift and had four deliveries that weren’t  done.

Now, if Yodel had admitted all this, apologised and arranged for us to be the first deliveries today I would not have a problem with them. As it is, they lied and we are again today at the end of another long queue of deliveries with no guarantee that they won’t do the same damned thing again.

Bring Back BR

I admit that today I gave up!

I don’t exactly live out in the sticks, but then again, my local station isn’t the Clapham Junction of Surrey. It does, however, have the complete misfortune to be “served” by Southern Railway.

During the peak rush hour between 7.30 and 8.30am there are supposed to be five trains heading into London. I arrived for my usual one at 7.45 only to find that it had been cancelled, as had the 7.30 and the 8.15. The 7.54 was still on the board, but then that got cancelled as well. That left the 8.26 – all five coaches of it!

I didn’t have a very good night’s sleep. I’m getting over a cold and that, coupled with the emphysema, kept me up coughing for quite a bit of it. I also don’t breath very well when under stress or in humid conditions, so I decided to call in and take the day off.

Now, I wish that I could say that Southern’s piss-poor performance Continue reading Bring Back BR

That Kids Company Thingy

I watched the BBC documentary which followed Camilla Batman’sdoodah through the collapse of the charity that she founded and “ran” for nearly twenty years.

That prompted me to watch her appearance alongside Botney of the Beeb before The House Of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee – a singularly ill-natured event from which she emerged looking like a teenager who has been caught running up a massive bill on Netflix.

The Committee, quite correctly, turned most of its firepower on Botney. The collapse, although sparked by allegations of sexual abuse, really happened because the charity ran out of money as it had nothing approaching proper reserves – a responsibility that the charity rules places on the trustees.  This was a £23 million a year organisation employing 650 staff, and they were existing from day to day even before the final allegations that brought it all tumbling down.

I started watching the documentary feeling quite well disposed to Camilla. I’ve always thought she was a bit odd, but there’s nothing wrong with that. But, in common with the film maker, I started to lose sympathy as some of the more, shall we say, eccentric things that Kids Company were doing began to come to light. You can watch the film yourself, but there’s something distinctly odd about a charity for Kids footing all the living expenses for a 34 Jamaican failed asylum seeker. Saying that she was “special” doesn’t really mean much, and I suspect that there is more to this than we have been told.

Obviously, there were mistakes in the running of Kids Company, but to listen to Camilla it’s clear that she is unable to even contemplate the possibility of some of those errors being hers. Every time she was challenged about something she became aggressively defensive, displaying a rather unpleasant mixture alternating between petulance and pomposity.  She had been at the helm for such a long time that she now believes in her own infallibility. Too late were Botney and the Board taking steps to get her to stand down.

Nobody could dispute that Kids Company did some admirable things, but there were problems and until such time as Camilla admits her own part in its downfall the poor woman will be unable to move on.

A hoo-ha in Halfords

I don’t want much out of life these days, but a bit of good old fashioned customer service would not go amiss now and then.

We have just bought a car, nothing fancy, but it suits us. Unfortunately, the built in stereo doesn’t do what we want, so we wanted to change it. Last Saturday morning we visited Halfords in Crawley, West Sussex.  (Yes, I know! We should really have known better.)

We found a unit that we quite liked the look of, despite there being no one there to assist. After about ten minutes of waiting we went looking for someone to help. We were told that someone would be with us shortly. After another ten minutes we went looking again. Alex mentioned that we were looking to buy a car stereo and have it fitted, to be met by the first response of “It won’t be today”. Well, that wasn’t actually the question. The “assistant” who finally came over gave the distinct impression that we were a nuisance.

Anyway, we showed him the unit we were interested in and he went to the desk to log on to the computer. We just seemed to be getting somewhere when another member of the public came in and, rather rudely, demanded information about MoT tests. Even more rudely the “assistant” then proceeded to deal with his question. When I worked briefly in retail the response would have been “I will be with you in a moment, sir, when I have dealt with this customer”.

At this point I had rather had enough of Halfords, so we went and got a coffee instead. If Halfords doesn’t want my money that’s fine by me, we’ll go somewhere else.

We did! Alex phoned a local company that specialises in car audio. They were helpful from the start and installed the new unit on Thursday.

The payoff is that when I mentioned that I had tried and failed to buy one from Halfords the installer said I was their third customer this week to say that! I’ve now written to their CEO politely advising her that I’m unlikely to use her shops in future for anything more complicated than an air freshener. Doing a bit of simple extrapolation I’d say that customers just walking away could be costing them a quarter of a million a week in lost sales.

Oh dear, how sad, never mind!

Martin Shkreli

News from the other side of the pond that Martin Shkreli has pleaded the Fifth Amendment in a hearing before Congress. This is the man who bought the rights to a drug used to treat Toxoplasmosis in HIV patients and then jacked the price through the roof.

Yesterday he was called to account for what he’d done, but sat there and giggled and smirked his way through the hearing and then lambasted Congress on Twitter afterwards.

Those who know me personally able to attest to my very wide and extremely colourful vocabulary, but even I do not have enough swear words to provide an accurate description of this arrogant little c**t.

What’s in it for me?

That seems to be the level to which we have now sunk as a society.

David Bellis has just won a £2,000 holiday from Thomson Holidays in their “Made Me Smile” photo competition. His winning entry was him and his three year old son out for a walk in the country. His selfie was photobombed by a horse called Betty, “smiling” from behind a barbed wire fence.

Rather than be happy for David and his family, Betty’s owner, Nicola Mitchell from Prestatyn, contacted Thomson Holidays to complain. She reckons that David should have asked her consent and that she should be entitled to part of the prize.

How shitty and mean-spirited can anyone get?