Tuesday, 1 January 2013

It's been fun ...

... and still is being, as my lovely family tend to say, but I have moved to a new site. Continue to follow me and my ranting ways at www.untangledweblog.wordpress.com. Happy New Year.

Friday, 21 December 2012

So, no Apocalypse, then...

I had decided to wait to see if it was going to be the end of the world, but as it isn't I will be going ahead with my Plan. As from now, I will be using the Plan when shopping mainly, but I reserve the right to use the Plan when it seems appropriate, in other words, whenever I like. The salient points are:-

  1. If when you are shopping you get the the end of the checkout, then start to look for your purse, then start packing your bags, then stop to talk to your friend/the cashier/the little pink elephants circling your head, I will kill you.
  2. If when in any shop but especially a bookshop or a supermarket, please only walk forwards. If you step back on my instep, just the once, in memory of the million people who have done it before you, I will kill you. If you scrape your heel down my heel, skinning it, I will kill you slowly, by skinning. I have the technology.
  3. If you meet old friends in the supermarket and stop to speak to them with both trolleys across the aisle I will hunt you down like dogs and kill you.

They are the main points, but there are subclauses, which carry a lighter sentence. They are;-

  1. If you point at my very beautiful, three year old, long-haired, pink-clad granddaughter and say 'Look at that. Isn't it cute? It's even got little wellies on,' as if she is a chihuahua in a dress, I won't kill you, but it would be a kindness. You know who you are, you mad old bat: you did it only last Wednesday in a coffee shop. To do the child credit she did wait until she got round the corner to raise a sardonic eyebrow.
  2. If you approach a barrier in a car park or any other closed exit/entrance and then look for money to find you don't have any, I will not give you the entrance money to get you out of my way. You've caught me too many times before, oh, member of the public. I am wise to you now.
  3. And now here comes the politically incorrect bit - if you are on crutches, have an arm in a complex plaster, can only walk at snail's pace and that sideways, please don't go shopping in the lunch hour or in the last few days before Christmas. I don't have to threaten you with hell and damnation because you will be weeded out by natural selection by the marauding hordes all trying to get their shopping done. Yes, you have as much right to the High Street as everyone else and yes, you have your shopping to do. But other people have just the same right to assume that you can get out of their way and shouldn't be made to feel bad and to get angry because they are being held up. A little planning would be helpful - that's all I'm saying.
Other than that, Merry Christmas!

Monday, 17 December 2012

News from the rabbit hole

Do you remember the blog about the missing parcel? If not, just scroll back a bit: it's easy enough to find, being full of capital letters and bleeped out expletives. Well, it suddenly occurred to me this morning that my complaint and claim for compensation remains unanswered, so I decided to ring the Post Office. For those of you of a nervous disposition, I have streamlined the whole process, because being taken click by click through the umpteen 'press 2 to be completely fobbed off' choices would be depressing. So, here it is, in slightly truncated form.

  1. Find the phone number. Difficult, because the person at the post office had only copied one side of the form, but no matter, there is a website after all, so I went there. 
  2. Ring the number on the website because, although there are apparently options to contact them online, there is no way to do that because their handy virtual woman who does didn't understand my question, apparently.
  3. Wait for answer from human being.
  4. Ditto
  5. Ditto
  6. Ditto
  7. Ditto
  8. Ditto - during all this I have fed the cat, cleaned my teeth, brushed my hair, got dressed, fed the rabbits, got older.
  9. Speak to woman - lovely girl, Ashley, sounds very nice, so I explain.
  10. She asks me for my eye slash number.
  11. Eye slash?
  12. The number on your letter.
  13. We haven't had a letter.
  14. Aaaaah, she says, I see what's gone wrong here.
  15. Oh? I say through very gritted teeth. Perhaps here I should say that I have had to pass the phone across to my husband so that he can explain that he is here and that I am allowed to speak on his behalf. They are probably thinking, 'Bless! He's a bit simple and can't manage the long words.' Actually, he is too furious to be terribly coherent.
  16. Oh? I say, what's gone wrong?
  17. You have to leave it fifteen working days.
  18. Yes, I say, we left it weeks. You can't leave it too long with eBay because people, quite rightly, get a little testy.
  19. You only left it fourteen days, she says, so we refused the compensation request. We sent a letter on 4 December.
  20. We didn't get a letter, (see 13).
  21. Well, she says, now it is more than fifteen days (and how) I will start it up again and you will hear from us in 7-10 working days with some compensation.

I felt a Bah Humbug coming on - why does the Post Office not understand that we as their customers expect the system to work. Wrap parcel. Buy stamps. Post parcel. Get ecstatic thanks from recipient. Instead of, more often than not, filling in forms and spending half an hour on the phone listening to six bars of Handel on a loop.

Watch this space - I can't help thinking that there will be much, much more!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Older, certainly - and hopefully wiser

Some time ago, we lent someone some money. At least, at the time we thought it was a loan, but as it turns out, it was a gift, as it was never returned and we have finally come to realize it never will be. We lent it because without the loan, someone very dear to us would have lost his home and business, because our debtor, as I will call him, was having difficulty paying the rent. The fact that he was in full time employment most of the time was a worry - where was the money going? - and that he never had any cash was a blip in an otherwise exciting time, with a new business to get off the ground and new friends to make and all the rest.

Alas, six months down the line, he baled out, leaving us and many others out of pocket - in our case to the tune of thousands of pounds. We asked, politely, if he would be able to pay it back and the answer was no, but his parents would help. To say that the replies from his parents were unhelpful is not even close; his mother was whining and lying, with invented family members dependent on her and her alone. His father never even answered.

So, after months of worry, we went to court and 'won'. Payments of £125 a month were awarded to us and we breathed again; a little, because we were quite desperate for money at the time and £125 hardly touched the sides. Then of course, no payments were forthcoming, so we had to reapply for an execution to get the money (I really wish that 'execution' meant just that, but hey ho ...) and finally got £19.50 a month for six months. Then the payments stopped. To get them started again would cost a couple of hundred quid. Do the maths. Do you think we went further? No - and this is where we leave it.

So, the morals in this blog are many and they are written by a sadder and wiser woman.

  • Don't lend anything to anyone unless you are in a position to wave it goodbye for ever.
  • Don't go to any company promising no win, no fee - no win in their case means if it goes against you. If you are awarded payments that don't come, that is a win and you will be stuck with hundreds of pounds to pay.
  • Don't think that a CCJ will mean anything to your debtor - they owe you so they won't mind owing everyone else.
  • The courts are basically powerless and even when they find in your favour, it isn't any help at all. 
  • Everyone is really sorry, but that won't get you your money back - so stop feeling sorry for everyone else, because at the end of the day, it is every man for themselves.

Finally - can you lend me a fiver? (Just joking).

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Oh, Deck the Halls, Why Don't You?

Christmas shopping this week and very jolly it has been too. I have had excellent service from staff in The Works .... excuse the pause, I was trying to think of some others where people had gone the extra mile, but do you know, I can't think of a single one. Today, I bought a coffee, a hot chocolate and two cakes in a garden centre called Blooms at a ruinous £9.75 and at no point did any of the staff even bother to make eye contact - one was berating the other about some minor infringement involving a Festive Muffin and apparently that was more important than serving me like a human being.

Supermarkets are worse, although I must say the bakery manager in Morrisons was very pleasant although ultimately not very helpful because he had never heard of Tunis Cake but could show me where he kept his mince pies, which was a little startling, though very festive, no doubt. I bought two slices of quiche and some anchovies in the very same store and had them actually thrown at me by the very testy woman on the deli - and this with another 20 days to go. Ho ho ho, madam - wait till the reindeer shit really starts hitting the fan.

Today it is snowing at one end of the road and not at the other. Trains from the west are not running through Barnes, which is odd, because the snow is supposed to be in the east. The postman has brought three Christmas cards from people who have signed their names as Squiggle and family, a Damart catalogue, a begging letter from various charities and a rather dog-eared Lakeland catalogue addressed to three doors down.

So - decking the halls sounds like a plan; at least you don't have to go outside!

Monday, 26 November 2012

I might as well have shoved it down a rabbit hole ...

I posted a parcel the week before last. The packaging, if I say so myself, was a work of art. Bubble wrap, wrapped in newspaper (Daily Mail but surely that can't tell against me!), in a cardboard box, in brown paper. The address was written on it in letters so clear, large and black they would have won any calligraphy competition in town. My own address was written, smaller and on the reverse, so that it could come back to me if things went wrong.

Well, things went wrong. The recipient (if I can call him the recipient, as he received sweet fanny adams) got in touch, not crossly, more disappointed really, to say that he had not got his parcel. The post office at our end no longer has the parcel.


Okay, I didn't insure it. I didn't pay a king's ransom to have the dratted thing carried on the backs of Circassian maidens to the destination, or whatever the Post Office claim to do when you book special delivery. I merely put a parcel, wrapped as above, addressed as above, into the post office system and stupidly expected it to get to where it was meant to be. So now the post office are making me feel like some kind of certifiable idiot. I am a certifiable idiot because I expected a system to work, am I? Why should that be? When I get in my car and drive off, I expect the wheels to stay on, the engine to keep doing whatever it is engines do and take me to where I am heading. Sometime things go wrong, then I call a man who comes and puts it right. What doesn't happen, but would if the Post Office were in charge, would be that I would get in my car, one wheel would drop off, the engine would explode. I would call the man, who wouldn't come, because ... well, why should he? It's only his job, when all is said and done.

For a bit of fun, apply Post Office ethos to anything you do today. Toaster making toast? I don't think so. Bus taking you to work? Why not enjoy a day in Glasgow instead? That is, unless you work in Glasgow, in which case obviously, just enter another place name to taste. And so on. There are not huge numbers of options for simple pieces of post, sadly, but the Post Office will soon have seen the last of me. Though it is far more complicated I will be using a courier in future because if they say they will deliver it, they will. Some companies even give you the actual hour it will be delivered. The hour! Not the week or whether it will be delivered at all. The actual hour. And, when it gets to the other end, they bring it in if it is heavy. They are charming and friendly and that is because they see their job as a service, not some kind of mad lottery.

I actually do feel a lot better for that. But the question still remains -

WHERE IS OUR &*^%^$^&&*( PARCEL??

Sorry, I just have to add this - I posted this and then checked my inbox and there, proudly announcing itself as being from 'express parcelforce', was an email telling me when I need to post parcels for Christmas! What? With the service they give, I'm guessing that would have been last week!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

This hasn't been a good week, reading-wise!

I've been a bit grumpy this week. I have finally read every single Dorothy L Sayers book there is to read, including the later ones by Jill Paton Walsh, where she 'writes as' - and very well she does it too. So I was whiffling around in the Kindle list on Amazon trying to find something to read at bedtime (whinge about Kindle disadvantages to follow - keep reading) when for some stupid reason, I decided to buy an Agatha Christie. Yes, I know, I know, I don't know why I did it; it was getting late and I was weak. Anyway, I chose Elephants can remember or some such stupid title and started to read. It was an unusual experience - I know all the words were English, but they seemed to be in the wrong order. Poor old Agatha, she was clearly losing it at this point, but wasn't there an editor? Someone who should have told her that enough was enough, you are only a writer if what you write makes sense, dear. Go and have a nice lie down with a cup of tea and your medication. I gave up. I jumped to the end to find who dunnit but it was no surprise; I had the denouement sorted from about the third page.

So, nothing daunted, I went back to Kindle pages to choose something else. A Ruth Rendell this time, Tigerlily's Orchids. I won't go into details, because I am still annoyed with myself for spending money on it, but this book is also a bit of a disgrace, an example of what happens when the writer is so famous that the editor doesn't do what's needed in the way of making sure that it makes sense, is interesting and has a plot. Also, Kindle - typos! My wordIdon'tthinkIhaveeverseensomanywordsruntogetherinonebookbefore.

So, yes, downside of Kindles. You can't read them in the bath. Forget the advert where the woman is floating in the pool reading her Kindle - the instructions are clear that you mustn't get them wet (or is that Mogwai?) or even near water. So I have to have a second book on the go, for bathtime reading.

So, later today I am hitting the bookshops, both new and second hand. I will have a riffle through and then buy or not as the case may be. And if I come across a sentence like this '"Elephant, chocolate, pencil," Ariadne Oliver expostulated grimly, "Whatever floats your anvil, Monsieur Poirot, and mind the weasel, it tends to roll up in August.",' I won't buy it.