Friday, April 30, 2010

Customer Service

Don't you just love it?

I was DETERMINED that this year there would be no repeat of

last year, and that no matter what I would not go and see Dancing on Ice Live again. I did however know that the subject would arise - on a daily basis. And so it did.

After some weeks of negotiation/argument, a compromise was reached whereby my sister and I would take our daughters to Birmingham and then leave them to see the show whilst we went off to go shopping/get pissed. But then I had another strop and refused to purchase the tickets because they HAD to be ordered through Ticket Master - and each ticket, on top of the face value of £40.25 carried a so called 'administration' charge of £5.00. WHAT THE FUCK FOR???? The tickets are ordered on line and dispatched. Does that in any way justify a charge of £5.00 per ticket? I think I can assume most people may think 'Not'. I did try to buy them direct from the venue but to no avail. They had to be bought through Ticket Master - only I refused to do that. Luckily for the girls my principles were upheld whilst my sister paid for the tickets - plus 'administration' charge. For further info - that purchase was made via my e-mail address, and using my home address for delivery of the tickets, on 28th March. The event itself is on Monday coming.

Now one might suppose that having paid an extortionate 'administration' charge that that would at least guarantee that the tickets would be sent in good time but one would be wrong. One MIGHT suppose that having paid an extortionate 'administration' charge that that would at least guarantee one could ring up and speak to someone about the non-appearance of said tickets but sadly one would be wrong again. In fact they won't accept calls until there is less than five days remaining before the event, if the tickets have not by then arrived. I imagine it is pretty obvious to anyone who is still with me at this point that no tickets have as yet arrived.

I rang yesterday. It was a rather one sided conversation in which I pressed various buttons and then a computer generated voice told me the tickets had been dispatched, and yet today - Still No Tickets. I ring again. I press more buttons. I listen to a computer generated voice. I fight on. I press further buttons, and then still further buttons until - rejoice! - I speak to a person........

who promptly tells me she can't talk to me about this matter because my sister paid for the tickets. But then...........

She asked me if there was anything further she could help me with!!!!!

You couldn't make it up.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shape of things to come?

Question from my 13 year old niece.

“How do they know who won the election? Is it like on X Factor?”

Let’s see now.

"Nick Griffin.....Crawl back under that stone where you came from."

“Nick Clegg...... It’s not you.” (Cue for Nick to wipe away the tears and tell us what an amazing journey it's been.)

“Gordon Brown...... It could be you.”

“Posh Boy...... God help us but it could be you.”

“All will be revealed after this commercial break.....”

Now that we have an election campaign entirely based upon how well the party leaders do in the televised debates it's probably only a matter of time before the results will be announced that way.

Update 30th April 2010: Seems I am not alone on this one.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

That was the Big Society that was.

Apparently it’s time for change. Change being something to do with going back to the good old days when we were ruled by the old Etonians and we all knew our place, and the upper classes were free to enjoy the spectacle of hound dogs ripping stags and foxes to pieces.

I expect it is something to do with the standard of education I received but I’ve been struggling to understand what our would be leader is on about when he talks about the Big Society.

"The What Society?" You may well ask, but I distinctly remember that as long ago as a week last Tuesday it was the Tories Big Idea.

Yet in the leaders debate an entire two days later Cameron never mentioned the concept. (Although he did share with us that he met a 40 year old black man in Plymouth who’d been in the navy for 30 years. ...since he was ten???) Cameron subsequently explained he didn’t mention his Big Society then due to the subjecty subjects that came up during that debate. Clearly they learn a different vocabulary to the rest of us at those posh fee paying schools.

I kind of gathered that this Big Society thingy involved parents having the right to set up and run their own schools, never mind that half of our local schools can’t even find sufficient volunteers to be school governors and attend a meeting once every six weeks, let alone to establish and run an entire school in their spare time. But now I find out – a whole eight days after the Tory manifesto launch that actually there is in fact No such thing as the big society’* according to senior Conservatives including one who says:

"The 'big society' is bollocks. It is boiled vegetables that have been cooked for three minutes too long. It tastes of nothing. What is it?" Answers please on a back of a postcard to Tory Central Office.

So anyways up. Now that we have all apparently fallen for Nick Clegg and are going to vote for him on the basis that we now know who he is, Cameron has a new message to sell but again is not being entirely clear what the bloody hell he actually means. Today we have him declaring that :

"We Brits have an electoral system "that really works".... not one minute after hammering the "Vote Clegg, get Brown" drum again. As my namesake puts it so succinctly in today’s Guardian: How anyone with even pretensions to intellectual adequacy can continue to hold both positions is a mystery, but if 7 May finds a third-place-finishing Labour forming a government, one trusts Cameron will continue to sing the system's praises at every opportunity.

I would add that it is a mystery to me how someone with this level of intellectual inadequacy could be standing in a parish council election let alone standing to be Prime Minister. Although George W Bush did just come to mind.

* A variation on a previous quote by some other senior Tory whose name escapes me that 'There is no such thing as society'.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Put them in the longboat till they're sober

Driving on the M1 last Friday afternoon I found myself in the fast lane overtaking a lorry, when over and above the sound of King Adora (the band I was en route to see) I became aware of a Very Loud Noise. ‘WTF?’ I asked myself. I hoped it was the lorry. I got past the lorry but the noise was still there. As I moved in front of the lorry it flashed me. When the guy who had been overtaking the lorry behind me pulled into the middle lane and also started pointing at my car I knew I was in trouble. I pulled onto the hard shoulder, took a deep breath to steal myself against whatever it was I was about to face, got out, and saw the puncture.

I have only ever felt anything but pity for the poor sods you see stranded on the hard shoulder with car problems. Now I found myself as one such poor sod myself I therefore felt justified in feeling great self pity at that moment. And yes – I KNOW I should know how to change a tyre but....

I didn’t know what to do. In fact I was in such a state that it wasn’t till later that I realised the reason I couldn’t get through to Reidski on my phone to tell him I was going to be late and to pray for me, was that it was on Bluetooth, but I wasn’t wearing my ear piece. At the time I just thought that was one more thing sent to try me ‘Now the bloody phone won’t work either!’ sort of thing. Who is one supposed to ring? The only number I know for the police is 999, and even I had to accept this incident couldn’t really be classed as an emergency.

I was right at the point where traffic joined the M1 at Junction 12. ‘Why?’ I thought to myself, ‘Could this not have happened just before the exit to junction 12?’ But as I thought that I also thought, ‘If I’m at the point where traffic comes onto the motorway at Junction 12, that means I am practically at Toddington Services.’ I looked up and there was, not a third of a mile away, the service station. Now whether or not it was the right thing to do or not I have no idea, but what I decided to do was to limp along the hard shoulder to the service station and see if I could ask someone to help me change the tyre (for which read do it for me).

I think this is the moment when I should mention that the time of this mishap was half past four in the afternoon. I mention this because at half past four in the afternoon one would not normally expect to encounter what I encountered next.

I pulled up round the back of the petrol station area next to a rather dilapidated looking coach, but not before I had run the gauntlet of a group of around 8 or 9 young men. All of them were dressed in either pirate costume or in sailor gear. All of them were drinking. One of them was urinating in the middle of the forecourt. I had been planning to ask if they could help me, but decided that wasn’t such a great idea.

A lorry driver came to my aid. A further nasty moment was experienced when the wrench he needed to get the wheel off was missing from where it was supposed to be, but thankfully we did eventually find that under my car’s back seat. But in the meantime more and more drunken sailors were appearing – men and women – and things were getting somewhat out of hand.

One pirate captain came over, three quarters empty bottle of what looked like nasty cheap sherry in his hand. ‘What’ he slurred ‘seems to be the problem?’ With this he sat down on the edge of my boot, which was open where we’d removed the spare tyre. And then he fell backwards into my boot, whereupon he appeared to pass out. I don’t think that the lorry driver who had been kind enough to help me could ever have imagined that his assistance would extend to physically evicting a drunken pirate from my boot, but that is what he ended up doing.

By the time the wheel was changed the scene around my car was beginning to resemble Sodom and Gomorrah. Two couples were all but shagging at the side of the coach (I imagine their coach driver may well have been refusing to take them any further), a stark bollock naked man was wandering round my car, whilst another two were modest enough to have only stripped to their boxers. Another was by now down to his fish net body suit, which in my opinion as a keen observer of fashion was not a good choice. Someone else was throwing up over some poor sods car, and another thought it was amusing to stand in front of a lorry attempting to get to the fuel and make out as if he was pushing it backwards. Where security was, remained an open and unanswered question.

I now know how people who live in places like Majorca and Ibiza must feel when they are exposed to the Brits Abroad..... Absolutely bloody disgusted.

The lorry driver was a star though.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

April already

Time for a bit of a round up of recent weeks.

Reidski and I had a couple of nights in Brighton. This was risky. Brighton and me = terrible weather. The last time we went there it was during the summer of 2006 which strange to relate was an absolutely scorching hot summer. The day we set off for Brighton the sun was up, the sky was a vivid blue and it was already hot at 8 in the morning. Car windows down all the way there, and looking forward to a lazy day sunbathing. Except that as we passed the sign welcoming us to Brighton we had to put the car windows up - being as how it had turned cold and grey and wet. Sunny and hot outside Brighton, freezing cold inside Brighton. And that was not the first time I had put a climate curse on the place.

The other week we again travelled down in beautiful sunshine, stopping en route at the very lovely Sheffield Park gardens

(please note the blue sky) and the equally lovely in a different way Griffin Inn nearby.

This time we get into Brighton in bright sunshine but this abnormality is corrected by the time we get to our sea front hotel and our room with a sea view that hasn't actually GOT a sea view owing to the thick sea mist. It was terrible. We were forced to go to another pub to drown our sorrows.

In fact for the rest of our time in Brighton the weather was fine and we had a great time hanging out. Can especially recommend Cuckmere Haven for a great walk down to the coast and the first of the Seven Sisters cliffs.

Oh - and the Basketmakers Arms obviously - a tremendous proper pub.

Last Wednesday night I was with my daughter and we were just walking up a flight of stairs as you do, when we passed Elton John going in the opposite direction, as you generally don't. If I said I completely and utterly kept my cool at this 'Oh my God! ELTON JOHN!' moment I would be lying. In fact I tripped up over the next stair but hopefully everyone else was too busy thinking 'Oh my God! ELTON JOHN!!!!' to have noticed.

In fact, much as I would love to say I am in the habit of being in the same place at the same time as ELTON JOHN, it wasn't - on reflection - so very surprising he was where I was last Wednesday. I have mentioned before that my daughter is the biggest fan of Billy Elliot the Musical in the world (if you exclude the weirdo single men who have seen practically every performance of it - and what's all that about anyway????) and last Wednesday was the 5th Birthday of the show. An event we Could Not Miss. At least - not if I wanted my daughter to love me for ever. Elton John wrote the music.

Last night she and I went to the theatre again - this time in Northampton and to see 'The Woman in Black' which is currently touring the UK and can also be seen in the West End. My daughter had seen it in the West End with her school and really wanted me to see it too. Me who can't even watch a corny Christopher Lee vampire movie. I don't do scary. Anyway , briefly my daughter said the West End production was scarier - but all I can say is thank god I didn't see that then. Last night's was quite frightening enough thank you very much.

Oh - and the rather large lady behind me broke her chair. Poor woman.

Had a great walk round St James on Good Friday with Reidski seeing where the rich people shop. £200 for a shaving brush anyone? Or a shirt for £400? How about a pair of made especially to fit your feet shoes for price unspecified - if you have to ask you can't afford it.

We also finally saw 'An Education'. Loved it. Loved her. Hated him.

I loved the new Dr Who Matt Smith too. Likely to be the most famous person ever to come from Northampton. And no - that's NOT the only reason I liked him so much!

And finally - football. Will we? Won't we? Make the Play Offs that is.

Not if yesterday's lack lustre nil nil against the mighty Torquay is anything to go by. Losing our best player to injury wasn't very helpful for the cause either...... :-(

I have gone on far too long people.

Over and out.