Australia are on the verge of losing the Ashes series.
I reckon that, unlike some past Aussie captains, Ricky won’t cry when he resigns. He’s been a worthy opponent.
Australia are on the verge of losing the Ashes series.
I reckon that, unlike some past Aussie captains, Ricky won’t cry when he resigns. He’s been a worthy opponent.
The Three Monkeys was stoved out, last night, for the open mike night. I lost count of how many groups had a go, but what was impressive was the quality of all of the performances.
Here’s Andrew, Mike and Shaun’s band, featuring Jamie on drums.
They played mostly sixties rock ‘n roll, which went down well with the audience. Having a fag outside later, I overheard the following conversation.
“They band whit played Luh’ul Richard…they wiz effin brrrulliunt!”
“Aye, they wuz.”
I didn’t want to take photos of all the bands, and it was very crowded anyway. But here is one couple that played later on.
I thought I’d give the Saga of the crashed campervan another couple of hours effort, to see if I could make some progress.
The van is now being repaired at the Crash Repair Centre. I have an Incident number for the repair, and can track the repair’s progress online at the Crash Centre’s website. They also phoned to say that the repair would take at least two weeks, and not one week as they had said previously.
I thought I’d phone the Royal Mail Accident Management Centre to see if they had located the Royal Mail van that did the damage. I have an incident number from them – obviously it’s different from the Crash Centre’s incident number. They said they’d contacted the local Royal Mail depot, but the manager there said it wasn’t one of his vans. So, they are now waiting for the witness’ report.
I phoned the insurer’s Claims people, and was given an incident number by them. This is obviously different from the Crash Centre’s incident number and the Royal Mail Accident Management Centre’s incident number. They said they would need an admission of liability in order for me to claim back the excess of £250.
Then, the insurance broker sent me a letter about the claim. This has a reference number different to any number already mentioned. In the letter, they say that if the accident wasn’t my fault (which it wasn’t, as the van was parked in a side road at the time) I should contact their legal expenses company. This is a different company from the company that the insurers advised me to phone (the Claims people). The broker gave me a number to quote when contacting the legal expenses people. That number was different to any other number already mentioned.
So, I phoned the legal expenses people, and gave them the broker’s incident number, the Accident Management Centre incident number, and the insurer’s incident number (but not the Crash Centre incident number — they didn’t want that one). The legal expenses people gave me another incident number, and, contrary to what the Claims people said, told me that it was they who would deal with returning my excess payment. As I had only to select three options and listen to two pre-recorded messages when phoning the legal expenses people, and as they said that it was not necessary to get an admission of liability, but that a witness statement saying that it was a Royal Mail van would be enough, I intend to stick with the legal expenses people, for the time being, at least.
Essentially, I haven’t been told the same thing twice by anyone whatsoever in this whole matter yet, but on the other hand I do now have an impressive collection of incident numbers.
Now, I will spend the rest of the day on a completely different matter – following up the auctioneers, who lost the carefully prepared list with photos of items I submitted to them (I emailed them a second copy, which they appear to have misplaced as well) and who have just sent a sales statement with only 10 items on it – there should be 39 items, so they have actually misplaced 29 of our items that we saw them sell in their recent auction.
It’s inefficiency all the way!
This is a new article, written mostly by Santy Chumbe, to which I contributed a small amount. It has been published by The Code4Lib Journal. It is interesting because it details a real-low cost alternative to expensive library management and database search systems. It is about WattJournals, a customised version of JournalTOCs, designed specifically for Heriot-Watt University, but similar services can also be easily implemented by other libraries.
Abstract: Learn how Heriot-Watt University Library’s WattJournals could be just the search tool your patrons need to efficiently find the content that your library subscribes to. Built on top of a RESTful search API created by the JISC-sponsored JournalTOCs Project, WattJournals is a toolkit for connecting fulltext articles to the people who need them. This article provides a technical overview of the system, showing how it uses citation data pulled from the JournalTOCs table of contents awareness service to provide access to just your library’s subscriptions.
I was channel hopping, and stopped at a programme showing Dickie Bird, expecting some cricket memoirs. It turned out not to be about cricket, but something equally interesting – a programme called The Young Ones, where six celebrities take part in an experiment that explores the prevention of ageing. It doesn’t sound promising, does it, but it was absolutely fascinating on several levels. It certainly wasn’t just another ‘celeb’ show.
Lionel Blair, Sylvia Syms, Liz Smith, Dickie Bird, Kenneth Kendall, and Derek Jameson – went ‘back to 1975’ for one week to see if it could make them young again. It still doesn’t sound very promising, does it? But read this crit and you’ll understand more.
It showed the six personalities living in a house decked out in Seventies style, to recreate their heyday. Everything was exactly as you would have found it in 1975, including the decor, the food, the television shows, etc. After some initial reminiscing, they settled into their surroundings, but time was taking it’s toll, and soon when any effort was needed there was a lot of “Too far…too early…too much…etc” from the celebs.
Syvlia Syms had a back problem, felt tired all the time, and had lost a lot of her energy. Kenneth Kendall walked with a stick, and didn’t think he could look after pet dogs anymore, even though he’d enjoyed them in the past. Derek Jameson had put on some weight and his body had become so stiff that he couldn’t put his own socks on anymore. Liz Smith had had a stroke, was gradually doing less and less, and was mostly confined to a wheelchair. Lionel Blair hadn’t done any choreography for many years. Dickie Bird had had some health problems, and his memory wasn’t good anymore. And so on. They’d all lost a lot of confidence as a result of ageing, hence the “Too far…too early…too much…etc” examples when they were faced with things. Their lives were largely at a standstill, their focus was increasingly inwards and they did little except sit quietly, drink tea, and take their medication.
Then, in turn, there were some ‘challenges’. A bunch of kids arrived. The next thing you know, Syvlia Syms is running around after them, entertaining them. Then two lovely daschunds were brought in. The next thing you know, Kenneth Kendall is taking them for walks, and he’s not using his stick anymore. With some help from the others, Derek Jameson does some exercises, and with a struggle manages to put his socks on by himself. They put an easel, canvas and paints on the patio, and Liz Smith looks at it for a while. Eventually, she gets up, walks to it by herself, sits down, but doesn’t do anything else for twenty minutes. Finally, she takes up the crayon and starts drawing and then painting. And so on…
Then, the next morning, a new experiment is undertaken. Three carers appear at the door. The hope is that the ‘celebs’, having already managed to take care of themselves for three days, will say they don’t need any help. But, for some of them, the opposite happens. Derek Jameson gets the carers to put his socks on for him. Liz Smith gets the carers to dress her. Dickie Bird thinks it’s marvelous that a cuppa tea arrives every half hour. On the other hand, Lionel Blair says he needs no help at all, and gets rather annoyed.
After lunch, the carers leave, and the six celebs are left sitting in the living room, doing very little and feeling deflated. They all look very old indeed.
There’s a lot more to this short series, which is currently available on the iPlayer.
It all goes to show that a lot to do with ageing is actually in the mind, and that the mind has a distinct effect on the body.
I was thinking about all of this when I took Caro to a literary event, The Shortest Story Day, in The Canon’s Gate. Fat Mac had also been invited. At first, he was keen to attend, then he ummed and aahed and wasn’t sure. Then he said he would come. Then, finally, he said he wouldn’t, because it was “Too cold…too far…too early…”
It was a short but entertaining event. A very pleasant lady greeted Caro and myself at the door.
“Are you authors?” she politely enquired.
“No, we’re not”
“Are you, perhaps, publishers?”
“Are you literary agents?”
I realised she had quite a long list to go through, and not expecting to qualify under anything else, and as a queue was forming behind us, I asked what the final category was.
“Ah – the final category.” she responded, “Are you members of the public?”
“Wonderful! You’re very welcome to this event and here’s a glass of wine for you.”
It was a busy event.
Alan Spence gave a fifteen minute reading of a short story, and was followed by James Robertson who read out four 300 word stories. The third chap on the bill hadn’t pitched up. Both Spence and Robertson were very good storytellers, and everyone seemed to enjoy their performance.
Spence’s story was about arriving home to find a letter saying that a friend had died, and continued with some reminiscences about past times with that friend in 1970s Glasgow. One of Robertson’s stories was about toilets. Deid people, 70s Glasgow, toilets – they were good stories, but I couldn’t help thinking that I get quite a lot of that sort of thing by reading the blogs of the two people who Comment most frequently on my own blog.
Afterwards, during the crowd mingling, I spoke briefly to Alan Spence and James Robertson and said I’d enjoyed their stories. I told them that Fat Mac had been supposed to attend, and they immediately remembered both of Fat Mac’s published books. They asked how he was, and were disappointed to hear that he was too old and frail to get to the pub because it was “Too cold…too far…too early…” and that, instead, he was sitting quietly at home, drinking tea, and taking his medication.
When we got home, Santa had cooked everyone a meal of spicey Moroccan stewed fish with couscous.
Shaun is doing an Open Mike gig in The Three Monkeys, Portobello, on Thursday evening. Everyone is invited.
Like many other people in the UK, we’re beginning to feel a bit besieged by all the snow.
It is still just about possiblle to run along the beach, as Lindsey shows in the above pic.
It is still possible to get to parties.
But, that’s about all. At this time of year, we should remember those less fortunate than ourselves. Some people, such as Fat Mac, are housebound because they can’t manoeuvre their considerable bulk along the icey pavements, even when there’s a free pint on offer at the pub.
We all had a lovely meal in Tapa Leith last night.
The following emotions ran high.
When the menfolk started to wear ladies hats, I made my excuses, stood outside and listened to arguments about taxis.
Lindsey’s sister Caro arrived at the airport last night, after long flights from Sydney to Tokyo, Tokyo to Copenhagen, and Copenhagen to Edinburgh (the last route has just been dropped by BMI, so she will return, in three weeks, via Glasgow). It was -4 degrees at the airport, quite different to Sydney, but a bit warmer in town.
More guests are arriving tomorrow, and for some reason this means that I have to spring clean the house, so that they all think we live in tidy surroundings and not a midden.
Having previously mastered the washing machine, I thought I’d clean the bath. I mean – how difficult can it be to clean a bath?
I had no idea. I realised that I’d never looked at the bath with my specs on, and discovered that it was filthy. Several hours later, plus two bottles of industrial strength fluids, and the house smells of a chemical process plant but I can’t see much difference to the actual bath. My plan is now to develop the jungle which overhangs the bath, so that no-one will notice.
I gave the wifie who told me who it was who crashed into the campervan a box of biscuits for her trouble, and phoned the Royal Mail insurers, and also my insurers. No progress yet. Somehow, it will take the Crash Repair Centre a week to do the repairs.
Someone crashed into my campervan when it was parked on the street. I wasn’t there at the time, and only found out about it when the snow melted and I could see the damage. I was obviously upset about this, because although there isn’t too much damage, it will cost a lot to repair a whole side panel and wing mirror, and I have a £250 excess on my insurance. So, I was ranting on to myself about about how anyone could do this sort of thing and not leave a note or anything, when a wifie in the house ouside which the van was parked poked her head out of her window and asked if I knew who had done the damage? No, I replied. It was the Post Office van, she said, last Monday. She said the driver reversed into my van, got out, had a look, and then knocked on her door to see if she knew who owned it, which she didn’t.
So, this changed things entirely. Faith in human nature restored. If the driver was looking for the owner of the van he crashed into, then it’s likely he accepts responsibility, and my insurers should be able to claim off the Post Office insurers.
So, all I had to do was find the person who deals with this sort of thing within the Post Office. That was all.
There’s a P.O. sorting office just down the road, so I started there, and they gave me the Customer Services phone number, which is 08457 740740.
I hope that you, your relatives and your friends never have the need to phone this number unless you have a very obvious enquiry. You get a long message about how the Royal Mail is very busy, especially with the currrent weather conditions, and then 4 options – Press 1 for such and such, 2 for such and such, etc. Nothing wrong with that. However, pressing whatever option it is for ‘All other enquiries about our services and products’ gets you to another set of several options. Pressing the most obvious option gets you to a third set of options, none of which are remotely anything like “A Post Office van has crashed into your car, talk to someone about this” which is only to be expected I suppose, but none of the third set is even anything like “Press x if you’d like to speak to a person”. I pressed the most obvious option number, and soon realised, after listening to a message about how the Royal Mail was busy this time of year, especially with the current weather, that I had got into a loop and was back at the beginning.
So, I listened carefully this time, went through three sets of options, and once again eventually ended back at the Royal Mail is busy message and first set of options.
Aha – I’m not a quitter. I looked at their website (which by that time I’d been told 6 times in two loops was where I could find the answer to most questions). It’s no help. The most obvious hint it gives, if you’re not wanting to know about delivery times and such like, is to phone the Customer Services phone number, which is 08457 740740.
So, I once again phoned the Customer Services phone number, which is 08457 740740 and thought – Ah, this time I’ll just select an option which will likely get me to a human being, the wrong human being obviously, but this human being will hopefully be able to give me the number of another human being who deals with Post Office vans that crash into your car.
An hour, and several messages about how the Royal Mail is busy this time of year especially with the weather and everything and too numerous option presses to count later, I realised this is not possible. Their entire operation is automated. You get close – I tried the “You want to change your address redirections” option, but you need a previously obtained code number to continue further.
So I tried again at the beginning, and phoned the Customer Services phone number, which is 08457 740740. At the third selection of options, I’m sure I tried an option that I’d previously tried at least once, but this time I could hear a phone ring. I got very excited by this, I have to admit.
The phone rang, was picked up, and it was an automated message about how all the operatives were busy, and how much they appreciated my custom, and if I waited, someone would answer as soon as possible. Then music played, then at 1 minute intervals for 35 minutes I listened to a message about how all the operatives were busy, and how much they appreciated my custom, and if I waited, someone would answer as soon as possible.
And then, a human being answered my call! I was so excited by this that I didn’t make a note of his name or ask him for also his surname. If I’d had the foresight to do so, I would now be trying to track him down and do serious damage to him, because after listening to my story, which, dear reader I’ll have you know, was very calmly explained, because I’m a calm person, he gave me a number to call, which he said was the Royal Mail Accident Department, and the number was 0121 2149800
Please don’t phone that number! If you do, you’ll get through to someone who will tell you that she is the receptionist in a private company which has nothing whatsoever to do with the Royal Mail, and she’s being inundated by calls from people who have been given that number by people in Royal Mail who are obviously just giving out a number to get rid of you. Also, she doesn’t know the number that you actually need.
Hah! I started again from the very beginning, and listened to how the Royal Mail is very busy, especially with the currrent weather conditions and everything, and eventually, yes, eventually after another 25 minutes of classical music interspersed with a message about how all the operatives were busy, and how much they appreciated my custom, and if I waited, someone would answer as soon as possible, got through to someone called Lee-Anne.
Lee-Anne – you are a star! You listened to my (still calmly-related) story, and it wasn’t your fault that your computer system was down. You even showed initiative and got your diary out to find the number of the Royal Mail Accident Management Centre, and not only gave it to me, but tried phoning it yourself (it was engaged) so that you could prove that you were not bum-steering me like your colleague had done.
So I phoned the number that Lee-Anne gave me. A human being answered! Unfortunately, his computer system was also down, so I had to wait while he rebooted. But, eventually, I was given an incident number.
An incident number…an incident number! I celebrated getting an incident number by jumping round the kitchen. An incident number is like, real, total, progress. I’m logged on a computer system somewhere. I won’t go away. I can now quote an incident number to the next set of people!
Well, the above kinda took care of the morning. Thank God I’m retired, and can dedicate myself to such nonsense.
Most of the afternoon was taken care of by contacting my own insurers about the dented campervan. I started with the insurers’ accident report phone number. They put me on to the claims phone number. It wasn’t the claims phone number, but the ‘not the claims phone number’ put me on to the claims phone number.
They were really happy that I had an incident number from the Royal Mail Accident Management Centre. I knew that that number was important. That’s why I danced around the kitchen. when I got it. They put me on to the XXXX Crash Repair Centre. I’ll get an estimate from the XXXX Crash Repair Centre tomorrow, and then I’ll get an appointment to repair the campervan sometime next week, probably.
Wait a minute! What about my £250 excess? Who deals with that? If the boy with the Post Office van crashes into my parked campervan, surely I can’t end up being out of pocket.
Some phonecalls later, I find out it is not the actual claims insurers, but rather the people I arrange the insurance through, who deal with this. Something about ‘uninsured loss recovery’ or something…I think…I’m really not too sure about this anymore. I phoned the people I arrange the insurance through. A South African person, probably in South Africa but I can’t be sure about that, told me that their computer has not logged the incident yet.
Well…that was my day.
To be continued…