Its the Morning (Ok, Afternoon) After the Night Before

Well, I’m typing this slowly as: –

a) I can’t manage to type fast even when sober

b) I can sit here and type without too much exertion

c) Its a quiet activity!

Apparently, I’ve been Lion & Lambed. I understand from Michelle that this is the technical term for what happened last night.

We decided to round off an exciting day of shopping with a meal at the local pub. More about the meal later, but I know you want to know about the shopping trip. We decided to pop out to get some anti-bacterial wipes. Now, living in a village there is no shop here, so we decided to drive down to Sainsbury’s in Throckley, some 5 miles away. As per usual, of course we never bought any anti-bacterial wipes in Tesco’s, but instead bought champagne. Well, its easy to mistake one for the other.

This obviously meant we had to visit another supermarket. After a short debate, we decided it would be Morrisons next. So we ended up in Netto1 at Westerhope.

Now this was a first for me. I’ve managed to avoid being seen in Netto for 20 years, so I had to put on my disguise. I disguised myself as a slob to fit in with the clientele in Netto- it wasn’t hard to disguise myself in this way. Now we managed to acquire the anti-bacterial wipes, some Pringles and the idea of buying some Oyster Bay white wine. Sadly this Netto store did not have any of it in stock, so we headed to Morrisons instead for some scallops! Are you keeping up?

Next it was off to Netto at Newburn to see if they had any Oyster Bay Wine in. Luckily for us, they did at £5.99 a bottle or, six bottles for £29.95, so a case of wine it was then! Then we made it home.

I must make a mention of this sign at Netto at Newburn

Netto

The mind boggles at the type of smoke screen they are deploying. Who mentioned Johnny Fartpants?

A quick wash and brush up and we headed off to the local pub for the some scran. Pub grub? It doesn’t come much better than at the Lion & Lamb. Service was rather good, but this could possible be because Michelle used to work there. A quick pint to start, 2 bottles of wine with the meal, a couple more pints afterwards and then back home for another couple of bottles of wine. So, I make that only 4 bottles of wine between us and 3 pints for me and 3 VAT’s for Michelle. So, assuming 11 units of alcohol in a bottle, that means we drank 56 units of alcohol between us last night or 28 units each.

The so called government guidelines suggest 21 units PER WEEK for men and 14 units for women. Oh dear! Now remember that on: –

Wednesday we drank a lot of beers and most of a bottle of port (but between 3 of us)

Tuesday – we drank at least 3 bottles of wine and half a bottle of port, but again there were 3 of us

Monday, we took it easy and only had 2 bottles of champagne between the 2 of us

I think we have already drinking the 2nd week of June 2013’s alcohol limit now.

 

As a distraction, I’m sat on the sofa typing this as Michelle is sat on the hearth poking at the candle display with a tea spoon. What is that about? I did suggest to her, that a candle would light better if she used a match or a lighter instead.

Just been looking at the local Chinese menu for a takeaway tonight. According to the menu, the Fried Rice Dishes do not come with rice. Now, I know i may be slow today, but… surely the important ingredient in a rice dish is rice isn’t it?

Michelle’s mother has volunteered to collect the Chinese tonight as she says we are both still too drunk from last night’s soiree to drive to the Chinese. Result – means we can start drinking early.

Chinese

I am going to have to end this entry soon as the Bailey’s has been cracked open. Its 2 o’clock, this is going to be a long day!

Bailey's

Happy New Year Reader and remember its not big or clever to get drunk, but it is great fun

 

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1 Netto being the lowest of the low in the supermarket chain. The carrier bags used to cost more than their own brand baked beans

Ashes to Ashes

and dust to dust

the sack for Ricky is a must

 

Well done to Andrew Strauss and the England Cricket team for retaining the Ashes in Australia.

strauss-with-ashes-urn-1_5ump7_17022

I’ve asked the following question several times, but not had an answer yet.

“Ricky Ponting, why?”

Ponting“CHEER UP RICKY PONTING”

 

Kylie Minogue, Rolf Harris. Mark Viduka, Dame Edna Everage, Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, your boys took one hell of a beating.

 

 

Barmy Army

The Chimps’ Tea Party

On Boxing Day, I went to see Newcastle v Man Chester City along with my Dad and Tom. Thanks for the ticket Dad. Sadly, the game was over after less than five minutes with Newcastle being 2-0 down by then. Too much turkey for the Newcastle defence it seems. The game ended 1-3 to Manchester City. The difference in the two sides was Carlos Tevez, he was outstanding and ran the show. Every time he got the ball, you feared he would score or set up a goal. I hate to admit it that he was rather good to watch.

After the game, we drove to Horsley to see Michelle, and were joined there by My mother and my brother Martin, my sister Jacqui and her partner Maurice and also by Michelle’s parent’s Liz & Keith and of course her son Josh. The Chimp’s tea party was underway.

Michelle played the perfect host, lots of good food, including an excellent chilli and a drink or two was available. A few belated Christmas presents were exchanged and lots of laughter and merriment was had. Eleven of us in one small room to eat and drink was a squeeze, but made for a good intimate contact.

I have to just say how hard it is to make a chilli that is mild enough for those who are wusses and hot enough for those who like it hot. Michelle managed that rather well by having a separate bowl of chopped chillies to be added to your portion according to taste.

I am however horrified at the behaviour of certain members of my family. I’ll mention no names, but a sister of mine got herself so drunk she lay down on the sofa and went to sleep. This on the first time she meets Michelle’s family. I can’t believe she would behave that way. You’d never catch me doing that – I prefer to throw up on the Vicar’s wife (long story for another day), or try flying off hotel balconies ( I am the Benidorm Balcony diving Champion for 1987)

SAM_0012SAM_0014SAM_0017Getting Drunker?

SAM_0024

Tom Gloats about his Drunken Auntie – notice the empties in front of her on the table

SAM_0025

Jacqui A Reveller Getting into the Swing of the Party

Apart from the drunkards, the night seemed to go well, judging by the number of empty bottles the following morning. To avoid a visit from the Health authorities lecturing on alcohol awareness, we surreptitiously distributed empty bottles amongst the neighbours re cycling bins.

Seriously, it was a good night – thanks to everyone for making it so.

SAM_0023

After everyone left, Michelle, Tom and I had a wind down drink – and managed to get through a 1 litre bottle of Vodka. All was going well until Michelle did her party pieces: throwing her wine over the table, carpet and floor and then falling asleep on the sofa.

Monday, not surprisingly was a rather slow day with it taking hours to motivate ourselves to do anything. We did eventually drive down to my parents to take Tom back there, and my father opened another couple of bottles of champagne. Well, it would be rude not to wouldn’t it.

After we returned to Michelle’s we had a quiet night in with a couple of more bottles of champagne and settled down to watch a film. Yes, quality viewing “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. Did we see it all? Nope, Did we see half of it? Nope.

So, what of today? Well, we are just heading off for a pub lunch, then no doubt, a quiet night in with wine, beer, cider, vodka etc.……

Reading over my blog recently, it may seem to you that there is a lack of cycling and an excess of alcohol. You’d clearly by 50% right, I’ve not been out on my bike for ages. The weather has been such that cycling has not been possible. I had intended to brink a bike up to Horsley to go out riding this week, but it’s simply not the weather for it. (Well that’s my excuse). As for the alcohol, I’m doing my bit to save Michelle’s liver. I am working on the basis that if I drink 1/2 the alcohol, it must reduce the chances of her getting cirrhosis. (Well that and I like a drink or three as well).

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Snow White didn’t achieve much in her life but she managed to turn one of the dwarves purple.
At least she dyed Happy

Hypocrites Pt 2

Just a short mention for Manchester City Fans on Boxing Day singing

“Newcastle is a sh*thole

I want to go home”

This would be the Manchester City who until recently were based in the Moss side area of Manchester before moving to Eastlands

Now Moss side is described in the following terms on Wikipedia

In 1981 the Moss Side area was one of England’s inner city areas affected by a series of riots. Analysts trace the 1970s origins of Manchester’s gang crime to social deprivation in the south-central part of the city — Hulme, Longsight and Moss Side — where it was difficult to make money by legitimate means. A parallel trade in illegal narcotics and firearms gave rise to Manchester’s nickname of “Gunchester”. “Turf wars” between rival drugs ‘gangs’, resulted in a high number of fatal shootings. During what has been termed the Madchester phase of the history of Manchester, narcotic trade in the city became “extremely lucrative” and in the early 1990s a gang war started between two groups vying for control of the market in Manchester city centre – the ‘Cheetham Hill Gang’ and The ‘Gooch Close Gang’, in Cheetham Hill and Moss Side respectively. There were several high profile shootings associated with gangs and drugs in this area during the 1990s and into the 21st century

Doesn’t it sound a lovely place?

The Eastlands area where they have moved to is not much better. It may have less reported shootings than Moss side, but it is not an area you’d like to be in after dark.

What does Wikipedia say about Manchester’s crime levels?

Based on the population estimates for 2005, crime levels in the city are considerably higher than the national average. Some parts of Manchester were adversely affected by its rapid urbanisation, resulting in high levels of crime in areas such as Moss Side and Wythenshawe.

The number of theft from a vehicle offences and theft of a vehicle per 1,000 of the population was 25.5 and 8.9 compared to the English national average of 7.6 and 2.9 respectively.

The number of sexual offences was 1.9 compared to the average of 0.9.

The national average of violence against another person was 16.7 compared to the Manchester average of 32.7.

The figures for crime statistics were all recorded during the 2006/7 financial year.

So, in Manchester you are more likely to be mugged, burgled assaulted, have you car stolen etc.

What does Wikipedia say about Newcastle?

Newcastle was in the top ten of the country’s top night spots, and

The Rough Guide to Britain placed Newcastle upon Tyne’s nightlife as Great Britain’s no. 1 tourist attraction.

In the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination Awards for European Nightlife destinations, four of the UK’s nightspots finished in the top 10; Newcastle was awarded 3rd Place behind London, and Berlin. Newcastle also came in seventh for the World category

 So reader, I’ll leave it to you do decide which place is a sh*thole

I could go on at length given I have lived in both cities, but I’ll let Wikipedia speak for me

Hypocrites

The story below, taken from the Daily Mail made me smile a slightly wry smile. for those who do not know, both Tottenham Hotspurs and Wet Sham West Ham are wanting to move from their existing grounds to the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 games. (the highlighting is my doing).

West Ham vice chairman Karren Brady blasts rivals Tottenham over their Olympic Stadium bid

By Sportsmail Reporter
Last updated at 10:24 AM on 24th December 2010

West Ham vice chairman Karren Brady has accused Tottenham of attempting to ‘muscle in where they are not wanted’ as the battle to take over the Olympic Stadium in Stratford after 2012 intensifies.

The London rivals are locked in a two-way battle to occupy the Games site although a final decision has been delayed until later in 2011.

Barclays Premier League basement boys West Ham have received the formal backing of UK Athletics to become new tenants after promising to retain the track around the pitch in order to uphold the Olympic legacy.

Spurs are supported by O2 Arena owners AEG and want to demolish the Olympic Stadium and replace it with a brand new stadium.

The Hammers are angry with Spurs over their bid to potentially set up home on their east London territory, a move which has also prompted concern amongst the north London’s club’s supporters.

Brady described Tottenham’s interest as a ‘smash and grab’ attempt as she went public with her disapproval, writing in her column for The Sun.

She said: ‘It is an understatement to say I’m unhappy with the way Spurs have gone about trying to wrest the rights to the Olympic Stadium from us.

‘Our bid has been founded on goodwill to the community, to the council, to athletics and sport overall.

‘We have powerful support and the funds.’

Brady also took aim at Tottenham’s shareholders, claiming they do not live in the UK and neglect to pay UK tax.

She added: ”Spurs’ is an attempted smash and grab in our manor, sneaky and of no known benefit to anyone beyond their backers and major shareholders, who by the way are not based in the UK and don’t pay UK tax unlike our owners who have always lived, worked, employed and paid tax here.

‘Even their own fans hate the idea of a multi-mile move. Spurs are trying to muscle in where they are not wanted.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1341357/Karren-Brady-blasts-rivals-Tottenham-Olympic-Stadium-bid.html#ixzz19A8C8SVG

No, why have I entitled this article Hypocrites?

Well Wet Sham West Ham seem to forget the Olympic Stadium is only a few hundred yards away from the home of their East London neighbours Leyton Orient. Wet Sham West Ham seem to have no problem with moving onto the manor of Leyton Orient. Yet they object to anyone else moving there. The fact that Wet Sham West Ham call it their manor is rather insulting to Leyton Orient.

Given the current form of Wet Sham West Ham, its a bit of a waste to be wanting to move to a huge new stadium. They are unlikely to be playing top flight football next season ( and given their debts, probably not for many years). They are a club massively in debt and fading fast on the pitch. They have only won two league games all season, are 3 points adrift of safety, having paid a game more than their rivals. In November 2010, the owners of Wet Sham West Ham said the club were £85 million pounds in debt and could not pay their overheads if relegated.

‘Horrific’ West Ham relegation fear gives me sleepless nights, reveals co-owner David Sullivan

5th November 2010

West Ham co-owner David Sullivan has admitted to suffering from sleepless nights due to the club’s perilous position at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League table, and the ‘horrific’ possibility of relegation.

Sullivan admits that relegation would be a financial disaster and that West Ham’s debt, which currently stands at £85million, means he is unsure how the club could survive dropping down to the Championship.

 

‘We’re all concerned,’ Sullivan told the Evening Standard. ‘Taking over West Ham was always my dream but I am not a complete fantasist. I don’t take on something I don’t think I can sort out.

‘I can’t tell you what a disaster it would be if we went down. We have overheads, debts we have to repay which would be unsustainable if we were in the Championship

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1326971/West-Ham-relegation-fear-gives-sleepless-nights-reveals-David-Sullivan.html#ixzz19ACTwQBB

West Ham have not had a capacity crowd so far this season, yet they want to increase the capacity from 35,000 to around 55,000. Does this make sense, especially when playing a lower standard of football in the future.

They Think Its All Over……

Another Christmas Day draws to a close. Relatives are falling asleep in front of TVs. Those who are not staying here the night have gone home. Its time to relax.

I spent Christmas at my parent’s house. I arrived yesterday evening with tom, after having collected him from my sister and her partner’s house (Jacqui & Maurice). Whilst it was good to see Tom, it was a shame I had to be leaving Michelle. It does not seem right that we were not spending Christmas together. However, circumstances meant that it was not possible to find a way to be together. As a parent, my duty had to be to my son first, as did Michelle’s duty to her boys.

Christmas Eve was a spent with a few drinks with friends of my parents. As ever, John & Jen are good hosts. Well, lots of wine and good company makes for a good night. Arriving home with my parents and Tom at midnight, they all vanished to bed, leaving me to watch late night TV alone.

A leisurely start to the day resulted in me having to wake Tom up. A far change from previous years when he was waking me up at silly o’clock. Coming down stairs to the smell of cooking of bacon and eggs had me looking forward to breakfast. Sadly, it was not breakfast cooking, but it was my mother cooking “pigs in blankets” for Christmas lunch. What a disappointment.

After my brother (Martin), Jacqui & Maurice arrived, we got down to business, no not the food or the presents, but the alcohol. Well if truth be told, I was well on the way by the time they arrived. Well, the sun was over the yardarm somewhere in the world.

Presents were exchanged, and I have to say that for once, the presents were excellent, even if they did include slippers & socks!

Tom got me a DVD set of Porridge, which is one of my favourite ever comedy series. I am a big fan of the late Ronnie Barker’s brand of humour.

My parents got me a headcam, for use when cycling. This was something I had specifically requested. The details of the headcam are at http://www.retailgadgets.co.uk/Sports-Action-Helmet-Head-Camera.html?page=1 . I notice from looking at the website, that the camera has not been available since 17th Dec and won’t be for a couple more weeks. Thanks mummy and daddy. They also got me a number of other great presents, including some socks. These are cycling socks not ordinary Christmas type socks.

bulletcama3MY HEAD CAM

Martin, Jacqui & Maurice did something different this year. A “nuclear disaster” box filled with things I like, eg beer, vodka, sweets, cakes etc. This was a bit of a standing  joke as when we were children my mother always had one cupboard filled with spare tins of food etc. It was her nuclear disaster cupboard. The items in the box were all references to things I liked as a child- e.g. particular types of cakes, sweets etc. A novel idea, but a really good one.

Martin deserves a special mention as he also gave me a painting he did of the “Angel of the North”. I did not know Martin could paint and am very taken with the painting.

Angel of the North THE ANGEL OF THE NORTH

Michelle excelled herself and bought me some fantastic presents and I cannot begin to thank her enough for them. I cannot list them all, but they include a fantastic camera, which is something I have wanted for so long.  The slippers from Michelle go with the dressing gown she got me a couple of weeks ago. It makes me feel even more at home now when I am with her in Horsley.  What else did I get from her? Well a very sarcastic present of oven cleaner, scourers and marigold gloves. Why? Well Michelle thought my cooker was not up to her cleanliness standards when she visited recently. Well, if I did not find it funny (I did actually), my family thought it was hilarious that my partner would get that for me for Christmas. There were other presents as well from Michelle. I am truly lucky to have her. I am looking forward to seeing her tomorrow and spending the rest of the holidays with her. Thank you Michelle. I hope she liked my presents even 1/10th as much as I loved what she got me. talking on the phone is a poor substitute for being together with Michelle

My mother excelled herself with an excellent meal again. She cooked for all of us on her own. Its a big effort for her, and is much appreciated. Maybe next year I could have everyone round and do Christmas lunch for them all instead. I’d like that to be possible.

I have had a good time and got loads of great presents for which I thank you all who took so much time and trouble and money to make today  for me.

Tomorrow, Tom, my father and I are off to see Newcastle United play Manchester City  before we head to Michelle’s where we will be joined by my mother, Martin, Jacqui and Maurice and Michelle’s family for a meal and what will hopefully be a convivial evening of laughter and drinking. I can’t believe all the effort that Michelle has gone to for me and my family.

There are some very special people in the world. some people who make life worth living for so many people. Sadly, some people abuse that generosity and kindness. If they are reading this, they should all be ashamed of themselves. They have had the best in their lives and have someone who will do so much for them.

 

On a slightly sad note, I must just mention the family of Joanna Yeates the missing architect whose body was found today near Bristol. What an awful thing to happen  at anytime, let alone on Christmas Day. For this family and those who lose loved ones at this time, it will never again be a day of celebration and their loss will be magnified by everyone else celebrating.

Spare a thought for those less fortunate than you at this time of year, and at all other times. Not just those who have lost loved ones, but those whose loved ones are  risking their lives fighting for our country abroad

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas & This is what I want in a Stocking Santa!

Happy Christmas to you all.

I’d like to just mention those who are unable to partake in the merriment and over indulgence that we all take for granted.

The soldiers fighting to defend this country and even today risking their lives in Afghanistan and elsewhere. There is no football in “No-Man’s Land” today between the opposing armies

The emergency services who are providing medical treatment, fire defence and keeping law and order.

The essential service workers, eg power station workers, water companies etc

Even those who are required to work shifts at some stage tomorrow.

They are providing services we take for granted. A Special Christmas thank you to you. This poignant piece on www.nufc.com puts things into perspective

Steve Dunn / Chris Scott
East Stand season ticket holder Steven Thomas Dunn lost his life in an explosion in Helmand Province earlier this week. The 27 year-old Corporal from Gateshead was serving with the British Army and the following tribute was posted on the Ministry of Defence website:
“His passion for Newcastle United knew no bounds and his thirst and excitement for life was apparent in everything he did. Thoroughly dedicated to his family, his job and to those he served with, this potent blend won him the highest accolades and the respect of all.”

And we’re sorry to report that lifelong fan Chris Scott recently lost his battle against cancer at the age of 33. Morpeth-born, Wallsend-based Chris was buried with full “Toon Army honours” and in lieu of flowers, mourners were urged to donate to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. 
Condolences to friends and family of both lads.

Enjoy your Christmas and remember those less fortunate

I’m Dreaming of a (Black &) White Christmas

Yes, the presents are wrapped and under the tree. The only problem is they are still under the tree in Tesco’s and I’ve got to go out and buy them.

I’ve got is sussed this year- I’m buying everyone a gift of a cow to a farmer in Africa. Well, actually, I’m  not, I’ve just photo shopped a few likely looking certificates saying I’ve done theat. Shove them in envelopes and the job’s a good ‘un. They’ll never know. I’ll just eat lots of beef next year to make up for it and tell everyone who asks that the cow was delicious.

And you thought Scrooge was just a character in A Christmas Carol!

Am I being serious? Well see what you get for a present tomorrow before deciding.

 

I drove up from London yesterday to the North East. What a dreadful journey it was. All the once a year drivers who are scared to do above 45 mph on the roads. It wouldn’t be so bad except they generally drive at 45mph in the overtaking lane( s) and refuse to pull in, despite their being nothing on the inside lane for 50 miles. Thus causing massive tailbacks. A word for you all, the national speed limit is 70mph and you car will not fall apart if you do 46 mph.

Then there are the lorries pulling out to overtake the cars doing 55mph. This doesn’t sound bad, but you need to recall the lorries are restricted to 56mph, so they take several miles to overtake anything, and consequentially cause more tailbacks.

As the journey was so slow, I had to make a stop on the way up for lunch. Yes Tom, I stopped at Wetherby for a Whale (http://www.wetherbywhaler.co.uk/ ). Shame you were on the train, it doesn’t stop at Wetherby, well not since 1964 when Dr Beeching closed it.

Wetherby_railway_station_signWetherby railway station sign – the station went years ago

Tom, as you missed out, here is the next best thing to those succulent fish & chips, a gloating blog telling you what you have missed out on.

TomTom on Hearing I’d been to Wetherby without him

After Wetherby, I made my way to County Durham, and despite the warnings about the weather, I did not need to book a hotel room at the Travelodge at Scotch Corner and wait for the thaw to set in.

A quick visit to my parents however nearly proved dangerous – no not because of my mother’s cooking (only joking mum – honest! Please take that arsenic out of my portion of turkey for tomorrow), but because it snowed again on and made the roads out of Kirk Merrington to the A1 rather tricky. However, I did manage to get onto the A1(M ) and onto Horsley to see Michelle.

Horsley is like a winter wonderland – lots of snow, and a pretty picture postcard look across the Tyne Valley. A gourmet tea, was followed by a glass or several of Oyster Bay wine courtesy of Netto! Yes Netto- the wine is fantastic and its cheap there. I will say however that if you come to Horsley, don’t expect to be served the Oyster Bay white wine. Michelle has some “nice” chardonnay for visitors and non wine connoisseurs.

A late night spot of dogging followed. I am of course referring to taking Michelle’s two dogs for their evening walk. I haven’t got a clue what you were thinking about. you foul minded persons. It was too cold to be anything less than fully wrapped up, including hats, gloves, scarves, coats, several layers etc..

Today is the final preparations for the big day. So, instead of shopping, I’m blogging! Seriously, got a couple of last minute things to do, then its dinner with Michelle & her parents, before I have to head back to Kirk Merrington to spend Christmas with my parents, my siblings and my son. Michelle will be spending Christmas with her family. Sadly we are apart on Christmas Day. We will be together after the football on Boxing Day and will remain so until the New Year. It doesn’t seem right to be apart on Christmas Day, yet only be 30 miles apart. However, I have tried all ways to find a way to square the circle of Christmas arrangements, but sadly its not possible. Have to make do with phone calls on Christmas Day.

However, in the best spirit of Baldrick from Blackadder, I have a cunning plan. A very cunning plan! At my mother’s we sit down to Christmas lunch usually around 13:30, and have it finished for the Queen’s speech at 15:00. A not to be missed occasion each year for a Monarchist like me.

Last night Michelle revealed….. no, not that sort of revealing, you and your dirty minds. No, Michelle revealed to me that her Christmas meal is usually at somewhere like 17:30. So, I could copy Dawn French in the Vicar of Dibley and have 2 Christmas meals and spend Christmas night with Michelle and her family

In the  spirit of Baldrick however, there is a flaw in this plan.

How am I going to get the 30 miles for my parent’s to Michelle’s house? Clearly I won’t be able to drive, drink-driving laws etc. I wonder how nice I would have to be to get Michelle to pick me up after the Queen’s Speech. “Erm,  Michelle……”

If I don’t blog again before Christmas Day, then a Merry Christmas to you all. Have a good day and remember the meaning of Christmas. its not just a pagan festival, there is Christ in there.

Finally, all I need for Christmas is 3 points off Man City on Boxing Day and a decent performance of a Carrol – Andy that is not Christmas

Finally, anyone know when the DFS sale starts? Is it New Years Day or Boxing Day?

We’re Getting There

Well, following on from my post re truth and how some companies have a strange idea of truth, I heard a great example on the BBC Radio 4 “Today” programme in the last 24 hours. Robin Gisby, Network Rail  Operations and Customer Services Director, declared the national train network was “fully open” and “working well.” this week.

I found this interesting as my local rail company National Express East Anglia had cancelled yesterday, and today 2 out of 3 local trains in rush hour on their “emergency” timetable. In practice at least some of the remaining 1/3 of trains were either cancelled or delayed. First Capital Connect were running a reduced service at about 50% of their full service level. Yesterday, East Coast and First Capital Connect had to cancel nearly all trains between London and Peterborough.

Checking on the National Rail Website today (Wednesday), major delays were listed to:

East Coast Mainline

East Midlands Trains

First Capital Connect

First Great Western

Gatwick Express

London Midland

National Express East Anglia and

Eurostar

I’d hate to see the rail network when it is not working well or is not fully open. Mr Gisby also said “We are open for business today all across the network and we are planning to run a pretty good service.” Not sure what happened to those plans, but the reality was very different.

Even more incredible was the claims made by Mr Gisby about the queues at St Pancras Station for the Eurostar. You may recall the thousands o people queuing for many hours outside the station and down the street after trains were cancelled and delayed. Mr Gisby said “On the looking after folk, the situation at St Pancras has been very difficult. We have been looking after people… we have had food and blankets… we got several thousand meals out.”

This sounds like Network Rail had looked after the customers as best they could. However, the reality is Network Rail did not feed the passengers or give them blankets. The Salvation Army did the feeding and providing of blankets. This fact seems to have escaped Mr Gisby who claims the credit for his cowboy outfit.

The London Evening Standard reported the story today at London Evening Standard

From 1985 – 1988 British Rail used the advertising slogan “We’re Getting There.” It seems that Network Rail have no idea where there is and have given up making attempts to get themselves or the passengers anywhere.

Well I went to work today, late thanks amongst other things to National Express East Anglia. The office was like the Marie Celeste today, with many on Christmas leave and some of the rest off sick. There was arranged a buffet lunch paid for by ourselves. The fact so many people were off ill meant there is enough food left over for tomorrow and probably Friday as well. Thanks to the girls who organised it. It was a feast fir for a king and a bargain price as well.

I am now on leave until the New Year. Hopefully, weather permitting I will be in Horsley tomorrow night to see Michelle. I am planning to drive up and to seemy parents in the afternoon before spending Thursday night with Michelle. I am probably spending Christmas Eve night and also Christmas Day with my parents  and Tom before seeing Michelle again from Boxing Day until the New Year- or until she has had enough of me and kicks me out. Her two dogs have been told to expect a visitor in the dog house next week!

I spent a good couple of hours tonight, trying to fix 2 laptops which keep crashing. One seems to be suffering from intermittent visits from the blue screen of death. It was a bugger as I was trying to sort out a Christmas present as well. Its frustrating when the laptop crashes and you lose your work for the fifth time. As you can imagine, I said “deary me” and started again whistling a jaunty tune as I did so.

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I saw a bloke fishing the other day and I asked him, “Have you caught anything?”
He said, “I’ve caught loads today.”
“Using maggots, are you?”
“No, liquorice.”
“What have you caught with that?”
“All sorts,” he said

The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth?

I was watching the television today when there was an advert on for Tetley tea with the following slogan:

‘Tetley, We don’t make tea for anyone else’

Well I thought to myself, that’s bullshit I know at least 3 other people who drink it.

 

It set me thinking about the other lies and misleading statements around us. For example we spend 11 1/2 months of the year terrifying our children about paedophiles and the remaining time we encourage them to get excited about a fat old man with a beard coming into their bedroom in the middle of the night. Just what are we teaching children?

Virgin Media and the truth are two things that are not known to each other very well. I am currently experiencing problems with my broadband connection. I called Virgin on Saturday and they arranged an appointment for an engineer to call out today (21st December) between 0800 and 1200.

Yesterday morning Virgin called me to confirm the appointment was still needed. So far so good. Yesterday, I got something like 40 text messages from Virgin between around 1700 and 1800 all stating Virgin were having problems in keeping their appointments. Some stated that Virgin would call if there was a problem with my appointment.

So by 1230 today, no engineer had called, so I rang Virgin, spoke to someone who spoke to the engineers team and told me the call was live and the engineer was running late but would be coming today. When I asked when and asked why I had not been called given they could not keep the appointment slot, answers came there none.

I called back almost immediately, spoke to a different person in the same department who told me the appointment had previously been cancelled.

a) He could offer no explanation as to why I had not been called to be told this.

b) He could not advise when the appointment was cancelled

c) He told me the people who knew the answers to the above questions were the engineers team, but I could not speak to them as they were not taking calls! Yes they were refusing to tell people what was going on.

d) He advised me the previous person I spoke to had typed in the notes to say they had told me the appointment had been cancelled.

e) He advised me Virgin Media would not consider any compensation for the missed appointment nor for the failing to call. This despite the fact they accept I have had to take a day off work to be here, and will have to repeat this again at a future date in the event that Virgin do bother to re-arrange this appointment.

So, Virgin Media, I would ask you: –

1. Why did you cancel my appointment after confirming it yesterday and texting me last night repeatedly?

2. Why did you not contact me at any stage to advise the appointment had been cancelled?

3. When exactly was this appointment cancelled?

4. Why when I telephoned you, after the appointment slot was I told the engineer was on his way still, despite it having already been cancelled?

5. Why do you employ dishonest staff who record on the notes they have told me that the appointment had been cancelled, when they had done precisely the opposite?

6. Why do you think you can ignore the loss you have caused to your customers, and refuse even to consider any compensation?

Whilst you are thinking of the answers to these questions Mr Branson, you can deal with the small claims court summons that has now been issued against your company. I am not prepared to waste my time in correspondence with your company when you have told me point blank that you will not even consider compensation for your causing me to lose a day’s work unnecessarily.

I am repeatedly amazed at companies that have no idea of how to treat their customers. This situation would never have arisen if :

A. Virgin had rung and said “sorry we can’t keep today’s appointment owing to the weather”.

B Having failed to ring, they hold their hands up and make a token gesture of apology, say 1 months free broadband. This would cost them perhaps £25 or less.

Instead they lie about what is happening and then refuse point blank to consider recompense for their actions (or lack of them).

I think too many companies rely on customers inertia and the customers failing to pursue matters. Write to many companies complaints departments and you get generally unhelpful letters fudging the issue and refusing to compensate customers.

As consumers, we need to fight back and remind companies who is in control. The simple remedy is to issue a claim in the small claims court. This can be done online at  https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome It costs £25 to issue a claim for up to £300. This court fee is recoverable from the other side. There are no other costs involved. If you lose the case, you do not have to pay any costs of the other side and vice versa. The small claims court is designed to be simple and to keep lawyers out of it.

Simply put, it is rarely worth companies defending these claims as it will cost them more than the amount you are claiming. The  small claims court is a very underused process. All you do is:

a. type in your name & address,

b. the name and address of your opponent (if Ltd or PLC, then their registered office address)

c. State your case in less than 1080 characters

d. Pay the issue fee online

The court will issue the proceedings and serve them on the opponent. The opponent then has 14 days to file a defence. The process is on the website I gave you, if needed. However, often after issuing proceedings you will be contacted by the opponent looking to resolve the matter.

Fight back against bad service, take control and issue proceedings in the small claims court. Don’t accept second best or bad service.

 

 

Well, apart from fighting with Virgin Media, what else have I done today?

I know some of you won’t believe me, but I have done some work. Quite interestingly, I have had to look up some references and stories online relating to recent criminal cases and finds what references there have been to a couple of people involved in recent criminal cases. This was quite interesting as it brought up references to criminal cases that I had forgotten about.

I have also spent a couple of hours wrapping Christmas presents. Given that Michelle has assisted me in Christmas shopping and has numerous presents for people from us at her house, I seem to have more presents here than I have ever had before. I think I must have gone for quantity not quality this year.

I will confess that I am the world’s worst present wrapper. Its only matched by my lack of skill in choosing presents. Michelle, a sister and a mother to guide me, as well as good help from my ex wife. Where would we be without females to help us choose presents.

 

 

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A Muslim wearing a rucksack walks into a bar. He orders a pint of lager and everyone realises that he’s integrated perfectly well into society and has been out hill-walking