My Family & Other Animals

No, I’ve no become literary obsessed unless you count my subscriptions to The Beano & “Reader’s Wives”, sorry, I meant to say Times Literary Supplement. Gerard Durrell needn’t worry, I’m not going to be stealing his literary crown.

What do you mean you can tell by the opening paragraph ?

Anyway, on with the blog…

This weekend, I have been in the North East again to see Michelle and to surprise my mother for her 70th birthday. No, contrary to the beliefs of some people I was not aiming to shock her into a heart attack to claim an inheritance.

Yes, my mother was 70 on Thursday and was determined not to have a do to celebrate the occasion. However, you cannot let a birthday like that disappear without recognition. I had arranged with my sister who was seeing my parents on Saturday that she would book extra seats at the pub and Michelle, Josh and I would go, but also that Tom would come up from Kettering for the night and Martin, my brother, would come from Whitby. All to be unannounced to my mother.

As things happened, my mother had decided to get Martin for the weekend anyway (but not invite me! – Hint there mother Winking smile ). Martin knew nothing of the plans though.

Tom, came up to Newcastle on Saturday, but he managed to misplace his railcard before the journey, so only just caught his train. Then the 2nd train he got was late, so he missed his connection for the 3rd one and arrived late in Newcastle, but fortunately only 12 minutes late as the later train was a faster one. Still he made it, and spent most of the journey up studying for his A level exam on 31st January – good lad Smile Michelle and I met him at the station and took him back to Michelle’s for lunch etc.

Before going for a meal, my parents were to go to my sisters for a glass of bubbly. So we arranged with Jacqui to arrive a few minutes later to surprise my mother. Michelle, Josh & I sneaked in as my mother was opening presents and gave her a ( hopefully nice) surprise. We arranged for Tom to come in later as my mother would not think it unusual that he was not up. So, she had a second surprise – still never induced that coronary though – but never mind, I had another plan.

When going out for meals, it is almost impossible to pay for the meal as My father went to pay the bill, only to be told it had been paid. This flummoxed them as they couldn’t work out who had paid the bill or  when. They did not know whether to thank me, Jacqui or Michelle and consequently could not insist on returning the cost of the meal.

[Note to my father- if you are reading this, I paid the bill and it was £850- if you want to credit it to my account Winking smile . The shock of learning I paid the bill will bring on a coronary- if anything will!]

We headed back to Jacqui’s via the Magic Roundabout(S) and sampled the birthday cake. Unfortunately for Josh and I, others liked the cake. Damn you Nigella for such good recipes, even if you are out done in the looks by the chef from Horsley.


Tom & His Grandma with THE Cake (Tom is the one on the left!)



My Parents Share a Romantic moment (It is by their standards)


It was a rather pleasant night out and I hope that Michelle and Josh enjoyed it as much as I did, even if it was like a Chimp’s Tea Party. Looking back over the photos, I think Josh may be ringing Childline to complain about what his mother did to his eye.


So Michelle, please explain what happened to Josh’s eye and why you have a clenched fist? You hadn’t been assaulting him before he got there to ensure he behaved had you?….. “You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something you later rely on in evidence”

Sunday morning, Tom had to go home, so I took him for the 0915 train and offered to buy him some papers to read on the train. He chose a couple as did I. We got to the counter and “I’ve forgotten my wallet” routine was pulled. Poor old Tom fell for it and ended up having to buy my papers as well as his own. I’m embarrassed at having to get a sub off my son. Sorry Tom – I will return the cash – eventually.

The rest of Sunday morning was taken up with watching Josh play football. They lost 5-1 but without some of the saves josh made, it would have been much higher. He must feel like Shay Given did when he played at Newcastle.

Sunday night brought another S&M meal prepared by me. Although the meal was interrupted by some external people playing  (perhaps unwittingly) the S role and causing unnecessary grief.

Still. a good weekend was had by me (and all hopefully) and I am typing the end of this on the train to Carlisle, on my way to Preston for work. The glamour of 1st class rail travel? nope, a rickety , unheated 2nd class only 2 carriage chugger that takes 68 minutes to do less than 40 miles. Luxury it is not. I’m sat here with my coat, hat and gloves on. The train has an odd mix of people on it- some sleeping off last night’s excesses, some students going to Carlisle University and plenty of unhealthy types hacking up their lung linings. Oh I love public transport.


Oh, I forgot to mention a big cheer for Leyton Orient who won on Saturday away at Swansea from the division above them in the FA  Cup and now have a home London Derby with Premiership Arsenal- a full house is guaranteed and no doubt a live TV game. Now, can I get tickets for Michelle & Josh who are down that weekend is the big question.

Major Tennis Tournament’s Won By Scottish Loser Andrew Murray

Well he has won














Oh yes … erm







Nope, sorry, can’t think of anything major he’s won



Mr Murray, you claim your statement that at the 2006  Football World Cup to be supporting “whoever England are playing” was in jest.

Well, England supports whoever you are playing and we are proud not to be Scottish today after you have become:

a) The first man to appear in 3 Grand Slam finals ( in the open era) and not win one of them

b) The first man to appear in 3 Grand Slam finals ( in the open era) and not win one a single set.

Andy, you are keeping up the long tradition set by the Scottish football and Rugby  and cricket teams of being unable to win a single set.

England thanks you for giving us such a good laugh on a cold miserable winter’s day

Are Cyclists Their Own Worst Enemy?

As you all know by know, I am a cyclist as well as other things. I have been using different modes of transport more over the last few weeks, including, walking, public transport, trains and also driving. Why have I been doing this? Well, a combination of reasons, including:

a) being out on site working

b) bad weather restricting cycling

c) general apathy

It has caused me to look at cyclists with different eyes. It has also made me think how others see cyclists.

I am also a member of several cycling forums including Cycle Chat and Bike Radar . Cycle Chat has a sections called Politics & Life, Commuting and Cycle Chat Cafe amongst others.


Bike Radar has several forum sections, including Cake Stop and Commuting .


There are numerous other cycling forums I occasionally visit including  CTC Forum and London Fixed-gear and Single-speed forums.

These forums are full of lively debate, some of it cycle related, other debate not. So, what I hear you ask has this got to do with the title of the thread?

Well, my observations recently are of numerous people on bikes ignoring red lights, riding on pavements illegally where it suits them and riding without lights. This is not to mention riding and changing road position or turning without making any attempt to check it is safe to do so.

No doubt all of you can give examples of all these actions from your own experience. There is a link in all this behaviour. It seems that the person on the bike is riding in such a way as they are only considering themselves. As long as they can progress their journey in the manner they want, they couldn’t care less about the laws of the land or the effect their behaviour has on others.

Then there are those on various forums gloating at the misery motorists are facing with increased costs. See for example the opening post in this thread Cyclist Gloating re Motorists Costs . What would any motorist reading this think of cyclists attitudes.

On another thread we have pratts wanting to get devices to scare walkers or joggers using towpaths. Scaring Walkers/ Joggers Why? because the jogger/ walker who has right of way is causing the cyclist to slow down. Now, I ask you to think of tow paths? They are not designed for fast cycling. Indeed the walkers and joggers have right of way. A jogger is probably running at say 8 miles per hour or more and yet the moron wants to be riding faster. It never occurs to the selfish oaf that if he wants to ride fast he should be riding on say the highway.

Do these people not for  one minute think how their behaviour and attitudes reflect on cyclists as a whole? All they are doing is reinforcing the very negative impression people have of cyclists.

As cyclists we are a very vulnerable group on the roads. We are never going to come off best in an accident with several tons of fast moving motorised metal. I know to my own disadvantage after being hit by a car from behind in November 2009 . I am still suffering from those injuries to this day. I have injuries to the left knee that are unlikely ever to  repair. I can no longer run, I have a tear in the medial meniscus (I think that is what it was) in my left knee. I am also still suffering from increased anxiety on the road.

With this vulnerability, we need to get people on our side and to be more sympathetic to our issues than they are. This will not be achieved by irritating  others or by seeking to scare them especially when they have the right of way.

Now, I have to say that these actions and attitudes are only those of a minority of cyclists, but it only takes one bad egg to get a whole group a bad name.

If you are not a cyclist, then please do not tar all of us with the same brush as a result of the actions of the morons. These people are selfish morons whether on their bikes or not. They are not selfish morons because they are on bikes.

Remember some of those people on bikes are people like me (actually, perhaps you should scrub this last idea!). Seriously, please think bike and try to look out for those cyclists on the roads. We are very vulnerable.

Sexism, Racism and Media Hypocrisy

What am I ranting about today you ask?

Well I hope its not going to be a rant, but just a couple of observations re the sexism in football story. See Guardian Newspaper for the background.


To put it in a nutshell Sky TV employed Richard Keys as a presenter and Andy Gray as a pundit on its soccer programme. The two were recorded, whilst off air on Saturday before the Wolves v Liverpool game making remarks about one of the match officials, a female lineswoman (assistant referee) called Sian Massey.


Keys: ‘Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her (the female referee).’

Gray: ‘Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule.’

Keys: ‘Course they don’t. I can guarantee you there will be a big one (offside call) today. Kenny (Dalglish, Liverpool’s manager) will go potty. This isn’t the first time, is it? Didn’t we have one before?’

Keys: (Referring to Karren Brady’s newspaper column) ‘The game’s gone mad. Did you hear charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Do me a favour, love.’


There were also a couple of other exchanges , one the same day and one back in December. None of these were broadcast and it seems that in all cases the “victims” had not complained. Sky TV have sacked Andy Gray, but not Richard Keys. The basis seemingly being that the December incident involved Gray making remarks not Keys, although apparently Keys was laughing at those remarks.

Richard Keys apparently has form for other sexist remarks according to today’s Guardian Newspaper

The new evidence against Keys, in which he refers to the woman as “it” and twice asks the former Liverpool and Spurs player if he “smashed it”, appeared to come from the same source as the earlier Gray video and was posted from the same YouTube account. In it Keys is recorded chatting to Redknapp, Ruud Gullit and Graeme Souness before going on air at Stamford Bridge. The conversation begins with someone behind the camera mentioning a former girlfriend of Redknapp called Louise. Keys asks Redknapp whether he “smashed it” and the former player replies that he “used to go out with her”.

As Gullit fiddles with his phone and Souness tries to interject, Keys returns to the question. “Mind you, that’s a stupid question, if you were anywhere near it, you definitely smashed it. You could have gone round there any night and found Redknapp hanging out the back of it,” he says, laughing.



  • I have no issue with Sky TV taking action against either of these two presenters. The remarks are indeed sexist and have no place in football. If nothing else they are undermining the officials in the game for no good reason. I have seen several female officials and they are no different to male ones. They are as equally capable as male officials.
  • I would query why Sky TV have sacked one of the protagonists but not the other
  • I would query whether Sky TV have gone through the proper disciplinary procedure before sacking their employee
  • A few years ago, Ron Atkinson was hounded to resign from his role as a TV pundit on ITV’s football coverage after making a racist comment
  • Ron Atkinson’s media work came to an abrupt halt on 21 April 2004, when he was urged to resign from ITV by Brian Barwick after he broadcast a racial remark live on air about the black Chelsea player Marcel Desailly; believing the microphone to be switched off, he said, “…he [Desailly] is what some people would call a fucking lazy nigger”.
  • Ron Atkinson has never worked in broadcasting since. Yet it seems Sky TV are happy for Richard Keys to continue to broadcast. Is what Ron Atkinson said worse than that said by Richard Keys and or Andy Gray? I would point out here that Gray/ Keys said females were not up to the job- i.e. that was what they believed,; whereas Atkinson was referring to what other people would say – i.e. not saying he believed that. In my view what Atkinson said was wrong and cannot be condoned, but I would query whether it is worse than that said by Gray/ Keys?
  • ITV broadcast every weekday lunchtime a programme called Loose Women which consists of a panel of 4 or so women generally discussing things from a women’s point of view and consists of lots of sexist comments about men to the effect that men are useless etc. Why is this not only acceptable, but a  positively encouraged attitude by ITV. Why is sexist behaviour wrong if done by a man and not when done by the Loose Women?
  • Some parts of the Media are incredibly hypocritical in that they happily publish pictures of topless models or snap shots of minor celebrities making them , especially females ones, to be the object of sexual titillation – e.g. showing pictures of “wardrobe malfunctions”. The same media outlets are calling for Sky TV to sack the two presenters.  People who live in glass houses etc.…..?

    I suppose my issue overall is the inconsistency of actions by the powers that be against racism/ sexism in general and the hypocrisy of the media in all this

    The Big Match

    Orient played MK Dons on 25th February 2011 in a League 2 Match (3rd tier of English football).

    A night at the match in pictures


    The Olympic Stadium it isn’t, but Brisbane Road is full of character ( aka falling down in places) This is the East Stand, the former main stand and former main entrance to the ground


    5 mins to Kick Off and the crowd pushes impatiently to get in before kick off – or not as the case maybe



    The MK Dons Supporters Coach –after all it is a long way to travel being nearly 80 miles! Came in a taxi – they came in a taxi!


    A Packed House – well a packed flat – yes, the flat in the corner of the ground is packed – shame the ground wasn’t


    The Action Unfolds



    The Fans Go Wild with Passion and Excitement


    The Result was a 2-2 draw.

    The passion and excitement is over for another day

    Taken for a Ride

    Well, its been a few days since I made a post that wasn’t a rant. So, I’ll try not to rant today.

    Well, I’m back @ Chez Spen this week. Manchester was good to visit, especially as it didn’t rain the whole time I was there! Yes, you heard me right. 5 days in Manchester and no rain!


    Apart from the rain, the high levels of gun and gang crime, the excessive number of students, the Manchester City fans (as everyone knows the Manchester United fans live in London), the high levels of immigrants etc., I quite like Manchester.

    Although I have been to Manchester many times since the IRA terrorists bombed the place on 15th June 1996, I have rarely been over near the Victoria Station side of town. I did go there last week and was disappointed to see that the Virgin Megastore no longer exists. It will live on in my memories as a result of that 1980 classic record by The Freshies “I’m In Love With The Girl On the Virgin Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk” which had to have the title and lyrics changed to delete the reference to Virgin before the BBC would play it. The BBC had strict rules re advertising in those days. I can’t find online the original version, only the doctored version.

    What is perhaps makes the Freshies more special is that the lead singer Chris Sievey  later went on to be a cult comedian with his Frank Sidebottom character. Sadly he died in June 2010from cancer  at the young age of 54.

    The song brings back memories of my student days in Manchester. I have to confess to not using the Virgin Megastore too often however, I  much preferred to use Piccadilly Records which was far more trendy. The perfect place to get the latest Smiths Album.

    There are plenty who know me now who would argue that I’m still a miserable git now!

    Right, anyway, I’ve digressed enough. Back to the exciting tales of life being Spen.

    On Friday last week, I finished my onsite work in Manchester and headed to Newcastle for the night. Yes, I drove 160 miles North East instead of the 200 miles South to London. Nothing unusual about that you say, a weekend in Newcastle is reasonable. Well, it would be if I was there for the weekend, but I headed back to London from Newcastle on Saturday morning!

    So, Friday, I got to Newcastle about 17:30 and went straight to Michelle’s. We went out for a drink in Ponteland after a bottle of wine or two at Michelle’s. We then went to Fratellis restaurant. The food there is excellent and it would be a shame not to visit it when I can. fortunately, there was just the two of us as Michelle’s boys were away.

    I did however get regular interruptions from my son Tom who was wanting help preparing his case for his Bar Mock Inter School criminal trial the following day. Not sure how much help I gave him after several drinks! Still there were several phone calls, emails and Facebook messages between us. Poor Michelle not getting my “undevoted” attention. The lady is a saint to put up with me.

    Still, Tom won his trial. He was defending in an assault case – the defence skills have obviously been passed down from me to him. Nothing like blowing my own trumpet eh? NO, not like that – you are sick, and besides that extra rib makes it impossible- so I’ve been told.

    Saturday morning brought a drive from Newcastle to London, just getting down to Leyton in time for the football there. I drove the 288 miles from Newcastle to Leyton in 4 hours.

    Now, if the speed limit is between 50mph in some places  and a max of 70 mph, then clearly officer I was lying in my blog when I said I did it in 4 hours. I obviously being such a law abiding chap would never drive over the speed limit.

    The football was a pleasant surprise. I’d not been to an Orient home game since the end of November. They were playing Sheffield Wednesday, probably the biggest club in the division and won 4-0. The best home result I’ve seen in years there.

    Highlights are online here O’s 4 Sheffield Wednesday 0

    The rest of the weekend was spent in riotous living. Yes, I went to the supermarket on Saturday night, before heading home and chatting to Virgin Media. See my earlier post at Virgin Media Woes.

    Sunday was spent cleaning, and cooking. I actually made my own soup, and it was edible! I’ve never made soup before. I’m not sure why as its incredibly easy. Next time I will decide what type of soup I am going to make before starting cooking. I wonder if there is a market for “carrot, onion and potato” soup?

    Hmmmm, I’m still waiting for Heinz to get back to me on this.

    Monday however brought me back in the office at work. I cycled in, for only the 3rd time this year, and the first time in about 17 days. I noticed my lack of fitness. I need to start getting back into cycling if I am going to do the Police Unity Tour in May without suffering too much. Still, I got to and from work safely, so that has got to be a good start. It is however disconcerting to see Grannies on their gas pipe framed shopper bikes leaving me for dead as they pass me.

    Still, it was a start and I’m doing it again tomorrow. I will have to leave early though as I am going to see Orient tomorrow night. Think I’ll be on my own though as everyone else seems to have got other things to do Sad smile Billy no mates AGAIN.


    Me: “Can I have a shag?”
    Girl: “No!”
    Me: “Wait! I don’t think you heard me correctly…”
    Girl: “Oh, I think I did…”
    Me: “Fine then, what did I say?”
    Girl: “Can I have a shag?”
    And that, Your Honour, is why it wasn’t rape!


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    Trial by Media

    This weekend, the police in Avon & Somerset have charged a Dutch National Vincent Tabak with the murder of Joanna Yeates who went missing on the 17th December after returning home from a night out.

    BBC News Report

    The deceased’s body was found on Christmas Day 2010.  Within days, the police had arrested her landlord but released him on bail without charge. Whilst he was in custody, the British Media published numerous prejudicial articles about him and his alleged background and contents. Examples are shown below, but these are tame compared to the versions that have been removed from the internet

    Daily Telegraph 30th December 2010

    Daily Mail 31st December 2010

    Daily Mirror 31st December 2010

    Daily Mail 1st January 2011

    Daily Mirror 1st January 2011

    Interestingly, many of the newspapers have removed all traces of their articles from the internet- trying to re write history? Rupert Murdoch has removed all articles from The Sun and Times websites. There is no article referring to his arrest on those websites NOW.

    Whilst I am not usually a fan of the Guardian newspaper, it has at least tried to highlight the problems resulting from the other newspapers breaching of the Contempt of Court Act in relation to their reports.

    The Guardian 2nd January 2011

    Guardian 7th January 2011

    Guardian 10th January 2011

    The Crown Prosecution Service have guidance on their website at: CPS Guidance

    Strict Liability Contempt under the Contempt of Court Act 1981

    Strict liability contempt (refer to the law earlier in this chapter) applies to publications (including broadcasts) addressed to the public at large or any section of the public, which create a substantial risk that the course of public justice will be seriously impeded or prejudiced. The strict liability rule only applies to legal proceedings that are “active” at the time of the publication, and may render the publication a contempt regardless of any intent to interfere with the course of justice in the proceedings. (Archbold 28-59 to 28-61).

    The absence of the requirement to prove intention distinguishes it from the common law variant. Common law contempt may be committed where proceedings are pending or imminent (albeit not necessarily active for the purposes of the 1981 Act), and where there is actual intent to interfere with the administration of justice in those proceedings.

    Active”, for the purposes of section 2(3) of the 1981 Act, is defined in Schedule 1 of the Act as including the issue of a summons or the arrest without warrant of a defendant (Archbold 28-62). Proceedings cease to be active for the purposes of the Act where they conclude by, inter alia, acquittal/sentence, any other order bringing proceedings to an end, or by discontinuance/operation of law. Where a warrant has been issued, proceedings cease to be active once twelve months’ have elapsed without the suspect’s arrest, and – where there has been an arrest – when the suspect is released without charge otherwise than on bail.

    Whether the publication creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice is judged at the time of publication. The longer the gap between publication and the trial (‘the fade factor’), the less the substantial risk of serious prejudice is likely to be. (Archbold 28-74 to 28-76).

    Now, I appreciate that those reading this who live abroad may be surprised to see such restrictions on the media. The restriction have worked here and have helped to ensure that trials are conducted fairly in court on the evidence and not via the media.

    The worrying thing to me is that we have a law prohibiting actions, but it is rare the law is enforced. We should either have the law and enforce it, or we should abolish the law. The current uncertainty is not helpful.


    Now, turn to the position of Christopher Jeffries, the landlord, who was the victim of much bile in the media. He is apparently innocent of any crime, yet as a result of the media coverage will always have the stigma of being connected to this murder and also accused inter alia of being a pervert, having paedophile friends etc. Is this acceptable?

    I personally would hope to see Mr Jefferies sue the relevant publications for defamation of character.

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    Richard Branson’s Virgin Media & The Truth–”Yet to be Acquainted”

    Those of you who have followed this blog will be aware of the on going battle I seem to be having with Virgin Media to get them to provide the broadband service I am paying for them to supply.

    I realise that it is totally unreasonable of me to expect that when I pay Richard Branson to provide me with broadband, that his company should be expected to provide it. Clearly, Virgin Media will make more profit if they take the money and do not provide the service.

    The fault is such that at times, I can’t get internet access, at other times, I get very slow internet access or intermittent access. It means that it is difficult to use it for internet banking or to buy things online as the service is likely to suffer outages whilst doing the transaction.

    So, despite ringing several times since early December reporting this fault and being told: –

    • a) was a modem fault
    • b) was a line fault now fixed
    • c) was a fault with my computer
    • d) there was no fault at all
    • e) there was a fault in the area that would be fixed in next couple of days (this was weeks ago)

    Well tonight, I decided to check the faults section on Virgin Media’s website. The message below was what is on the website after I logged in and entered my account details.

    Service status

    Your Service Status for telephone number 020 XXXX XXXX Saturday 22 January 2011, 21:44
    There are no known problems affecting your Broadband service.
    • If you are still having issues with your services why not try to find your answer in our help area.
    • Alternatively you could search questions and answers from other customers in our
      Help & Support Forums.

    However if these do not solve your problem then please let us know by contacting us free on 151 from your Virgin Media Phone or call 0845 454 1111 from any other phone line.

    So, when I rang Virgin Media and spoke to the obligatory overseas call centre representative, I was surprised to be told there was a known fault in the Area affecting broadband services and it was likely to be so until at least February. I queried this only to be told the website was correct! I then queried why I had just been told there was a fault in the Area if there are no known problems affecting my broadband service. I was told there was a fault!

    Confused? So was I (and I still am). According to the Virgin representative both statements are true. There is a fault, it is known about and yet it is not a known problem.

    I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told that I could not speak to one! Interesting idea of customer service? The call was terminated.

    I called back and asked to speak to a supervisor and again spoke to someone in a foreign call centre once again. I was once again told that there was a fault in the Area and it had been this way for several weeks. I was also told the website was correct. I was still confused. I asked to clarify the issue as to exactly what they were saying as this matter was heading to litigation if it was not resolved. At this point, the supervisor terminated the call!

    Yet another call back to Virgin Media and this time a very sympathetic female at the foreign call centre. She told me there was indeed a fault and it had been known about since mid December. She offered me a credit to my account – I said I did not want money, I just wanted the service repaired. The matter was left that she would raise it as an escalated complaint.

    Whilst I was on the phone in the last call, there was a missed call on my mobile phone. There was a voicemail message from the supervisor I was speaking to in the last call saying inter alia that “the line had dropped during the call” – strange it was immediately I mentioned  possible legal proceedings. He also said he would call me back in 30 minutes. this message was left at 22:17. So, it would be reasonable to expect a call around 22:47? Well, its now gone 00:17, some 120 minutes later – and guess what? Yes, you’ve guessed it, no call.

    What to do about this? Well, I already have one county court action against Virgin over their missed appointment last December. I think this time I will be putting a letter to them and see what they have to say for themselves. If they do not respond, then I will issue proceedings. I have already had to buy a mobile broadband dongle to ensure I have internet access. The cost of this and using it I will be recovering from Virgin.

    I have been wondering to myself if part of the problem with Virgin Media is their use of foreign call centres. I am convinced that their call handlers do not understand English. Perhaps this explains why they seem to think it is correct to say on their website there are no known problems, but say on the phone there is a known fault. Perhaps it would explain why they then argue repeatedly that the two statements are not contradictory and both are true.

    I’m sure the language issue cannot help and Virgin Media may find its customer satisfaction rating rises above 0% if they had call centres staffed by people who speak English as their first language.

    So Bearded one, are you going to introduce your staff to the truth?

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    Reality Check

    As you know reader, I am in Manchester this week.

    Firstly, it has not rained here despite it raining in most of the rest of the UK. Yes, Manchester is dry (bet it rains in the morning)

    Secondly, I have been reading some criminal prosecution files today and it is quite scary to realise that the two files I read were about shootings, one fatal, one not fatal in Moss side in Manchester. What is so scary about that I hear you ask?

    Map picture

    Broadfield Road, Moss side, Manchester

    Well, if you look at the picture, the top most house was my old student house (in Broadfield Road). The murder took place in the park opposite and the non fatal shooting took place on the junction of Broadfield Road and the street running across the picture (Great Western Street).

    [ Digressing for a minute. If you look at the map, you will see Broadfield Road running North- South down the map. I lived at the north end of the  road, near Moss Lane East.

    If you look to the right of Broadfield Road, you will see Lloyd Street South and parallel to that you will see a street called MAINE ROAD. This was the location of the old Manchester City Ground – in the area without any roads to the right of Maine Road.

    Just off the map to the right is Rusholme and the Curry Mile in Oxford Road/ Wilmslow Road. Rusholme as in the Smith’s song Rusholme Ruffians]

    Both these incidents were part of the continuing gun and gang wars taking place in South Manchester. Its scary to think these shootings happened so close to my former home. I suppose that I should not have been so surprised really as when I lived in Moss side there was a double rape nearby and a murder in the Shebeen at the end of our street. That murder is the first killing described in the book Gang War by Peter Walsh GANG WAR BY PETER WALSH. I actually knew to speak to the deceased in that first murder in Manchester’s Gang War.


    What is a shebeen you ask? Well Wikipedia describe it as follows:

    A shebeen (Irish: sibín) was originally an illicit bar or club where excisable alcoholic beverages were sold without a licence.

    The term has spread far from its origins in Ireland, to Scotland, Canada, the United States, England, Zimbabwe, English-speaking Caribbean, Namibia, and South Africa.


    Away from scaring myself about my old address, it has been a bit of a sad day at work. My colleague (S) on this work is a young Australian lady. Sadly she received news first thing this morning of the (expected) death of a family member back home in Australia. It is especially hard when a relative dies, let alone when you are at the other side of the world and even then are not at home, but staying in a hotel room.

    It is hard to know how to deal with someone in these circumstances. As the lead inspector on this work. I told S that if she wanted to either go back to the hotel, or back to London, to do so and that I would ensure her work was covered. I am not sure what else I should have done.

    I have heard from S tonight by text that she is hopefully going to work on tomorrow.


    I spent sometime tonight sat in the local Wetherspoon’s pub watching the FA Cup tie between Leeds and Arsenal, won by Arsenal. It means that there is no team from the North East or indeed anywhere East of the Pennines North of Sheffield left in the competition! Not a good year for the North and East of England.

    Why a Wetherspoon’s pub? Well, the food is cheap as is the beer and it has free Wi-Fi there. Its more interesting to sit there than in my hotel room alone. I suppose I should be more organised and use the time to say write a diary of my life. What do you reckon?