A Message To You

 

 

Whoops, sorry, that’s the wrong message. I meant the one below, although it applies to you too Rudy whoever you are

Xmas

I wanted to send some sort of holiday greeting to you all, but it is difficult in today’s environment to know exactly what to say without offending someone. So, after obtaining legal advice, I wish to say the following;

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non addictive, gender neutral celebration of the summer solstice holiday practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious / secular persuasions and / or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all .

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2012, but not without due respect for the calendar of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make this country great (not to imply that the UK is greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms :

This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her / him or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. The wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

 

Alternatively and in plain English, have a Great Christmas and a Happy New Year and spare a thought for the families of those who have lost loved ones serving their country whether fighting overseas or policing their countries.

Also spare a thought for those who are involved with or have lost loved ones trying to get the basic democratic rights we take for granted.. I am thinking of the Arab Spring this year and its continued struggle throughout the year.

Its That Time of The Year….

No, not Christmas, that’s become:

too predictable  -baby in a manger, no room at the inn, etc. its the same every year – same story all the time

too expensive  – apparently the price of mistletoe is going up owing to short supply owing to good/ bad weather (delete as appropriate)

too commercialised – did you know you have to buy things

an excuse to argue with the family – who needs excuses- I manage this all year round

about what Satan is bringing – whoops sorry should be SANTA – to those who have not been naughty

Santa

Despite the temptation I did not tell Tom that Santa Claus was dead

santa dead

So what time of year is it?

Its time to start thinking about the Police Unity Tour bike ride again. Its only 5 months away now. I have got my place confirmed and am looking forward to pedalling again from East Hanover in New Jersey to the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington DC.

300 miles cycling in four days, nearly 7000 feet of climbing and something in the region of 22 hours in the saddle burning nearly 10,000 calories.

Now you may think I’m mad or that it would be easier to hire a car and drive the route. Well it would, but that would not raise money for all those brave law enforcement officers killed each year and their families. This year already, 155 officers have been killed in the USA. This has been a relatively good year by police standards. Back in 2001, 242 officers were killed and most years the total is around 150-200 officers killed.

There are not many professions where that many people are killed each year. No one should be killed doing their chosen career. Especially when that career is to serve the public.

Now, you may be wondering what I am doing raising money for police officers killed in the USA when I am English and when I have a background as a defence lawyer and have been known to have upset numerous police officers, especially in Northumbria Police as a result of doing my job. Barcelona 0 Leicester 1 (own goal) being the most recent example.

Well in late 2009, an exchange of emails with cyclists in Ohio about places to cycle there whilst visiting friends in Hudson Ohio, produced a left field remark about a ride for law enforcement officers.

The chance to take part in a big ride in the USA seemed to be too good an opportunity to miss. So I asked for a place and with the help of Michael T Rae, an attorney at the US Postal Service, my role as a legal inspector was deemed to be sufficiently in law enforcement to qualify me to ride.

The ride in 2010 was part of a holiday to the USA. I drove to see my friends in Hudson and then drove to NJ to join the ride. It was such a fantastic event- the cause was very special and it was moving to hear the stories of the surviving relatives of deceased officers as those survivors rode with us.

Reaching Washington DC and seeing the  National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial with 20,000 deceased officer’s names inscribed upon it was an incredibly moving sight.

Going back in 2011 was a no brainer for me. This was an event that I was proud to support and honoured to be able to take part in.

For 2012 I am going back again and am accompanied by at least one English officer, and possibly more. Paying to fly out to the USA to take part in this event is a small price to pay. The sweat and effort on the ride is a pleasure for the cause.

Now, I know that many people will be surprised that I am taking part in an event organised by police officers and for the benefit of police officers and their surviving families. As I have said before I have had a number of professional clashes with the police in this country. However, despite this, no one deserves to die doing their job.

My taking part in the ride is not my going “native” but is part of my stance as a lawyer committed to justice. Justice is not partisan but is for all.

We are lucky in this country that we do not lose anything like the numbers of officers killed in the USA. This year there have been 9 police officers killed in the UK. One by a terrorist bomb in Northern Ireland, one whilst assisting a broken down car on the M1, and the remaining 7 in road accidents travelling to/ from work.

All these nine in the UK and the 155 in the USA were somebody’s parent, spouse, child. or sibling. The survivors have lost so much and need help, both emotional and physical to come to terms with their loss. Just read these tributes left in 2011 at the memorial.610609

Below is a breakdown of those 155 deaths in the USA

Total Line of Duty Deaths: 155

Aircraft accident: 1
Animal related: 1
Assault: 5
Automobile accident: 35
Drowned: 2
Duty related illness: 7
Explosion: 1
Gunfire: 61
Gunfire (Accidental): 4
Heart attack: 10
Heat exhaustion: 1
Motorcycle accident: 3
Stabbed: 2
Struck by vehicle: 4
Training accident: 1
Vehicle pursuit: 4
Vehicular assault: 12
Weather/Natural disaster: 1

 

By Month

January: 18
February: 14
March: 20
April: 11
May: 14
June: 13
July: 15
August: 16
September: 10
October: 7
November: 6
December: 11

 

By State

Alabama: 3
Arizona: 2
Arkansas: 1
California: 10
Colorado: 1
Delaware: 1
Florida: 11
Georgia: 10
Hawaii: 1
Illinois: 1
Indiana: 2
Iowa: 2
Kansas: 1
Louisiana: 3
Maine: 1
Maryland: 2
Massachusetts: 1
Michigan: 5
Mississippi: 1
Missouri: 6
Montana: 1
New Jersey: 5
New York: 11
North Carolina: 7
North Dakota: 2
Ohio: 6
Oklahoma: 2
Oregon: 3
Pennsylvania: 4
Puerto Rico: 4
South Carolina: 2
South Dakota: 3
Tennessee: 6
Texas: 13
Tribal Police: 2
U.S. Government: 11
Virginia: 4
Washington: 2
Wisconsin: 1
Wyoming: 1

 

By Gender

Male: 144
Female: 11

 

Statistics

Average age: 41
Average tour of duty: 12 years, 8 months

 

So readers, I would invite you all to give a donation no matter how small to the cause. You donation can help me towards me target of $1800. I know money is hard, but even a donation of only a couple of pounds helps.

PLEASE SPARE A FEW POUNDS/ DOLLARS FOR THE CAUSE HERE (donations online need to be via credit card.) Alternatively, donations can be sent direct to me – email me on peter.edwin.bennett [AT] googlemail.com if you want the address to send donations to.

Vodafone–the return of the Useless & Incompetent

You may recall my recent blog about the trials endured being contracted to Vodafone.

The blog post was HERE.

Well, its time for an update as to Vodafone’s idea of customer service.

You will recall that my new phone had stopped working, and Vodafone were proposing to call me on the broken phone to arrange delivery of the new phone. Their courier waits 2 minutes and leaves.

Vodafone agreed to give me the PAC I need to take the number to a new network. They claim to have emailed the same, but some seven days on it has not arrived.

Anyway on Tuesday 13th December I decided to give Vodafone one last chance to sort out a new phone. I had written to the CEO asking for a response by 2pm that day. Of course no contact was made. I had provided them with an email address to contact me on as (& I explained this in my letter) there was no use calling me on the phone that did not work.

I made a call to Vodafone from my work and managed eventually to speak to I think half the Vodafone staff before someone decided that I COULD go into a store to get an exchange phone. However, whilst they were dealing with this, I was accidentally disconnected. I rang back, spoke to someone different and was told the original operator was trying to call me back. On which number…….yes, the phone that does not work.

I’m not sure how Vodafone manage to find so many stupid staff. What part of the phone does not work, do not try to call me on it do they not understand?

Anyway, the new operator apparently arranged it so I could go into the Vodafone store in Long Acre Covent Garden to collect a new phone. I checked the store had been advised of this and was advised they had.

Whilst on the phone to Vodafone, another courier arrived at my work to deliver a phone, but refused to wait whilst I was told to come down to reception. This is the courier that was referred to in the email I received the previous week. This was a delivery I had not arranged as I was not going to be in my office all day. I had no idea of this delivery. In any event the courier was not prepared to wait longer than 2 minutes!

Strange no one I spoke to on the telephone had any idea of this attempted delivery being due to happen.

I went to the store and …….yes, you’ve guessed it, they knew nothing about it. However, the 2 members of staff in the store were excellent and went out of their way to resolve the matter. Finally they did sort it out and gave me a brand new phone

As I walked away from the store, with my new phone working, I picked up a number of text messages sent over the days when I had no working phone. Guess who they were from…… yes Vodafone were texting me to say they had arranged a delivery of a replacement phone and then there were the numerous voicemail messages from Vodafone saying they were trying to contact me to discuss the problems with my defective phone.

So Vodafone, if you know I had a dead phone, then why are you trying to call me on the said defective phone?

Vodafone- they’re enough to make you think having a mobile phone is a waste of time.

Anyway, I have a phone that is currently working, so hopefully no more problems

USELESS & INCOMPETENT? Well it could be the phone or it could be the company and its staff. You decide

 

Just looking at the companies on my naughty list ; Virgin Media and Vodafone. Hmm what other companies  begin with “V”? I’d better avoid them

Many Happy Returns?

Well, if its your birthday, then as the title says….

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas now. Yep, family rows, sod all on the TV and someone’s polished off the vodka.

Its the time of year when households stock up with food for the festive period. You know that the purpose of Christmas is not to celebrate Christ’s birth but to indulge in a retail splurge and eat and drink far too much.

Well @ Chez Michelle, a problem has been discovered. There appears to be a mouse in the house and it has discovered Michelle’s food store. Now, a mouse in a house in the countryside is nothing unusual I hear you say.

Well this mouse seems to have a liking for Pringles. Not only that but after eating the whole tube of Pringles it tried to cover its actions up by using a Pritt Stick and gluing the tube shut again. Clever these mice in Horsley aren’t they Josh?

bbq pringles

This post is about something different. Its about things you can’t get rid of. No, I’m not thinking of toilet problems and a lack of flush, nor rodent problems.

Nor was I thinking of the girlfriend you dumped who won’t take the hint and keeps following you around. Me, I’ve never experienced this as they all get to dump me before I dump them.

At work this week we had an all staff day and I was rewarded for my work. Now, bankers may get seven figure bonuses, but not here at our work. The rewards are much more modest.

I was given a box of chocolates as a thank you for some work I did on creating a spreadsheet to enable the recording of data on a major inspection. Don’t think I am ungrateful. I was delighted that someone recognised the work I had put in.

I will eat far too many chocolates over Christmas, so when I knew Josh’s football team were looking for prizes for the Christmas raffle I donated my unopened box of chocolates to the cause.

IMG-20111218-00004

Obviously, when I attended the football club Christmas Party on Saturday night, I was press ganged into buying some raffle tickets. Well at the end of the night the raffle was drawn and I won the following prize:

300px-Boomerang

Oh, sorry, no, that is wrong. It wasn’t an actual boomerang that I won but it was this:

IMG-20111218-00004

The observant amongst you may have noticed a similarity between my raffle prize and the present I got from work and donated to the football club raffle. Yes, I managed to win back the prize I donated!!!!!

Clearly it is obviously God’s will that I must eat these chocolates personally as he returned them to me.

So to those of you who want any of my chocolates, please see the below poster

love

Note the chocolates came back so they are obviously mine – hands off!

Madness, Stupidity and Downright Lies

Now, some people may think I am writing a post about a (hypothetical) boss. In fact those who know me may think this is based on a real figure. I cannot say they are correct.

Now, I clearly cannot comment on whether his (the hypothetical manager’s)

behaviour and words this week are described by those words.

Imagine an organisation that has two offices. The 2nd in command is based in the northern office. She has effectively been forced to retire. This has caused some disquiet. At a staff meeting, the boss said he didn’t like the idea of treating the two offices as separate entities.

So when asked about the future now we have no 2-i-C he said to the ALL staff meeting he wanted to speak to the northern office before making an announcement to everyone – isn’t that treating the two offices separately.?

He also said any new 2-i-C must be based in London to deal with HR and staffing issues there. As for the northern office…… apparently they do not require anyone there to deal with HR issues etc. – isn’t that treating the two offices separately?

Other gems are his complaint that people are speaking in whispers in the new open plan office in London! Strange that all the complaints are about excessive noise.

Clueless is a word that can be used to describe some people

 

No, this post is about a few of the sign’s I’ve seen recently.

Lets start with the Free Broadband offer from Carphone Warehouse in Hexham.

IMG-20111202-00010_2

Since when is £20.30 per month FREE? Answers on a postcard please.

 

Next we turn to Aldi, that well known retail discounter. They have been slashing prices in their Seven Kings store.

Redbridge-20111115-00047Redbridge-20111115-00046_2

It must have cost them more to prepare and print these price labels showing the huge discounts on offer.

Next we look at Tesco’s green agenda. As a retailer with a good corporate social responsibility policy, they obviously provide bike parking so that people can get to their stores by pedal cycles instead of burning petrol or diesel to power their cars.

 

Redbridge-20111104-00045

Its just a shame that they chose to site the bike rack on a grassy slope so that the bikes will not stand up, but will fall over if you use them. That is of course if you are able to lift the bike over the 3 foot high wall and wheel it up the bank. Then after the shopping, you will have to lift your bike by now fully laden back down over that wall. Step forward Tesco’s at Seven Kings.

Has all this driven you to drink? Well in that case, why not pop to the Crown and Anchor Pub at Horsley in Northumberland. The following pictures are from the public house in question.

IMG-20111030-00042

Firstly, lets take a look at the expense and trouble the pub landlady went to in order to decorate the pub for Halloween. Yes, all of two cobwebs were put up. I think they were fake cobwebs, but am not sure.

You may ask why the landlady went to the trouble of decorating the pub with just these two cobwebs.

 

In this day  and age, a pub needs to provide food to make a profit. The Crown and Anchor recognises this.

 

 

 

Northumberland-20111030-00041_2

No half measures for them. They do not provide anything less than a FULL menu. Personally, I have never seen a half menu anywhere.

When there is live music on, then catering arrangements are obviously different

IMG-20111030-00040

Instead of the “Full menu”, they instead have “Food”. Quite what the different between food and “food” is I am not sure.

They also make sure that this “food” is “AVAILIABLE”. Again, I’m not sure what the quotation marks signify here ( ignoring the spelling)

 

Turning to the subject of crime, I knew the police claim knife crime is growing.

Westminster-20111013-00016

I hadn’t realised that it was so big that companies are making a living out of sharpening the yobs knives!

Essex next – such a classy joint. A recent visit to Dagenham market and the mst popular stall was the one selling artificial grass for your lawn. not having to mow the grass will give you more time to smoke it and get vajazzled I suppose.

Barking and Dagenham-20111002-00005

Also you can buy your class outfits like this ladies fetching red outfit  – shows off the spare tyres nicely

Barking and Dagenham-20111002-00004

Warning signs are always helpful, especially this one in Ilford town centre.

IMG-20110925-00004

I’m presuming the step behaves itself outside of these hours and you don’t need to worry about it.

Brighton council’s warning signs carry a threat of a prosecution.

IMG-20110924-00003

I often wondered what the sheepdog trials were. Clearly for those dogs who chose to ignore the sign. Not sure re alsations or Jack Russells though. Mind you it would be more sensible to prosecute the dog owner’s I would have thought

 

Mind you this last sign is a bit fanciful isn’t it?

IMG-20110924-00002

I thought the majority in Brighton were camp

If Vodafone were as Good at Customer Service as at Tax Evasion…

Do a quick google search on Voadafone and you will rapidly come across stories such as:

 Why are There Protests Against Vodafone, a Simple Guide

Vodafone’s tax case leaves a sour taste

Taxman Lets Vodafone off £6billion

Vodafone Defacement Protest

 

Vodafone a huge company that wines and dines the head of HMRC repeatedly and is then allowed not to pay the tax it owes. Who mentioned offences under the Bribery Act should be portrayed – sadly act came too late for this.

Come on Vodafone – if this is not true, feel free to sue me!

So why am I having a go at Vodafone you may ask? no, its not because of the various teams/ sports they do/ have sponsored. Sadly, I have the misfortune to be a customer of their for mobile phone services.

I took out a contract around 2 years ago when I needed a new phone. Despite being the biggest at the time, mobile phone company in the UK, the quality of the signal on their phones was not as good as I had previously experienced with T mobile, orange or O2. When their network was down for a week in central London, they refused to refund e the rental for that period even though I could not use my phone at work.

When my contract expired, I intended to leave Vodafone, but they offered me a deal that was very competitive, so in late September, I signed up to a new 2 year contract with them to supply me with a new Blackberry phone. Less than 2 months later and numerous calls to Vodafone, the phone finally stopped working. I telephoned Vodafone at 19:30 at night – their website says they are open till 20:00. They said there was no one there to deal with an exchange of phones. They offered to call me back on…… yes, you’ve guessed it – the phone that had stopped working. They were unable to realise the fail in this plan.

Apparently, it was all my fault for not having a 2nd mobile phone number to give them. I proffered my home number, but pointed out that I would be out at work until 19:30 the following night by which time they would have no one there.

I offered to take the defective phone into one of their shops, but apparently this is not permissible! The only way to resolve this is via the phone- not a lot of use when you do not have a working phone. Why would I need to call them if my phone worked?

A quick email to the Chief Executive Officer, Guy Laurence resulted in contact eventually being made with an Andrew Woodfine from Vodafone who sent me a PAC – the number needed to transfer to a different supplier –  but he sent it to……..the phone that did not work! Bright aren’t they at Vodafone?

Andrew Woodfine promised to deliver to me at work a new phone on Monday 12th December. I explained I worked in an organisation on the 4th Floor of a block of offices. I was told that I would get told of a 1 hour slot when delivery would be made. This was apparently sent by text message to…… guess where….. yes, you’ve guessed it.

Anyway, at lunchtime I telephoned Vodafone and was told the phone was to be delivered between 16:15 and 17:15.on 12th December

Incidentally some 2 hours after my phone call to Vodafone, an email was sent saying the phone is to be delivered on 13th December, ie not the agreed day but the day after!

At approximately 16:50 on 12th December I was notified the courier was at reception to the building/ good in. He did not come to HMCPSI’s offices. I immediately went to reception only to be told the courier had already left!

I went back to my office and spent the next approximately 80 minutes on the phone speaking to numerous people at Vodafone. I was told the courier company will only wait at premises 2 minutes. This clearly is not long enough for someone to be notified and get down from the 4th floor of the building. Thus the delivery was doomed to failure from the outset and should not have been promised.

A courier delivering to business premises who has to not only deliver, but also collect a package and only prepared to wait 2 minutes! What sort of arrangement is that?

What did Vodafone offer to resolve this matter? Yes – they will send courier back later in the week.  However, he will only wait 2 minutes again. This is simply not enough time to walk down from 4th floor after being notified he is there. I suggested once again delivering the phone to their shop. This is apparently not allowed.

So the solution is a delivery that is doomed to failure or no phone at all Vodafone seem to think this is customer service!

Clearly the contract cannot continue on this basis. Vodafone therefore agreed to give me the PAC again. Then they told me they had resent it to……… yes, you’ve guessed it…… the dead phone.

Fortunately I realised this and asked them to send the code to my email address. That was at around 18:00 tonight. guess what, I’m still waiting.

Another email has been sent to the CEO at Vodafone. Lets see what response I get!

Oh and its no use calling or texting me as I do not have a mobile phone that works. However, I guess that you may have realised this sooner than Vodafone who still do not seem to have realised this.

Useless Strikers

Well yesterday was a first for me. The first time a strike has happened that involved me and my colleagues.

For those that were not aware, I am a member of one of the Civil Service Unions. Did I vote in favour of strike action? Well actually I didn’t as I only received my ballot paper last week on 23rd November in the post. The closing date for the ballot was 14th November.

Did I actually go on strike?  Well not as such no. I was working from Sunday to late on Tuesday night in North Wales, so on Wednesday my “work” was to travel home from their to East London – some 270 or so miles. This was to be done by driving.

How could I strike? I’d either have had to drive home on Tuesday night- leaving there around 10pm or stay in Wales an extra day and drive home Thursday in work time. This would mean losing a day’s pay for the strike AND having to pay for a night in a hotel at my own expense – a double whammy on costs for me.

Driving home, I was listening to the radio in the car and the ignorance of so many people on both sides in this strike is incredible.

David Cameron using weasily words in the House, saying it was wrong to strike whilst negotiations were on-going and then claiming “MEETINGS” were taking place between the government and unions. Note that word – “MEETINGS” – he avoided claiming explicitly that  negotiations were on-going. Why? – possibly because there have been no negotiations, simply meetings to discuss the effects of the strike etc.

Now, what is negotiation? I always understood it was where both parties tried to find an agreeable solution, not where the government say we are going to renege on what we have to contractually pay you and you will have to accept it.

Francis Maude does his bit  for relations by threatening to make the deal worse for employees if they strike. He threatened to remove any concessions offered if there was a strike.Just the way to encourage more people to support the strike.

This strike is not about the unions demanding MORE, it is about them trying to minimise the amount the government are going to renege on their contractual arrangements by. If the Unions get everything they ask for, their members will not have a penny more than they previously had. An inflation busting deal? No, its about trying to keep the deflation to a minimum..

Civil servants have already accepted a 2 year pay freeze across the board, despite some of us having contractual agreements to pay increases! We learn this week we are to be limited to 1% pay rises at best for the next 2 years. So in 4 years I will have had a 2% pay increase. I wish my expenditure had gone up the same amount. Rail fares alone go up around 10% each year, let alone fuel bills.

The government give everyone a day off to celebrate the royal wedding earlier this year with apparently no harm to the economy. Yet 2 million out of the 30 million workers take an unpaid day off and it is going to cost the country £500 million. Go figure!

The media spin things

With picket lines sparsely populated, the NHS suffered minimal disruption and Britain’s borders operated more smoothly than normal. JobCentres remained open, courts were sitting, rubbish was collected and driving tests went ahead. Despite this in some parts of the country, the combination of striking workers and parents trying to entertain their children on a day off from school triggered a pre-Christmas mini sales boom.

Can anyone explain this paragraph from the Daily Mail? No body is on the picket lines, no disruption is apparently caused anywhere, yet the streets are teaming with shoppers?

Around 80% of schools were closed or partially closed, yet David Cameron calls the strike a damp squib. 2 million people or 1 in 15 of the workforce is hardly a damp squib. A number of years ago, 1 million people protested against the Iraq War and the Tories told us it was a shocking indictment o how the Labour government of the day were out of touch. Now isn’t 2 million even more people protesting? Well Mr Cameron?

Then we have the BBC giving a platform to Jeremy Clarkson to proclaim he wanted to shoot strikers in front of their families. He’s a lad isn’t he – promoting murdering those whose views you don’t agree with. Not that we have a rising tide of violence and gun crime in the country eh?

So, those of you still reading this will no doubt wonder if I have turned into a rabid communist. Well, rabid yes, communist no.

Actually, I have a lot of sympathy with those who say we need pension reform. Life expectancy is growing. When pensions were first introduced, life expectancy was only a matter of months after the retirement age, not as now where it can be decades. I have no problem with the phased introduction of a higher retirement age across the board. This seems sensible. However, to punish the civil servants for the failure of successive governments to make proper provision for future pension liability.

Some people working in private sector say that as they do not have final salary pension schemes, then the public sector should not have them. So they want to drag everybody down to the lowest level. Fine, they no  doubt have homes to go to, some people are homeless, so will they be prepared to lower themselves down to the level of the homeless? I don’t see many of them thinking this is a good idea. I think they are being a  tad hypocritical. They object to anyone having what they don’t, but are not prepared to apply similar standards when they have things others don’t.

We should be striving to improve pensions for all, not reduce people to the lowest common denominator.

Now, about these useless striker that cost too much – I’d suggest Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres – 11 or so months after their transfers, just how many goals have they scored between them? Not enough to justify their combined transfer fees of nearly £90million pounds