Customer Service

Right, its back by popular demand, the Spen666 rant.

Today’s blog post is going to be a rant at several companies and their tactics or lack of customer service.

 

ROYAL MAIL – STEALING MY POST?

Recently, I came home to find a card from the Royal Mail saying they had tried to deliver a package but it was too large for my letterbox. The card said the package would be available for collection at the local delivery office. No problems, its only a couple of miles away. So the following day, after my post had been delivered ie > 24 hours after the card was left, I went to the Ilford Delivery Office to collect my parcel.

I joined the queue after having ensured that I had paid for my car parking and that I had the necessary proof of identity required by the Royal Mail. Eventually, I got served, only to be told that they did not have my package. Apparently the postman(woman) had not returned it to the delivery office, but not to worry “leave us your phone number and we will ring you to collect it when we receive it”. Not much good to me when I have to take time off work to attend at the delivery office as it is some 10+miles from my work and is not open when I return from work or set off for work. I therefore left empty handed, they did not even return the card, so I now cannot collect the parcel if I have another morning off work.

So, my questions to the Royal Mail are:

1. Where the F*%k is my package? If it is not at the delivery office, then who has it and what has the postman(woman) done with the same?

2. Why deliver a card telling me where and when I can collect the package and then you don’t have the package or know where it is?

 

AMERICAN EXPRESS TELLING LIES

I received a call recently at home from X at “American Express” purporting to tell me about their latest service for cardholders. He asked if it was convenient to talk now. I told him no, so he said he would ring back later. I said not to bother as I do not wish to have whatever the service was as I do not deal with unsolicited callers. I was then challenged quite aggressively as to how I could know I did not want the service. I’m not prepared to stand for my refusal to accept their service being challenged in an unsolicited call, so I spoke to a supervisor and made a formal complaint. All was going well when the supervisor said he would deal with the complaint and accepted my decision should not be challenged.

I asked for the outcome of my formal complaint to be notified to me in writing in accordance with American Express’s complaint’s procedure. Initially I was told this was not possible. When I referred him to the American Express complaint’s procedure, I received the surprising admission that he was not calling from American Express even though they had said they were initially.

So, it seems that not only do they screw up the economy, companies in the financial services are happy to have 3rd parties lying that they are American Express and mislead you.

I think this is a matter that the Financial Services Ombudsman may be interested in. I will wait to see what American Express have to say first to my formal written complaint, which I sent to their address, not to some 3rd party marketing company

 

CIVIL SERVICE MOTORING ASSOCIATION  (CSMA)– Nuisance Phone Calls

This happened to me on Thursday evening when the CSMA telephoned my mobile number

“ This is X from the CSMA. Can I speak to Spen 666?”

“Speaking”

“We are calling regarding our recent letter to you” [ Incidentally, I have not received a letter from them]

“Ok”

“Before we go any further can you just confirm…..[insert numerous pieces of personal data]

“ I do not give out personal data to unsolicited callers” [ I have no idea who the caller was and it could easily be a phishing]

“We are not asking for personal data”

“Ok, then what are you calling for”

“ we need to confirm ….[asks again for personal data from me] before I can proceed”

“I have told you that I do not give out personal data to unsolicited callers. How about if I ask you for…[requests same personal data from caller as she asked from me]”

“I’m not prepared to give you such information sir. The information I have requested I have in front of me.”

“well then, if a) you are not prepared to give me the same data, then I am not going to give you my personal data and b) if you have the information, you will not need me to tell you it”

“Ok sir, can you please call CSMA?”

“No, I have no reason to call CSMA”

“We need to speak to you regarding our letter”

“Well, speak away”

“I can’t”

“Well, if you are not prepared to discuss matters, then please stop calling me”

“I am prepared to discuss the matter sir”

“well go ahead then”

“I can’t until you confirm …[requests again personal data”

“I am not going to give personal data to you”

“We’ll call you back later then sir”

“What part of I’m not prepared to give personal data do you not understand. The answer will be the same whenever you call”

 

So, I have no idea of why CSMA (assuming it is them) called me or why they think I should call them. It would be a good call

“Hello CSMA”

“Good day, I’m calling you”

”why are you calling sir?”

 

Now CSMA seem to think the data protection act prevents them from speaking to me on the telephone, citing the need to ensure they are speaking to me. However, they are quite happy to put matters in writing and send it via the Royal Mail. Its not as if letters or packages have ever gone astray is it? I mean it has never been know has it? (who said see above)

 

I had a similar situation with E-on Energy when again they refused to speak. They sent me a letter which started “Dear Spen666, I refer  to our conversation of today’s date…” and went on to set out in writing the matters they wanted to talk about. So by their letter they accepted knowing it was me whom they were speaking to.

 

CSMA and other organisations, if you are not prepared to speak to me, then stop ringing me. I am not going to give out personal data to unsolicited callers, nor am I going to call your 08XX number to pay for the privilege of you speaking to me.

“I have no idea”

 

EAST COAST MAINLINE 1st Class Complimentary Offer

I travelled 1st class back to London tonight. now in first class their is supposed to be a complimentary food and drink service served at your seat. Indeed they announced this as the train left Newcastle.

 

Now I imagined that the complimentary food and drink service would perhaps include a drink of tea/coffee or water and perhaps say a sandwich or similar. Seems I was wrong.#The menu on the tables indicates that they would serve, sandwiches, crisps, cake and drinks. However, at the foot of the menu it says

“We may have to substitute or alter some items on the menu at short notice…”

So, it appears this have happened on my train.

The tea/coffee/ soft drinks have been substituted by NOTHING AT ALL

The sandwich has been substituted by NOTHING AT ALL

The cake has been substituted by NOTHING AT ALL

The crisps have been substituted by NOTHING AT ALL

I’m sure that I am being unreasonable in not thinking the substitute items are equally worthy. I’m sure also that I am ungrateful for  not thinking it was worth the extra cost to receive nothing at all extra to those in standard class.

Than you East Coast for allowing me the honour of travelling at rip off cost on  your trains. I would call it a  train service, but it seems that the service element has been forgotten.

 

VIRGIN MEDIA – my request to increase my broadband speed

Don’t get me started again on Virgin Media. I rang them last week to ask the cost of increasing the broadband speed. When I was given the price, I said that BT could do it cheaper. I was told to go with them then! So much for customer retention. When I spoke to the customer retention (aka disconnection) team, I was told that I was wrong to ask to upgrade my broadband speed and that I did not need it and should stick with the slower speed!

 

Now to me, that’s a bit like going to Tesco’s to buy a pork joint and having the checkout staff tell you to put it back and to choose a vegetarian option instead as “its what you want”.

 

Virgin Media complaints section says on their website that they prefer to deal with complaints on the telephone rather than in writing, but they apparently do not have a telephone number for customers to use, nor can the customer retention team put your call through to the complaints team. I want a job on that team. It must be great dealing with complaints over the telephone when you do not have a telephone. Sounds as busy as the life of a public sector worker.

 

Still, all’s well that ends well with Virgin as I eventually called back & spoke to a nice gentleman who has doubled my broadband speed immediately and it will increase again in October to be 6 times faster than it was last week. No more buffering when downloading those ahem special films

 

NEWCASTLE UNITED FC – claiming to be a football team

This time Brighton did not need Trelford Mills to win a cup tie…….enough said.

My Cycling Week

After last friday’s post when I realised I had fallen slightly behind my target of 100 miles per week, I decided to try to make ammends. The week was going ot be hard as owing to work commitments I could only cycle to work on 3 days.

So, on Saturday morning I rode a slightly long way round to Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club and managed to get in 10 miles. I was only briefly at the club as I was going to spend the afternoon cottaging by the river (see earlier post). I should have gone for a long bike ride instead.

On sunday, I went out with the founders of LVYCC and some of its older members. We rode into Central London via the towpaths near the Olympic Stadium and then in from The Angel Islington. That place has been the scene of some good nights out! Anyway, we went via Cycle Surgery at Holborn and ended up in Bar Italia in Frith Street in London. It is my favourite coffee shop. The fact 5 of us walked in with our bikes and propped them up at the rear of the cafe never caused them to bat an eyelid. Just as it should be.

We rode back via Cable Street and the Thames towpath to the Isle of Dogs. Then via the A13 cycle path to East Ham where I left my companions and rode home. I brought up 42.69 miles for my longest ride probably since the USA last May. This meant 52 miles in over the weekend.

For the 3 days I cycled to work, I took the longer routes in and home, increasing the daily mileage from around 23 up to an average of over 33 miles. Thus completing 100 miles commuting in only 3 days!

I am now over 50 miles ahead of my target and have to say the extra miles have felt good. Time to keep increasing the miles done. The only problem is finding the time to fit the riding in. It means earlier starts on a morning and later getting home on a evening. Still, it will be worth it if I can get a bit fitter for the Police Unity Tour

 

The all important scores on the doors are:

 

LAST WEEK

Start

Time

Distance

Elevation Gain

Avg Speed

Max Speed

Calories

Sat, 21 Jan 2012

00:44:23

10.13

479.00

13.70

22.50

542.00

 

Sun, 22 Jan 2012

03:51:39

42.69

1276.00

11.10

20.20

2118.00

Mon, 23 Jan 2012

01:08:04

14.40

184.00

12.70

22.60

629.00

Mon, 23 Jan 2012

01:32:02

19.10

213.00

12.50

25.80

681.00

Tue, 24 Jan 2012

01:31:59

17.13

259.00

11.20

22.00

633.00

Tue, 24 Jan 2012

01:31:48

18.26

180.00

11.90

26.20

667.00

Wed, 25 Jan 2012

01:22:52

17.16

154.00

12.40

22.90

694.00

Wed, 25 Jan 2012

01:23:37

16.50

262.00

11.80

26.10

533.00

Totals

13:06:24

155.37

3007.00

6497.00

Average

1:38:18

19.42

375.88

12.16

23.54

812.13

Max

3:51:39

42.69

1276.00

13.70

26.20

2118.00

 

YEAR TO DATE

Start

Time

Distance

Elevation Gain

Avg Speed

Max Speed

Calories

Totals

37:53:26

453.17

8961.00

20576.00

Average

1:24:12

16.78

331.89

12.06

24.49

762.07

Max

3:51:39

42.69

1276.00

13.70

32.40

2118.00

 

POLICE UNITY TOUR

Sadly, there have been 12 officers killed already this year, of whom 3 were killed in the last seven days.

Ground hopping aka Cottaging by the River: Fulham v Newcastle United 21st January 2012

Saturday was spent partly in cottaging by the River Thames.

No, I’m not trying to be George Michael, although I’d like to be £1 behind him in the wealth stakes. Mind you I’d prefer him not to be behind me!

Enough about George Michael.

On Saturday I went, against my better judgement to see Newcastle play at Fulham. We rarely seem to play well there and to be honest I object to paying £40 to watch us under perform again. However, my mates Lee and his sister Lee-Ann manage to get me a cheap ticket albeit in the Fulham end. So I went along.

Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham FC is situated right on the riverbanks of the Thames. It has the river on one side, The Bishop’s Park behind one end and rows of very expensive terraced housing on the other 2 sides.

220px-Craven_Cottage_LH4736

The ground is hidden away from public view. In fact it would be easy to be in Fulham most match days and not know there was a Premiership game taking place. However, that is never the case when Newcastle are in town as the local pubs and takeaway establishments are filled with heavy drinking takeaway munching Geordies.

I didn’t get over to Putney Bridge until after 1:30, so a quick visit to the off licence and then a few bottles of cider in the park next to the river…no doubt Lee and his wife Cathy are saying nothing changes at this point… anyway…. The reason I was so late getting over there was because I was performing my duties as Child Welfare Officer @ Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club who are currently based at Redbridge Cycle Circuit near Ilford. We had a total of 87 children at the club this week. This is a great turnout for a voluntary run club which does not advertise itself. I did of course ride over to and from the club venue. Would be a little hypocritical to drive the few miles to the cycle club when I could ride there.

Right, back to the football, strolling down the streets to the ground, the injured Fulham first choice goalkeeper, Mark Schwarzer is chatting to fans and posing happily for pictures. No prima donnas here. That is one thing about Fulham, it has always been a friendly club.

After getting my ticket off Lee-Ann and into the ground,  I took my seat in the Hammersmith End amongst the home fans. The risk of trouble there however is negligible.

Craven Cottage is a rather unique ground as one of its stands is a listed building. The stand on the Stevenage Road side was listed by the council and or English Heritage in the 1980s. This was mainly done to prevent an investment company who had bought the ground from being able to build on the ground. Now, this is perhaps a hinderance to the club as it means they cannot develop that side of the ground.

stevenage roadExternal View of Stevenage Road Stand

SAM_0018Internal View of Stevenage Road Stand

 

In the corner between the Stevenage Road stand and the Putney End is a pavilion, which is the Craven Cottage. Today it hosts the dressing rooms and is a unique structure in professional football. I can claim to have used the changing rooms there back in 1989-90 season when I took part in a charity run organised by various football clubs. I think I managed to beat Jimmy Hill in the run. He was of course much older than me and he was stopping to chat to people whilst I didn’t.

cottage External View of The Cottage

SAM_0007

At the risk of being accused of being like Andy Gray and Richard Keys, I should also point out that there was one other rare feature in this ground on Saturday. The poor quality picture below will give it away.

SAM_0013

Yes there was a female running the line. Sian Massey is the person slated by the aforementioned Keys & Gray when on Sky Sports which contributed to their sacking. Me? I have no problems with her and indeed she was at least as competent as any other assistant referee this season.

The game itself was a classic game of two halves. Newcastle dominated the first half without seemingly getting out of first gear and really should have been more than 1-0 up at half time. The second half was rather different and Newcastle humiliated themselves. I left the ground with about 20 minutes left when Newcastle had conceded 4 goals. Indeed by the full time whistle, I was well on my way home on the tube.

Let me tell you, that bottle of vodka at home on Saturday night did little to help me forget the horrors I saw in those 25 second half minutes. Such performances should carry an X rating. I do wonder why Fulham didn’t start playing until half time and why Newcastle stopped playing at half time

Lost My Virginity This Week

Well, its been an interesting week cycling wise. Since I posted last Friday, I have only managed 2 return trips to work by bike.

Last weekend I was up in Northumberland seeing Michelle. It was the first time I’ve travelled up there this year. That sounds bad, but it was only the 13th January and I’d only left there on 2nd January.

On Saturday Michelle and I met up with my parents in Hexham for a chat and for coffee. It was good to see them and spend time with them. Sadly we are all so busy in our lives that we do not spend enough time with our loved ones. My parents drove up and parked in one of the municipal car parks. It was easy to find their car given the great parking. Note the numerous empty spaces to the left side of the

Northumberland-20120114-00027x

car. So you may wonder why the car is parked half on the island. Well the parents claim it was to allow sufficient space for my mother to get out of the near side of the car. Now, how big does my father think my mother is?

 

The folks in Northumberland have found a way to speed up the buses. It may be something that Boris Johnson wants to consider to assist in London. The following photo was seen at the so called bus stop in the Wentworth Car Park in Hexham.

Northumberland-20120114-00028

By not allowing the bus to park/ stop in the bus stop, there is no need for stopping time in the bus timetable. Imagine how much time is saved if the buses do not have to stop. I’m not too sure how you get on the bus whilst laden down with provisions from Aldi or Tesco though.

I have visions of pensioners and mothers with prams and young kids boarding and alighting from the bus Indiana Jones style.

 

As well as having coffee, we had a wander round the market in Hexham. The prices of fruit and veg on the market make Tesco seem extortionate, especially the bags of mixed veg. There is no excuse for buying frozen veg if you can buy it as cheap as here. Sadly markets like this are few and far between.

 

Another stall on the market seemed to be a poachers stall. There were numerous locally caught food, including squirrel, rabbit and my favourite, the home made pheasant that was in a pie. Now, I have to admit to knowing very little about nature, but can someone tell me

Northumberland-20120114-00029

how you make home made pheasant, especially when it states at the foot of the label that it was wild pheasant. Home reared pheasant perhaps, but home made…?

 

Near to the market place in Hexham is the Carphone Warehouse which these days does not sell car phones, but does sell lots of mobile phones and also has branched out into other media including broadband. Now, I commented on their amazing broadband offer on a previous occasion and am pleased to see that it is still available. I am not sure this incredible offer is available at any other store than the Hexham one, but if you are in the market for  broadband, then how about having free broadband. Its from only £20.30 per month.

IMG-20111202-00010_3

How could you resist a FREE offer that only costs £20.30 per month? Now they may of course have a different meaning of free in Northumberland, but in my world, free means at no cost.

 

There is also the jewellery shop that has  the jewellery for £1. Or is that £0.80 in the sale with the 20% off. However as it also appears

IMG-20120114-00030

that the sale with 20% off does not apply to sale items. Go figure – if its in the sale it gets 20% off unless it is a sale item in which case the sign appears to exclude it from the sale.

 

Well that was enough for one day for me. Saturday night, Michelle and I went for a meal at an Italian restaurant she recommended. I have to admit to having some misgivings. The restaurant was in a town called Prudhoe which has a reputation for hard drinking, violence at pub chucking out time and any number of fast food outlets. Still Michelle recommended it, hence why we were there.

 

The restaurant was upstairs, which is not uncommon. Downstairs was….an Indian restaurant. Still Michelle recommended it, hence why we were there.

 

Walking into the restaurant, the decor was from the 1970s, so was the furniture. When I say from the 1970s, I mean literally that was the last time it was furnished or decorated. Still Michelle recommended it, hence why we were there.

 

The staff there were made up of locals, not an Italian accent or anyone of Italian descent in the place. Staff uniforms were non existent. with the staff wearing casual clothes. You did not have a waiter/waitress to look after specific tables, but any staff looked after any table. Still Michelle recommended it, hence why we were there.

 

So we turn to the reason we were there, no not the alcohol Michelle! The food was chosen from the A La Carte menu ( 3 courses for £17). Now given the decor etc., I have to say I was not confident at all re the food. Still Michelle recommended it, hence why we were there.

 

The food when it came was absolutely fantastic. Some of the best Italian food I have ever had. The portions were huge. Even a greedy pig like me was unable to finish the food and we had to take the deserts away in a doggie bag.

 

I have to say that the decor and serving staff all seemed to work well and the experience was one I’d want to repeat again. It was made even better by my being accompanied by a beautiful lady. /thank you Michelle for your recommendation and for a great night. The restaurant is: Franco Pizzeria in Prudhoe – 1st Floor, 59 Front St, Prudhoe, Northumberland, NE42 5AA -Phone :01661 833320

 

On Sunday, I took Josh, Michelle’s youngest to see Newcastle v QPR at The Sports Direct Stadium St James Park ( no chance of me calling it anything other than SJP. The game was not the most exciting, but it was another 3 points for Newcastle and now we are only 4 points from Premiership safety with 17 games left. Safety surely beckons. It was also good to see some of the lads. Amazingly it was my first home game since 2010 – well December 2010. I have deliberately not gone to any home games as I was a witness in a court case relating to a home Newcastle game and was waiting till that case finished.

 

Monday, I would normally be on the 0703 train to London, but as Michelle had to go to hospital for test related to her back injury I took the day off work to accompany her to the hospital. I travelled home on Monday evening laden down with food prepared by Michelle and her mother to ensure I would not starve back in London. No cycling for me today.

 

Tuesday, I woke up to sub zero temperatures, but still chose to cycle into work. I later had to travel down to Cardiff for work and spent the night with my good friends Lee & Cathy. I arrived there in the middle of their house seemingly falling apart. To cook the lasagne Cathy had made for tea she had to pop over to a neighbours to use their cooker as her had broken the previous night. It reminds me of a previous time there when Cathy was writing down the order for a calorie laden Chinese takeaway on the back of a weightwatchers book!

 

Wednesday I was in Cardiff Magistrates Court in the morning and back in London by teatime. I set off to cycle home from work. Now it was much warmer tonight than yesterday morning, but I only had my winter kit to cycle home in. Although this was keeping me too warm, it proved very helpful when I lost my 2012 virginity.

 

What do I mean? Well on my way home I had my first ( and hopefully only) accident of the year. Unknown to me, on Mile End Road near the Blind Beggar Pub ( Made infamous by the Krays) a vehicle had shed a lot of diesel making the road lethal. I came off on the diesel and managed to cause the young lady riding behind me to fall as well. As we got to our feet, we found 2 other cyclists who had fallen off before us. As we spoke to them several other cyclists also came down on the diesel.

 

At least 4 phone calls were made to the police as this was a potentially lethal situation as the road was busy with motor traffic and cyclists. Sadly in over 30 minutes the police failed to attend. During this  time at least 25 cyclists had come off their bikes. I cannot imagine the police not attending if there had been 25 motor vehicles involved in accidents at one spot.

 

Whilst waiting for the police 3 of us cyclists took to warning others of the danger by standing in the road and trying to warn cyclists to keep to their right and avoid the diesel. The number that ignored us was surprising. The rapidly learned when they hit the tarmac. I also have to say that it was shocking to see so many cyclists riding without lights or even anything other than black non reflective clothing.

 

Eventually a police car was flagged down and the council road team were summonsed to clean the road. I set off to finish my ride home, a little bit bruised, but not as bad as it could have been. I have bruises to both hands, both elbows and to my right knee and let and a cut to my right knee.Fortunately that winter clothing whilst keeping me too warm was useful padding to me and prevented nasty road rash from sliding down the road.

 

Thursday brought me off work resting my battered and bruised body. No Michelle, it was not a ruse to spend the day watching Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women.

 

Friday brought me back at work and my longest day of cycling so far this year. I did 17 miles on the way in and just over 23 on the way home for a total of 40 miles today. As I have only cycled 2 days this week, I am happy with my total of 70 miles cycled. It means that I have now done just under 300 miles so far this year. I am hoping for a decent total next week. Hopefully by this time next weekend I will have done well over 100 miles.

 

 

THIS WEEK

Start

Time

Distance

Elevation Gain

Avg Speed(Avg Pace)

Max Speed(Best Pace)

Calories

Fri, 20 Jan 2012

01:48:11

23.16

299

12.8

26.3

1,067

Fri, 20 Jan 2012

01:24:11

17.04

266

12.1

21.6

893

Wed, 18 Jan 2012

01:36:17

18.42

246

11.5

25.8

955

Tue, 17 Jan 2012

01:09:21

13.6

171

11.8

24

620

 

             

Totals

5:58:00

72.22

982.00

   

3535.00

Average

01:29:30

18.06

245.50

12.05

24.43

883.75

Max

01:48:11

23.16

299.00

12.80

26.30

1067.00

 

 

YEAR TO DATE

Totals

24:47:02

297.80

5954.00

   

14079.00

Average

01:18:16

15.67

313.37

12.02

24.88

741.00

Max

01:48:11

23.16

741.00

13.70

32.40

1067.00

 

Why am I recording my mileage and trying to do 400 miles each month? I’m getting in training for the Police Unity Tour ride in May. I’m a long way from being able to ride 300 miles in 4 days. Hopefully though the fitness will come over the next few weeks. Its early mornings and late evenings riding the long way round to work.

Legal Sayings/ Phrases Explained

There is more than a grain of truth in these sayings.

How many have I used? “No comment”

In Court

From the Lawyer

With respect – This has the same meaning as it does in general conversation.   I don’t respect you, your opinion or your comments

My client was in drink – My client was so drunk he had no recollection of who or where he was and can’t recall anything prior to waking up in the police cell, with his trousers round his ankles in a pool of his own dribble

If I can be of any further assistance – I’ve got nothing else to say, really, that’s it

I put it to you – You’re a liar

Do you expect the court to believe that? (usually said to a witness in cross-exxaminaton, with much rolling of the eyes and head tilted on one side) – Really? How stupid do you think I look?

My client is committed to completing the order – My client will reluctantly turn up for Unpaid Work or Probation, will make a half-hearted effort at engaging with you and then slope off home ten minutes early

Christmas plea (not so much as said but an explanation of a Not Guilty plea at any time in December) – He knows he is going to prison but wants to have one last beano over Christmas and the New Year

My client offers his sincerest apologies to and is anxious to make amends for his behaviour – He doesn’t mean it, he is just saying sorry because he hopes that you will give him a more lenient sentence

My client attended court in good time but has been taken unwell – He turned up pissed for court and there is no way I am letting you see him in that state, no good would come of it

My client is fully supported by his Mother/Partner/Family – His Mother/Partner/Family are here to make sure he gets what he deserves and that they get his bankcard and house keys in case you send him to prison

He co-operated fully with the police in their investigation – Once he had recovered from the effects of the cs spray, had the spit hood and viper straps removed and spent eight hours in the cell sobering up, he made a grudging admission to the offence

 

From the Bench or The Judge

No, thank you, you have been most helpful (usually said in response to If I can be of any further assistance) – There is no way I’m asking you anymore questions and have you prattle on again for another ten minutes

We will rise for a short time to consider sentence – Your client is going to prison but as he came in on bail we need a moment to get the dock officers up in case he kicks off

I’m afraid I can’t hear you – What is this person doing before me, where is his wig?

Oh, you are one of those – Good grief, another solicitor/HRA.   What happened to the Bar?

I’m sure your advocate will explain that to you – We really can’t be bothered to go into the detail, and anyway that’s what he gets paid for

Would you like some time with your client? – Go away, sort him out and come back and plead guilty like he should have done the first time!

 

From the Probation Report or Officer

We are unable to recommend any community sentences – Send him to prison

Certainly, a report can be ready in half an hour – Don’t worry, I am sure there is a court sitting this afternoon

He has no criminogenic needs – He is a normal bloke, with no real problems but I have this big word on my wordprocessor clipboard

From the Client

Honestly it wasn’t me this time – Of course it was but at the moment I don’t want to admit it

I have not been in trouble with the police for ages – I haven’t been arrested since last Thursday

My last conviction was ages ago – My last conviction was six months ago

It was self-defence – He hit me first so I hit him back in retaliation

I’ve taken a second opinion and they say that you should be doing… – I have spoken to my mates in the pub and they reckon…

I didn’t get the letter with the appointment – I got the letter but didn’t open it and now the envelope has got my shopping list on it

I never drink and drive – I have never been caught behind the wheel whilst pissed before

I want Legal Aid – I don’t see why I should have to pay you, I haven’t done anything wrong

I’m sorry – I’m sorry I got caught

I was in the bath and the tag just came off – I was in the bath and with loads of soap and nearly dislocating my ankle the tag came off so I went to the pub

It was only a bit of personal – It was only a bit of personal if I had a fifty rock crack habit or wanted to spend the next year stoned

(To the police on a Saturday night) – You’re all a bunch of *****, I’m going to beath the sh&t out of you, Come on then it’s going to take ten of you – I am saying all of this now because I’m pissed and all these people are watching, I don’t mean any of it and will apologise to you all in the morning

 

From the Police

I will just have to run this past my skipper – I can’t make a decision, I don’t want that level of responsibility

Your image will be combined with that of eight others matching your age, description and position in society before being shown to the witness – That photo we took of you will be mixed up with eight other photos of people who in a dark alley, with your eyes closed, in a thunderstorm might possibly look a bit like you

An area search was conducted and your client was arrested as he matched the description given by the witness – When we turned  up your client was the only one in a hoody so we nicked him

Your client smelt strongly of intoxicants and he had difficulty in standing – We opened the car door, the inside smelled like the carpet in the dodgiest boozer in town and he fell out of the door

The victim has provided a statement and is willing to attend court – She has signed the pocket notebook and has told us she never wants to see that bastard again

(Usually traffic officers) I knew he was a wrongun as soon as he drove past me – The ANPR system in the car sounded its yabba dabba doo alarm

Unfortunately the CCTV system didn’t capture the incident – The operator was asleep/having a cup of tea/in the loo and missed the incident
 

From the Legal Services Commission (responsible for Legal Aid)

(Every time you ring them) All of our advisors are busy please continue to hold, alternatively check our website as the answer is often on there – We are never going to answer the phone, we have sacked half of the staff, the other half don’t like talking to anyone as they just get shouted at, you will never find the answer on the website.  Just give up

This will be a three year contract binding on both parties – This is a contract binding on you and if we want to change the terms, payment rates, performance standards then just stop doing legal aid

We value our partners the service providers, you the lawyers – I’ve got my fingers crossed and will stiff you just as soon as I can get away with it

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Cycling to Date

This is going to sound a bit Bridget Jones’ ish but so far this year:

I have ridden bike on 15 occasions (to work and from work counted as 2 rides). The statistics of the rides are shown below.

Start

Time

Distance

Elevation Gain

Avg Speed

Max Speed

Calories

             

Tue, 3 Jan 2012

01:11:18

12.55

741.00

10.60

22.50

756.00

Tue, 3 Jan 2012

01:05:36

13.70

262.00

12.50

28.00

641.00

Wed, 4 Jan 2012

01:03:26

12.59

210.00

11.90

23.30

656.00

Wed, 4 Jan 2012

01:12:03

13.84

233.00

11.50

27.30

525.00

Thu, 5 Jan 2012

01:07:09

12.59

443.00

11.30

22.20

684.00

Thu, 5 Jan 2012

01:10:30

14.45

226.00

12.30

24.60

675.00

Fri, 6 Jan 2012

01:04:21

13.24

200.00

12.30

23.20

607.00

Fri, 6 Jan 2012

01:24:27

17.08

203.00

12.10

26.40

733.00

Sat, 7 Jan 2012

01:06:32

15.16

676.00

13.70

32.40

818.00

Tue, 10 Jan 2012

01:04:49

13.68

374.00

12.70

23.20

696.00

Tue, 10 Jan 2012

01:31:55

16.20

364.00

10.60

26.40

684.00

Wed, 11 Jan 2012

01:21:27

16.17

226.00

11.90

21.80

708.00

Wed, 11 Jan 2012

01:36:18

20.34

285.00

12.70

26.30

759.00

Thu, 12 Jan 2012

01:23:43

16.36

312.00

11.70

23.10

793.00

Thu, 12 Jan 2012

01:25:28

17.63

217.00

12.40

24.40

809.00

             

Totals

18:49:02

225.58

4972.00

10544.00

Average

01:15:16

15.04

331.47

12.01

25.01

702.93

Max

01:36:18

20.34

741.00

13.70

32.40

818.00

 

What do they tell me? Well, I have ridden 225 miles so far this year. I was aiming to do 100 miles per week, so I am on target for that. In the last 3 days I have ridden 100 miles. This is to make up for the fact I couldn’t ride on Monday or Friday this weekend. Next week will be a poor week as I can only ride Tuesday morning, Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday, so effectively six rides. Work commitments mean I cannot ride any more than that. The same is true the following week when I again will be unable to ride some weekdays.

If my Garmin 800 is accurate, then I have burned 10,544 calories  cycling this year. This is the amount of energy a person needs to keep them going for 5 days!

The average speed is very low, this is owing to a combination of factors including:

a) strong winds

b) the number of traffic lights on my rides

c) the amount of traffic, as I am riding in morning and evening rush hour

d) the fact I’m fat and unfit

If I am honest, d) is a major factor in the slow speed.

Oh and the key data – one puncture so far. Not a good start to the year.

Fortunately, there have been no major incidents on my rides. Well at least not involving me. There is no riding for me this weekend as I am heading to Newcastle to see Michelle Smile. I am also going to see Newcastle United at home to QPR which will be my first home game in over a year.

Universal Truths of Cycling

This is a shameless bit of plagiarism from a US blog. Those of you who are cyclists will recognise the truths in many of these posts.

http://18milesperhour.tumblr.com/universaltruthsofcycling

 

Universal Truths Of Cycling

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #1:

THE RED LIGHT FOOT BUTTON.

Do I even need to explain this? If you’ve even gone on a half dozen road rides in your life you know what this means. You pull up to a red light…you stay clipped in and pause…surely the light’s gonna turn…you track stand…any second now…wait for it…waaaaaait for it…nothing…so you relent, unclip, and as soon as your foot touches the ground, blink! It turns green. Son of a…! Is there a device buried in the pavement that reacts to your cleat? A magnetic trigger? Unless we dig up the street with a backhoe, we’ll never know.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #2:

FLATS COME IN THREES

You can go six months without a hitch and then bam. And bam. And bam, bam, bam. All in a few days. Seems like every time you roll out of your driveway is going to end with you bent over on the side of a treeless road or trail, dripping with sweat, wrestling with a flattened tire. And at $5 a pop you’re looking at an expensive week.

But things settle in and get back to normal. No flats for a long time. Long enough to lull you into cocky complacency until…

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #3:HEADWIND BOTH WAYS.

I’m an optimist. Let’s just get that straight right now. When I head out on a windy day I deal with the headwinds knowing that I’ll reap the benefits after the turnaround with that nice, robust tailwind, right?

Then there are days that challenge my sunny disposition.

As soon as you change directions, the wind decides to do the same. Yep, few things more lame than pedaling downhill.

How the hell does this happen? How is this even possible? How is it that some winds have sentience? How is it that some winds are not only able to track my ride like a thinking being, but do it like a truly evil thinking being?

Call them “Headwind Both Ways Days,” call them “M.C. Escher Rides (uphill both ways),” call them what you will, but I call them deeply unfair.

Perhaps someday one of us will experience the opposite. The ride that only exists in myth. The “Tailwind Both Ways” ride. One can dream.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #4:

COST + $500 RULE.

So, been riding long enough that you’re gonna build up your own bike, eh? Good for you! Got it all figured out, right? Frame costs this much, add in wheels, bars, drivetrain, stem, headset…fun stuff isn’t it? Add it all up plus labor and there it is…right?

Wrong. Oh my, so wrong.

Now tack on $500. Ta da! There you go! That’s your total cost.

Why? How do we know? We just do. And before you start calling us names, know that we’re not being smug, we’re just trying to help you.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #5: CYCLISTS FIND THINGS

You want to know what we’re talking about when we explain how cyclists travelthrough the world instead of just passing it by (like you do in a car)? This is it. When you’re on a bike you find stuff.

Your head is down.

You’re soaking up the world around you.

You feel the wind.

You…hey, is that an allen wrench set in the gutter? Sweet!

Geography dictates what you find, too. Here in the Southwest we find a lot of tools (all the contractor and gardener trucks bouncing around, spilling tools). In cities like London and NYC you find money. Especially on Saturday and Sunday mornings (from the previous night’s drunken cab passengers fumbling for cash).

In an earlier, more impoverished stage of my life I lived near a “gentleman’s” club and early morning rides meant angry notes from the evening before in the gutter – presumably left on the windshields of cheating boyfriends and such. Such colorful prose. Wish I’d gathered them.

Back to the present day. We find stuff all the time. And you will eventually be able to find some of these items for re-sale in our store once we get it set up. An odd assortment of things. Put it this way, if one of you out there is looking to open a TGI Friday’s, you could buy the whole lot and cover the walls with this crap.

If selling this stuff seems strange, well…it is. But check this out – a portion of the sale price will be donated to charity – to partially offset the karma and try to turn someone’s loss into someone else’s gain. Kinda.

(illustration courtesy, of course, of Rhys. He likes drawing magpies because they find things. Right Rhys?)

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #6: YOU’RE NEVER DONE BUYING BIKES.

The ideal number of bikes is however many you have right now + 1.

Admit it.

“I don’t think I’ll ever want another bike.”

Yep.

“This is it…a custom bike…it’s the last bike I’ll ever need.”

Been there, brother.

“Why do I need another bike? I’m happy with the ones I have.”

Okay, just stop lying to yourself. Stop denying the fact that if I were to march into your house, get on your computer and go to your internet history, besides “very personal media” I’d find mostly bike sites.

If you’re reading this right now, you’ve got the hots for cycling. And that means there’s always another bike out there you want. There, doesn’t it feel good to come clean?

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #7: LARGE OBJECT LASER LOCK

You’re out there on the trail or even on the road.

It’s wide open. Nothing in front of you.

Well actually, there’s a single object. Could be a rock on a fire road. Could be a can or bottle out there on the street.

Whatever it is, because you looked at it, your front wheel is pulled toward it like a magnet.

I’ve had other cyclists tell me that, especially on the trail, you should keep your eyes on the open spaces. The clear path. Then your wheel will go there.

They’re right. It works. For about five minutes. Then the concentration required for this makes my brain hurt. Evolution has trained our brains to look for hazards in our way. However, evolution has yet to train us to then avoid it.

Until then, I’ll keep nailing every other rock or can or whatever out there on the otherwise wide open road.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #8: THE CROPDUSTER

You’re approaching the base of a nice, steep climb.

Just as the road pitches up and you hit the steep stuff and need all the oxygen you can get, a heavy, loud, stinky truck rumbles, belches and farts past you, filling up your entire path with thick diesel exhaust.

You’ve just been cropdusted.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #9: “PASSING ANOTHER CYCLIST” BREATHING.

Of all the egregious displays of the cyclist’s fragile ego (and let’s be honest, there are plenty) this one is up there. Here’s what we’re talking about:

You’re climbing. One of those hills that’s so intimidating it has a name…like “widowmaker” or “quad buster” or “the three bitches” (they always have names like these). You’re majorly sucking wind, using every single milliliter of your lung capacity.

But then…you spot something up ahead. Oh, is that another cyclist up there? It is.

Time to reel ‘em in.

But you couldn’t possibly let him or her know that you’re out of breath (good God, especially if it’s a her). So as you near the other cyclist you let off the gas juuuust a tad and do whatever it takes to catch your breath. Massive gulps of air. Mop the sweat off your brow. Gotta make this hill seem effortless. The goal is to make it appear as if this hill only requires about ¼ of your lung capacity. You take one last, big gulp of air, hold your breath, put on your best “I just sidled up to you at a cocktail party” voice and…

“Hello there…on your left…nice frame…so, where you riding today?…me? Today’s a recovery day so just an easy 40 or so…well, have a good one…”

And as soon as they’re comfortably out of sight you spend 4 miles gasping for air until…is that someone up ahead?

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #10: THE EXTRA, ECCENTRIC, SELDOM-RIDDEN PROJECT BIKE.

If cycling becomes a part of your life, you will eventually (or constantly) have that one bike in the garage that’s the oddball. At best it’s the pub bike. Or the doughnut runner. But hey, it’s a bike, so it’s part of the solution, right? Except for the fact that it only gets out and stretches its legs a few times a year.

Usually built out of some spare parts, it’s clumsily justified to your significant other as a matter of practicality: You’re just making good use of otherwise unused parts. Or maybe it’s your “rain bike.”

Sure. Righty-o, Mr. Hardcore. Like you’re gonna get out there and brave a downpour on your terrible fixie conversion, your singlespeed whatever-the-hell-that-thing-is, your hideous drop-bar Alex Moulton-framed randonneur or your vintage scorcher-type abomination.

Face it – it’s a creative expression and nothing more. You put these parts together because you can. You read a bike maintenance book and became a cycling Dr. Moreau. Sometimes with less of a conscience.

Mine? It’s my old racing frame – a Bianchi Mega Pro XL – converted to singlespeed with priest bars and flat pedals for use with street shoes.

It weighs about eleven pounds and is insanely fun to ride with the kids to school in the morning but it’s a freak. And with every turn of the pedals, I imagine Marco Pantani turning over in his tiny, tiny grave.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #11: MOUNTAIN BIKING MAKES BEER TASTE BETTER.

At 18 Miles Per Hour, we ain’t no scientists. We cannot prove whether it’s the trail vibrations and dust that make the nerve endings in our tastebuds more receptive to suds. We just know what we know. And we know that riding and sweating on dirt makes beer taste deliciously great. Yes, sometimes even if that ride ends at 10:00am.

Okay, while we’re getting all confessional here, we’ll just say it: We’re human and sometimes we wonder if we’d be better off, healthier and faster if we cut out alcohol altogether. But a beer after a day of riding is so pleasurable that sobriety, for now, just doesn’t stand a chance. And listen, we don’t overdo it and we’re responsible. But 18 miles per hour is just sayin’.


UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #12: ROAD CYCLING MAKES WINE TASTE BETTER

This is all about brainwashing. It’s all those images from the Tour and Giro. It’s a long marriage of the European history of road racing – especially through Italy and France – and sipping wine. Normally we’re all about fighting this kind of brainwashing (see Hallmark+Valentine’s Day) but in this case, it results in drinking wine, so we’re willing to let it slide.


UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #13: MYSTERIOUS, OVERNIGHT FLATS.

It’s the night before a good ride. Bottles are filled. Clothes are ready. Bike is looked over. Everything checks out.

Then you go out in the morning and…G&%$ D#@! Flat tire! No thorns, no pinch flats, no faulty valve stems.

By the artwork above, clearly Rhys imagines a committee of rodents, birds and other wildlife that get their jollies by gnawing through our tires at 2am – as if they know we’ve got a big ride the next day.

Me? I think that’s crazy. Wildlife isn’t that clever or smart. And even if they were they’re too adorable to do something so vengeful. Nope. The only sane explanation is some kind of elf or gnome. As if those little bastards don’t have anything better to do. Don’t you have cookies to bake in a tree somewhere? Toys to make? Shoes to cobble?

Then again maybe, just maybe, it could just be the corroded, 10-for-$10 tubes I got on sale at Nashbar. Could it be my cheapness has caught up with me? Effed by my frugality?

Nope. Gnomes. Gotta be gnomes.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #14:

THERE ARE 2 KINDS OF CYCLISTS.

ONES WHO SAY “HELLO” AND ONES WHO DON’T.

Guess it’s pretty obvious which side of this issue we fall on, yeah?

Mountain bikers, you may be excused. Overall you seem to have the kindness thing figured out. Roadies…pull up a chair. This one’s for you.

Here’s the scenario: You’re out on a ride and see a cyclist or few coming toward you. Being a steward of the sport, you greet them as they pass. Sometimes it’s a full on “Hello!” Sometimes it’s a wave. Sometimes it’s just eye-contact and the little lifting of the hand off the bars thing.

Sometimes you get a nice greeting or a wave back. Nice. That small but bonding gesture. Then there are the ones who ice you.

“Hello.”

(silence)

Really? And I’m not talking about the times where they may not have heard you. I’m talking about eye-contact, multiple greetings and…nothing. Sometimes even a scowly-face.

Working on the middle-east crisis, handling the nuclear power plant crisis in Japan, fighting a raging forest fire, fixing a problem at the international space station – these are the kinds of situations where dead-seriousness and scowly faces are completely cool. Understandable. But riding a bicycle on a Sunday afternoon in perfect, Southern Californian weather? Nope.

Why should this bother us? Are we that needy? No. And honestly, most times we just let it roll off our backs. But overall, it’s about manners. When you think about it, technically, people don’t have to say please or thank you. They don’t have to smile at one another. They don’t have to respect one another’s personal space and well-being. But it’s what makes life tolerable. It’s called civility and it’s really, really simple.

Roadies who actively race have the worst track record when it comes to this kind of thing. There’s a certain club on the west side of Los Angeles that has cultivated a culture of acting superior to all others on the road.

Lighten up, fellas.

I love and respect our sport too. Between us, we’ve been doing it at a pretty high level for over 40 years. But we do it because it’s fun. Period. And yes, we race, too. Racing and kindness are not mutually exclusive.

And let’s break it down – we’re both out there putting our next-to-nothing bodies into the mix against multi-ton steel cars on tight roads. Oh, and we’re in form-fitting lycra.

In the great food chain out there on the roads we’re pretty down there. Seems like we need some solidarity.

So as you pass this little online article, let me be the first to wave and say “Hello.”

Hope you wave back.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #15: OBSTRUCTION SYNCHRONICITY.

Carl Jung must’ve been a roadie. There’s no other way to explain how he so adequately detailed and summarized the theory of synchronicity.

Here’s how it always goes down:

You’re riding along, the road to yourself. Up ahead you see flotsam in the bike lane. Hazardous flotsam like shattered glass, nails and destroyed pavement. You have no choice but to swerve into the roadway to avoid it.

But at the exact moment you reach said pile of tire-shredding material, here comes a flood of cars that whizz by you, right on your elbow.

Planets align leaving you with nowhere to go.

In the miles leading up to this obstruction you had the road to yourself. And once you pass this obstruction, the road will again be wide open.

But at that exact moment, all comes together.

Jung calls it Synchronicity.

I call it a maddeningly frustrating, perfect storm of horseshit.

I like my description better.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #16: NEW BIKE WEATHER

Buy a new bike and the Gods sense it. They immediately send in three weeks of storms. Or record-breaking, pavement-melting heat.

And spare me the “but in (insert part of the country here) we don’t let weather affect us, we’re hardcore. We ride anyway.”

Not on a new bike that you’ve been lusting after for years you don’t.

No way you’re subjecting that custom steel or carbon-fibery thing to foul weather.

So all you can do is go into the garage at night and stare at her. Maybe polish her, check the tires and fill the water bottles. Lay out the bike clothes for that first, big ride that’ll happen someday…someday.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #17: THE BROWN MILE

This is the first mile or so of any major trailhead.

See, mountain bikers aren’t the only ones who are anxious to hit the trail after a long ride in the car – hikers’ dogs are, too. And what’s the first thing they do after being cooped up for so long? They bound up the trail a few dozen yards, squat and create pungent landmines for us to slalom as we warm up our legs.

Rhys couldn’t get himself to draw several steaming piles of dog stink so he drew another, similarly annoying item: The brown bag.

This is when the dog’s owner appears to be doing everyone a favor by bagging their dog’s waste. But instead of carrying it out, they leave it in the bag, on the trail.

Thanks for nothing.

Instead of flicking the stool into the bushes for it to biodegrade or work its way back into the circle of life, they leave Mother Nature with a bunch of plastic to deal with as well. Or are they hoping someone else will tote their dog’s stool out for them? Does the Parks Department have a crap valet service?

At any rate, on a hot summer morning I find dodging these fragrant piles an awfully uninspiring way to start a ride.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #18: BIKE CATALOGUES ARE THE BEST BATHROOM READING

Performance, Nashbar, Colorado Cyclist, etcetera. Even the catalogues from bike manufacturers that you grab from the bike store.

Even if you’ve looked at the same catalogue a hundred times.

And every one has the same stuff in it – the same old, discount helmets – the same Tribal ® jerseys of questionable taste – but it doesn’t matter. It’s still the most relaxing toilet read.

Am I ever going to get that whole set of Park Tools? How about the rock band-themed jersey? Or those arm warmers that look like you have sleeve tats? Not a chance. But looking at that bike shop flotsam somehow makes you feel like you’re and active part of the cycling world, even when you’re just in there, flying your daily sortie over Porcelonia.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #19: IT TAKES 9MPH TO OUT-RUN A MUSCA DOMESTICA.

We at 18milesperhour have an intuition about the correlation between speed and experiences – hence the name. Our intuition about 18mph, being a comfortable speed for riding and experiencing life and landscapes seems to resonate with riders, and appears to be backed up by science.

So here’s another.

It takes 9 mph to out run a fly. Any less, and the pesky like creatures appear to slipstream, hover, land and generally do all that fussing and buzzing that flies do. They apparently see us, in all our sweaty glory, as large, two-wheeled, moving piles of dog waste.

If you pause at the top of climb to admire the view, there they are. Stop to change a flat, and there’s a hat load of them. It’s as if you’re loitering in a fly hatchery. But the moment you set off again, gain a bit of momentum, and hit the magic 9 mph, that’s it, they’re blown away, unable to keep up with your blistering turn of speed. Try it some time.

So we did a bit of scientific research, and yes it appears that the average speed of a common fly is just shy of 5mph. So a top-flight, lycra-clad fly – pardon the image – may peak out at 7.5 mph.

Just for the record, the drawing above shows the average speeds for some more of our flying friends. Oh, and you read that right at the bottom there. A Horsefly is positively supersonic – with an average speed of 90.1mph! Don’t believe us? Look it up.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #20: SONG STUCK IN YOUR HEAD.

Music has been called the speech of angels.

Then there are the times when a song like “Ain’t Nothing Gonna Break My Stride” gets inexplicably stuck on repeat in our skulls over the course of a 3+ hour ride.

Then, music is the flatulence of Satan.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #21: THE MID-RIDE CROSSROADS.

You’re on a ride – the training ride you have committed to, or written down in your training plan. But it’s one of those less-than-motivated days. Then you approach a crossroads.

Left takes you to right to the comforts of home, right turn takes you further on your ride. It’s a commitment. Hmmm? Go home and be a good husband? Be a good father? Kick back with a glass of wine and some Jeno’s® Pizza Rolls? Or push on like a hard cyclist? Shit. Go riding, Right it is. Off you go.

Next junction. Another opportunity to bail out. If you turn left here, you could be home in 30 minutes. NO, don’t be a slacker. Ok. Right it is.

Top of the climb. Nice, that’s good, maybe you’ll just turn around and spin back home from here. If you push on, it means committing to another 30 additional minutes.

You get the picture. Another crossroads, another internal battle. The reality is, some days you just aren’t feeling it, you cut the ride short, turn for home and it’s for the best. Other days you push on. And when you return, you’re a better person for it…or at least easier to live with. It’s all about decisions, commitment and keeping the rich loveliness of life in balance.

We’re all human and just a little bit lazy. But we do love to ride. And the truth is, I think that those T-junctions and crossroads are more than just moments of decision regarding the ride at hand. They are little occasions for us to take stock regarding why we ride. Do we ride too much? Why do we do it anyway?

And then we decide. Turn left or right.

Simple, really.

And not.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #22: CHECKING OUT YOUR REFLECTION IN SHOP WINDOWS.

“Let a man find himself, in distinction from others, on top of two wheels with a chain – at least in a poor country like Russia – and his vanity begins to swell out like his tires. In America it takes an automobile to produce this effect.”

<!–[if !supportLists]–>- – <!–[endif]–>Leon Trotsky

Correction, Leon. It also takes a bike that costs as much as an automobile, plus a row of shop windows, to produce this effect.

You can’t resist it. You can’t roll by a line of shops with all that reflective glass without at least glancing over and getting a glimpse of how you’re looking on the bike.

First you do that little look-around to see if anyone is watching you check yourself out. Then you glance.

If it’s a flattering window, you’ve got on your nicest kit and you’re in good shape, you give yourself a few, long seconds to soak it in as you roll by.

But not to worry. For if the bicycle helps enable vanity, it can also deliver us from its clutches. Take it away, Franz.

“Always first draw fresh breath after outbursts of vanity and complacency.

– Kafka

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING #23: RAIN PROOF JACKETS ARE NOT

We at 18milesperhour talk a lot about embracing the weather around you. Being present. Not fighting the elements, but embracing them.

Part of this comes from the 18milesperhour ethos: To ride through the world instead of just passing it by.

Another part comes from where we live. Southern California weather is fairly mild year ‘round so it’s easy for us to have such a cavalier attitude regarding the weather. If there is a Mother Nature, we in the west are the favorite children and a fair bit of the rest of the country gets a regular whuppin’.

And yet another reason we feel this way is because we’ve surrendered to the fact that rain proof cycling jackets, and the companies that claim they function as such, are full of…pardon me…horse shit.

Sure, there are the clear plastic or bright yellow non-breathing ones that create such an intolerably-hot, humid microclimate all around your body that you could grow mushrooms on your chamois. But we’re talking about the super-pricey, highly-technological, supposedly-breathable things that end up as soaked as the rest of your body.

These posh jackets are fine in a mist or even a gentle sprinkle for about ten minutes.

Then, as Rhys says, they’re about as waterproof as a teabag.

UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF CYCLING # 24: INSIDE EVERY CYCLIST IS THE GODFATHER OF SOUL.

You’re out there, sucking wind on a climb. You get that little bit of phlegm that you gotta get up, get on up…get up, get on up!

You do those little JB grunts and hacks.

Uhgh. Hughghh! Heeaaaayychhh!

If you had the funky drummer behind you, you’d sound like Mr. Dynamite.

Don’t believe us? Listen for yourself. Turn it up and get on down

Please Dig Deep and Sponsor Me for a Fantastic Cause.

Once again this year, I have been fortunate enough to get a place on the Police Unity Tour bike ride from East Hanover in New Jersey to Washington DC. This is a sponsored ride and I am asking each and everyone of you to sponsor me. No matter how small a donation, every penny helps.

The biggest difficulty in raising the sponsorship money is that it is for a foreign charity that does not operate here in the UK. Also, big burly police officers are not as cute or touching on the heart-strings as fluffy little dogs, kittens or even children or the sick. Raising sponsorship money is not easy when people are facing pay freezes, pay reductions or even redundancy. There is a general lack of funds in people’s purses and wallets to donate to this cause.

Last year over 160 police officers were killed in the USA doing their job. This equates to nearly one killed every other day. All those killed are somebody’s child and or somebody’s partner or somebody’s parent. The loved ones are suddenly left without the breadwinner.

Whatever your views about the police, no one deserves to die simply doing their job. Over 20,000 police officers have died doing their job in the USA.

The Police Unity Tour has several purposes:

1. The main one is to raise money for those who died.

2. The ride also allows law enforcement officials to express their solidarity and support as part of a community.

3. The ride allows those who have been bereaved to join with the law enforcement officers and experience the support of the community. This I know is very helpful to those who have joined the ride

4. The ride and the riders in Washington DC for the Candlelight Vigil on 13th May is a demonstration to the bereaved that they are not alone and that they have support from the law enforcement world.

I know that money is tight for everyone at present, but spare the cost of a couple of drinks or a cinema ticket to support this cause that helps those who ave lost loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice serving their community as a civilian

Use the donate now button on the main page and give a few pounds or dollars. Please help me to that target. Click on the link here to donate   http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/peter-bennett/2012-police-unity-tour—chapter-i or send any donation to me directly. If you need my address, please contact me via this blog by leaving a comment or email/ text me

Thanks

State Supported Killing to Increase in the UK?

 

The United Kingdom finally abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 1998. Prior to that the death penalty for murder was abolished in 1969. I for one think this is a good thing. Perhaps one of the few good things done by the last Labour government..

So, you may wonder what the title of this blog post is about.

It is about the deaths on the road that the state seem to support and rarely punish and its going to get worse.

In 2010 there were 1857 people killed on the UK roads, 20.803 seriously injured and 185,995 people otherwise injured. A total of 208,655 casualties in a year in the UK. This figures is likely to be a gross underestimate in relation to the less seriously injured as it will not include people who do not seek medical treatment for their injuries. (The Department of Transport say the true figure for less serious injuries is likely to be 3 times the quoted figure.)

In 2010 there were 619 murders in the UK, a figure only 1/3 as high as road deaths. Figures from www.murderuk.com

If you murder someone, you can expect to get a life sentence (the only sentence available) and a tariff period (before which you cannot be considered for release) of at least 15 years, 25 if a weapon was used.

If you kill someone whilst driving, you would be regarded as unlucky to get convicted at all, let alone face a prison sentence.

We increase penalties and through resources at for example knife crime but we seem to do little about behaviour on the road.

Why am I writing this today? well yesterday, Michelle’s parents were involved in a nasty incident on the A1 which resulted in their car being written off, and them fortunately avoiding serious injury. How did this happen? Well, as I understand it a lorry decided on a dual carriageway to pull into the overtaking lane and did so into the rear of Michelle’s parents car.

Thankfully, and perhaps owing to somebody up there smiling on them, they were not seriously hurt or worse. The police and ambulance were called to the scene and a good Samaritan came to the victims aid. The cause of the incident was readily apparent to the police with the lorry driver saying:

1. He did not see the car he hit

2. The car was in his blind spot

The driver was not arrested. I suspect that there will either be no prosecution of the driver or he will be dealt with for a minor road traffic offence of careless driving which is non imprisonable and is unlikely even to carry a disqualification. Compare that to the situation if the drive had walked down the street being reckless as to public safety whilst carry/ throwing a knife. Would such a person be facing a non imprisonable offence? Would such a person be arrested? Well the lorry driver wasn’t.

I remember coming home all excited, having passed my driving test ( I think it was a model T ford I passed in!) and my father saying to me words to the effect that I had an awesome responsibility as a driver because I was in control of a weapon that could cause mass destruction. Sadly, most road users do not think this way.

Far too many of us treat driving as our right and do it with little thought to the consequences of our behaviour. I do not think there is anyone of us who can say that we always give 100% concentration when driving and are considerate of others. Why is that?

I think there are several reasons including the isolation being in your tin box gives you from your fellow human beings. More importantly is the lack of effective consequences to you if you cause harm to people or property in your vehicle.

If you cause an accident, in most cases the only thing that will happen is you lose your no claims bonus. The chances of a prosecution are virtually nil.

Cyclists refer to motorist claims they did not see them as SMIDSYs  – Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You – Surely in 99.9% of cases an claim of SMIDSY is an admission that the driver have not taken proper observation and as a result is an admission of an offence of careless driving.

For some reason however, we turn our back on prosecuting motorists for this criminal offence. There is no criminal sanction in most cases, not even a formal caution. So what have you got to lose as a driver.

Even worse is the claim as in this case by the driver that he was driving a vehicle towing several tons of load and said vehicle has blind spots! Yes the driver can’t see what he is driving and can’t see if it is safe to proceed. However we allow them on the road. Would you allow someone to throw knives or fire guns whilst blindfolded in a public street? No, of course not, but drive 38 ton lorry whilst blind spots exist and its ok.

So we have the state effectively supporting homicide by vehicles as a result of its failure to prosecute errant motorists.

Now, I said it is going to get worse. Well, the Government and CPS are considering whether to remove criminal prosecutions in motoring cases with a system similar to that for parking tickets. No longer will you go to court, matters will be dealt with by administrators! Even less sanction then! Another option being considered is removing prosecutors from courts and dealing with the prosecution by means of written submissions. This is not going to  be very effective or a deterrent.

So, how do we improve road safety? I would suggest we start by prosecuting more errant motorists and imposing substantial penalties on them rather than the nominal fines we use now.

People will start to pay more attention to their driving standards if they feared they were at serious risk of prosecution for driving crimes and had a substantial risk of prison for appropriate cases.

The savings to the NHS in reduced casualties, would pay for the building of prisons to hold the most dangerous drivers who kill or cause serious injury.

This Green Thing – Saving the Planet

At the check-out in the supermarket tonight, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. I apologised and explained,”We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations”.

She was right about one thing–our generation didn’t have the green thing in “Our” day.

So what did we have back then?After some reflection and soul-searching on “Our” day here’s what I remembered we did have.

“Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles repeatedly. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day. We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

“Back then, we washed the baby’s nappies because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 240 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn’t have the green thing back in our day. Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Wales. In the kitchen, we blended & stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.

“When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right. We didn’t have the green thing back then.

“We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

“Back then, people took the bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we older folk were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

This whole article was recycled from elsewhere