That Was The Week That Was

Well, the last seven days have been interesting and eventful. I’m not sure I want to repeat them, but they are all a part of life’s rich tapestry

[Editorial note – stop spouting this crap and get on with it]


Last weekend I was in the North East with Michelle. A good weekend with Michelle followed as usual.


Saturday lunchtime we went to a great Italian restaurant near Wallsend. Sambuca is a family run restaurant chain that has at least 3 restaurants on the Fish Quay in North Shields and now one at East Howdon near Wallsend in a converted pub. Amazingly, they do a 3 course meal on a lunchtime for only £3.95. Yes, £3.95! The food is excellent. the only thing better was the company. As well as Michelle and Josh, her parents were also there with us. Although, for Christmas I think I will be buying Michelle’s dad a  Sat Nav or at least a map. He seemed to manage to drive through the Tyne Tunnel to SOUTH Shields instead of staying North of the river for East Howdon which is next to NORTH Shields. The meal out was to celebrate Josh’s 13th birthday earlier in the week. Its hard to believe at times that he is only 13 as he seems so mature and sensible – well compared to me that’s not saying much


The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent shopping for a new TV for Michelle’s home. I think a Friday evening having to listen to me was enough to drive Michelle into getting a replacement for her broken TV. Saturday night was a night of a few drinks and a great curry made from scratch by Michelle. Let no one be under any illusions, she is a great chef. She will deny she is, but I have yet to taste anything she has made that I do not like. Even  vegetables – yes I know, me eating vegetables – its unheard of and many of you won’t believe it, but its true!


Sunday was a day of leisure, and boy can I do things leisurely! A read of the Non League Paper, a drive to the supermarket and a great Sunday dinner were all I managed. Thanks for cooking it Keith


Sadly, Sunday night and its time to make the long trip home. I got the train from Newcastle to London and expected to be home long before midnight, but the train managed to get a broken windscreen somewhere between York and Doncaster. This necessitated a delay at York whilst the train was checked. After that we had to run at a reduced speed. Now, you may be aware that train companies have to pay compensation to passengers if trains are delayed by 30 minutes or more. Now our train surprisingly managed to arrive at Kings Cross just UNDER 30 minutes later. Strange that isn’t it?


Anyway, I got the tube round to Liverpool Street and the train from there home. As I trudged up the street I reside in during the early hours of Monday morning with my rucksack over my shoulder, I heard a noise behind me. I turned to look and managed to stumble and twisted my ankle. I think the bag had unbalanced me. I limped home and went straight to bed. I woke up early on Monday morning, jumped out of bed to get ready to cycle to work, forgetting about the events of the night before. The pain when my weight was put on my right ankle reminded me! In fact, the pain was such that I could not walk down the stairs and certainly could not cycle to work or walk to the train station. I had to ring in sick to work. Fortunately, I did not have any meetings so it was not too much of a problem. The rest of Monday I spent laid in bed or later on the sofa. What’s different to normal? I can hear Michelle saying- and probably quite a few others as well.


Tuesday I did make it into work after strapping up my ankle and avoiding twisting on it. In fact, I was able to cycle in as I did not have to twist my ankle. Fortunately I clip in and out with my left foot not my right!


Thursday I had to attend an all day training course at work on the subject of the disclosure of Unused Material in criminal cases. Sounds thrilling doesn’t it? Well this was a course you had to volunteer for. I therefore did not put my name forward, but somehow I was mandated to attend the course even though others who did volunteer were refused places. Go figure!


Anyway, the course turned out to be a rather good course. It was run by lawyers from the Serious Fraud Office and the Health & Safety Executive. They ran a very informative and entertaining course. It was also a good chance to meet with lawyers from other parts of government including, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Office of Fair Trading, the Services Prosecution Authority.


Thursday evening I was to attend another training course, this time run by the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Associations this time on the subject of defending protestors in public order type cases. It was a very interesting and thought provoking talk.


Sadly, some of the recent court decisions seem to deny there is a right to protest. I’m thinking in particular of the European court Decision that the kettling of peaceful protestors for 8 hours without access to food/ water / toilet facilities is lawful. For those of you who do not know what it means, kettling is where the police surround a group of protestors and refuse to allow them to move or disperse. Strangely, if you treated animals like this you would be facing prison for animal cruelty, but its ok to do this to peaceful protestors! Strange values we have.


Friday was the day Michelle was coming down for the weekend, so it was time to start tidying the house before I went to work. I was delayed at work, so had to rush home and had to shower, cook my tea and finish tidying the house before heading to Kings Cross to meet Michelle.


After meeting Michelle, we headed back to my home for a quiet night in and a few glasses of alcohol and an early night. I did have a problem with my contact lenses after we got home – more of that later. I have to say that a double bed is far better when there are 2 people in it – and when there is a decent mattress on it.


Saturday was to be a relatively easy day. Michelle and I cycled up to the Redbridge Cycle circuit where Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club have its weekly meeting. As child welfare officer, I feel I should show my face every now and then! I’m sure Michelle will mind me telling you she had a clip less moment whilst riding. She managed to cut her knee, aggravate her thigh & hip and end up with a lump on her knee. Despite this she got back on her bike and carried on riding. The right reaction in my view.


Sadly my eye had managed to get worse over the time since Friday night. I popped to my optician who suggested I go to Whipps Cross Hospital A&E immediately and get it checked out. So Saturday night was spent there waiting for treatment.


We initially went to the Eye Clinic after being told when we called the hospital that it was open until 8pm. We walked into the separate building that was the eye clinic. The doors were unlocked, medical records left on the reception counter, computer and other expensive equipment including computers on display. The only thing missing was any staff. The clinic was actually closed but they had not locked it up or put records etc. away. So much for security of the building, equipment or more importantly confidential medical records!


Eventually we found the walk in centre where we had to queue to speak to the “medical screener” who asked what was wrong, wrote down my name and address and told me to join the next queue to be registered where after standing (literally!) in a queue for 30+ minutes, I saw the receptionist who asked my name, address, what was wrong, and told me to take a seat and wait to be seen. If the NHS want to save money, they could look at the role of the medical screener as apart from creating another queue, I am not sure what they add apart from delay and cost to the NHS operation.


Another wait, then it was into see the nurse who said I needed ointment for infection on my eye. She said it would be cheaper to buy it over the counter than prescribe it and wrote down the name of the ointment. Its a sad world when the prescription from the free at the point of delivery is more expensive than from the commercial chemist. NHS safe in politicians hands? Don’t make me laugh.


So, we left the hospital and headed home via the local Tesco which was still open to sell us eye ointment. As we walked out of the hospital, Michelle pointed out to me all the hand wash/ alcohol dispensers fixed on all the walls and in all the rooms in the hospital. These were there to deal with the risk of spread of infection in the hospital. A valid attempt to reduce the infection rate in hospitals you may think. I would agree with you except as Michelle pointed out not one of them had any hand wash / alcohol in the wall brackets.


So NHS, that was a good use of money wasn’t it? Paying out all that money to get the maintenance contractors to put up all those dispensers and then not use them. Perhaps there is no longer any risk of infections in hospitals and everyone who comes in and everything in the hospital is completely free of germs.


It couldn’t be a further wasting of taxpayers money could it?


I must express my gratitude publically to Michelle for forcing me to go to the hospital and then spending the evening with me. Its hardly an exciting night out for her. Thank you Michelle.


Sunday was a leisurely morning with me reading the Non League Paper whilst my guest Michelle prepared the most fantastic curry for lunch. This was supposed to be tea last night but we were at the hospital. Now, I have to admit that I feel rather ashamed at letting my guest cook for me. However, Michelle makes such a good housekeeper as well as much much more. Well, that’s me excuse for being lazy.


After lunch, we headed up into London and went for a walk in Regent’s Park. I’ve not wandered through there for at least 22 years. It is a beautiful park and I would recommend it. It is so peaceful and tranquil and yet it is only feet from the very busy Marylebone Road. A real oasis in the heart of London.


The only sad part of the afternoon was that it was rapidly heading to 4pm and the departure of Michelle’s train to Newcastle. I hate leaving her at the station and the driving home from Kings Cross to my empty house. However, its a price worth paying to spend time with Michelle.


The week ahead brings work, work and more work. Possibly an Orient match on Tuesday night or possibly not as its a 7pm kick off and I won’t have time to get from work, go home get changed and get to cafe & game.


Oh & another thing this week is to deal with my gas & electricity suppliers who wrote to me on Thursday to say I am in credit with my monthly payments. I started my account with them in November last year, and after 8 months comprising Winter & Spring ( the heaviest use months) I have over paid them. Sounds good so far doesn’t it.


They have reviewed my payments based on a forecasted usage over the next 12 months and say i will used 4 times the amount of gas in the next 12 months as I did in the winter & spring quarters combined. Hmmm no account taken of the lower usage in the summer. They have then set my monthly direct debit payments so as to collect the whole years usage over the next 4 months! Now forgive me for thinking that the monthly direct debits are supposed to cover the gas/ electricity used over the year. (Well that is what OfGem say).


Please explain to me why I should be paying N Power THREE times over for their calculation of the gas / electricity they have over estimated I will use. Based on an extrapolation of the gas/ electricity used over the last 8 month then they will be making me pay FOUR times over for my power supplies.


is it any wonder that I do not like to give these companies the power to take direct debits.


I rang them on Friday to discuss the matter and was told that the statements they sent were incorrect! they claim to somehow now have a new reading for my initial reading of the meter. Strange how this suddenly appears now but they didn’t use it to prepare the bills.


They also claim to have read the gas meter one day and the electricity meter the next day. Strange that as both meters are inside my house and not accessible from outside. I was at not off work on 2 successive days to enable meter readings to be taken.


Seems that one again we have power companies inventing meter readings and sending out inaccurate bills.

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