Monday, February 26, 2007


Just another manic Monday

I know rants are rubbish - people stop listening when you rant, so rants are wrong, right? But I’m feeling so ranty that I’m going to indulge myself with just a teeny one, because I need to get it off my chest. A few months back Stanfords were advertising The Ultimate New York Sticker book - perfect for two young grandchildren going to New York, but when the books hadn’t arrived after six weeks, I phoned Standfords, who said they were out of stock and not expecting any more in. Well thanks for telling me. Never mind, there’s always good old Amazon, but I didn’t get the choice that usually pops up of used or new – only one used book was available, but as the condition was described as good I ordered it. It was waiting for me when I got back from holiday and ALL THE STICKERS WERE ALREADY STUCK IN. Ok, it did say used, but surely we don't have to deliberate on how used do we? A used cookbook with tomato sauce spilt on the lasagne page doesn’t mean you can’t make lasagne again, but a set of puzzle books with the puzzles all completed, or a DIY book with the diagrams missing? Why would a child want a sticker book if he doesn’t get to stick the stickers in? And in any case, who on earth would sell a sticker book, especially a really, really thin one, which costs £3.99 new, for £14.35, (including shipping costs) without the stickers? But you know the most frustrating thing? I can’t decide what to do about it. I want to complain, but you know that old customer services trick of letting you rant your heart out and then explaining very politely that unfortunately they didn’t quite catch what you said, so would you mind repeating it, knowing full well you can’t summon up that amount of energy again. Well that's what's happend to me - I've blogged away my anger and now I feel I can’t do it again. But if I don’t, they’ll think I’m enjoying the book and that they’ve done me a favour.

Yes I know I promised just the one rant, but this a BOGOF (buy one get one free). Why do companies or banks make you complete yards of information online before they tell you, on the very last click, that you can’t do whatever it is you’re trying to do? So there I was trying to give some money to someone. It’s my money after all – well sort of – Rob left it to me to pass on to a friend – so I only needed the bank to honour the cheque I was sending, but it was returned with some incomprehensible reason given for being refused, as was the second one. So I tried an online transfer, patiently entering my details, the recipient’s details, codes, passwords, my favourite dessert etc. each entry accepted and inviting me to click ‘next’ – until the final one, when up popped a notice telling me that in order to protect me from fraud it wouldn’t allow me to do this. It turns out that the amount exceeded the limit, for a single transaction, but the bank knew right from the beginning that they weren’t going to authorise a cheque or an online transfer for that amount, so why didn’t they tell me that to begin with? Well why would they when it’s much more fun having their clients visit their local branch begging for their own money.

Thursday, February 15, 2007



Like most addictions, this one began innocently enough. You know, just a little, out of curiosity, a couple of times a week, just to see what all the fuss was about. And we liked it - it really helped. Suddenly we could communicate easier, a whole new world of exotica opened up before us and my loved one even claimed it was helpful to his writing.

And then, in no time at all, we were hooked - happy to pay top prices for poor delivery just as long as our craving could be satisfied. And that´s when the big boys stepped in; recognising how many more potential addicts were out there, they delivered a purer drug - faster and cheaper. So now we´re officially registered Broadband addicts.

So what´s the problem you may wonder, if there´s a plentiful supply? Well, we´re on holiday and the island we´re staying on, though only partly a desert - a few dunes and some cantankerous camels - is miserly with its access points. And the withdrawal symptoms are awful. Yes, we´ve got sunshine, bougainvillia cascading everywhere and colourful birds, but I´m sorry this doesn´t cut it. We need our fix so we´re off on the prowl. "Psst, over there, am I imagining it, or does that say Cyber cafe"? We follow the signs, but they lead us back to where we started. The oasis has vanished - it was just a mirage.

And then the cavalry arrive - well the lost battalions of ageing Hitler Youth to be more exact. There are hoardes of them, striding purposefully around on sturdy legs, with walking sticks like Nordic ski poles, in and out of their holiday sites. And where there are Germans, there´s order. And an orderly German holiday development would have Internet, right? Into reception, where Heidi informs us "of course ve haf it. It vill cost 1 Euro for fifteen minutes, but you must not take more zan fifteen minutes ven someone is vaiting". No problem, plenty of time.

I pop my Euro into the slot and the screen springs to life. Now this won´t take a jiffy. Oh dear, I didn´t realise it would take so long to get my blog up only 6 minutes left and here we go just a short post today oh no screen´s flashing a warning that my time´s almost up and it will just cut out, so there´s just time to say

Friday, February 02, 2007



When is a result not a result? Answer: when it adds up to less than you thought it would. The mouse problem had to be solved, so my loved one set a trap with a Hershey kiss, but seeing the furry bundle lying dead the next morning it felt more like a Judas kiss. Poor little thing, and next day, another poor little thing, but even worse was this morning’s find – what looked like baby come looking for his mum. Now when we bought the trap there was an option of a device that would drive the mouse away, but since that would probably have been into next door’s house, it didn’t seem a very neighbourly thing to do, so we chose the trap, but I didn’t expect to feel this bad about it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


It's been such a trial

It’s all over – my jury service that is. I’ve been fired, turned out onto the streets, surplus to requirements. They want a new face, a new point of view, so someone else is using my locker, sitting in my chair, drinking shitty coffee from my cup. Yes, I know, there was a lot of commuting, extortionate parking fees, a lot of hanging about while counsels discussed points of law, but damn it, it was my job and I loved it and I’m going to miss it. And besides, I never got answers to all my questions. The man on trial had nine charges against him ranging from kidnap and rape to intimidation, but he wasn’t some knife-wielding maniac dragging off a stranger, but a pathetic loser and the whole case had an air of tragedy about it. Romeo and Juliet it wasn’t – there were no pretty speeches between love-struck teenagers, just the ugly street lingo of “yeah” and “right” interspersing every other word; no warring families tearing them apart, only a man’s obsession, jealousy and control freakery, which escalated out of control. The victim, a 17 year old, vulnerable girl, whose responses in cross examination tried the patience of everyone in court, took three days to give her evidence, as she chewed her lip, looked at the ceiling with tear filled eyes, contradicted her original statements and when asked why she had or hadn’t done things simply said “I can’t remember” or “I don’t know”. But despite this, or maybe because of this, we all believed her story, which began in the normal way of things: girl meets boy, they go out for a couple of months, she decides she doesn’t like him any more and wants to end the relationship. Sadly for this timid girl, who wasn’t very bright or well educated, she wasn’t allowed to end it and suffered a series of humiliating and terrifying experiences before desperation drove her to tell someone. She told of incidents where the man routinely dumped her out of his car and made her walk home when she refused to have sex; snatched her phone as she stood outside the car and when she put her arm inside the window to retrieve it, trapped it and drove off, making her walk beside the car, telling her “this is what happens when you say no”; and how his friend had helped to kidnap her from her house as she answered the door, bundled her into the car, driven off and raped her. Even then she had not complained to the police, because she blamed herself for what had happened and was too scared to tell her parents. But when the man continued to harass her and on two subsequent occasions sexually assaulted her, she buckled and confessed everything to her father, who called the police. It would need a Miss Marple to solve the mystery of why, when arrested, he told the police that he knew the girl only by sight, had no idea where she lived or worked, she’d never been in his car and he’d never had sex with her. Why did he say that, when it would have been much more difficult to convict him on the rape charge if he’d said the sex had been consensual – giving him no reason to have to scrap his car the day after his arrest? He then made two attempts to intimidate her, threatening harm to her and her young brother if she didn’t drop the charges. He declined the opportunity to take the witness stand or to offer an alibi for the night of the rape and brought no witnesses in his defence. I learned the next day, quite coincidentally, that the figure for rape convictions is less than 6%, so it was remarkable that we did return guilty verdicts, given the unreliability of some of the girl's evidence. Throughout the hearing, we jurors had established a very friendly relationship with lots of shared jokes, biscuits and buns and though there was a huge variation in age, background and character, it was nice to see how everyone listened respectfully to another's point of view, although two of the young lads gave us way too much information on the mechanics of sex in the back of a Peugot 106 (the car used in the rape)! It was all such an interesting experience, even though I was champing at the bit to get back to all the other jobs waiting for me, that I didn’t want it to end. But they couldn’t get rid of me that easily. I left my phone in the locker, so the next day when I went to collect it, I was able to get one last glimpse of the justice system in action.

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