Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Worst. Helpline. Ever.

Last night I filled out an online application form, and was disappointed to discover this morning that it had been declined.

I decided to ring the Application Helpline to find out why and rectify the situation. They were "unable to discuss the in-house criteria with the customer" but did suggest that common issues are "not living for a long time at your current address" and "not being with either your current bank or job for a significant period".

"OK" I said. "Can I supply you with details which might help rectify that and verify my background?".

"No" said the voice at the other end. "What you put on your form is confidential, and we can't discuss it".

So I'm left wondering what this so called 'helpline' can help with. I'm also wondering why I bothered to verify my identity if they clearly weren't going to discuss anything with me anyway. Honestly, you stand just as much a chance as I did of getting something useful from them.

What a waste of time and space.

Friday, November 23, 2007

today's blogworthy person

I'm on a train, as usual, and I was minding my own business when my PDA asked for a Bluetooth Passkey. Naturally I declined this kind offer of being Bluejacked by some device known as "Highway to Hell" and switched the Bluetooth off.

When I looked up I saw a man with shoulder-length hair asking no-one in particular whether or not they had a Bluetooth phone. No-one responded and so he moved down the train and sat opposite another guy. This bloke did have a Bluetooth phone, at which point Mr Highway-to-Hell asked if he could send some files. The other passenger tried to bale out by saying he was getting off shortly but this was evidently not a problem. Judging by the music that started blaring and Mr Highway-to-Hell's excited "it gets better" comments, he was obviously trying to share some music. The other passenger however remained bemused and insisted he didn't want it before the train made its next stop. He couldn't leave quick enough...

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

feeling vindicated

You may remember that a while back I was a bit angry with the BBC. Well, being "one of those people" I wrote an email* of complaint. I'm pleased to say that eventually the response I yielded included this:

Disabling “Run BBC iPlayer on Windows start up” means that the Library does not activate when Windows boots up. However, if you still allow peer-to-peer participation, your computer will still share programmes, and we believe this is what happened in your case, even though you may not have expected this. In light of this we have rephrased the advice that we give to users as we agree that this section could be confusing to some users.

So I do feel kind of vindicated. Even though they refuse to be responsible for the extra charges I encountered as a result of their poor labelling.

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*As opposed to a letter of complaint. How 21st Century am I?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

what a legend

This really cracked me up earlier.

"I thought, I've been mugged. How wonderful."

What a line...

Monday, November 12, 2007

me? I like my supermarket to have a Charcuterie

I'm not a fan of Tesco. I suscribe to the view that their ethos is not a particularly moral one, I've heard bad things about the way they treat their staff and I don't like the way that -more than most supermarkets - they appear to be agressively competing with and killing off the independent and local shops. Furthermore, I'm fairly certain that the BBC Whistleblower programme which showed past its sell-by date steak being minced and sold was not an especially unfair snapshot.

But, nonetheless, needs must, and I have had occasion twice recently to call in at the big Tesco's on my route to work. To say that it's not helped my impression is an understatement.

Last week, a member of staff putting some chewing gum on the shelf was unable to tell me if they sold Wrigley's Extra (which I presumed they did) and if so, where I'd find it. Then, today, I was assured (by a smartly dressed and apparently important employee) that I could buy stamps from the normal till, and not just from the Tobacco counter but found when I got there that he was wrong. So, having paid for my milk I had to queue up again.

I'm also wondering how their "helping you spend less" slogan is in any way honest. Firstly, to get to my milk (an everyday item) I had to walk past miles of presumably tempting and irrelevant offers and then, having found it, it cost me 40p for a pint. That's substantially more than I paid in the centre of leafy Bath. In Waitrose. Even the recent price rises across the board can't have made that much of a difference.

Anyway, you know what I think now. I've never bought anything from the Charcuterie, but it's nice to know that in the classier places it's there. And that the 'newspapers and magazines' section is just that and not 'news and mags'. Which really grates, even without being said in the Essex accent which suits it so well.

Meanwhile, hello again Dave. Nice to hear from you. I'll respond to your comment when I'm home and have the facility to do so.


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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shed-tastic

I'm, as usual, on a train, and I have just passed a big industrial warehouse bearing the phrase "Shed To Let". This puzzled me because to say that it was a bit big for a shed would be in the running for understatement of the year, and the board was less cheap 'letting board' style and more like a corporate brand name. But then who would call their company "Shed To Let"?

Fortunately I won't be wasting too much time on this particular conundrum as I have just been distracted by a car driving down the grass verge on the other side of the railway. In the scheme of things, that's much more exciting...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Season's Greetings?

I was pleased to note that a discussion has at last started on one of my previous posts. I hadn't of course just wanted to wish you all 'Season's Greetings' but I'd wanted to provoke a reaction. Mission accomplished.

Basically, the use of 'Season's Greetings' at Christmas really annoys me. I want to be able to wish people a Happy Christmas and refuse to panda to the small minded atheists who play the "you might offend people of other religions" card to suit their own ideals. Besides, although 'Season's Greeting's' is theoretically a generic greeting, suitable for any time of year, and ultimately pointless*, most people associate it with Christmas, as per Chuck's comment. So it effectively says "Happy Season formerly known as Christmas". Again, how pointless.

Fear not, when the time comes, I will be celebrating Christmas and enjoying every minute of it.

On another note, further to my last post, I caught an earlier train today. Hence no man with laugh. Do watch this space though.

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*you may as well send a card which says simply "hello".

"the man with the laugh"

The anonymous comment on my last post was probably from someone who does not commute in the area, or who never catches the train in question.

For, as I am finding out, anyone who has ever caught this particular train knows about "the man with the laugh". Some avoid the first carriage because he annoys them. Others have told tales of an indescribable laugh, of his tendancy to knock back a few Stellas, and of the fact that if his phone rings it rings to the tones of his laugh. Small wonder, then, that I was disappointed not to encounter him yesterday.

Given my tendancy to be quite gullible recently, I'm slightly paranoid that I'm the subject of a big stitch-up, but I'm taking comfort in the fact that my sources are too numerous and eclectic.

Day Three In The Office, meanwhile. Ken was still ill, so no project per se, but I've been shadowing someone else today and found it extremely interesting. It's all good, then.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

so where's the man with the laugh?

So here I am in the front coach of the 17.21 ex London train. "You can't mistake him" I've been told. And yet, I sit here in relative silence. There's no laughter, not even of the 'normal' kind, and so it looks as though this particular legend has evaded me so far.

Meanwhile, Day Two in the Office was good. I met some more good people - including some more my age - and though the work hasn't yet picked up properly, I've had an interesting day.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

station announcement

It would seem that they have taken to announcing any problems on the London Underground on the stations in this area during rush-hour. I did think at first that this was a useful thing for all those hundreds of people who were travelling in to The Capital; however, when the computer announcement advised passengers to "allow extra time for the journey" I raised an eyebrow*. I assume that anyone who is at the station to hear the announcement has already embarked on their journey and that they cannot suddenly allow more time. What a waste of computerised breath.

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*not literally. I don't possess that skill.

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day one in the office

Sitting on the train now, it seems to be an opportune moment to reflect on my first day in the office. Sitting on the train is always a good time to reflect and blog, and coincidentally today was my first day in the office.

There was a clear lack of vibrance in HR, and form filling and other such necessesities of induction is never the most interesting experience anyway. I enjoyed being shown around though, and the people in my department all seem really friendly. I remain unconvinced that 'computer geek' is an ideal role for someone who thrives on being a 'people person' but I did really enjoy being introduced to everyone today.

For one reason or another I've not been given my part in a project yet, but I look forward to it, if not the stress which might at times accompany it.

So, the new phase in my life has begun, and I am no longer a student or a man of leisure. I wonder what my thoughts will be when I look back on this a few months down the line?

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Friday, November 02, 2007

journey of contentment

As I sit on the train between my earlier appointment in Belgravia and my afternoon appointment in Cheltenham, digesting my doughnut* and sipping my gingerbread latte, I'm feeling rather contented. The autumn sun is streaming in through the window and the colours outside look beautiful. I'm even enjoying the smell of hot brakes, although the ensuing stop and the fact we have just been passed by a freight train is less good.
The train is quite busy which makes it ideal for People Watching, one of my favourite pastimes. I've not yet identified any properly blogworthy characters, although someone further up the coach has an annoying ringtone or desire to play the odd bit of music through their phone. It's nothing worthy of a rant though.**

I find the phenomenon of being in such close proximity with lots of people whom I know nothing about and with whom I will never speak quite interesting. The girl opposite has been diligently reading an introductory book on Ancient Greek and making neat pencil notes on an A4 pad. Cultured Intelligence. I like that, although I suspect she might be slightly too young for me. I'm not sure, but it's all academic, because we've not engaged in a process of exchanging smiles. She only smiled at me the once when I boarded the train, which doesn't compare favourably with previous events recorded here.

The good news is that as I've been rambling we have passed the freight train again. Apparently the delay was trespassers on the line, which has annoyed me. It will annoy me much more if I miss my connection but for now I shall make do with saying in an annoyed and self-righteouss way "some people".

Anyway, I shall stop rambling for now and sit back wondering why the bloke across the way has a holder for his beer can. It doesn't seem to be the type to keep the beer cool, and therefore seems to be a rather pointless accessory.

Bye for now.
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*Krispy Kreme Original Glazed. mmm.

**Sorry for the disappointment.

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