Showing posts from 2011

On wanting mutual respect

I saw a condescending advert in the local paper the other day from one of the trade unions.  It was about Holly & Ivy and what they want for Christmas.Holly & Ivy, apparently, are public sector workers, who have worked hard this year.  For Christmas they want the pension and the recompense they’d been promised, as well as “some mutual respect.”  “Is that too much to ask?” the advert whined.Well, maybe.  Respect is not a right, it is earned.  Implying that private sector workers don’t work as hard as you (when many of them work harder) is not a way to earn it.  Neither is throwing your toys out of the pram and striking when your ridiculous demands for triple pay are not met.‘tis the season to be greedy, apparently.Meanwhile, many of my friends in the NHS will, as a matter of course, be working on Boxing Day.  They won’t be paid triple, although they might earn it.  Funnily enough, they don’t have to bleat about wanting mutual respect, either – because most of us admire what the…


There is a quote from a vicar in this Telegraph article which made me chuckle:“I went to look, and it was an absolutely huge stash of cannabis. I had to nip over to the rectory and grab a Tesco carrier bag, and there I was, at 10am, in a dog collar, spooning this stuff into the bag, trying to maintain my equilibrium.”I was going to say that I shouldn’t condone taking things out of context, but I have realised that no clarification was offered for what he did with his haul of cannabis.  I was just assuming that he was clearing it from church property and disposing of it in a legitimate manner.  Given the gist of the article (which is worth reading in full) one perhaps shouldn’t blame him for needing the “medicinal properties” of the leaves he found.  For the record, I don’t condone drug use either, but I do have very little time for the perception that vicars lead a leisurely lifestyle and only occasionally work on Sundays.  Some of them do, sadly, perpetuate that perception (and shoul…

A more light-hearted start to Advent

In more ways than one at the moment I could be accused of losing the plot.  After my barrage of tweets yesterday about the BBC, the unions and Clarkson’s comments it’s probably time to chill out for a bit.I am still annoyed that I can’t watch the trains on the One Show, and don’t like living in a society where – as one commentator put it – folk call for those who advocate being taken out and shot to be taken out and shot.  But I’ll put that aside for now.  Advent has begun, Christmas is coming and I have found a YouTube video which put a smile on my face….

On living in a Communist State…

This morning, I looked back at my Twitter feed for yesterday and decided that I’d quite like to watch The One Show on iPlayer with my breakfast.  Not, of course, for reasons you might think.  What I had seen on Twitter were references to a report on the ‘Megatrain’ and given that I am a ferroequinologist, I thought I might find it quite interesting.*Unfortunately, I discovered that yesterday’s show wasn’t available, so I watched a bit of Alex Salmond getting excited about Scottish Independence before reading the BBC News Page.  And there I discovered what everyone else had seen on Twitter about the One Show – that Jeremy Clarkson had made some controversial comments.  Is that why I cannot watch it?Apparently he said that those on strike yesterday should have been lined up and shot.**  But does anyone really think that he genuinely believes that, and would have actually shot them given half a chance?  Or was it just a bit of classic exaggeration, designed to make a point?Television, es…

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others

As you may have read or heard about in the news, there is going to be another protest against tuition fees in London today.  I’m sure that some of the participants will have a genuine belief in their cause and a genuine concern for others, but the cynic in me says that many in the crowd will be there for the day out (especially if it means skipping lectures) and the buzz of being part of something. It’s funny how so often we can use the excuse of thinking of others as a reason for doing something for ourselves.But anyway, I’m getting side-tracked.  I started writing this post after reading this article on the BBC News Page – specifically Green Party member Jenny Jones’ comments that the idea of unarmed protesters being shot at is “frankly appalling” and that any police officer who used such force would have to “answer to the whole of London.”Out of context, I’m sure people don’t disagree with her statements, although the over-the top references to Britain being like a Middle-Eastern d…

Awkward Moments for JP: Meeting a friend of a friend

I’ve not blogged for a while, and probably shouldn’t be indulging in this pastime now because I have a deadline coming up.  But as we all know, deadlines are great at stimulating procrastination.  I shall therefore proceed to spout an anecdote I’ve been saving for a rainy day.A while back I was at a social event (a common occurrence, despite the fact that my job involves trains) when a friend explained that a friend of theirs was to join us.  I responded positively to this news, at which point my friend leaned in and said “they’re…” accompanied by some form of gesture.“Sorry?” I said.My friend leaned in again, repeated the gesture and said: “they’re…”At once I understood.  The person who was to join us was deaf.  “Ahh” I said, smiling and nodding knowingly.But when they joined us, I began to have my doubts.  They didn’t seem to have any difficulty in hearing what I was saying as I introduced myself.  I tried to subtly ascertain if they were lip-reading or wearing a hearing-aid and con…

Land of Confusion

I was reading this morning about the redevelopment of Reading Station (because I am cool like that), and I quite liked this helpful piece of advice:"Although most trains will be using the same platforms as they are now, albeit with new platform numbers, some train services will be using different platforms."So that’s crystal clear, then.

You can call me LLCoolJ

Today I'm heading up to the Lakes with a friend. He was going to be driving his VW Golf-a car I recently saw described by a German on Facebook as "like a Bratwurst: practical, easy to handle, value for money and to almost everyone's taste."In the pub last night, however, I received the dreaded phone call. He'd broken down. This is never good news, but thankfully our weekend plans were not completely scuppered. My friend has been able to source a car from work. I don't know what your preconceptions of a 'pool car' might be, but I certainly wasn't expecting this. Not only is it ideal for the long motorway journey, but it's a convertible! I know I've waxed lyrical about my other friend's Saab (of which I am a genuine fan), but when it comes to impressing the ladies, this is surely the Smart choice.Bromantic.

On being a petrolhead

For those of you who don’t know me very well, the fact that I don’t drive and work in the area of transport and the environment may make you think that I am the sort of person who knits my own sandals and eats a lot of muesli.  You may think that I will disapprove of you for owning a car, especially if is anything that isn’t small and dull.Apart from the fact that I am actually partial to a bowl of muesli for breakfast, you’d largely be wrong.  At the tender age of three I apparently stood in a car park and identified a “Volvo” and a “different sort of Volvo” and I have not grown out of that fascination for things with wheels.  This is perhaps why I love the fact that my brother’s first car is an original Volvo T5 and I have a friend who now drives a Saab convertible (contrary to what it looks like however, I do not necessarily have a fascination for all things Swedish).If you were to tell me that your car got good fuel economy, I would be pleased.  Such things are certainly commendab…

Girls don’t like boys; girls like cars & money

When a friend of mine announced he was considering buying a convertible Saab, I wholeheartedly approved.After all, "cheap" does not necessarily have to mean "Daewoo Matiz" (thankfully) and I always like it when people drive something a bit different.  Too many people choose not to take the opportunity when they have it, and before they know it their Fiesta has to be sold to make way for a people-carrier.  Then they're old, and so they buy a Hyundai.  *Yawn*Of course, "different" does not always mean "good" and AutoTrader needs to be filtered quite carefully.  For example, if my friend had suggested a Rover, I'd have suggested some alternatives.  But Saabs are likeable, and have a good reputation for being well made.So when my friend suggested we went to Romsey for lunch the other day the idea was much more appealing knowing that I didn't have to squash myself in to the back of a small car with no headrests.  Instead, I could enjoy a …

The writing’s on the sign….

The person responsible for this sign, which appeared on the BBC News Page today, probably passed their English GCSE at Grade C or above.  They may even have a Key Skills qualification in IT (which really should have pointed out the existence of a spell-checker). Or maybe the council had to find someone to do the sign on the cheap because they couldn’t pay those who are qualified enough to prevent them from going on strike.A spokeswoman apparently said “People will either think we are stupid and we can't spell or they will have a good laugh.” Actually, love, it’s not a case of “either/or,” and there is no ambiguity.  I know you can’t spell, and I am having a good laugh.Well, I’m having a laugh.  I’m not sure whether it’s good or not, but it’s either that or crying.  If I had tweeted about this I think the hashtag I would have used would be #proudtobeBritish.

England’s Green & Pleasant Land

This is a photograph of the old US Airbase at Greenham Common, near Newbury, taken a couple of weeks ago.  The airbase was closed in 1993, and it has since been “returned to common land.”  Apparently.  Despite the hype which went with the campaign, you can see that it still bears more resemblance to an airbase than it does to anything else.  Meanwhile, nearby Thatcham and Coldash have swelled in size as new housing has been built.  I believe that most of the new developments are on previously unspoilt land, and that the development of higher ground contributed to the scale of some flooding a couple of years ago.  And whilst the new estates required new services and cabling, I am told that the infrastructure underpinning Greenham Common was state of the art.The scars you can see on the landscape will continue to last, years after the politicians and councillors who curried favour with the people with the “common land” campaign have been forgotten.It certainly gives some interesting per…

Climbing the [Google] charts with tea and cake

I’ve just had a cursory glance at the statistics for this corner of the Blogosphere.  Not only is it more exciting than returning from lunch to write a report, it is good for my ego as well.Today I learned that someone landed here after asking Google “what is lesbian tea.”  Apparently, one of my earlier posts was relevant.  Arguably, the photograph illustrated it quite well (although I prefer the term “metrosexual tea”), so I hope that they found it useful.Some say that you can’t have tea without cake, and it seems as though if you search Google for “JP’s cake corner” my rankings remain even more impressive.  Sadly, most people who end up here for that reason are likely to be disappointed.Having said that, the brownies I made recently were independently verified (by a trustworthy source) as being “good.”  That was also good for my ego, and I should probably make them again sometime.This chatter isn’t good for my report though, so I had better shut up with some haste.  Have a nice afte…

On National Strikes

I’ve not been on a train today, and neither have I experienced any bad customer service.*  Fear not, however, the trade unions are making threats again, and  that is also usually enough to bring me running to this corner of the Blogosphere with a need to vent my spleen.From what I can see, the BBC article is outlining another classic tale of self-centred union politics.  As with all good strikes, the reasons behind this latest national threat are left unclear.  There is mention of the fact that some workers are due to have a pay freeze, but if that was a genuine reason to get uppity then I’d already expect to be hearing wails of complaint from the myriad of hard working private sector folk for whom that is currently a reality.  One of these days, these people will learn to be grateful for not being made redundant.Interestingly, the unions talk in terms of “targeted” areas.  That sounds a bit specific for a general complaint about pay.  I don’t know why it’s taking them so long to draw…

On Chinese Christianity

I won’t lie to you.  Even for the geeks and ferroequinologists amongst you, my last post was possibly one of the more monotonous I’ve written.Even though it wasn’t quite as dull as this blog, I am pleased to say that if trains aren’t your thing I have found something else to talk about.The BBC have produced an interesting article on the Chinese Church, and there is a radio programme which could be worth tuning in to.  As I have two ears and one mouth, I shall listen to it now and think about spouting prolifically later.  Enjoy…

It’s all about the customer service (and the sugary latte)

I was on a train this morning (as you do), and despite the fact that it was running late, I was in a good mood.  Sadly, before some wisecrack makes a comment, this was nothing to do with a girl.  Alas. But please humour me and read the rest of my ramblings anyway.Of the things which did contribute to my good mood, the first was the fact that Danny at The Whistlestop Cafe at Barnham had still had time to shake my hand and make me a Vanilla Latte.*  It was tight, but I made my connection.The second is that Southern were really pro-active with their customer service. As we know, I am a stickler for customer service and good customer service makes me happy in the same way that bad customer service makes me annoyed.**It was clearly one of those days today, with everything except the wrong leaves on the line.  But the guard on each train was informative, and apologetic (which goes a long way).  Notably, when it was announced that the train was going to terminate early (at Fareham), the guar…

On winning a sibling…

…or not, as the case may be.  I know that I should be working but I’ve just briefly scanned the BBC News Page over coffee and feel the need to pass comment on one of the headlines, which reads “Gipsy Wedding star wins Brother.”This has given rise to a couple of questions.  - since when has “Big Brother” been acceptably abbreviated as “Brother?”  As I don’t watch it, I’m probably not in the best position to comment, but is the world really populated with people who say things like “did you see Brother last night?”*- why does the BBC feel the need to compete with The Mirror and the Daily Mail?  Besides, if they’re going to go with trashy headlines they should at least put some effort in.OK so this is not as serious as the freedom of speech issue concerning the BBC I raised yesterday, but in my best grumpy-old-man voice, I do feel that standards are declining. *Actually, the world does contain people who watch Big Brother avidly, so I guess nothing should surprise me…

The BBC & Greenbelt–a tale of Freedom of Speech?

For someone who doesn’t especially like The Guardian, least of all some of its self-righteous, self-opinionated, and generally fairly nauseating commentators (I’m looking at you, Miss Toynbee), I do refer to it an awful lot.  Maybe I’m in denial…Anyway, my attention was drawn to this article via Twitter earlier.  The link was preceded by “BBC religion producers forbidden to speak at [Greenbelt].”I’d be interested to know what you make of it.  Mr Ahmed perhaps has a fair point when he says that the producers in question “are still BBC employees and therefore anything they say about programming in the genre they work in has to be seen as official,” although I don’t understand why we have to assume that they are not entitled to their own opinions.One of the issues at stake, of course, is the fact that Britain still has a Christian constitution.  It may be trendy to assume otherwise, and in many ways we do actually live in a secular society – but at the end of the day it is still perhaps …

On playing the drums

I don’t play the drums, for the record.  But I did see a tweet this morning which amused me, and thought that I would quote it here for your general amusement and delectation.  After all, I’ve not had the chance to post much else here recently, and I’d hate for the place to become full of cobwebs again.“My neighbour knocked on my door at 2.30 this morning! 2.30am! Luckily for him, I was still up, playing the drums.”

Exonyms ddibwynt

I tweeted so prolifically yesterday that even the most inobservant of you probably know that I was on a train through Wales.  Some of you are probably already on the edge of your seat in anticipation of my latest train-related blog post.Please control your excitement, however.  I regret to inform you that there are no tales of romance.  There isn’t even much of a rant, having instead added my frustrations to the cloud of annoyance with Arriva Trains Wales which is already present on Twitter. There isn’t, if I am honest, much to say about trains, either.Still, my story begins with me sat on a station platform, where I was waiting for a connection.  I was watching the electronic sign list the stops for the next train:Filton Abbey WoodBristolBath SpaBradford-Upon AvonWestburySalisburySouthampton CentralAdmittedly this was probably only marginally more interesting than watching paint dry, but please bear with me.  As the place names scrolled across in front of me, the computerised ann…

Geek Spotting

As I get older and wiser, I am realising that I cannot avoid the fact that I may come across as a bit of a geek.  This is probably not surprising (I am a ferroequinologist, after all), but it does mean that even folks with names like Mike Posner think that they’re cooler than me.I do try and make up for this by adding chic to my geek, although this doesn’t always go as planned.  My brother’s reaction to my new Versace glasses, for example, was “are they fake?”*Thankfully, I realised today that there are always some people in the world who are geekier than you, no matter who you are.  Unless you’re the one of the guys I saw on the train this morning.The guys in question were sat a little further up the carriage from me, and I don’t think that anyone would question whether or not their glasses were genuine, because I don’t think that there is a market in counterfeit NHS items.  As is the way with such types, they were conversing quite loudly, and I was able to enjoy being a bystander to…

The Guardian, Top Gear & Saving the Planet

Shock horror.  Someone writing for The Guardian has written an article complaining about BBC’s Top Gear.  Whereas I wouldn’t usually bother giving such drivel any airtime, I have, on this occasion decided to throw my hat in to the ring.  The article in question is about an episode on electric cars, and as a researcher working in the field of Sustainable Transport I feel that I ought to be in a position to pass comment on the matter.Anyone who has watched the episode in question will know that it wasn’t unfair of Andy Wilman (the producer) to assert that “the programme wasn't testing the range claims of the vehicles, and nor did it state that the vehicles wouldn't achieve their claimed range.”  Indeed, the point of the episode was not to see how far the cars would go on a single charge, and complaints such as "at no point were viewers told that the battery had been more than half empty at the start of the trip” are an irrelevance.Instead, I thought that Top Gear highlighte…

Another reason why only fools vote for Ken

I am currently enjoying the letters page in today's Metro. It is awash with responses to a "party political" letter evidently recently written by one 'J Alan.' Evidently said letter blamed the Conservatives for the riots and I am delighted to see that many folk have written in, crying "ignorance" and reminding the readership about 13 years of a Labour government under which "anti social behaviour, laziness and a culture of crime without consequence were allowed to thrive."Of course, it is one thing for members of the public to take political shots. What I find completely abhorrent is Ken Livingstone's use of the riots to further his own political gain. His recent comments effectively imply that the rioters had an excuse, which is just unacceptable.Boris may look like a joker but at least he's not a weasel.

Blessed be Your Name

One of the songs I really enjoy singing in church is ‘Blessed Be Your Name.’  It’s quite old now, but I find it really expressive.  It helps me to remember that we have a lot to thank God for (and that sometimes we need to see beyond current circumstances).I found myself thinking about this song when I was away last week.  It was quite appropriate because I was feeling very thankful and I had realised that there are times when God really does bless us in abundance.  As an aside, one of the things that I had wrestled with when I changed jobs was giving up some fantastic travelling opportunities – and yet I have ended up not lacking in this area at all.The song was also quite appropriate because it contains the line “when I’m found in the desert place.” Of course, I was taking the line more literally than perhaps it was meant, because I was actually to be found in the desert.I’m fairly certain that no-one really cares where I was, and that it was a pretty badly kept secret anyway.  Howe…

An appeal

This is a quick post for the more regular visitors amongst you; if this is the first time you've joined us in this part of the Blogosphere it may be a bit of a pointless exercise.The basic question is this. If you had to single out one of my blog posts as a particular favourite* which one would it be? Please dig through the archives and post the link to your selection as a comment.Thanks!*"least worst" is also an acceptable method of categorisation here.

Where’s JP–Saturday Special

It’s occurred to me that I’m probably not divulging particularly great clues about my location – my friend John, for example, who is normally quite good at this sort of thing, thinks that I am at RAF Northolt.  Which I am not.So let’s bring everyone up to speed.- on Wednesday, when I was at the Red Desk, my HTC thought I was in Hillingdon- if you follow me on Twitter you will also note that I queued for a seat and a G&T after leaving said desks.Moving on you know that I went by bus to a capital city this morning.  I stood on a carpet which is famous for being big, saw some big chandeliers and visited a hotel which was expensive to build.

A hint about where to find JP tomorrow

Today’s post, for those of you tuning in for clues of my current whereabouts, is short, sweet, and possibly not a huge help.Tomorrow I shall be going on a bus, with my friend, to visit a capital city.  The bus journey is between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

Some shops

Obviously if you’re playing the ‘Where’s JP?’ game, it’s a bit unfair of me to show you a couple of featureless corridors and expect you to home in on where I am.  So here are some shops I passed today…For the record, I didn’t go in to any of them.

Another corridor

From the Red Desk I was sent to the Blue Desk.  And then I arrived here.  Where there is another corridor.

Scenes from my journey.

The red desk lies off this corridor. The person manning it is crucial to my travel plans. I'm praying for good news.

Where’s JP?

For my birthday, the people I live with gave me the Top Gear “Where’s Stig?” book.  It’s like the “Where’s Wally?” books but much cooler, and I find it entertaining.I have also found it quite entertaining to not tell people where I am going this weekend, other than the fact that I am off to visit a university friend.  Having kept it quiet (if nothing else because the plans have only really come together in the last few days, and I didn’t want to get too excited if it was all going to fall through) I am now enjoying being a man of mystery.I’m not going to post drawings of people which may include me somewhere so it’s not really like “Where’s Stig?”* However, I may post a few clues over the next few days for those of you who are bored and like this sort of thing.**  *I’m sure some wisecrack will point out that because I’m a ferroequinologist it’s more like “Where’s Wally” anyway, but we’ll gloss over that.  Besides, I like to think that I do have some chic to go with my geek.**I know th…

On why you should never have a Vodafone contract

Along with Halfords, Vodafone is the second entry on my current blacklist.I can’t be bothered to give them airtime by boring you with all the details at the moment (I’ll save them for a rainy day) but I am now staggered at the levels of incompetence I have had the dubious pleasure of experiencing.In a nutshell, they have failed to bill me correctly.  None of their figures match what I agreed to, and every single adviser tells me something different.  The amazing thing is that even though the entire thread can be seen in writing even their customer service emails are contradictory.I know I’ve already spoken a bit about getting what you pay for with customer service, but this is more akin to a lucky dip than any sort of service. Besides, if I end up paying what they’ve tried to bill me I would have expected no hassle at all.Honestly, I think I would have had more chance of finding someone who was able to put in place what I had agreed to by ringing a random number from the phone book or…

Coffee with JP: On Losers

It’s just gone 1130, which means that it’s time for me to kick back with a coffee.  And inject some thoughts in to the Blogosphere whilst I do so.I had a lovely day with friends in the New Forest yesterday, and for part of the journey there we were behind a Range Rover whose number plate just about read “Losers.”  Although this is something you’d expect Jeremy Clarkson to have, and has shades of being ostentatious and obnoxious, I quite liked it.  However, it was later pointed out to me that the effect of overtaking someone whilst displaying that message is offset by the fact that the car must also have had the same numberplate at the front.  From that point of view the reaction is likely to be “oh look, a car full of losers.”On reflection, this own-goal is further enhanced by the fact that the numberplate didn’t spell “Losers” exactly, but was spaced so that the desired effect was achieved.  I can’t recall whether it was “LOO5ERS” (in which case the owner definitely has more money th…

Pension Propaganda

There’s an interesting report about Private Sector Pension provision on the BBC News Page this morning.  There are some fair warnings about the need to save for retirement, but I’m not sure I like the tone of the article.  After all, it is left to a commentator at the bottom to point out that Gordon Brown made a fair crack of raiding the aforementioned pension schemes when he was Chancellor.

On wearing sunscreen

As I have my clear-out, I’m enjoying another voyage of discovery through my iTunes library.  I can’t believe that it is 12 years since Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen was all over the global radio waves, and I was on an exchange in a very sunny Waiblingen. Halcyon days…Equally, I can’t believe that 12 years later I still haven’t grasped the fact that “worry is about as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.”

On throwing away the menu

I am having a bit of a clear-out and I have found a menu for Chili’s Indian Restaurant in Newbury. I’ve never eaten there, but I remember picking up a menu as I walked past, and keeping it because I’d found something blogworthy about it.I’m not sure what that thing was though.  It could be just the name (let’s face it, Chili’s is a good name for a restaurant).  More likely, it was the fact that they serve a dish called “Mysore Chili Chicken.”  That sounds like one for the brave or stupid.Whatever the reason, I have just put said menu in my recycling bin, where doubtless it will stay until those nice union types realise that working for more than a week a year is not actually that unfair.

They say a picture paints a thousand words…

…especially when said picture has a thousand words in it.From

On why you should never buy a bike from Halfords

Even though I really knew better than to buy a bike from Halfords, I’m ashamed to admit that I was taken in by their Cycle to Work Scheme offer with my previous company.  Sadly, although it turned out to be cheap(ish) it has not been a particularly cheerful experience.I am now on my third bike, having rejected the previous two under warranty and I was cycling along the other day when the chain-guard fractured and caught itself in the rear wheel.  Thankfully I was on a quiet road, so I was able to dust myself down and carry on without too much damage.To be fair, this failure is not Halfords’ fault per se but the way in which they have dealt with it is worth documenting here.  I took the bike, and the remains of the chain-guard in to the store and asked if they would order me a replacement under warranty, which they said was not a problem.  However, they called me up this week to tell me that apparently it was “not a chain-guard” but a “bit of packaging which I should have removed befor…

On having a Sixth Sense

I would have thought that if you have a Sixth Sense then you probably don’t need to be told where the meeting is.

On being annoyed with things

Ideally, I’d have time now to give you all the gory details about my latest encounter with Vodafone.  But because I wasted my afternoon in their shop yesterday I’ll have to spare you that for now.In an ideal world I’d also have time to rant about my frustrations with programming in VBA for Excel.  But as that is also wasting my time and not helping me meet my deadline I’ll spare you that for now as well.Right now I’d like to force the Vodafone boss to use Excel.  And force the man at Microsoft who is responsible for all the idiosyncrasies to try and take out a Vodafone contract.  Putting them in a room together and seeing who kills the other one first could be quite entertaining…

Set fire to the rain

Capital FM's current choice of tune is an appropriate accompaniment to the current activities of the idiots next door. You get the impression that they would if they could. I don't know whether it's the CRT monitor or the plastic jug which is providing us with some nice acrid smoke, but either way I'm not enamoured with the idea of having to shut the windows on what was a nice summer evening.

On what your dictionary says about you

There’s been a lot of phone chat in this Corner of the Blogosphere recently, which has probably been quite boring for most of you.  But one of the upshots of the recent phone-drama is that I have a shiny new HTC, which I am delighted with.For once, let’s not dwell too much on the phone itself though – I don’t want to risk getting any closer to claiming the title of Dullest Blog In The World.I have just been quite amused to look at the ‘Personal Dictionary,’ which is the list of non-standard words my phone has accumulated as I text.  Words I have found the need to save to the dictionary in the last week include “faff,” “muppet” and “blogged.”  It would seem that you can probably get quite an accurate picture of someone from such a list…

Heartache? Why not sell it on eBay?

I am not in the market for an expensive white watch.  Neither am I convinced that the sales pitch for it is anything other than a clever ploy to attract attention.  But, as evidenced by the fact that I was drawn to it via Twitter, this eBay Auction has certainly grabbed the limelight.Genuine or otherwise, it’s brilliant…

Killing the romance

When it comes to music, I am a fan of The Killers. “Hot Fuss” is one of the very few albums I’ve bought on a whim and loved.This evening, I pointed iTunes to “Sam’s Town” (another of their albums) for the first time in ages and caught myself paying attention to the lyrics of “Bones.”It all starts off so well, with references to going to look at the stars and holding hands in the ocean.  If you like a bit of romance from time to time, it’s potentially quite evocative…until Brandon Flowers bursts out with “But I don’t really like you.”For some reason, I love it.  It’s quite a tune as well.  However, if you’re one of these people who agonises over what music to have for your first dance at your wedding then I’d probably suggest agonising over something else.

On why BA should shoot their advertising agency

Those of you who have been compiling a list of “JP Facts” will know that I generally like flying with British Airways.  Amongst other things, I enjoy the fact that the “all inclusive” nature of the service reduces the hassle of booking a ticket and flying somewhere.  I like the fact that rather than having to take out a small mortgage to be able to afford a “cool refreshing J2O” I can order a G&T ‘on the house.’  I like the fact that I can enjoy said G&T in peace and quiet, without constant adverts for smokeless cigarettes, and the fact that I can expect the plane to land safely without the need for a fanfare to be played.I also like the fact that despite this, flying with BA doesn’t have to cost more than flying with easyJet or RyanAir.  For example, I went to a wedding in Germany last September and because it was Oktoberfest, some of my friends actually paid a lot more to fly with RyanAir without hold baggage, than they would have done to fly with BA.  The problem is that BA…

What if God was one of us?

There is a definite correlation between the amount of grey hair I have and the number of tracks in my iTunes library which could now be classed as ‘retro.’  Like grey hair, however, retro is not necessarily bad, and some classics have definitely found their way out of the woodwork as I sit working this morning.Now 34 seems to be a particularly good source of gems, including “What if God was one of us” by Joan Osborne.  As a Christian, I find the following verse quite ironic, because I believe that it is through Jesus that God has revealed his face, as it were:If God had a face what would it look like?
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that
you would have to believe
in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints
Nonetheless, I still think that the song is more than just a good tune, and actually think that some of the questions are no less valid from a Christian perspective.  Do I really want to see God’s face?  What would I ask if I had just one question?Strangely enough, I a…

More on Customer Service

I feel that I ought to say thank you to Chris from O2 for taking the time to read and comment on my last post.  It was a more thorough response than I got from Vodafone via Twitter and makes for interesting reading.Of course, some of the extra touches are nice, but the price differential was just too great for me not to move.  After all, if Vodafone’s deal is just for new customers only I’ve still got two years before I need to worry again, and moving networks these days is a cinch.  The thing is, however, I had made the reasonable assumption that some things should still be expected, no matter how much (or little) I chose to pay for my phone.  After all, even on RyanAir I’m not sure that passengers pay for a flight to Venice and expect to fly to Oslo a day later instead.  Do they?  So why did Vodafone not send me the phone when they said that they would? Why did they have the wrong deal on their system when my SIM arrived?  Also, it’s one thing to get irate with a non-UK call centre …

What price customer service?

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or haven’t blocked me on your Facebook Newsfeed because I talk too much will know that I recently decided to transfer my phone back from O2 to Vodafone.The main reason is that my O2 Sim-Only contract conveniently came to an end two days after my phone died, and when I got in touch with them to discuss an upgrade they were completely uncompetitive.  I pointed out that Vodafone and Three could both offer me much better deals, but I was told that O2 “don’t try and compete on price” because they “have the best network.”  I would question this, not least because their network apparently lacks the technology for me to receive SMS delivery reports on my Nokia. However, to be fair to O2, they do apparently offer a better warranty on handsets and on the few occasions that I have needed to call their customer service team I have not had much hassle.  This last point is important because my reason for leaving Vodafone after many years with them is because th…

The lack-of-telephone experiment

Technically, I should have entitled this post “the lack-of-mobile-telephone experiment” because the good old landline has been quite a feature of the last few days.  To say that I have been completely incommunicado would be a bit melodramatic, even for me.Anyway, how am I getting on?In no particular order:I have had to learn the landline number for the house I live in……but I still don’t know how to access the answerphoneI have had an excuse to hand out the business cards in my wallet, because they show my landline number at work……but then had nothing to refer to when someone asked me for the number they should call me back on. I had to find the key for my drawer and locate the business cards inside without creating too much of an awkward silence.I have been the proud recipient of a friend’s first tweet……and called a random person in Cambridge twice after said friend’s husband failed to tweet their landline number to me correctly.I have, on occasion, been more punctual than usual……but …

Colour doesn’t matter–it’s what you do with it that counts

Seasoned visitors to this Corner of the Blogosphere will know that I generally think that you can tell a lot about someone by the car they drive.  It is also common knowledge that if you ask a girl what car she drives, a typical response would be “a blue one” or “a green one.”  In some situations, therefore, this poses something of a dilemma.  Assuming that her response isn’t “a pink one,” or in most cases “a yellow one,” guys like me are faced with a potential choice.  Do we want to pursue the relationship only to find out later that she pootles around in a Daewoo Matiz?  It’s a risk…When I was in Shetland, I discovered that Toyota have made an attempt at avoiding such social awkwardness in the shape of the Toyota Aygo Blue:This provides a potentially convenient solution.  “Blue” describes both the colour and the model and everyone knows where they stand.  No further questions need to be asked and there is no need for the guy to live in fear of discovering that he’s ended up dating s…

Thoughts from the Archbishop

This morning, I found myself reading an interview in The Guardian with Rowan Williams.  It was an interesting read, I have to admit.Although I’d recommend the whole article, I particularly like his views on the Atheist vs Theist debate.“Argument has the role of damage limitation. The number of people who acquire faith by argument is actually rather small. But if people are saying stupid things about the Christian faith, then it helps just to say, 'Come on, that won't work.' There is a miasma of assumptions: first, that you can't have a scientific worldview and a religious faith; second, that there is an insoluble problem about God and suffering in the world; and third, that all Christians are neurotic about sex. But the arguments have been recycled and refought more times than we've had hot dinners, and I do groan in spirit when I pick up another book about why you shouldn't believe in God. Oh dear! Bertrand Russell in 1923! And while I think it's necessary…

On life without a telephone

If you read my last couple of posts, you will know that I am currently without a working mobile telephone.  It could be two weeks before mine is repaired and unless the battery on the old phone I keep for emergencies suddenly comes to life, or someone is kind enough to lend me an O2 compatible handset then I am going to have to get used to it.In some ways I am actually looking forward to it and view it as a sort of social experiment.*  Ironically enough, I have just had a week without my phone because I decided it would do me good to leave it in ‘Offline Mode’ whilst I was on holiday.  This was surprisingly easy when I was out of the country without much of a care in the world, but back in the real world things could be a bit more difficult. Especially since I now know that some texts sent to me whilst I was away never got delivered.  I know that if someone really wants to get hold of me they will find another way, but it has created a bit of a nagging feeling that I might miss someth…

Phone Update

They say that you learn something new every day, and yesterday I learned at least two things.Firstly, I learnt that more people are likely to offer help with coding in VBA than with problems with a Nokia E5 (I had a better response to my last cry for help than I did this time).Secondly, I learnt that although Nokia’s software leaves a bit to be desired, their customer service can be pretty good. We all know that I really value good customer service at the best of times and once I found their CareLine they were really helpful.  Sadly their attempts at diagnosing and fixing the problem over the phone were unsuccessful but they are going to collect and repair the phone for me under warranty.  Good times.

Nokia E5 Help

When I promised some non-political rants, I envisaged writing something more interesting than asking for help with my telephone.  But it is my blog, and needs must.As you may have gathered from the title, I have a Nokia E5.  Don’t ask why – since their PC Software (Ovi Suite) has become so temperamental, I have no good reason to have stayed loyal to Nokia.  But we are where we are.So what’s the problem now?  Said phone had become very slow, especially when opening messages, so I decided to perform a hard reset (*#7370# in case you are wondering).  So far so good.  Then I opted to restore my contacts and settings from the backup I had made first (I didn’t bother with the messages because I thought that an over-full inbox may have been the problem).  Ovi Suite completed the operation (so far so good…) and the phone restarted.But now it doesn’t do anything.  The main screen is blank apart from the network status, profile choice (“Silent”) and battery status along the top.  If I press the…

Credit where credit is due

I know that you’re probably fed up with me chattering about the bin strikes in Southampton, but hang on in there.  If rubbish strikes and political rants aren’t your thing I will have something for you soon.In the meantime, however, I am pleased to announce that the bin men were on duty today and have taken not just the overflowing recycling bin, but also the boxes and bags of recycling which stood beside it.  Maybe it’s the sunshine but the uncomplaining nature of the team was a far cry from the jobsworths who came round a few weeks ago.  Proof, then, that some people do know what it means to be ‘hard working.’Talking of which, I also ought to demonstrate that I know the meaning of that phrase.  Bye for now.

Let’s start a war…

There are some things in life of which I am slightly proud, even though I really shouldn’t be.  Being asked if my tan is fake is one (though it most certainly isn’t).*  Another thing I can now add to that list is receiving my first abuse on Twitter.  If you already follow me, or have been reading the torrent of tweets in the sidebar you will know that @shawgreen kindly tweeted that I am apparently “still putting the prat into Pritchard.”  Sadly it wasn’t particularly good abuse, but beggars can’t be choosers.  Maybe it will come in handy if I decide I ever need a strapline for this blog.Although one could argue that I should have had better things to do with my time than respond, I was sat on a bus at the time.  So I really didn’t.  The first thing I did was to note that “nonsensical 'insults' with nothing useful to say are the sad hallmarks of a self-righteous 'socialist'” but then I decided that I should try and be constructive and enter in to a discussion about the …