Thursday 15 October 2009

James Bond arrives

After a period of being a company of 'no fixed abode' due to my failure to organise us when the lease of our old office came to an end, we moved to Bermondsey St...half way between Tower Bridge and London Bridge three years ago. To be entirely fair to me, we had started the process of buying the office six m months before...but evidently that wasn't long enough. It clearly wasn't helped by my solicitor asking four months into the process "Do you want a break clause?". On a 999 year lease. Yes I think so, about year 423 please. We found a new solicitor.

Anyhoos, we moved in having furbished an empty shell which was a modern addition to the old London warehouses that are a feature of the neighbourhood. I'm sure that at the height of the Port of London's success, the whole area must have been an amazing hive of hustle and bustle. Surprisingly there are very many old buildings which still exist and exude charm on the neighbourhood. I love it, and so do most people when they come visit - it's one of the least recognised places in London. There are old windy streets, a village hall, scruffy pubs, the antiques market, restaurants, real, local people and a sense of community, Bermondsey food market, parks and well anything you want in life. Apart from Marks and Spencer.

And that may be why our new neighbours have chosen to occupy the office opposite, which has been empty for the entire time we've been here. When we met the guys on their first visit there was a certain 'air' about them. Ever so slightly intimidating, but not in anyway unfriendly. A certain unexpected calmness. They exude confidence and they look extremely fit. There's a slightly militaristic way to the way the walk, speak and hold themselves.

We swapped cards, as you do. And I checked them out. They are a specialist security consultancy. They provide 'protection teams'. They provided a security cordon after the Baltic Exchange bombing. A foreign government employed them for surveillance of an arms dealer. They find corrupt South American government officials. They trace 'assets'. They seize counterfeit goods. And these are just examples from their website. I suspect that Mud is part of their team given all her foreign travels off the beaten track.

Their office is currently being fitted out. I probably shouldn't mention the floor which is being installed. It's made of one and a half inch thick steel plates. They've mentioned they are lining the ceiling as well. I wonder with what?

Never one to let my imagination run away with me, I expect to be reporting back shortly with tales of balaclava-clad soldiers abseiling in through the windows. Of local power outages as their complex systems for monitoring every radio message broadcast around the world drain the electricity grid. Burly blokes with holdalls casually thrown over their back delivering bags of used notes. And of suave agents arriving to collect details of their latest mission. Perhaps I could volunteer. After all there's nothing wrong with a bit of action and adventure, eh? See you in the Congo. "Call me Bene. Nota Bene."

Monday 12 October 2009

Not guilty as charged

Has anyone got a good word to say about Islington Council? My encounters with them have never been good.

When we lived in central London Town, I rented a car parking space in an underground car park. It cost a lot to rent. I had to pay Council Tax on it too. To Islington Council. To the tune of £800 a year. Yes that is indeed more than many people pay for a whole house. When we moved to our cottage in the Forest (I think Little Red Riding Hood lives close) we got our own garage. In fact it's part of the cottage. Some people would turn it into a living room. We haven't becasue we like to fill it with Boy things. As we have this garage, we didn't need the one in London Town. So I wrote to Islington Council and told them we didn't use it anymore. They sent me a Tax Demand. Over the course of several months I wrote again and again, I telephoned them and I even went to visit them. Same story every time: I don't use this parking space anymore. That didn't stop them issuing a court summons. And refusing to withdrawing it. So I went to court. On the day I was supposed to be going to a friend's wedding. When I stood up in court the judge asked why I was pleading not guilty. I produced the letters, the dates of correspondence and the dates I had visited Islington Council. The judge asked Islington Council why they had issued the summons. They explained that they hadn't had time to check the space was not occupied. The judge dismissed the case. The court made the Council pay the costs and refund the Tax they had made me pay. If you live in Islington you paid for that.

When the boy's Mum died, he inherited, with his sister, a nice house in Finsbury Park. Finsbury Park is in Islington. Council Tax has to be paid on the house. When it is occupied by tenants, the tenants pay the tax. When it's vacant, the Trustees are responsible for the Council Tax. Not me. I don't own the house, I simply find tenants for it. The Trustees live in Wales; its a long way away so I help them out - why wouldn't I? It's my son's inheritance. I have explained that to Islington Council many times over the last several months. By phone, e-mail and by letter. I even have a letter from them telling me that they have removed my name from their records and I am no longer associated with the house. I've got e-mail apologies from them. But that hasn't stopped them issuing a Court Summons for next Thursday. This time I shall ask for compensation. This time I will ask the Court to make them stop harassing me. This time I expect the Court will make Islington Council pay the costs. If you live in Islington you will pay for that.

P.S. I've learnt through experience that Courts have a habit of making sure they upset everyone, so disregard the bravado above....I'm not counting my chickens, yet

Plastic surgery

I've never really understood the appeal of cosmetic surgery... especially when applied to parts of the body that seem perfectly fine to me anyway. I have chortled away at the idea of men having 'six-pack' inserts, and buttock inserts for both sexes. Be happy with what you've got, or you'll end up looking like Michael (RIP) Jackson's nose. For anyone who's suffered a misfortune, well, that's a different matter. Still we're a free country and we should be able to treat our bodies as we like - it's one area that the government hasn't though fit to delve into yet. For me, my body is a temple at which I worship with frequent offerings of food and drink.

So it came as a mild shock to find that without my knowledge, behind my back and without any care or concern for my feelings, a friend has surgically enhanced me, and pasted the results on Facebook. I hope you like NB version 2.0.