Thursday 12 November 2009

Education is in vogue

This is the boy's school. In my day, its main claim to fame was having the longest dormitory in the country.

The school mummies are all a twitter looking at the frocks, the dads are just looking at the models and that Rolls Royce...

Yes it was just like this when I was there...including all the lovely, gorgeous mummies. I wish. As teenagers, of course, all the mummies were yummy. But I do remember that when we were in need, the parents of the boy who was driven to school in the Rolls wouldn't help us out by giving me a lift in the morning.

I'm left pondering on whether it is wise of the first ever headmistress of the school to have made two significant decisions since she started a year ago - change the school uniform and allow the photoshoot.....some degree of stereotyping seems to be coming out...


City life

Do you remember the days when the worst people in the world were estate agents, or perhaps lawyers or even PR people? Those were simple times. It was easy to know who to focus your venom on. But of course, in the last eighteen months a lot has changed. We're all unemployed, saddled with houses which are worth half of what we paid for them, and can't afford to go abroad on holiday because our £1 is worth thruppence ha'penny. And now the very worst people in the world are bankers, and everyone who works in the world of finance. High finance has become low finance, but the bankers and their supporting cohorts continue to rake in their millions. Is it any wonder we hate them. Surely though not all these people can be monsters? Or can they? I'd like to share with you some correspondence over the last 24 hours:

Dear Mr Nota Bene,

Regarding Council Tax account 12345678

I need to contact the named person below who, according to my records, was a tenant and previously lived at 'rented flat'

Mr Former Tenant

According to our records the above is liable for Council Tax from 03-NOV-2007 to 07-MAY-2008.

Please can you confirm a forwarding address and any other contact details Mr Former Tenant?

Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated and I thank you for your co-operation, please reply by return of this e-mail.

Best Regards

Revenues Officer

Revenues Collection Company
Lake House
Shared Service Centre
Phoenix Road
LA14 2UG


These are the contact detail I have, although they may now be out of date:

Former Tenant
Banking Business (UK) Inc
Paternoster Square
office: +44 (0)20 1234 5678
mobile: +44 (0) 7890 123 456

kind regards

Dear Nota Bene,

Thanks very much for your help.

It’s much appreciated.


Revenues Officer

Dear Mr Former Tenant,

I am writing with regard to unpaid council tax for 'rented flat', account ref 12345678. There is an outstanding balance of £ 246.40 on your account for the period you were a tenant at the property, from 03-NOV-2007 to 07-MAY-2008.

Please telephone 020 1234 5678 to arrange payment of the outstanding balance.

When making any payment you must quote your Council Tax account reference 12345678. Failure to make contact with me and make full payment of the outstanding balance will result in me applying for an Attachment of Earnings Order where I will deduct the outstanding balance direct from your wages from your employer, Bankingcompany (Uk) Inc, to recover the outstanding balance.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need any further information with regard to the above.


Revenues Officer

From: Former Tenant
Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 12:05 PM
To: 'Revenue Officer'
Subject: RE: Council Tax account reference 12345678

As I am no longer an employee in England, that would be challenging indeed for you to deduct wages from there!

I have the paperwork proving that I paid the full 6 months that I lived at Rented Flat. Please let me know where to fax the paperwork and I will do so within the next few days. Most of my paperwork is still in boxes from my move, so it will take me a few days to locate it.

Additionally, please send me the dates of the balance as well as an invoice for precisely what is being charged in the event that I was no longer even a tenant for the period in question.

Former Tenant

Thanks, Nota. I’ll make sure that I have them hound you down for the 6 day gap between the time that my lease legally ended and the time the new tenants lease began.

The best part about this being that I had previously paid the full balance and have proof. But since you seem more than willing to create headaches for me, I will return the favor.

Kind regards,

Former Tenant

Former Tenant,

I'm sorry if you feel that way. I am legally obliged to give them your contact details. If you have paid there is nothing for you to worry about, merely supply the information they need. Their language can be quite aggressive, but that is the nature of English local government. I am so sorry you have reacted in this way as their [sic] was absolutely no malice on my part.

Kind regards

Nota Bene

Yes, and I'm sure the law requires you to divulge my email address. Right. Let's play ball, nota. You want trouble. Then I'll give you trouble. Now I just need to figure out new ways to screw you over. Don't worry... I'm creative!!!

And can you not use correct personal pronouns. English is YOUR language, yet you use it so poorly. That makes me sad.

-Former Tenant

Hi Former Tenant.

I'm not sure what has provoked this outburst from you. However, in the circumstances, I shall pass your threat on to my lawyer, and will also, if necessary, pass a copy of your e-mails to your employer.

Again, I can only repeat that if you have paid there is nothing for you to worry about.


Nota Bene

Lol. My threats? That is funny. I just believe in equalization.

- Former Tenant

Wednesday 11 November 2009


Here is the centre piece of our back yard.

You may think it's a pallet. And a bent one at that.

But you'd be wrong. It is an amazing natural resource which offers endless raw materials for making many different things.

It comes from the boy's school, and was thrown by them into a skip ready for disposal on some landfill site. Fortunately the eco-warrior decided to rescue it and carried it home - just as the ancient Brits carried the rocks for Stonehenge from Wales to Salisbury Plain all those many centuries ago.

The boy has always picked things up and brought them home. We have lots of oversized rusty nuts and bolts to prove it; we have lots of broken bits of bumper or indicator lights to prove it; we have lots of sticks and twigs from the forest to prove it - most memorably the large stick that once it dried out released some crazed beast that had previously had a lead role in Starship Troopers before trying to find peace and quiet in the damp vegetation of Epping Forest.

He carefully placed the pallet in the middle of the yard ready for recycling into some fantastical art piece in the near future. Or perhaps it would turn into a cupboard. Or a piece of furniture.

Although my memory isn't what it was, I seem to recall this momentous event took place in the late spring, or perhaps early summer. And of course, it has lain undisturbed ever since. What was a finely crafted pallet has now developed a bit of a bow from where it has been rained on consistently throughout this year's "it's going to be a barbeque" summer. And I am sure it will stay there undisturbed for a good number of months yet.

I would hope that in his head, the boy is formulating a Grand Plan, calculating which pieces he can use whole, and which pieces he will need to cut to size to create his artwork.

But really, deep down I know differently. I know he is a boy-man. And that means he is practicing for later life. I already feel sorry for his wife. Perhaps I should warn her. I can picture his living room floor, even now. Covered in pieces from a 'soon to be' rebuilt motorcycle. I can picture his bathroom with one wall half-tiled, with pipes connected to nothing but an empty space. I can picture his bedroom, with the holes drilled (unevenly) for a shelf that will never be put up. I can picture his dining room, with the woodwork half painted, and the feature wall half finished.

Because, as you know, every man grows up knowing that it is task in life to start DIY projects and never finish them. I'm so glad he has started early.

Monday 9 November 2009


There are some things I feel I can share with you. And some things I just can't. Today I shall share with you that there is enough dust spread around the Brighton flat to make a whole new Kalahari desert. It would be a very dark desert as the dust is black, but it would be a desert. Or perhaps I could rent the flat as a lunar landscape for the next 'fake moon landing'. Conspiracy theorists, please gather here.

The reason for the dust is that since the early part of the year, we have been rennovating and decorating. The builders claim to have taken out 60 bags of rubble. And should be admired for that given that this is a fourth floor flat. With no lift. I had planned to wait until the new carpet is laid before I shared this with you. But I'm an impatient man. So the carpet is not yet ordered, let alone down, but I feel you should see the efforts of my wallet.

The two things I am most pleasedest with are the kitchen and the stairwell. I adore the stairwell now and intend to sit there through the long lonely evenings of winter. I will sit there and stroke the flock of the wallpaper.

The kitchen is full of new gadgets and I've reached a stage where I can no longer work out how to use new gadgets. Even with the instruction book. So I am hoping the boy will develop a passionate interest in cooking. I do know that the hob is an induction hob. I didn't know when I bought it that I had to have iron saucepans for an induction hob to work. So the aluminium ones I bought six months ago will have to find a new home. I have brought out some of the things that have been hidden in the back of a cupboard for 20 years. So welcome back Maggie and Ronnie the teapots.

I may one day share with you the trauma of getting to here, but not now.