Tuesday 13 December 2011

Into battle we go...

There is a fabulous shop in Bermondsey Street Called Lovely British. It is indeed lovely, and as far as I can tell after some significant nosing around that everything in it is British. It is irony in no small measure then that the shop is run by a lovely lady with a heavy French accent.

One of the recurring themes in my life is the constant need I have to get into tussles, fights, disagreements with people and organisations. It's monotonous, and causes me to question why it happens. If I won some and lost some then I would just think of it as the ups and downs of life. If I lost them all, or nearly all, I would think of it as just me being a scrapper. But as it happens, there's hardly an occasion when I'm wrong, when I lose. That means to me, at least, that just to get through the mundanities of life I have to fight, fight, fight. Of course over the years this has made me, probably, more aggressive than I should be. This I'm convinced is nurture vs nature and at the moment nurture is the thing.

I wrote some time ago...we may be talking years here rather than months and certainly weeks...that I had taken on the management company for a flat I owned. The result was eight, nearly nine thousand pounds in my pocket. The tribunal had sided with me when they hadn't produced any accounts as required in the lease. The management company then did as they were told and started producing 'accounts'. I was suspicious so I had a look. A close look. They didn't look right. In fact they looked distinctly wrong. The Cat's Mother who is a Chartered Accountant agrees. The management company wouldn't budge, and so after a bit of a hiatus...and a threatening solicitor's letter from them (obviously a firm based in Liverpool - well why not when the property is in London, the managing agent is in Essex, the freeholder is in Surrey or there abouts?), I'm back filing a claim at the Residential Valuation Tribunal. We're fighting over £5000.

In March I changed energy supplier from EDF to OVO...you may not have heard of Ovo, but do look them up, they're one of the smaller suppliers, and it will make your heart feel good. I heard nothing more from EDF until the beginning of November (yes that's a full eight months since I switched supplier. It was a final gas bill - they owed me just under £500. I'm still waiting for the final electricity bill. They would send me a cheque. Come the middle of December nothing so I rang them. Yes they said they haven't sent me a cheque they will. By the time I get the money it'll be nine months since I stopped have energy supplied by them. I find this unacceptable, as I bet they do that to everyone. That's a fat pile of cash they're sitting on which they don't deserve. They offered me £40 to go away. I said more. They offered my £50 if I don't rat on them to the Ombudsman. I took their 40 quid and told them I would complain to the Ombudsman. I have. I think they are a disgrace. I don't much care for the forty or fifty quid, but I seriously object to multinational companies taking consumers for a ride.

I still have an outstanding complaint with the Financial Ombudsman over Lloyds TSB.

I'm popping over the road now to buy something lovely and British.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Dereliction of duty

It probably sounded good in the brainstorming meeting which no doubt was run by an expensive marketing consultant, but I somehow felt that the trucking company may not have spent their money well when the side of their lorry was adorned with the line (in italics):

"We couldn't care any more"

I hope they weren't carrying someone's precious antique grand piano.

Europe's a mess isn't it? Whilst I can applaud Merkozy for getting tough about countries' budgets, I doubt that further integration is a good idea whilst the various pan-European political bodies remain shambolic at best and completely incapable at worst. Personally after many years of trecking round Europe changing currency every time I crossed a border I was delighted with the Euro, but it's a bad concept, badly implemented. It's frying pan and fire time though isn't it, and quietly The City must be smirking again as they realise how subservient the British Government is to it.

I've driven to Brighton and back in one day twice this week...which is probably the most the place has been visited in the last three years. We're having some work done there, and it always difficult to do it from a distance. I'm sure that builders are not malicious, but they have a habit of doing exactly what you don't want unless you keep the leash very short. And indeed, my list of corrections after the first visit was very long indeed, so much as I didn't want to, I was up early on Sunday morning to check on progress. No corrections this time, just some concern writ large that the work won't be done before the Christmas break. I still managed to be back within yawning and stretching time of the offspring arising.

There's a stretch of the A23 dual carriageway which has a double bend in it. I remember that when the road was upgraded, probably some fifteen or more years ago, this double bend was left as it was because the trees around it were ancient and protected. Sadly that doesn't appear to be the case anymore, and the whole lot have been chopped down. Perhaps they were diseased, perhaps the needs of road users were deemed too important, but whatever the case, they've gone, which is a real shame, even if it makes the road a little safer.

The Christmas season is well under way...tree up in the office, and now one at home too. To get us in the mood, we all trecked up to town to see Simon Callow re-tell Dickens Christmas carol. A completely bewitching performance managing to wring out every piece of emotion (from laugh out loud humour to tear inducing sadness) that's. That Simon Callow is a genius.

Friday night saw us walking the streets of London with Paul Talling. I'm not quite sure how I first came across him, but I'm glad I did. He is the author of two books - London's Lost Rivers and Derelict London. I have a fascination with old London and changing London, but am a complete junior school boy compared to Paul who has taken his passion beyond a hobby and now writes(Derelict has sold 13,000 copies) as well as running some very well-informed walks and talks during the summer months. We persuaded him to walk us up the old river Fleet, which essentially, is hidden in a sewer underneath Farringdon Road. Even in the freezing cold, the walk was fascinating...from the opening undiscovered (by us, at least) view of the Thames by night just near the remarkable Black Friar tavern (built on the site of a Dominican monastery), past Henry VIII's Bridewell Palace, through Smithfields meat market and on up to Clerk en Well, where we lay down in the middle of the road to peer a down a drain where we could hear and see the fast flowing river all the way to Kings Cross where he bade us farewell. Over three hours he didn't stop regaling us with the history and stories of the Fleet...mostly they seemed to involve nasty smells and carcasses floating down the river. The Boys particularly liked the (surely soon-to-be-revived) tradition of putting women in barrels and rolling them down the hills, the girls seemed to enjoy the more genteel history of the Venetian-like canal that Wren wanted to turn it into. If you get the chance go to Paul's web site here, and join one of his tours next summer...as we will.

The only downside is that I forgot to ask him to autograph the two books we had carried with us all evening