Grumpy old fart!!!

"If you talk to God you're religious. If God talks to you, you're psychotic."

Jean Charles de Menezes

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes clould receive £100,000 in compensation following the tradgic shooting by anti-terrorist officers at Stockwell Tube station on July 22, 2005

Interesting the disparity between the amounts offered to the de Menezes and that received by Sir Ian Blair, but I suppose when you are poor £100,000 is perhaps comparable to the £400,000 received by Blair. However perhaps the really distressing aspect for this family is that the police officers who murdered Jean Charles de Menezes (sorry, mistook him as a suicide bomer before shooting him) remain employed and have not been named. Perhaps is Jean Charles had been white and English, or heaven forbid American more would have been done. So much for justice.

November 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

11 Week Review

The purpose of signing on is to enable the brown shirted minions to tick their little boxes and demonstrate to their masters that we, the unemployed are truly that, because without us they wouldn’t need to exist and although perhaps a contradiction they would be in our position.

I recently attended for my 11 week review with this dear lady called Comfort; the name did not live up to expectations. One of the questions related to further training was I or did I intend to undertake any further training, I suggested that I might register again with the Open University and study for a further degree. However, if I do this I need to gain their agreement and sign up to a learning contract as it might impact on my availability to work. Comfort wasn’t very impressed with my reply that having gained a degree whilst in full time employment, which didn’t cause my employer any problems that I am aware of  I certainly wasn’t going to ask their permission. But “rules is rules” and it will then become part of the jobseekers agreement – I think not.

I enjoy their assumption that they can threaten me with sanctions such as suspending my jobseekers allowance, I did point out to a spotty youth that as I wasn’t in receipt of the aforementioned charity donation therefore they could F.O.A.D. If it appears that they don’t have hold over you they become lost and powerless. There are times when I truly enjoy signing on if only to demonstrate that the individual can still cause discomfort.

I’m sure that my euphoria won’t last long but a short fix is better than none at all.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Credit Cards

Since becoming unemployed, or rather retired I find that small, often insignificant situations become magnified out of all proportion.


I recently applied for a new credit card, in my naivety, I though that I had a good credit history. Never defaulted on my mortgage, any loans always paid promptly and in full. Previous credit card always paid on time, never exceeding the limit and the overdraft only used in emergencies.


Virgin money looked a good option so I applied on line; this is where the problem starts. Under employment I put retired and under income I enter my annual pension. The form will not accept this; neither will several other on line credit card applications. Virgin has a telephone number which I ring and speak to a very helpful operator who takes my details and tells me that he will process my application and I will receive a written reply within the next few days.


As promised I receive a letter from the Head of Credit, Ms Poole requesting that I contact their office, did alarm bells ring, no why should they, after all I am a good credit rise, aren’t I?


I phone and I am asked whether I have a mortgage protection?


“Yes, having paid it for 25 years I thought I should take advantage of the scheme”.


“Well you are unemployed so are not eligible”


“Yes technically I am unemployed but I am retired with a guaranteed annual income”


“But you are unemployed and therefore do not qualify, we have to be responsible when lending money and it wouldn’t be responsible lending to someone who is unemployed”


The delightful Ms Poole, Head of Credit confirmed this in writing, “We can’t offer you a credit card at the moment as you’re not in regular long-term employment. If your circumstances change and you’d like to reapply, we’d be happy to take another look at your application”


Perhaps I’m miraculously going to shed a few years and resume fulltime employment. One has to wonder whether fulltime employment is a safer option that a regular pension? Clearly it is. I guess that I will have to dust off the trusty cheque book, but even that has its limitations.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Ask Sarah

Have you ever had to contact Royal Mail? If so you will undoubtedly have met Sarah. Any question and Sarah will answer it, well not quite true. There are a series of questions on the website which often send the questioner in ever decreasing circles. In desperation I decided the personal approach might be better, big mistake – whom did I encounter, the ubiquitous Sarah, who incidentally has a very tedious voice and repeats the same information over and over again. Eventually I manage to speak to a real person, hopefully in the UK and not a call centre, in the far flung reaches of our fallen Empire. Sadly my query can not be resolved. Not a problem, “my package has not entered the UK yet, contact the sender and try again”. Can I contact the tracking department direct rather than have to listen to tedious Sarah, sadly no, even when the enquirer knows exactly which department they require this is not possible, still it gives Sarah a job.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment


Signing on at the Jobcentre is vexing to say the least, in and out in less than five minutes. Runs like clockwork one might say; however try to deviate from the norm.

I started working for a nursing agency which requires a period of induction to ensure standards are uniform which is good for the clients, organisation and staff. We all know what is expected and how to meet those expectations. Unfortunately one of my training days is on the day that I sign on. I posed the question, “could I change my signing day due to training?” simple request and under normal circumstances a request easily accommodated. No, we are talking about bureaucracy here, “Friday is your signing on day, if you miss it you will need to be interviewed to decide whether the reason for not attending is valid”.

“But I’m attending a course”

“But you will have failed to attend and a decision will need to be reached by a senior manager”

Now for the best piece, “we will then decide whether your Job Seekers allowance continues or is suspended”

“But I don’t receive Job Seekers allowance”

“You will still need to be interviewed”

“Perhaps I shouldn’t attend the training day, would that help?”

“Now you’re being difficult”

Failing to attend either session is seen as difficult – Thanks Selema for your help and understanding.

An email of complaint rectified the situation but clearly the “brown shirted minions” are incapable of independent thought.

Have we bred a nation of idiots who are unable to deviate from the norm? Clearly there can be flexibility but only if one makes a fuss, it’s enough to make one reach for the Prozac.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

England my England

Where is England when one is completing forms that request nationality?

In my experience it is usually British, however I wasn’t born in Scotland, Wales or Ireland but England, therefore I am English and not British.

This may sound xenophobic but it isn’t, I just wish to reiterate my Englishness.

Rupert Brooke (1887 – 1915) wrote

  “The Soldier”

“If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by rivers, blessed by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

In hearts at peace, under an English haven.

My comments regarding Englishness aside and whether I agree with Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan or Iraq remember this each time a soldier dies and is brought back home. A part that made him / her unique has been snuffed out like a brief candle and left in a foreign country.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Signing on

My first day to sign on I committed the cardinal sin of being late. Brief apologies and try to make light of the embarrassment. No, that doesn’t work. “We will stop your benefits if this happens again”. “Well as you aren’t paying me do I really care? In a word; NO”. My comments weren’t receive well, even less so when I offered to go home. No I can’t go home, I just have to wait with all the other sad looking individuals – sorry, we are no longer individuals with responsibilities and status, now we are reduced to a statistic.

When I am seen the interview lasts all of five minutes, “what have you done to find work in the past fortnight, have you been in paid or unpaid work in the past fortnight?” having answered “No” I sign their form and leave in less than five minutes.

Was that it? No humour, no support, no interaction or meaningful dialogue. I seem to recall Charlie Drake had more fun signing on, but that was in the days of black and white television. Colour appears to have reduced to a grey mass.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment


For those who haven’t endured this process it is not only tedious but time consuming and one comes away from the experience wondering “do these people actually know what they are doing?” I don’t think so.

After becoming unemployed one should register the very next day, or when you finally meet your interrogator they want to know why the delay, even though I only left it two working days. Not sure of the process, still in shock just don’t cut it – “well you wont get paid for the missing days” do I care? No!!!

My initial interview repeats all the information already given in a lengthy telephone conversation; don’t they talk to each other? Clearly not. After repeating all my personal details such as income, dependents, outgoings, savings qualifications the information is sent away for a decision to be made. No the local bureaucrats are not able to make that decision, more “jobs for the boys”.

 No I am not entitled to any benefits, again why can’t they tell claimants if they have more than so much saved (it clearly does not pay to save) or a pension then you wont receive anything, perhaps this is just too easy and, and this feeds my paranoia about Big Brother they wouldn’t have even more personal information about the individual.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment


Like many I have recently been made redundant but the Health Service like to ease the pain by allowing me to retire early, which allows the benefit of two pay-outs. Much better that many. However and this is the rant.  I left early in May and received a phone call from my manager, which sounded as if she was eating her lunch, but time is precious and one should be grateful for some contact. Then from my last working day until I finished at the end of July no further contact. Did I smell or have a contagious disease? Who can tell certainly no one said. After my final day of employment I received my P45 in the post. No, no letter of thanks despite 33 years service and 25 years working for the same NHS Trust. It certainly made me feel unvalued and that my contribution was worthless; sadly this isn’t a rare experience, I don’t think managers consider the feelings of their colleagues but view them as a means to an end which enables them to meet their targets.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello world!

My wife, bless her tells me that I am rapidly becoming, or perhaps that should read have become a “Grumpy old fart”, so what better forum to spread my gloom or paranoia that WordPress.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments