Grumpy old fart!!!

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


Sorry to break the news to you but dear old Santa will not be paying you a visit on Christmas Eve. In a land mark ruling, the state versus Claus he has been detained under the Patriot Act and has exchanged his traditional red suit for the orange boiler suit of Guantanamo Bay and probably won’t see the light of day again. It was decided that although he was guilty of importing livestock, contravening the health and safety regulations related to the manufacture and importation of toys, driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, failing to submit flight plans, flying over restricted areas, coercing little children to sit on his lap and tell him where they lived then paying them unannounced visits during the night they weren’t going to try to charge him with child molestation, especially after the debacle with Michael Jackson, terrorism was the safest option and one where a challenge under civil liberties would never succeed. So very sorry but Christmas is cancelled for the foreseeable future.

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

Cheques checking out



Cheques will be phased out by October 31 2018, the UK’s Payments Council has announced. The 15-strong body, comprising members of the banking industry, said cheques were in “long-term, terminal decline”. Chief executive Paul Smee said: “There are many more efficient ways of making payments than by paper in the 21st century, and the time is ripe for the economy as a whole to reap the benefits of its replacement.”

The council faced opposition from businesses and charities who argued that when individuals can no longer use cheques to make payments or donations they will loose money and much needed contributions. Personally I very rarely use a credit card and certainly not a debit card when making contributions to charities by post.

The Payments Council have vowed to work over the next nine years to “promote and explain” the alternatives to the public and their goal is to ensure that by the cheques death knell in 2018 there will be no scenario where customers still need to use a cheque.

Despite the decline in the use of cheques from approximately 10.9 million per day in 1990 there are still approximately 4 million cheques used each day in 2008, clearly there is still a demand, although a declining demand by the public.

If cheques are removed from the system there has to be concerns that many will resort to paying by cash and keeping large sums at home with the increased risk of theft or exploitation of the more vulnerable in society. In addition for those who have been refused access to a credit card due to unemployment or retirement the humble cheque is a safe way to make transactions by post. For those who travel aboard the travellers cheque has often been a useful back up in the event of debit card faults, another avenue that the Payments Council will need to address by 2018.

Despite the Payments Council’s pledge, there is a danger that some members of society will be denied access to a safe and convenient method of making payments. Perhaps the banks need reminding that although we use their facilities they hold and use our money, they are there to serve us, the general public not the other way round.

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

B & Q

I often despair at the poor service that some DIY super stores offer to their customers, after all aren’t they there to provide a competent service and so encourage not only spending at the time but future visits with the hope of further purchases. Well one might think so but it doesn’t always work like that.

Recently we decided that our shower room needed updating, it hasn’t been touched since we purchased the house in 2003. The plaster work, flooring, shower and general décor is looking rather sad and tired.

Recent event have made this possible, I refer to my recent redundancy / early retirement which has given me the necessary funds to finish upgrading and decorating our house.

After finding a very nice Victorian style suite and shower we searched the internet for ideas regarding the tiles and found a company “Original Style” who at first glance had the range and style we required, even better we didn’t argue about it. Upon visiting the local stockist we discovered that the floor tiles, although described as white and black are in fact a cream colour. Personally I couldn’t see the problem with cream, well off white and a white suite but what do I know, I have worn purple DM’s with a suit so colour coordination perhaps isn’t one of my strong points. Sadly at this point we argued so much, mostly me being petulant that the shop owner vanished into the backroom not wishing to be embroiled in the argument. In desperation I contacted “Original Style” and they have a new colour called “Dover White”. The stockist wasn’t too happy as he hadn’t been advised of the new colour range and felt that it made him look inefficient – possible quite true although at the time I wasn’t complaining. A date was agreed to measure the shower room and adjoining utility room. Both are fairly small, the shower room is 180 cm square, or if like me you haven’t embraced the metric age, about six feet square. The utility room is perhaps a further four foot in width. We only required the floor in both room tiled and the shower room tiled, again bearing in mind that there is a window and door opening that do not require tiling. Our first estimate was approximately £4,000 which included plastering the walls and fixing the tiles, but not to install the bathroom suite and shower. The tiles alone were in the region of £2,500, way too expensive even for my dream room.

Eventually we went to B & Q, local to us and they appear to have a wide range of tiles. After much searching we found the range we wanted, the colour and style of tile were in keeping with the Victorian theme. However life is never that easy, B & Q don’t stock this particular range, neither do they have any samples of the tiles. Given our past experience we wanted to see the colour and finish. But no, B & Q weren’t able to oblige, several telephone conversations later, well nine in total we were eventually told that they couldn’t send a sample, however if I liked to order a box they would be happy to oblige. Clearly customer service isn’t their forte, not only have they missed out on this order but neither will they be in the running for our new kitchen. Yes finally after about thirty years I have given in and we will be having a new kitchen, sadly I have run out of reasons not to agree.

Retuning to the tile issue, a friend recommended a local tile company which we visited and found the exact tile colour and style, no arguments, no shop assistant fleeing for safety and they even offered us tea, how civilised. The added bonus has to be that the cost wasn’t prohibitive.

The moral of this tale is, don’t rely on the larger DIY stores and don’t forget the smaller local shops who often offer a better service although sadly they aren’t always able to compete with the cost, but I guess it shows that you get what you pay for, cheap tiles, poor service.

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

B & Q

The other evening I needed to purchase a six-inch bolt to hold our stair post more securely. B&Q is only a short distance and therefore seemed the ideal choice, although previous experience should have made me aware of their inability to provide the necessary items to help complete a project but that is another blog entry. Having found the required bolt I searched for the matching nuts and washers but none were to be found; on enquiry from one of B&Q’s black and orange helpers I discover that the nuts and washers can only be purchased in separate bags each containing ten. Further enquiry revealed that it isn’t cost effective to sell these items individually nor would they have the space. Although I can sympathise with this I am at a loss as to why they can’t sell each as a complete item, but then that would be logical and logic appears to be sadly lacking. Now having used the items I have eight nuts that are of no current use but will be consigned to my box of items that “might come in handy” one day. Many wives or significant other will no doubt frown or nod knowingly  at this but in truth there may be a day when their storage will be justified.

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment