Grumpy old fart!!!

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


 This week marked my final visit to the jobcentre, although not one of life’s most pleasurable events it has been, amusing, frustrating and an eye opener. Often it has been amusing and frustrating at the same time; the waiting area has numerous prohibitive signs, no smoking, no eating, no drinking and no mobile phones. All that is missing is no ball games,  no spitting and keep off the grass; although on reflection perhaps they should include “Beware Neanderthal Patrol”. I realise that security have an unenviable job apparently more often employed for their neck size rather than their tact and IQ but on several occasions they appear to provoke a negative reaction from clients by their confrontational manner, this also applies to some of the other staff. Although in fairness this is mainly a small number, the majority have been helpful and possess a great sense of humour – well you would have too. My main complaint has been that their opening gambit is often “if you don’t do this or that we will stop your job seekers allowance”. I was fortunate in that I didn’t receive any benefits so the threat didn’t mean much, there are many who need the money and are treated with apparent contempt, perhaps they should realise like all public service employees they are employed to provide a service which without the clients would see them on the other side of the interview table. The real eye opener has been that despite all my previous misconceptions and media stories not all clients are plebes, just average people placed in the unfortunate position of being unemployed and in need of assistance. Thankfully I can now look forward to peaceful retirement free from the tedium of job searching unless anything interesting comes along, any offers?

August 29, 2010 Posted by | Servants, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

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

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


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

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