Grumpy old fart!!!

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

Worst jobs ever

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There may be times when we all hate our job and would give anything for a change, here are some that are certainly worth giving a miss!!!

October 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Freedom

 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

Cheques

Following the recent statement by the UK’s Payments Council that cheqiues would phased out by October 2018, Santander / Alliance and Leicester have taken the first step by advising their customers that no new cheque guarantee cards will be issued to customers. The cheques guareente scheeme will be withdrawd by 30th June 2011. It appears that we will still be able to use unguaranteed cheques, providing they are accepted.

 Despite assurances that customers would be able to use an alternative to the cheque this has proven to be yet another lie by the banking industry. Credit cards may be an alternative but like many, being unemployed but retired Santander like several credit card companies have refussed me this alternative, perhaps using cash is the way forward.

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Crippleage

March 7, 2010 Posted by | Deltiology, Maid, Maids, Servants, Social History, The Crippleage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Crippleage

John Alfred Groom was a London engraver and evangelical preacher, who became concerned with the plight of the poverty-stricken and often disabled girls and women who sold flowers and watercress in the streets around Farringdon Market. His work with them began when he founded the Watercress and Flower Girls’ Christian Mission in 1866. A permanent home for the mission was found in Harp Alley and Lord Shaftesbury became its first president. Religious services were held at Foresters’ Hall until its destruction in 1890, after which John Groom purchased Woodbridge Chapel, Clerkenwell.
Taking inspiration from the trend for imported handmade flowers, John Groom set up a factory in Sekforde Street, close to the Woodbridge Chapel, where disabled girls could work at making artificial flowers and thus make a living for themselves. The girls lived in houses in Sekforde Street, rented by John Groom. Further factories were subsequently built in Woodbridge Street and Haywards Place. The name of the charity was changed to John Groom’s Crippleage and Flower Girls Mission in 1907.

February 15, 2010 Posted by | Deltiology, Servants, Social History, The Crippleage, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

Flexibility?

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