Month: January 2013

Thick people – the new income generator ?

Santander, Warrington

Went into my local Santander branch today.

I went briefly overdrawn just after Christmas and they wanted to charge me £25.

This happens every couple of years, and I usually go into the branch and ask for the charges to be refunded.

You might say why ?, it was your fault, and you owe them the money !.

You’d be quite right, and that’s the trick.

Typically, bank staff will be trained in assertiveness and and in all feasible arguments you might make to get your money back (this bank made £100,000,000 last year… being overdrawn didnt cost you £25 in admin… you people in your uniforms think your better than me… the list goes on).

No, the one thing their not usually ready for, is if you say, I have incurred charges of £25, which is entirely my fault and I fully accept responsibility. I normally run my account in good I order and I just wondered as a one of, if there was anything that you could do to help me.

I’ve done that 4 times in the last 9 years and its always worked.

Its not a scam, or in any way dishonest, as genuinly, you are asking for help.

Today, I went into the branch.

I  was kept waiting while the lady behind the counter counted money. After several minutes, I was summoned to the counter, and walked over.

I introduced myself and politely said all of the above.

The reply surprised me. Are you sure you’ve incurred charges ?. Yes I replied, it says so on your website.

When was this and for how much ?. I don’t have all the details with me, perhaps you could look them up on the bank’s system for me.

15 minutes later after endless faffing (if it hadn’t been for the banks security, I would have walked around behind the desk and showed her how to do it), the next chapter of this tail of woe unfolds.

She concludes that she cant find the screen, therefore I don’t owe them any money.

I ask, is that definite (if it isn’t, everything up to this point, is about as relevant and useful as the moons position over the earth at that exact moment !). She says she isn’t sure, but is probably right. Fantastic.

Pressed on the matter, she says that she doesn’t really know how the computer system works, so cant confirm or deny (she’s obviously seen a politician in a press conference and remembered that phrase).

She suggests I go back to work, find the charges page, then print it out and come back to the bank (and off course the snow outside is no inconvenience whatsoever).

Determined to avoid trouble I smile politely, thank her for her help, as, frustrated and iritated, I walk back to work in the freezing cold.

Halfway back, it hits me.

If she was any good at her job, the bank would now probably be £25 worse off. Instead, they’ve kept hold of the money due to her incompetence/stupidity.

Reminded me of a sketch I saw on tv a few years ago. On a series called Jam, they featured a consultancy which rented out thick people for special jobs. You can watch it, and see what I mean bellow.


What the hell have you been doing ?

A couple of you have asked me this, and asked reasonably, if this website will be updated ever again.

In the next few short paragraphs, I hope to answer that question. This website is still very much active, but if your chasing adventure, pursuing your dreams and enjoying significant success, you don’t have time left for anything else.

I have things sorted now and a life balance is in place. So, to answer the original question:

An actual working Council Gritter ! (thanks Aled).

Council gritter is a euphemism I normally use when I enter a pub for the first time, and I’m asking where the toilets are.

A friend of mine, was out with her boyfriend on New Years eve. He was on call, and at 1:30 in the morning, got to actually drive around in a real Council gritter.

There weren’t any photographs of the event, but I’ve got something off the internet, to sort of capture the moment (which must have been brilliant).

Since I originally put this up, Aled (the driver) has sent me this picture of the actual gritter in question. I think its pretty smart.

My New Year was fab. I spent 2 nights at Patterdale youth hostel.

In this photo, 2 of our number, Alex and Christine pose in front of a river.

The weather was absolutely appalling, but the food, ale and company made up for it.

We even made it out on New Years eve for a walk (at one point, we wandered along a path, that ran like a river !).

The white building in the background is the White Lion. Excellent food, but a rather uppity landlord (we decided not to go back the following evening).

I took several pictures like this, which had “lakes” created due to rain. Its my hope to go back in summer and take a photo from the same spot, to see the difference.

I don’t have any photo’s from the walking group Christmas curry a few weeks before, nor my IVC house party, but rest assured they were well attended and everyone had a good time.

Christmas was a fairly relaxed affair. I spent Christmas day at home on my own. I wasn’t lonely at all, it was just something I really wanted to do.

I received a £25 voucher for M&S from work, so I bought enough potatoes and Yorkshire puddings for 8 people and a side of beef (didn’t feel like turkey) that was big enough for 6 (I had to eat it in several sittings).

At work, its been another good year.

One of the many projects we’ve been working on, is rolling out new pc’s. Ably assisted by Dan and Steve, these are just a few of the pc’s we managed to “swap out”.

Our virtualisation and phone projects are progressing well. We worked quite a lot of weekends towards the end of 2012, but thankfully this weekend, the whole team will be home.

One highlight of the year, was us being asked to assist with some technical problems, a customer of ours was encountering. Obviously this kind of thing is strictly confidential, and we don’t normally offer this kind of service. On this occasion we were honoured to help, as its one of the best hospitals in the world.

Afterwards we got to see a bit of London and had this photo taken by the Thames.

Only 3 years into my career, I was promoted to team leader.

Management has never been for me, so I’ve happily held that rank ever since, and I presently work with my 13th assistant (the others have all gone on to great things).

Each year, I take the team out for dinner, and make a point of paying for it with my own money, I never put it on expenses (to me, its obvious, you cant succeed without a good team around you and a personal thank you goes a long way).

Another thing that I’ve learned over the years, is that good suppliers are worth their weight in gold (I’ve worked with some suppliers who were more loyal to my company, than some colleagues who actually worked for us !).

This year we went for dinner at the Grill on the Square in Warrington. I took Dan, Tracie from Unitron and Stewart Braid, a truly gifted unified communications specialist from Damovo. As I came to pay the bill for all of us, I was surprised to find that Stewart had already done so (pretending to visit the bathroom).

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thanks Stewart, Dan, Tracie and everyone who’s helped me this year at work, its really appreciated.

It wasn’t all hard work, I also attended the launch of a new product to provide av consultancy, and got to try my hand at Falconry.

I also paid a visit to God’s own country (I know its supposed to be Yorkshire, but for me its Manchester).

I met up with my brother for dinner, and got to see some of the German market.

At home, I finally got the house sorted, and I’ve fitted a laminate floor in the bathroom.

I made time to do my usual Christmas stuff, including Dr Who.

I thought this year’s was a bit disappointing, but I loved the supporting cast. The Sontaran butler inspired me like no character since Elim Garak in Deep Space 9.

Visit to Israel

Another fantastic year for travel, which saw me return to form. in 2010 and 2011 I managed to get out of the country at least once each year.

In 2012 I visited 5 countries. Worth a special mention is my trip to Israel. I’ve wanted to go there for over 20 years and for one reason and another it never happened.

I was booked to go with Dan and Glenn, and then sure enough rocket attacks start in Gazza, and the wisdom of travelling there is brought into question.

Dan and Glenn decided not to go. At one point so did I, but after much sole searching I went on my own.

I’m going to write a full summary of the trip directly, but to be honest, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

I didn’t feel in danger, at any point on the trip, but I felt uncomfortable most of the time.

While walking into old Jerusalem one day, I saw some Palestinians walking the other way. They didn’t look miserable, they looked despondent, and devoid of hope.

I don’t know enough about the situation in Israel to take sides or say who’s right and wrong, but I can honestly say, that’s a sight I hope I never see again in my life.

While travelling to a meeting at our head office, I took some time out to visit Zurich.

It has easily the biggest railway station I’ve ever seen.

Walking down Hauptbahnoff Strasse, the vaults bellow your feet contain gold vaults, so your literally walking on billions.

I carried on walking towards the lake.

The sad thing was, the weather was awful and there was driving rain the whole time.

I’ve done dozens and dozens of day walks this year, and done at least 12 weekends away in the countryside, either camping or staying in hostel.s

In the last 3 months of the year, I’ve ether been working or away just about every weekend. As I said earlier, it makes for an amazing adventure lifestyle, but leaves little time for anything else.

Above is the youth hostel charter from the Bridges hostel which we stayed at during the walking group Christmas weekend away.

On a different trip, we took Friday off , and spent the weekend in Anglesey to celebrate Marjories birthday.

On another occasion, I stayed at the Derwent water hostel.

We did a day walk on the Saturday, and on Sunday, well everyone else was still in bed, I got up early, walked around the lake, and then walked to the top of Catbells (which I’d seen on a Julia Bradbury program about Wainwright).

The reason for the funny angle of this shot, is it was so early that nobody was around to take the picture and I had to photograph myself.

So, life has now returned to normal. Thanks once again for visiting I love writing it, and I hope you all enjoy reading it.

Near and far, the search for adventure continues…