I have lost the will to live!

Modern life is conspiring to do me in, I am almost at the point where I have lost the will to live.

Some of you may have read my previous post, Alexa and the Amazon Music saga which took place just over a week ago and I have to admit I had barely recovered from the trauma of dealing with this when modern life struck yet again.

As we live in the countryside we had occasion to have our septic tank emptied yesterday, I shan’t be going into details of this for fear of offending those who may be reading who are of a delicate disposition, but suffice to say it involves a fairly large lorry backing up our drive and emptying the tank.

Image result for septic tank lorry

The same man and his lorry have been doing this for years, unfortunately this time he managed to take one of our telephone lines with him on his exit, which was indeed unfortunate as this was the line which we use for our broadband and I was in the process of trying to get the phone number of the waterboard on my computer at the time.

Eventually, having found out how to work the internet on my phone I found the number which rather amazingly resulted in a young fellow from the water board coming to have a look at the problem later that afternoon. Bravo Thames Water.

It seems that the septic tank being brick built may have become porous and is taking in water from the ground level water table, although why the ground level water has risen we have no idea.

This could be quite a long post, so I suggest if you are not bored to death yet perhaps this might be the time to go off and make yourself a cup of tea if you’re staying for the long haul.

So, with one problem not solved I then set about getting someone to come and repair the phone line and yet again came upon the problem of not having any internet as it took some time for me to find a document in my computer where I had made a note of the phone number which we use for the broadband to say which line was broken.

That problem solved I phoned Vodafone who unfortunately have a voice recognition computer system which was unable to recognise what my problem was and having tried multiple variations of “broken phone,” “phone not working,” etc I finally stumbled on the phrase “broken landline.” I often wonder why they have a machine which eventually recognises the word “landline,” but is unable to recognise the phrase, “for Gods sake, all I want to do is speak to a human being!”

Eventually I managed to get through to a very pleasant fellow in Egypt who took all the details and promised to have someone to fix it within the next three days which was a step in the right direction. I did rather wonder if they might have found a location somewhat closer to the UK than Egypt which even as the crow flies is 4197 kilometres away, obviously they save money on the wage bill but as virtually everything has to be repeated twice this obviously takes more time and wages, one wonders exactly how cost effective it actually is.

During my conversation I was informed that the engineer would first check the inspection box down the road and then check the line to our house and finally check the line in our house. I tried to inform them that the line was broken at our house and not to waste time elsewhere but they were adamant they would check the box first, I was not lost for words but chose to use them after my telephone conversation had ceased.

I’m not sure that jumping up and down swearing to myself does any good in these circumstances but it is a temporary fix to alleviate high blood pressure I think.

I have placed a map of exactly how far away Egypt is for the benefit of those readers who are not geography scholars, but I suppose I can’t really complain as the next day a telephone engineer from Open Reach phoned me to say he was on the way, although luckily not from Egypt!

He informed me he would go to the inspection box down the road first to ascertain what the problem was which gave me the opportunity to say, “no, please come straight to our house where I can show you the broken wire which is the problem.”   He replied that had he gone to the box he would have wasted ages trying to find the problem and came straight round.

Nothing, it seems in modern life is easy for our phone lines runs from a pole over the road to a pole in our garden and then affixes to the wall of the house, the broken wire being from the house to the pole in the garden.

The garden being somewhat large the hedge and small trees in this corner have grown up making it rather difficult to get to the pole, surely you didn’t think he was going to come and fix it in two minutes and leave, did you?

He protested that he would need the assistance of another fellow with a cherry picker to get to the pole and even then he was doubtful they could do it as the trees were in the way but could mend the wire temporally and run it along the ground should the cherry picker not be available.

Image result for cherry picker

Not one to be defeated I rushed to the garage and grabbed my chain saw and equipped with my health and safety T shirt set about taking down the trees which were barring access to the pole and rubbing on the wire.

Having cleared quite a large area I asked the engineer if he would care to get his ladder and shin up the pole and fix the line which unsurprisingly he declined, insisting that health and safety demanded the use of the cherry picker.

All was not lost, for almost immediately the fellow with the cherry picker arrived and set about fixing a new line which would carry both phone lines in it from the pole and then to the house which he said should have been much higher so that it wouldn’t get caught on the top of lorries. I was delighted to have just the one wire and now fixed much higher on the wall.

There were now three men on site feverishly working as a well oiled team and after some checks the fellow with the cherry picker left whilst the other two did the final checks and found that only one of the phone lines was working.

A quick call to the fellow with the cherry picker and some adjustments to the connection on the post resulted in both phone lines and the broadband working, sometimes I can almost believe there is a God!

By way of celebration I am going to make a cup of tea and have some cake to celebrate and I suggest you do likewise for I haven’t finished yet, this is a marathon moan!

That’s better, lemon curd swiss roll and a cup of tea has enlivened me sufficiently to regal the tale of  the Asda last four digit receipt.

I purchased some Amstel lager in Asda and was delighted to see I could win a weekend in Amsterdam if I were to text the last four digits of the receipt to 81400, what could be easier?

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When in any supermarket I never use the self service checkout so I don’t consider myself as an employee of any of the supermarkets including Asda, this being said I am not aware which of the multiplicity of numbers on the receipt is actually the receipt number.

How hard can it be to find out thought I, surely a quick phone call to the supermarket where I purchased the beer and a member of staff would have the answer in a jiffy.

Once again I was faced with modern life and a telephone selection system, press 1 if you are a customer, 2 if you are staff, 4 for grocery etc but once again no number to speak to a human being.

Now I realise those of you who have remained with me on this marathon post will see were this is going and to put you out of your misery I can confirm that eventually I managed via a foreign call centre to eventually get back to a human being who I believe was actually at a supermarket although I have no Idea where except I think it must have been the UK.

The line was exceptionally bad as I was having trouble hearing them and they asked me to speak up, which by this time I was only too happy to oblige as I was getting a little frayed at the edges by now. Having responded louder, I was then accused of shouting but eventually was told the receipt number was at the bottom by the bar code, or it might be at the top!

My patience having finally run out I stuck the last four numbers that were at the bottom in the text and sent it off, I won’t hold my breath waiting that I will be going to Amsterdam but you never know.

 

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Game of Thrones is over.

I cannot tell you how delighted I am that Game of Thrones is over, I absolutely loathe and detest it and even worse the pointless discussion after the programme.

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It is without a doubt a Marmite show, my wife loves it and has inflicted it on me on quite a few occasions.

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It’s over, it’s over, there is a God after all!!

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Alexa and the Amazon Music Saga!

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I have an Amazon music machine thing to which we added a small one, a sort of extension speaker, at least in my mind. I have no idea how the damn thing works and very rarely use it, however I did know it wasn’t desperately expensive to run. This morning though when going through my Amazon account I came across an item for £14.99 which just said Amazon Music Unlimited which after some research I found to be the monthly payment for the Alexa music machine which used to cost £3.99 per month. The following is my online chat to their help department together with the translation of what I was thinking rather than what I wrote.

Me:I have an Amazon Music Unlimited payment which used to be £3.99 and I have just noticed that it changed on 17th November 2018 to £14.99 I don’t know why, can you tell me why this happened, please.

Me:Why the hell have you suddenly started to charge me nearly four times as much as I was previously paying??

You’re now connected to santhiya M from Amazon.co.uk

santhiya M:Hello, my name is Santhiya. I’ll be happy to help you.

I’m sorry to know that you have been charged 14.99 instead of 3.99 gbp.

Do you mind waiting for a minute while I research this for you?

Me:That’s fine.

Me:I suppose this is going to waste the entire morning, I’ve nothing better to do!

santhiya M:Thank for waiting.

I’ve checked your account and I see that from 17 November 2018 your subscription was upgraded to Amazon Music Unlimited Family Monthly from single device plan.

In this case I’ll cancel and request a refund from 17th November 2018 to Friday, 17 May 2019 so that you can again sign up 3.99 GBP plan.

Is that okay for you?

Me:I am unsure how this works. We had one alexa thing then got a small one as well. Do I have to pay for both of them, we don’t want the most modern music just old tunes.

Me:Yes, that’s very good, but why the hell was it suddenly increased for no apparent reason, answer me that, if you can!

santhiya M:I’ve checked your account and I see that you have active prime and music unlimited subscription under this account. From Monday, 20 March 2017 you have single device place which you can access only through alexa but from 17 November 2018 your subscription plan accidentally upgraded to family plan.

Me:Ok can we go back to £3.99 as you suggested. Will we have to do anything or will it just revert for us.

Me:Why the hell can’t you just put it back to where it started from, can’t you tell I have no idea how all this nonsense works!

santhiya M:I’ve now cancelled your subscription and requested a refund from 17th November 2018 to Friday, 17 May 2019 and it will get reflect to your account within 5-7 business days.

You can use your voice to modify your Amazon Music Unlimited Plan through Alexa.

To do this, say:”Sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited.”

Me:We have to start again by talking to the thing?

Me:You want me to start talking to a machine, it’s bad enough having to write to you, why won’t you put the bloody thing back to where it started from? Blast, I think the internet has gone down, bollocks!

You’re now reconnected with santhiya M.

santhiya M:you can degrade your plan. your plan now.

You can use your voice to modify your Amazon Music Unlimited Plan through Alexa.

To do this, say:”Downgrade Amazon Music.”

So that your plan will be revert back to single device plan

I’ve now requested a refund without cancelling your subscription.

Me:So we still have to say “downgrade amazon music” or have you done it for us?

Me:You must think I’m doolally, if you think I’m going to try to sort this out by talking to a machine!

santhiya M:Yes, please say “downgrade amazon music” you plan will be changed.

Me:I just said that and it said we have to go to our music settings on the web, I have no idea where this is?

Me:This machine has just sent me to a page which doesn’t seem to have any bearing on what I am trying to achieve, if I wasn’t doolally when I started this conversation I will be by the time I’ve finished!

santhiya M:You can sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited Single Device plan by visiting the Amazon Music Unlimited (https://www.amazon.co.uk/amazonmusicunl…(See full link) ) page.

Please try this above link and let me know.

The subscription will only be available with the Echo or Fire TV device that you will select during the sign up process.

Hope we are connected.

Me:I have no idea what I am doing, what has Echo or Fire Tv got to do with Amazon Music?

Me:I’m beginning to lose patients, what the fxxk are you talking about?

santhiya M:Echo means your alexa.

In this single device plan you can listen music only through alexa.

For a easy way I’ll cancel and request a refund for that subscription so that you can sign up single device plan through alexa.

Is that okay for you?

Me:I think so, I’ll wait until I can find a young person who has some idea of what we are supposed to do but thanks for your help anyway.

Me:I can see I’m fighting a loosing battle here, I’ll have to wait until I get assistance from a young person, quite clearly you’re never going to do it for me!

santhiya M:At this time simplest way I’ll now cancel your subscription now please ask your alexa to “Sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited.”

So that your single device plan will be activated.

Shall I cancel your subscription now?

Me:Yes, as I said we will get assistance from our children who probably understand what we need to do.

Me:I’ve tried talking to the bloody thing already, I’m losing the will to live!

santhiya M:Sure.

I’ve now cancelled and requested a refund from 17th November 2018 to Friday, 17 May 2019 and it will get reflect to your account within 5-7 business days.

Me:Thank you, at least we are half way there!

Me:I give in, at least we’re halfway there!

santhiya M:So that you can sign up your single device from alexa with the help of your children.

Me:Yes.

Me:I bloody hope so!

santhiya M:After that your alexa sign up single device plan and you will be charged only 3.99 GBP in future.

Me:Excellent, thank you.

Me:I’m still wondering why you couldn’t do it for me?

santhiya M:Thanks for your understanding.

It’s my pleasure to assist you!

Is there anything else I can help with?

Me:No, thank you.

Me:No thank you, I’ve had enough, I’m going for a lie down in a dark room!

santhiya M:Bye have a lovely day!​

Me:And you.

Me:Bye, I suppose you did your best!

santhiya M:Thank you:)

Please click the “End Chat” link to close this window. You’ll then be asked to complete a quick survey and provide comments about your experience. We hope to see you again soon!

Me:Ok

Me:See you again soon, I bloody hope not!

 

Finally, after all this paralarva I tried to follow the link which would lead me to the page where I could go back to where we started and sign up again for £3.99, unfortunately the only page it took me to said it would cost £7.99 a month. I would love to contact them to find the link to the page where we go back to where we started at the promised £3.99 but I don’t think I’ve got the strength left today!  

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The Battle of Singapore.

I was looking for something else when I came across this film which I did some many years ago about Lieutenant General Arthur Percival and the Battle of Singapore in World War Two.

Here is the link.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3lLGllAfkE

 

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Eccentrics wanted.

Some years ago I was lucky enough to get an entry in the second charity bicycle run called The Tweed Run which took place in London in 2010 and what a fun day it was.

I was reminded of this today when listening to Harry and Edna on the wireless with his radio show on the event. https://www.mixcloud.com/harryandedna/tweed-run-2017/

Ever since I did the event I have thought how much fun it would be if there was a similar type of run near where I live and to this end I am putting out the request for slightly eccentric tweed wearing bicyclists who live near Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire.

 

Image result for the tweed run

I have over the years put out feelers to various cycle clubs and cycle shops to see if I can find like minded people who may want to organise such an event with no luck, so I am now working on plan B.

The Flitch Way is a local walking and cycling path from Bishops Stortford to Braintree and at 15 miles would seem an ideal route for a tweed clad bicycle ride.

Having given up temporarily on a full blown event with hundreds of riders I am now looking at a much smaller  gathering of perhaps half a dozen slightly eccentric men and women who may wish to join me and hopefully set a trend whereby many others may join us on future rides.

Should any old bicycle owning, tweed wearing, slightly eccentric individuals wish to join me please don’t hesitate to contact me, for you never know, from little acorns large oaks do grow.

 

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Drive it day.

Today was “Drive it day” when every self respecting classic car owner is supposed to take their cars out to make the public aware of our wonderful hobby.

Drive it day 2019.

 

Those of you who read this first time will now realise I have uploaded the professional photo which is slightly better quality but I left the others

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Usually my wife is very reluctant to have her photo displayed on any sort of social media but today she must have had a funny turn as she decided it would be okay to upload her image.

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We were papped by professional a photographer and I asked if they would be kind enough to bash off a couple of snaps on my phone which they duly did.

Two things are noticeable here, firstly I think the lens could do with a clean and secondly, you would hardly guess from the background of this photo that we are parked in a field full of classic cars but we were.

I’m going to upload these images before my wife changes her mind and may add the professional one later if I can get a copy.

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BREXIT!!

I am primarily aiming this blog at the younger folk who, I think, are not as genned up on the subject as they might be and will therefore start my blog in the style of a fairy story, as this seems to be the only way to gain their attention judging by the numbers of young folk watching Game of Thrones.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, in a time long, long ago, well actually Europe and the time was February 1957, there was no European Union, it wasn’t until March of that year that the European Economic Community, commonly known as the Common Market was formed.

On the 25th March 1957 a treaty was signed in Rome between France, West Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg which established the European Economic Community the EEC which came into operation in January 1958.

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Just to put this in perspective for you younger folk, prior to 1957 all the countries in Europe and the UK existed as separate entities, how scary is that!

How brave the British must have been, for as far back as the seventeenth and eighteenth century hoards of the extremely wealthy would have gone on a Grand Tour often lasting up to four years, extensively to broaden their horizons and take in the culture, language, geography and architecture, but which often just turned into a glorified booze up.

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It would be wrong to accuse the British of being anti Europe for we have travelled extensively on trains like the Orient Express and the Blue Train to places like Paris, Milan, Vienna, Strasbourg, Belgrade and many others. Later in 1907 the Caravan Club was formed and by the 1930’s, touring the continent was within the reach of wealthy middle class people, however the best story of this time is of the race between Woolf Barnato, owner of Bentley Motors and famous Bentley Boy, who raced the Blue Train from Cannes back to London in his 6 1/2 litre Bentley Speed Six, and won!

Image result for the bentley and the blue train

Putting this story into historical perspective we have to now mention the Second World War in which a diminutive Austrian called Adolph Hitler attempted world domination where vast swathes of Europe came under the control of jackbooted Nazi hoards.

It was during 1940 that the French were overrun by the Germans causing General Charles De Gaulle to flee to Great Britain and set up the Free French army, he remained with us until 1944.

At this point up stepped the plucky Brits who rather belatedly were joined by our American cousins and went to the rescue of the defeated Europeans resulting in our return to Europe yet again on D Day in 1944, finally defeating the Nazis in 1945.

Meanwhile, as we were still running amok with our Bentley’s, it was suggested by some European political theorists who, with a view to preventing war and improving Europe’s economic climate that economic integration might be a good idea, and the first major step was taken in 1951 when France and West Germany integrated their coal and steel industries. Now for us older fellows and with the benefit of hindsight, we can all see where this is going.

I know that you will find this surprising, but initially Britain and other nations declined to join the Common Market, however by the early 1960’s the Common Market had shown signs of significant growth and Britain changed its mind.

From the British point of view there was a slight flaw in the plan, as the French President was one Charles de Gaulle who twice vetoed the British admission because of our close ties to the United States, hang on, I’m seeing a pattern emerging here, if I’m not much mistaken.

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As you can imagine we were not greatly impressed with his actions, this, some might say from the “cheese eating surrender monkey” who as leader of the Free French during World War Two, when overrun by Nazi Germany fled to the safety of Great Britain for the rest of the war. One would have thought that, one good turn deserves another, but apparently not.

There is a possibility that had he not been so against us joining, we may have just walked away and got on with our lives, but we Brits are never ones to back away from the taunt “come and have a go, if you think you’re hard enough”, or in this case De Gaulle’s taunt of “Non”.

For the benefit of the younger element who may be reading this, it may surprise you to know that it wasn’t until January 1973 under the leadership of Ted Heath that we were finally able to join, which means we have only been in the Common Market for 45 years.

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Two small points here, 45 years in the concept of world history is a drop in the ocean and the Common Market that we joined then is a distinctly different animal to the current European Union we are currently shackled with.

Having given the history of getting in, I now propose to discuss the thorny subject of, getting out and will start with a quote from the latest film about Winston Churchill, who allegedly said, “you can’t reason with a tiger, when your head is in its mouth.”

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Rather along the lines of a visit to the dentist where upon sitting in the chair, one clasps his testicles in one’s hand and utters the phrase, “we’re not going to hurt each other, are we?” Perhaps, when next our negotiating team enter the room, I think they too should have a useful phrase to get our point across and I suggest this; “Exactly what do you want to sell us, I’m sure there must be something?”

I know very little of the game of poker or gambling but I know a little about common sense and having witnessed recently the look of fear in the eyes of the EU negotiators when the mention of no deal is brought up, I still find it hard to understand why we don’t play this hand and negotiate a sensible deal which works for both of us.

There you are, the story of Brexit from the very beginning and I’m hoping I live long enough to eventually see an end to the story.

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