Friday, 28 November 2008

The things you find on the Web ...

... this time it's an aerial view of the Terrace where I used to live in Brighton, Sussex. My home was the top floor flat, indicated by the arrow I have crudely drawn on the picture. Living opposite the playing fields of Brighton College I could sit out on the flat roof of the bay window of the flat below and watch the cricket in summer, and rugger in the winter terms. I could also see over the rooftops to the bustling town beyond, and catch the whiff of salt air in the mornings as the seagulls wheeled and cried overhead. As you can probably tell, I quite miss it ....

The school behind and the small road were not developed when I was there from 74 to 82. Instead there was a chalk track down which I raced my go-kart when I was younger. The proper name for the lane is "Bakers Bottom". We used to call it "Stinkpot Alley".

Monday, 24 November 2008

Lazy Sunday afternoon

With the fire lit, candles flickering, Haydn's Symphony No.99 in E Flat Major on the CD player, a mug of hot coffee, a magazine to read, and the curtains pulled against the dark skies from which snow flurries were blowing down, it was a comfortable and relaxing winter's Sunday afternoon. I count myself fortunate to have a warm dry home and to be able to pay my way when so many others at this time of financial constraint are falling by the wayside. Deo Gratias.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Another result!

Following on from my complaint to British Gas (Blog - 10th November), after an intial refusal to make any form of compensatory payment I asked that the case be referred upwards to a Supervisor. I have just received a call from one saying that they are refunding to me £75 (or as near as). This is the difference between my old contract rate that I was paying, and the "temporary" normal rate that was applied to my account following their objection to my transfer to another supplier.

Full credit to the very helpful and pleasant supervisor.

Alternative reading ...

... is now required for the "smallest room". Reader's Digest Customer Services (at 9p per minute!) tell me my account has already been closed, and that a refund of unused subscription is on it way. I shall still write to Mr Justin Webster (he of the photostated signature) and tell him he needs to read what people write. (This is also the continual cry of blogger Mad Priest, that people don't read what he's written before screaming at him). So, a result, of a sort, so long as the refund arrives. However, if they've taken off some for administration charges .....

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

I don't believe it!

This time it's the Customer Services department of Reader's Digest.

The style of the magazine changed quite significantly two issues ago, so I decided that I would not renew my subsription when it expired. Checking, I found that I had paid my subscription in July, meaning that it would run out in June 2009. I decided to cancel my Direct Debit now rather than wait and then forget about it next year. Two days after cancelling the arrangement I received a letter from Reader's Digest telling me that my payment had been cancelled, and that if I wanted to receive the product to please either forward the payment or complete a new Direct Debit mandate.

I wrote to Customer Services pointing out that if a human being had actually written to me, rather than their computer spewing out an automated letter, they might have noticed that I still had 7 months of subscription to run, and that no payment was owing. I had cancelled as I did not like the new editorial approach to the magazine.

Today I received a letter from Justin Webster, Customer Services Manager, apologising that I had had to contact them "more than once" (eh?) and reassuring me that they "have now cancelled your magazine subscription as requested." (er... NO) "You may receive a further issue of the magazine, if so please keep it with our compliments." (I bloody well will you stupid twit. I've paid for it!)

Can't anyone get things right these days? If I ran these 11 parishes with that lack of accuracy and efficiency, I wouldn't last long in post.

Another phone call looms tomorrow.

I think I'm turning into Victor Meldrew.

Monday, 17 November 2008

I'm defragmented

It finally finished at 16.04. I won't be doing that again in a hurry!

Maybe they were right

I think that perhaps the Luddites were on to something (rather than being on something) when they made their protests against technology. I am currently running a defragmentation program on my main computer. The disc was only 5% fragmented, but I decided to go ahead simply because it's been a long time (a year of so) since I did one. It started at just before 7.00 p.m. last night (Sunday). It is now 10.32 a.m. Monday morning and it has been running all night. It still is only 75% completed! I's just as well I bought this laptop a couple of months ago, though the keyboard layout is taking a bit of getting used to. I keep pressing Caps Lock instead of Shift, and Pause Break instead of Delete. And since it runs Vista rather than XP I'm not sure if my printer will be compatible. The on-line advice seems to be to plug it in and have a go. So ....

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Fighting spam

I've found that having several e-mail accounts allows me to identify the damn-ned processed meat e-mails much more swiftly, and that's because they turn up on each account. Some are easy to spot, such as the banking ones that tell me my account details need updating or that my access has been frozen, when I don't have an account with them anyway. The Halifax e-mailed this morning to tell me my account had been compromised, as did the Abbey and Barclays. Sorry. I don't have accounts there. But more difficult are the ones that are starting to appear as if from a Diocesan office. This is where a second e-mail account comes into its own, for if they appear on there as well, they are going to be malicious. The Mailwasher program is also a boon, allowing me to preview what is on the server with no danger of infection on my terminal.

I am sometimes tempted by the offer of 9 inches in ten minutes, though it's not really neccessary .....

Monday, 10 November 2008

"T'was on the Monday morning ...

... that the gasman came to call" So opens the wonderful circular song by Flanders & Swan. On this particular Monday morning British Gas have recived their payment and a formal complaint about the way they have handled my transfer to another electricity supplier has been made. I should hear the result by Friday. It's unlikely that they will see things my way, but at least I've voiced my concerns.

No progress yet with Holiday Inn. The man with whom I need to speak is still on holiday. I bet his dates were booked correctly!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Keeping a grip on my wallet

It's been an odd week where money is concerned, and not because of the worldwide banking meltdown and "credit crunch". I keep quite strict personal accounting records, so it's doubly annoying to find hiccups in my finances through the incompetance of professional companies.

I recently stayed in a couple of Holiday Inn hotels. I now find that a mistake was made by one of the hotels over the bookings, and that I've been charged for not turning up on a night when I never intended or wanted to stay. The search for reimbursement continues.

And now in today's post comes a letter from "Electricity and Gas Recoveries Ltd" saying that "despite repeated requests for payment", British Gas have not received payment for the last (and closing) bill they sent me in October. I shall be on the telephone first thing Monday ruining the day for several people. Firstly because the opening statement is a LIE. I have not received any communication from British Gas since the original Bill. And secondly, the Bill says that the amount will be collected from my bank account by Direct Debit, as it always has been. Looking at my bank statements I see that no request for payment has been made, so now I am threatened with Court Proceedings because British Gas have not done something they should have done.

Both these companies are staffed by complete tossers!

I'm quite looking forward to Monday morning.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Cracking up

There are problems at the small church of Ilketshall St John. The north wall is tearing away from the tower at the west end. A Structural Engineer has got to come and have a look and see what is causing it and what needs to be done. It's the only corner of the church that is without a buttress, so the age-old solution might still be the best way forward.

We are not going to sing too loudly for a while, and if anyone wants to sneeze, they had better go outside!

The south chancel window is also breaking up ....