Archive for the rant Category

Episode 114. In which First Capital Connect are rubbish.

Posted in rant, trains with tags , , , , , , on November 14, 2009 by diabetses

Firstly, let me clarify that First Capital Connect, or FCC, or Effin’CC as I now call them, are rubbish at all times.  Almost constantly, fairly consistently, possibly to the death, you can rely on FCC to be rubbish.

Recently, though, they’ve outdone themselves.  I live in Brighton and work in the City of London, I rely heavily on FCC.  I don’t feel that’s unreasonable, I am only relying on them to do what it is they are paid to do, what they have a contract to do, what they, as an organisation, exist to do.

About three weeks ago they started mysteriously cancelling trains due to staff shortages.  Maybe it’s swine flu, I thought, or just bad management, too many people off on holiday.

Over the course of weeks and weeks of unreliable and overcrowded services, it finally became clear what was going on, and I was astounded at the stupidity.  It wasn’t a strike per se, but a lot of drivers were refusing to work overtime and days off.

Surely that shouldn’t be a big deal.  Oh, but it is.  Because FCC do not have enough drivers on the payroll to run its trains, unless they all volunteer to work overtime and days off.

Now that’s just ridiciulous.  It’s anyone’s right not to work more than their contracted hours, building your entire company on everyone always working extra time is idiotic.  Also, do I like the idea that my train is being driven by a guy on his fourth overtime shift of the week?  Not so much!

On Thursday 12th and Friday 13th November it all kicked off.  As I understand it, on Thursday basically everyone refused to do extra shifts, and by Friday it was an official strike action.  I saw notices about this on Wednesday night, so like the smart cookie I am, I prepared for it.  I checked what was going on online, made sure I knew what was and wasn’t running.  On Wednesday night I was asleep by 9pm, and awake by 5am on Thursday morning.  I made the sandwiches, got all dolled up, suited and booted, because I had a job interview.  I checked online what the latest situation was and decided that as my usual train was cancelled I’d go for the one before it, which was definitely running.

In the time between me checking one last time as I left the flat, and reaching the station, that train was cancelled.

And the info desk was crowded, whilst the info man explained that he knows how frustrating it is, but you see, management aren’t offering a pay deal!

I may or may not have mentioned this, but I am being made redundant.  I have my job for the time it will take to complete the planned restructure, and then I will be surplus to requirements.  I love my job, and I am very good at it, and therefore I get up every day and spend an hour and a half on a train, knowing I’ll spend another hour and a half on another train to get home after a day’s work.  Five days a week, I give up twelve hours of the day, even though it is no longer an investment in anything at all.

So it is hard for me not to tell info guy exactly why I do not care for his troubles, and expect to be conducted to my workplace as was agreed when I bought my season ticket.

First Capital Connect, as far as I am aware, do not care what their customers think of them.  They are generally unreliable, unless you rely on random cancellations, delays and rolling stock that is quite frankly just nasty.  So this strike, which is putting thousands of customers to massive inconvenience every day – in what way is it a punishment for FCC management, or incentive for them to do better?  If FCC were going to listen to the customers, and therefore do whatever it takes to ge the trains running, then they would probably also be inclined to keep the customer happy by just being better on a day to day basis.

It’s the commuters who are suffering, whilst FCC continue to sell tickets and season tickets despite not running most of their trains, and therefore not incurring the associated costs.  When trains don’t do extra shifts, FCC doesn’t have to *pay* for extra shifts.

Maybe that’s the plan.  Maybe they’re saving up until they have enough put aside to afford a better pay deal.  Maybe they’re saving up until they can afford to hire enough drivers to do what they’re paid for.

Frankly, I don’t care.  I can’t trust FCC, I can’t rely on them, and there is a very real possibility that my future travel needs will be met by Southern trains in conjunction with London Buses.  Yes, that will be inconvenient and a general pain in the arse, but I do have a tendency towards grudges where abysmal customer service is concerned.

Diabetic moment of the day

I had my swine flu jab today, what with being all delicate and all.  I am very impressed by the fact that I hardly felt the injection at all.  I mean I felt it, I’m not made of stone, but it hurt less than the seasonal flu jab, and an awful lot less than the pneumonia jab, which was closer to what I was expecting.  However, I do have the sore arm that I had expected from reports in the news and from friends.

But I’d rather have a sore arm than swine flu, that’s for damned sure.

Episode 94. In which it just goes to show you can’t be too careful!

Posted in Internet, people, rant, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2009 by diabetses

I read David Mitchell’s Observer column every week.  I watch Peep Show and, when I catch it, That Mitchell and Webb Look, I watch Mock The Week and QI and several other panel slows that Mr Mitchell appears on fairly regularly.

I can’t help it, I find the guy hilarious.  And by that I mean, I am a massive, massive fan.  Well, you know, I don’t write him letters in several different colours of ink, I don’t follow him round the country when he’s doing live shows, I don’t hang around outside studios hoping to catch a glimpse of him, but if I’m flicking through the TV Guide and I see his name, I’m going to watch whatever he’s in.

The thing is, the guy rants.  Not like a mentalist, just like as if he is genuinely astounded at the stupidity of some of what he comes across.  And maybe he gets a little bit het up about stuff.  But what I like the most is that his tolerance levels are pretty much the same as mine.  He is so much funnier than me, more eloquent than me, and better informed than me, but when he gets started I’m sitting at home giggling and going “YEAH!  YEAH!” at the screen.

Today’s column included a bit about how horrible people are about him on the internet.  And how, during moments of what he calls “drunken self-googling”, he finds some of the awful things people say about him, and, understandably, it’s hard to let them go.  Now, I’m not assuming he’s going to read this, but you never know.  If he does I’m sure it won’t mean anthing because the internet’s got just as many sycophants as haters (I hate myself for using that word but I can’t think of a better one, and I mean it in “people who hate people” way rather than the “you iz such a hater” way).  But anyway, he made a suggestion that I like the sound of.

A friend of Mr Mitchell has suggested that, wherever one might usually find comments that will end up on spEak You’re bRanes (see the links to the right there, just over there, see it?), we all post the phrase, “It just goes to show you can’t be too careful!”  Now I try not to comment on columns and blogs and things and really the internet in general.  I read David Mitchell’s column, and Charlie Brooker’s column, and Jeremy Clarkson and Dom Joly’s columns, through my RSS reader.  This is mostly because if I read the comments people leave on the pages themselves I get all ranty about how stupid they are.   My Man has specifically requested that I not read the comments any more, because he’s the poor bastard that has to listen to me point out the obvious.  Even if I don’t agree with what the columnist’s said, even if I’ve had a little rant about it myself, I reserve the right to feel massively superior to whatever twat thinks their half-arsed, illiterate sentiments are worth committing to cyberspace.

I freely admit I did once comment on Charlie Brooker’s column.  It was the one about finding a wife so that he could raise a little Sawney Bean style family in the borders, or in the mountains or something.  He commented (and it’s been a while so I may get this a bit wrong but go with me) that his favourite wife would be in charge of skinning passing tourists and making biltong out of them, whilst the rest of the family will be in charge of making signs telling everyone to stay the hell away from his land.  I felt the need to point out that if Sawney Bean had put signs up telling everyone to fuck off, his little cannibal family would’ve gone pretty hungry.  Sometimes these things pop into my head.  I realise it doesn’t matter, and wasn’t interesting, but if I had made such a glaring miscalculation in my plans for world cannibalisation, I’d probably be grateful if it was pointed out to me before I was resigned to vegetarianism.  God forbid.

Anyway, to the people who post the word “First” as if that means anything to anyone other than the rest of the morons who stayed up hitting refresh in the hope of being the first to say it; that makes you a cock.  Worse still, a cock who is doing nothing more than drawing everyone’s attention to the fact that you’ve got nothing to say, and haven’t even read the column you’re commenting on yet.

Diabetic moment of the day

Still can’t get stable.  Damnit.  I’m not even drinking juice any more, I’m drinking tea and water and diet coke, and I’m certainly not eating jelly babies and dolly mixtures (and oh my god do I want to eat some jelly babies and dolly mixtures).  I know it’s not my fault, it’s science, but still.  I used to be really good at this diabetes thing, and right now I’m shit at it.

Episode 78. In which I put on my biker boots and kick a man in the ankles.

Posted in Internet, people, rant with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by diabetses

The above is a falsehood.  For one thing, I was already wearing my biker boots, I didn’t have to go and put them on.  For another, I didn’t actually kick him in the ankles, because he moved out of my way at the last minute.  And finally, the above implies I made an effort to kick him in the ankles when, in reality, if he’d got himself kicked in the ankles it would’ve been by accident.  With perhaps a tiny element of me not making use of my superhuman ninja speed when he stopped dead in front of me in the middle of a crowded train station leaving me nowhere to swerve to.

I read something today about a girl who wrote something on facebook about how her job was boring, and got sacked for it.  I happen to consider this ridiculous.  If anyone doesn’t consider their job boring from time to time then they’re not doing it right.  Everything gets boring eventually.  This was a 16 year old girl who, funnily enough, needed a bit more than three weeks of her first job to learn the rules of what you just put up with because it’s paying your rent.

That said, I do love my job, and feel very lucky to have it.

Diabetic moment of the day

Today I forgot to bring needles to work.  So I was very careful about what I ate and didn’t need any insulin anyway.  I’m starving, though.

Episode 73. In which Virgin Media fail on a whole new level

Posted in home, Internet, people, rant, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2009 by diabetses

We just moved house.  As you know if you’ve ever read this blog before.  We told Virgin Media when we were moving, and they agreed to have our service transferred over to the new flat quick smart.  My Man had to talk to them for a good long while but it was eventually agreed that we didn’t need a man to come out and install the set in the new flat.  The landlady had had Virgin wiring installed before we even signed the lease, so it was purely a case of carrying the box to the new flat and hooking it up, which we are perfectly capable of doing for ourselves.  However, we had no option but to be internetless for a little while because they claimed there would have to be two separate visits to switch off our connection at the old flat and switch it on again at the new place.  This despite the two flats being on the same street, only a few doors apart.  Anyway we let it slide.

Last week our phone stopped working.  We couldn’t work it out, the TV and internet were still up and running, but we assumed they’d switched off the old flat phoneline somehow and the TV and internet still working was a fluke.

When we moved in yesterday, My Man hooked up the modem and managed to get us online, no problem at all.  We didn’t hook up the TV because everything was in boxes and let’s face it, the internet is far more important than TV, even to a lazy cow like me.  We watched a few DVDs while pottering around online (and blogging about crossing the line and suchlike) and then went to bed.  We don’t have a phone connection in the new flat but we thought we’d call Virgin to get that sorted out sometime, whenever, we don’t use the landline anyway, it’s just as cheap to include it in the package as not, and it gives us a freephone line to the Virgin helpdesk.

This morning when we got up, the internet wasn’t working.  We hooked up the TV and it wasn’t working either, we watched a few minutes of MTV (because it was on, that’s why) and when we tried to change the channel we got an error message about how we’re not subscribed to use whatever service and we’ll have to call them on their freephone number from our Virgin landline to discuss it.

We don’t have a phone plug, therefore we don’t have a freephone Virgin landline.

I called on my mobile and it took a good two minutes of pointless, irrelevant recorded messages (including one about buying tickets to the V Festival or whatever it’s called, thanks for that, I’m really glad I’m going to get charged about £2 for listening to instructions on buying tickets for my worst nightmare) and eventually heard a recorded message about a problem with V+ services.  Not in our postcode, but the two postcodes either side of ours, so I thought it was probably that, and let it slide.  All day we were rebooting the modem and the TV box and it never came back online.

Eventually I thought, this can’t be coincidence, it’s bound to be connected to the move.  So I phoned them again on my mobile (by the way it was a full three minutes before I actually got to speak to a person) and eventually was told that the installation man had come round on Friday but there was nobody home, and our account had therefore not been activated.  I was told that another man would come round on Wednesday, and then it would all be straightened out.

I pointed out that we had agreed there was no need for an installation man to come round, that we certainly weren’t told to expect one, or we would’ve made sure we were here waiting.  We already had the sofa in by that stage and the new flat was close enough that I was able to pick up on the network in the old flat while it was up and running, so it wouldn’t have been too much trouble to sit in there.  Or, you know, reading a book or something slightly less internet-obsessed.

I was then told it was because they didn’t have a mobile number on record to contact us on.  This is hardly our fault, why should we be giving out personal phone numbers?  If we can’t trust them to arrange moving our account a few feet down the road, how can I trust them not to sell my mobile number to every cold-call company going?

I pointed out that we’d already installed the boxes as far as they needed to be installed, that the wiring had been arranged by the landlady in advance of us moving in, they’d had that visit already, and we’d only needed to plug the box into the existing wiring.

Still, he insisted that we needed an installation visit.  This is getting pretty offensive by now, especially when he keeps insisting that it will all be sorted out on Wednesday.

We’ve already taken a week off work, at an incredibly inconvenient time for both of us in fact, for the move.  We’re both due back at work on Wednesday, and neither of us can just call up and say “oh, sorry boss, won’t be in after all, got to wait for a Virgin man to turn up, say “look, it’s already installed” and call in to say they can flick the switch on our account“.  So I said, no, it will not be sorted on Wednesday.  Whenever it is that it’s going to be sorted, it will not be Wednesday.

Eventually I asked to speak to his customer services manager.  I’m fairly certain that this was just a colleague, but whatever, she seemed to understand the situation a little better.

I pointed out to her that we had the internet working yesterday, no problem at all, and that it seemed to have been disabled overnight, which would require an active decision on someone’s part.  I pointed out that we had the boxes installed and set up and that we had the TV on and were in the Virgin Media menus, but that they were only giving access to terrestrial channels, and we did not need installation, we just needed the account to be switched on.

She put me on hold and disappeared for 5 minutes.  I should point out I’d moaned about calling on my mobile pretty early on and they had called me back so I wasn’t paying any more at this stage.

Eventually she came back and said there was nothing she would do, it would have to be dealt with by a separate department, the department that handles people moving house.

Can I speak to them, then?

They’re shut on Sundays.

At this point I went a bit Hulk and, I’m pretty sure, was horrible to everyone within fifteen feet of me.

I cannot abide bad customer service.  Incompetence to the degree where everything is working and then taken back by some jobsworth who thinks we aren’t qualified to put a plug into a socket, when he himself is not qualified to stray from his little lever arch script, drives me completely apoplectic.

If this doesn’t get sorted out tomorrow, I will be coming up with some very strongly-worded letters, and possibly some sort of petition.

Diabetic moment of the day

None, but I did find own-brand dolly mixtures in our local mini-supermarket, 3 for  £1, so that’s my next hypo taken care of

🙂

Episode 72. In which I cross the line.

Posted in people, rant with tags , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2009 by diabetses

I have quite a strong sense of humour, I can laugh at almost anything.  Not the strongest, I know people who could laugh at absolutely anything.  For me, there are limits, but the limit is basically, “that’s not funny”.  If it’s funny, anything goes.  There are things that are very difficult to make into something funny, and certain things that I take issue with for my own reasons, and that’s the way it should be, but if someone could make a funny comment about even the worst thing in the world, that would be humour. By definition.

The worst things in the world aren’t funny by nature.  It’s not funny to mock the victims of awful events.  But I have made jokes about awful events where the people being mocked are those who react to the awful events in stupid ways.  By this I mean people who take an awful event that in no way touched them or even came close, and they turn it into some personal outrage, as if they are somehow entitled to it.  If I was the victim of some awful event, and some random stranger came up to me to tell me how outraged they were by it, I think my reaction would be, well what the fuck would you know?  This is nothing to do with you.  By all means do what you can to make it not happen again, but don’t you dare kid yourself that your outrage and my experience are remotely similar, or even connected.  Your outrage is all about you, your sense of who can do what and what should be done to those who do different, so be outraged about the hypothetical, but don’t invade my own personal nightmare, because you could very easily be making it worse.

Of course I’d nod sincerely and thank them for their thoughts and let them know how terribly, terribly moved I was and how helpful it was to know they were thinking of me, but on the inside I’d be thinking I’m trying to go to work here, trying to buy a pint of milk, trying to walk the dog, trying to get on with things the way they are, and you’re dragging me right back into the middle of it by telling me that what happened shouldn’t have.  As if I hadn’t worked that out for myself two seconds into the original event.

Luckily I have never been the victim of an awful event, and it’s very possible there are victims of awful events out there who are genuinely glad to know about other peoples’ personal outrage on their behalf.  Maybe I’m just selfish.  I think that highly likely.

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross and the Andrew Sachs prank calls.  It was stupid, it wasn’t funny, but then I don’t find those two funny anyway.  Ten thousand people complained to the BBC in the week after it happened.  How many of those people were complaining about something they’d been told about second-hand, or even older?  Almost ten thousand.  That’s just pathetic.  It’s pathetic, and it’s a disgrace, that people think that their opinion of old news is so important that ten thousand of them need to write to the Ombudsman about it a week after it happened.  It’s like me writing to the government now to let them know I think they could’ve handled the situation with the Falklands better.  What was done, shouldn’t have been done.  It shouldn’t have been done even if nobody at all had complained about it, so get back in your box until you’ve got something relevant to say, please, British Public.  It’s all about Where were you when Jonathan Ross got suspended?

Oh I was right on the front line, me.  I e-mailed the BBC five days after the radio show was broadcast.  Where was I on the day it was broadcast?  I think I was in B&Q that day, or was that the day we took the kids to Alton Towers, I’m not really sure, was it a Saturday?

Oh I’m sorry sir, is my music coming through my headphones too loud?  Well why don’t you write to the Ombudsman about it.

If we genuinely are in a situation where the BBC needed that kind of pressure to do anything about this kind of crap (and that’s not to say anyone should’ve been suspended or resigned over it, but it would be nice if they’d have been told “you’re paid to be funny, and that was shit, do better or we’ll find someone funnier”) then we need to get rid of the BBC altogether, because what are they good for if not leading the world in broadcasting excellence?

Fuck all.

Anyway, when I crossed the line, it was a joke, about garlic salad dressing.  It made my mate Ted shake his head in despair.  Every time he remembered it.  Which was funny.

Therefore it’s allowed.

Diabetic moment of the day

None so far.  I admit I had a sneaky chocolate truffle earlier on, but we were moving stuff, and I’ve told you before, that uses up energy quick smart.

Episode 68. In which the day goes as planned, and yet does not.

Posted in day trips, food, home, people, rant, shopping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by diabetses

This morning, as planned, I had a little lie-in, then got up, watched Whitechapel, and went to the hospital for my diabetic retinal neuropathy screening. What happens there is that you get drops put in your eyes that make your pupils dilate, and then they take digital photos of your retinas, which are examined for any indication that your diabetes is blinding you. I’ve had it done before, the drops sting a little bit but no more than getting dust in your eye, the flass does go off right in your eye and as with all photography of me, I always blink and ruin it so they have to do it repeatedly.

This morning, they didn’t bother with the drops. I’m not sure what that means, the woman (doctor, nurse, technician, I don’t know, and didn’t ask) said my eyes were fine as they were. She said it was probably because I’m quite young (30 in four months, thank you very much) and they might change over time. Which still doesn’t really make sense because I was younger a year and a half ago than I am now. And I was even younger still a year before that, when they first did it.

Anyway, I’m not complaining, just curious. The drops take about half an hour to work properly so that saved me a bit of time hanging around, and I already had a bit of a headache this morning (from working so hard yesterday, no doubt) and I was worried about messing with my vision given that it was looking at stuff that was hurting.

Yay me and my youthful dilatable pupils.

When I was done at the hospital I went to the station, because today was the day for my big Ikea Croydon daytrip. I love Ikea, it’s fun, it’s like being in a sweetshop, only with cushions and throws and cutlery and things.  However, the Ikea at Croydon is really, really rubbish.  There was nothing fun at all, I specifically tried to find something to buy to treat myself and there was nothing.  The closest I got to a comfort-purchase was a big knitted throw, but I didn’t get it, on the grounds that if I want a knitted throw I’ll bloody well knit myself one.

It was a very long morning, all that nonsense and I was still home by half two.

Which is lucky because the furniture for our new flat was delivered early – the company asked if they could deliver it early and we said yes, because of the yay new furniture factor.

However, I am now utterly knackered.  I should’ve had a nap earlier but I was busy doing god knows what (nothing productive, it seems) and now it’s nearly teatime.  The one advantage to the ridiculous Ikea trip was at least I got us meatballs.  Om nom nom.

Incidentally, I’m pretty fed up of the people usptairs and their damned keep-fit-by-jumping-around-on-their-creaky-floor bullshit, I can’t wait to move.

Diabetic moment of the day

I nearly used the diabetes card today, at the train station I went to buy myself breakfast – there was a crowd of teenaged boys at the counter in the shop (I forget what it’s called, one of these places where they bake their own bread then put fillings in it) so I stood at the end of what looked like a queue.  However, as soon as the boys were served and went on their way, some skinny little bitch ran up to the counter guy and demanded the last sausage sandwich (which I had my eye on) and then some fat wanker who got there after me started shouting about what he wanted.  So I said (plenty audibly), FUCK THIS and left.  Unfortunately I ended up with a vegetable fucking samosa for breakfast because there are no other breakfast type places in the station that don’t make all their options with a kilo of sugar.

I know I’m a bit of a cow at the best of times but a queue’s a queue and I cannot abide queuejumping, especially not when it’s so bare-faced and shameless.  I genuinely believe that in that situation I should be legally allowed to grab the offending parties by the throat and throw them through a window.  It’s only fair.

Episode 42. In which I rant about iPods.

Posted in people, rant with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2009 by diabetses

Not necessarily iPods, it could be any kind of MP3 player.  Or laptop, or Walkman even, whatever, anything that makes noise, that you carry around with you.

I have a Walkman, a 20GB Sony MP3 player, and some cheap earphones I got because they let me hear my music.  They have a certain feature that makes me really, really love them, for two separate reasons, and I will get to this in a minute.

The people that get the same trains as me, and I don’t mean all of them, I mean a few of them, but more than I would prefer, are what I would call inconsiderate morons.  Everyone seems to have a music player these days, and it feels like when I’m on my way to work and trying to wake up, or on my way home and trying to wind down, I am stuck sitting next to most of them.

At one point a few weeks ago I felt like I was in a game of Minesweeper.  I could hear three distinct tunes playing, and I knew that there were three people around me who were playing their music offensively loudly.  However, since I there were six people in my immediate vicinity and several more in the general area, and I had no way of knowing which ones to give evil looks to, and potentially to have words with.

There’s a guy that gets my train who listens to podcasts or something, what I can hear coming from his iPod is voices talking.  It’s too loud, and I wish I didn’t have to hear it, but every so often this middle-aged man cracks a smile or gives a little chuckle at something he’s clearly just heard, and I like that, so I don’t mind him so much.

There’s a girl that gets my train who listens to music, every day, what I hear from her iPod is Bon Jovi, and Shania Twain, and all kinds of music that I’m sure if I was washing up I’d jig around to, but on the train I’m really not into.  She also always keeps her handbag right beside her, taking up seat space she shouldn’t take up.  I do mind her.

I do believe that it should be possible to listen to your music as loud as you want without offending people, but it seems to be really difficult in practice.  People play their music too loud, to the point where I don’t understand why they aren’t in pain, and they also use shit earphones.   I don’t know why it is that most earphones leak tinny sounding crap into the atmosphere, and I could really do without it.  I’d almost prefer them to just carry a frigging ghetto blaster.

Almost.

As I said, I have a Walkman.  I don’t know how loud it goes in terms of decibels, but the volume control goes up to 30.  When I listen to my Walkman in public, unless I’m walking from A to B through noisy, crowded streets, I have the volume control set to 3.

And this is where I get to my wonderful earphones.

They are conical, with funny rubbery kind of covers for the bit that goes in your ear.  This means that when I play my music, I don’t have to have it full blast, because it doesn’t leak, it goes straight to my hearing apparatus.  This also means that even when I do play it loud, it has to be really, really loud before it leaks out and annoys my neighbours.

The other good bit about my earphones is that even when I don’t have my music on, because I don’t want to listen to music all the time, I can use them as earplugs.  They do block out a lot of the tinny shit that’s floating around the train, and although they’re not perfect, they help an awful, awful lot.

I love my earphones.

Diabetic moment of the day

I nearly went to Starbucks this morning.  But didn’t.  Partly because I couldn’t face being that close to their blueberry cheesecake and not eating any of it.