Neighbourhood Watch: Who is watching? And more importantly – why?

*KLAXON* Rant Alert!

On Sunday I parked my car on the road near my house. As it’s a semi-busy road leading to farmland between our village and the next it often has tractors and large farm vehicles coming by, so I parked half on the pavement and half on the road so as not to cause too much of an obstruction. I hadn’t parked in this spot before, but there were no yellow lines or ‘no parking’ signs, and there was still plenty of room to get by on the pavement as it’s quite wide. Most people round here park like this, and although mine was the only car in this stretch, there were other cars parked half on the pavement and half on the road about 20 metres further along down the road, and there are ALWAYS cars parked on the pavement on our (quite new) housing development because the house builders decided everyone needed only one parking space on their drive (because, of course, we all only have one car, don’t we?)

On the Monday, I headed over to get in the car to go out, and found a neatly folded A4 printed note under my windscreen

——————-
“NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH

Please be advised that it has been noted you have parked half on the road and path for more than 24 hours. As this is a) against the law to park like this and b) this is a Neighbourhood Watch area therefore kindly remove your vehicle as soon as possible.

Thank you for your cooperation.”
—————-

The busybody who put the note on the car didn’t even have the audacity to put their name to it. As far as I could see, I wasn’t causing any harm to anyone parking like I did. Hardly anyone walks down this stretch of the road, as a little further past our house it turns into a country lane with no other houses, and no pavements. So I duly moved the car off the pavement and fully onto the road (now causing quite an obstruction, in my view, to passing vehicles). I don’t know who wrote the note, but I have a feeling it was the owner of the house’s driveway I’d parked next to. I wasn’t even very near to their driveway, but I’m assuming they were disgruntled because they couldn’t see easily to exit their drive. What a shame for them. Fancy me parking on a public road, with no yellow lines. What a liberty. And I didn’t know that the Neighbourhood Watch now controlled parking in the area. Silly me.

I had a rant about it to DH and he kindly helped compose this BRILLIANT letter, which I’m sending to the Chief Inspector of Police and the Local Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator. Seems, according to my research, that we don’t even have a Neighbourhood Watch representative for our area. Strange.

————-

Chief Inspector xxxxxxxx
District Commander for xxxxx Area
Hampshire Constabulary

 

Dear Inspector xxxxx

It has been brought to my attention through a note left on my car windscreen on the 1st August (enc), that my local branch of Neighbourhood Watch have taken over responsibility for the enforcement of minor parking offences.

I am a regular follower of the press but must admit I have missed the announcement about the transfer of power. I can only assume this change has come about as a direct result of budget cuts forced upon our hardworking police force by current and previous governments.

As this announcement passed by without my notice, can you please explain the extent of the new powers of the Neighbourhood Watch? Should I, for example, contact them in the case of burglary, muggings, and more serious crimes such as rape and murder? Presumably for these more serious offences the Neighbourhood Watch plan to form a vigilante mob armed with burning torches and pitchforks to bring about swift justice without the need for police involvement.

I would also be grateful if you could pass on the helpline number for the Neighbourhood Watch so that I can report any future offences direct to them without the need to trouble the police force as the author of the enclosed note has neglected to include this vital information.

Clearly in this case the response time from the start of the alleged offence to the delivery of the anonymous letter to my windscreen was impressive at a little over 24 hours, however I worry that the actual parking offences which I have witnessed in the area may not be being dealt with a similar speed and anonymity. I am aware that the police are required to provide statistics of response time and conviction rates; will the Neighbourhood Watch publish similar figures? Can you provide details of where these can be obtained?

I am also aware that the police are monitored very stringently in regard to their policing of ethnic minorities, clearly as the police have now devolved some of their power to the Neighbourhood Watch, will they also be subjected to this monitoring to ensure minorities are not unfairly targeted? I would be grateful if you could provide details of how this monitoring has been enforced and whom I should contact to obtain details of the number of warnings issued by the Neighbourhood Watch, broken down by ethnic group.

Yours faithfully

Mrs M Lancaster

.cc xxxxx xxxxx, xxxxx Area Coordinator, xxxxxx and District Neighbourhood Watch Association
—————–

I wonder if I’ll get a reply. Hmm. So, Victor Meldrew rant now over. Continue about your business. ;)

4 Comments

Filed under Grumbles

MacBook excitement

I think DH is getting fed up of me squealing in excitement about my brand new sparkly MacBook Pro which is currently on order and due for delivery THIS VERY WEEK. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE*

*only dogs can hear me now.

Apparently he’s received some ‘bad news’ about my order. Oh yeah. This email. APPARENTLY. humpf.

Dear Sir

It is with great regret that I have to inform you of a delay with your recent order for a Mac Book Pro. As you may be aware, our European Apple orders are dispatched from our depot in Ireland, however yesterday we suffered a small fire at the depot which fortunately was localised to your order only. Please rest assured that the fire was caught in the nick of time by our vigilant employees who quickly and repeatedly stamped on the order until the fire was out. In fact I must commend our staff as some of them actually carried on the stamping in their own time long after the fire was out. Naturally the burnt and crushed remains of your order were causing a trip hazard and due to European health and safety regulations, we had to safely dispose of the wreckage by throwing it into the bin.

We will endeavour to process a suitable replacement, but due to the forthcoming Leprechaun festival which runs from today for the next 6 months, naturally there will be a backlog.

Yours sincerely

William O’Gates
Head of Sales
Apple Ltd

I think he might be having me on…. ;)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Dell ‘Experience’

A cartoon from Indexed

Just after Christmas, DH decided to upgrade his PC. He wanted to do some video rendering and apparently this needed a particular type of processor / speed / etc (don’t ask me – I stopped listening after about 4 minutes when he was explaining the different types of processor and what they could be used for… zzzzz…  I’m a Mac girl. I don’t ‘do’ PCs. Cuh. ). Anyway, DH did a lot of research and finally found that a particular PC made by Dell fitted the bill, so he duly ordered it directly from Dell online. After about 2 weeks, the machine arrived and MUCH  excitement ensued (him, not me). He carefully set it all up, and switched it on.

<<BINK.>>

Nothing. It was what they class as ‘Dead on Arrival’. Oh. Well, these things happen, don’t they? I’m sure Dell will sort it out, seeing as they’re such a big company. They must have lots of processes in place for dealing with customers who have problems with their machines. Their Customer Service must be good. Yeah.

No.

And this is where the whole sorry tale starts. I’ll let DH fill you in on the rest – here’s his SUPERBLY HILARIOUS letter to his credit card company (that he’s had to write in order to reclaim money outstanding to him from Dell).

I must admit, he’s brilliantly funny. Reader, I married him. ;)

Here’s the letter. Enjoy!

(NB full names and reference numbers have been removed from the letter posted below)

—————————————-

Credit Card Services

PO Box xxxx

14th April 2011

 Dear Sir / Madam,

Please find a completed form as requested, in addition to this form I enclose the following:

1.     An invoice from Dell for the defective item

2.     A receipt for the eventual return of the item on 23-02-11

3.     An email from the 18th March confirming my contact with Dell to request a refund of the remaining amount

4.     An email from the 24th March confirming my contact with Dell to again request a refund of the remaining amount

The computer was delivered on Friday 11th February and I powered it on as soon as I got home from work, only to discover that it was dead on arrival. As the Dell helpline was closed, I contacted Dell through their on-line form to request a refund. After hearing nothing I tried again on the 14th February to request a refund using the on-line form. Again there was no response (Dell are not big on exploiting the power of the Internet as I have never received a response to these on-line requests).

After failing to make contact through their on-line form, on the 15th February I spent an hour and a half on the phone to Dell (literally no exaggeration) being passed from department to department before eventually I was ended up with a gentleman called Sandip who, together with his manager Ajay, assured me that the item would be collected within 5 days for a full refund, I was given a case number of xxxxxxxxx.

When the item had still not been collected on the 21st February and with no word from Dell as to the reason, I contacted them again by phone and again spent an hour (no over-exaggeration) being passed between departments before a lady called Sutanu took up my case and after revealing the full details of another customer to me (Dell are not great respecters of the Data Protection Act), it would appear that the courier had been sent by Dell to the wrong address. Sutanu assured me that the item would be collected on 23rd February by 5pm and that I should expect a full refund within 5 days.

For once Dell kept their promise and the item was collected (see enclosed receipt), I eagerly awaited my refund, however there was yet more disappointment in store when on 4th March, Dell refunded only the cost of the item (£660.24) and not the cost of the delivery (£22).

I contacted Dell on the 18th March and after the inevitable 40 mins bouncing from one department to the next (ownership of the problem is not a big priority for Dell), I eventually ended up with Hans K who eventually stopped asking me to re-boot the non existent machine and listened to my problem. Hans was sympathetic and saw no reason why a refund should not be forthcoming but he was not authorised to issue the refund himself, I was told that this could only be performed by the Dell Finance Department.

Now you would think that a technology company would have embraced such primitive devices as the telephone, not so Dell, I was told by Hans that the Finance Department do not have a telephone. So I could not be provided with their number, Hans could not put me through to them and I could not hang on the phone while Hans talked to them on my behalf. It would appear that this department are completely cut off from the modern world with no access to modern communication equipment. One has visions of rows and rows of abacus’s with a space in the corner of the room reserved for a telegraph machine which has been on back order since 1976.

Whilst Hans could not put me through to the Finance department, he was kind enough to put my case forward to them and call me back at an allotted time the next day to report on their decision. He provided me with a case number of xxxxxxxxx and on my insistence, a direct telephone number (0844 xxxxxxx) to contact him should he miss his slot (see enclosed email confirming this call).

I must admit, based on the track record thus far, I was not confident that this would happen…….. and I am sorry to report that I was right, the following day there was no word from Hans. 

On the 21st March with Hans giving me the silent treatment and no refund on my account, I decided to enter the Labyrinth that is Dell customer services for a final time, this time more hopeful as I was armed with the direct dial number.

At this point you may be spotting a theme – and you are right, I was once more in line for disappointment as the number I was given terminated at the reception of one of the Dell buildings. On the end of this number was a lady, who, whilst very polite had not been furnished with access to a telephone directory of internal numbers and subsequently had no idea of how to get hold of anyone in the company.

Despite my repeated request to speak to Hans K and describing the nature of my call to her, she subsequently bounced me to the main number, cut me off, bounced me to the main number again before eventually we struck lucky when the random number generator she had been using connected me to a person who had heard of Hans’s department and from there it was only 2 more re-directions and 15 minutes before I ended up speaking to a lady called Manjula.

Manjula could not put me through to Hans but believed she may be in the same department as Hans and agreed to look at my problem. I must admit I initially thought I had cracked it, she shone head and shoulders above Hans in that it took her only five minutes to understand that I could not power on or provide the service tag from the front of the machine I had since returned (believe me, this lady is one to watch and is destined for Dell senior management).

Now, Manjula had been given the same script as Hans and could only pass my request on to the mythical Dell Finance Department (I have long since stopped believing that this department actually exists, perhaps there was a fire some years ago and their lack of telephones proved fatal). Manjula once again saw no reason why a refund would not be forthcoming and said it would occur within 3-5 days. I was given a reference number of xxxxxxxxxx and Manjula promised to get back to me should there be a problem.

In an effort to speed up further communication, I asked Manjula to provide me once again with the direct dial number, she gave me the same one I had received from Hans (I feel sorry for that receptionist if they are all giving out her number). When I told Manjula that this number did not work, I was informed that Dell do not have any other telephone numbers (they have a helpdesk with no phones?!!!). When I asked if there was a magic phrase I should use so the poor lady on reception would know how to direct my call, I was informed that there was no such phrase and that Manjula’s team did not have a name and could not be referred to within the company in any way, nor could I ask for any individual member of the team.

The only communication I ever received from Manjula was the email (attached) to show my case had been dealt with; but with still no refund, it clearly hadn’t. I fear that the “Dell Experience” has now worn me down and it may be beyond mortal man to extract any kind of justice from this company, however I hope that you can take on my quest.

The bottom line of this matter is that I was sold an item which was defective on arrival and I should not have to pay the postage for this item, I should be refunded this £22 by Dell.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further information.

Yours sincerely

——————————–

I’ll update this blog when and if we get recompense from Dell, so watch this space. Oh, you might want to bring some sandwiches with you. You could be waiting quite a while…

5 Comments

Filed under Grumbles

Tea and cake. And maybe another bit of cake.

I’m pleased to say that I’m a member of #secretpostclub. It’s all down to the lovely Heather Sunderland – it’s her idea you see. What could be more exciting than receiving a parcel in the post every month, from a friendly stranger, filled with lovely goodies just for me!? So all being well, every month, Postie knocks at my door with something exciting for me in his sack. (Oof. No, it’s not that sort of thing! Cuh.) NO, it’s a lovely parcel from a #secretpostclub-ber. As well as getting a super pressie every month, there’s the added bonus of choosing and/or making a present to send to my secretly selected #secretpostclub friend. Double bonus! I love choosing pressies for people. It’s great to imagine their faces when they open their gifts. Like Christmas – every month! :)

Aaaaanyway. A few days ago, postie came a-knocking… and handed me a beautiful parcel of goodies from Ruth Clemens, at The Pink Whisk. She’s not only a lovely secretpostclub-ber but also a contestant on BBC’s The Great British Bake Off. Look, here she is (at 10:11 minutes in).

Imagine how thrilled I was to unwrap this little lot:

secretpostclub tea and cake

A lovely starry cup and saucer (and the red perfectly matches my kitchen! HOW did she know?!), two of the cutest little espresso mugs you’ve ever seen (yes, I know what you’re thinking. They’re crying out for some chocolate mousse. I’ll sort that out ASAP.), a packet of tea – ‘Post Tea’ :) and – the piece de resistance – a beautiful home made tea loaf. I might point out that the tea loaf was a lot bigger than the one pictured above. It’s just that we’ve nearly eaten it all! It was delicious – obviously.

And so as I sit here with a cuppa in one hand, and a slice of cake in the other (er, typing with my feet, of course – I’m nothing if not inventive *cough*), I have a huge smile on my face.

Imagine that. The strange sight of a woman sitting by the window, typing with her toes, supping tea and scoffing cake. And grinning. Oh dear.

Anyway. THANK YOU Ruth. This month’s Secret Post Club has gladdened my heart :) x

And also given the neighbours something to gossip about.

2 Comments

Filed under Secret Post Club

Come fly with me…

At the airport we noted the signs at the Easyjet check-in desk: “If you’re late, you won’t be allowed on the flight”. I wondered, having seen the ‘Airport’ programmes, if the chance of being on telly would incite some passengers to purposely cause a fuss or complain more just so that the cameras would capture it. I decided not to go down this route, on account of having a bad hair day. Lucky for them. ;)

On arrival at the gate, we waited patiently for departure. This was after being advised by the steward (who was obviously practising for his World Record attempt at the ‘Fastest Intercom Announcement Speech’) that “wearewaitingforasuperiorandherpassdidntworksoshesgonetogetanotherone”. It was hard to figure out what was going on, due to the speed of his announcement, coupled with his thick Scouse accent, not to mention a slight speech impediment. I’m all for equal opportunities but *really* – can they not get anyone who can ENUNCIATE with clarity? oof. I’d hoped there would be a sign to say “If we’re late, you can have a discount for the 45 minute delay due to the ineptitude of our ground staff”. But there wasn’t.

We finally boarded after the ‘superior’ arrived and checked us in. They wouldn’t leave it to the Scouse steward of course. He’s inept. Every time I get on a flight I look around to see if anyone has small grizzly babies or annoying, hyperactive toddlers. My patience is zero tolerance for this sort of thing. The last thing I want is a sticky-mitted urchin pulling at the back of my seat whilst simultaneously yowling. Yes, I’ve got two children myself. But our two are well-behaved, and sit quietly. I’d be horrified if they annoyed anyone else on the plane. In a confined space I find that my patience is limited severely. Luckily enough, we’d paid extra for ‘Speedy Boarding’, so we were first onto the plane. Obviously my distaste at other people’s children must have shone through because they all headed past us and towards the back of the plane. Hurrah!

You could say that I’m not particularly keen on flying. The very first thing I do when I sit in my seat is read the safety card, look to see where the nearest exits are, check under my seat for my life jacket and the children’s life jackets, and make sure our seatbelts are done up. I also point out the nearest exits to the children and show them the fluorescent lines on the floor leading to the exits. If I think about flying too much I’d be quite a wreck, but I keep my cool and try to be as calm and collected as I can so that the children don’t get anxious. The flight passed without incident… until we began our descent. We were very close to landing and I was looking forward to being on the ground when suddenly the pilot pulled up at the last minute and began climbing again. There was no announcement, and I for one was panicking about what the problem was. After what seemed ages, (but was probably only a few minutes) the pilot announced that the crew had taken the decision to abort the landing because of cross-winds, and it was all very normal. (Was it??!! Not for me it wasn’t! *thinks* OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING TO CRASH!!!!! oof) We then had to circle the airport for another 20 minutes before making our second attempt from another direction. The whole of that time I was trying to stay calm, whilst DD1 kept messing around and hitting the window with her teddy bear. This was *not* a good thing, it made me even more anxious. — Argh!! If she hits the window too hard with that bear, it’s going to break and we’ll all be sucked out!!!! — Oh good grief. Calm down dear! It’s amazing how my imagination gets going in times of stress. I just wanted to be ON THE GROUND. Normally. Walking into arrivals. Not in a heap of tangled wreckage.

We finally landed (very smoothly I have to add) and we all heaved a sigh of relief. Little did we know that this was to become a sign that the holiday wasn’t quite going to turn out as we thought…..  …but more on that in the next post!

1 Comment

Filed under Out and About

Heavenly Devon

Bedroom in the Eaves

And so, on Friday afternoon we found ourselves on an impromptu break in a gorgeous bijou cottage high amongst the Blackdown Hills in Devon. There’s nothing better than stepping into your own little cottage (well, ours for the weekend, at least!) for the first time, going exploring, peeping into all the rooms, and taking in the fresh views from the windows. Our cottage had immense 9ft french doors in the lounge, opening onto a fantastic view of the valley below. It was so breathtaking. There was also a little farmhouse kitchen and two bedrooms. We slept in the eaves, on a pretty wrought iron bedstead. Adjoining our room was a bathroom with – ooh! –  a fabulous free-standing roll-top bath! More on that later… :) DD1 and DD2 had their own little bedroom just off the kitchen with smaller versions of our wrought iron bed – and their own little bathroom too. Needless to say, they were thrilled.

The cottage was in a beautiful setting. In the surrounding fields tiny lambs skipped about and jostled each other playfully. The pond below our cottage was home to various ducks and some pretty downy-white geese, and the garden of the neighbouring cottage was busy with the cluck of chickens. From the kitchen window we could see even wild rabbits and squirrels coming and going. Heavenly! It’s like I’d fallen asleep and woken up in The Darling Buds of May. Except in Devon, not Kent. And there was no sign of Catherine Zeta Jones. But apart from that, it was EXACTLY THE SAME*

*any resemblance I may bear to Ma Larkin is purely coincidental. <shifts bosom with arm>

On Saturday morning, after a breakfast of yummy American pancakes, expertly made by DH, we decided to visit Buckfast Abbey. The weather didn’t look great, but we soldiered on, determined to make the most of our weekend. Miraculously, we managed to avoid being rained on. At the Abbey, we wandered the sparse gardens. Spring was not in full effect as yet, and there weren’t many people about, probably because of the rain. All of a sudden I spotted a hooded figure in a long cloak in the distance. ‘Ooh look! An actual monk!!’ I exclaimed excitedly, pointing. Intrigued, we kept our eyes trained on the figure as it drew closer. After a few minutes, as he drifted towards us, I realised that it wasn’t a monk at all. It was an old woman in a very long hooded anorak. *sigh*

We spent the afternoon in Totnes, a town populated by an eclectic mix of dreadlocked eco-hippy types and the Boden set. Totnes is a great place, full to the brim with interesting little shops. I’d love to live near there; you’d have no trouble finding interesting and unique gifts for birthdays and secret-post-clubbing! We’d only just arrived, and DH spotted a cheese shop. We ventured in. I *hate* cheese (having been bitten by a piece as a small child, of course I avoid it at all times), and immediately we were inside, the smell hit me. I said to DH ‘I’m going to have to get out’, and hurriedly left. Taking some deep breaths outside I tried to calm myself while I waited for DH. When DH came out, he told me that the lady behind the counter gave him a knowing look and said ‘We get a lot of that in here’. Honestly, I’ve never been in a more smelly cheesy place. Eugh.

Only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate....

That evening, back at the cottage, I ran a bath. Normally I’m a shower kind of girl, but the free-standing bath was just too good to miss. When I came back upstairs, DH had poured me a glass of wine, lit some candles, and presented me with a Cadbury’s Flake. He said that you couldn’t have a bath like that without having a Flake as well. It’s the law, apparently. :)

It’s all very well, this ‘ooh lets have a flake while I’m in the bath’ mullarkey. What they don’t tell you is what happens when you try to EAT the flake as you lie there. The chocolate crumbles and immediately melts onto your chest, making strange brown smears as you try to wipe it off. Not the most attractive view for DH as he enters the bathroom. Still, the thought was there. ;)

I opened the curtains on Sunday morning and was met by bright sunshine. I was also met by two excited children who wanted to start their Easter egg hunt. DH and I had hidden packets of mini eggs around the cottage the night before, and of course, being EIGHT O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING it was already getting quite late in the day for chocolate-egg-consuming. As well as sixteen packets of mini eggs, DD1 also found a very large spider hiding in a bathroom towel. A side-effect of living in an old converted barn I suppose. Thankfully, she didn’t let it put her off eating her mini eggs. Phew.

After the obligatory amount of chocolate eggs had been consumed, we headed off to the coast. Seaton was our first stop; a really quiet resort that seems to thrive on the fact they have a tram line. If you’re not bothered about trams, I’d probably not bother with Seaton, nice though the (shingle) beach was. The girls collected some funny shaped pebbles, and we carried on down the coast to Sidmouth.

Sidmouth beach

The coastline at Sidmouth is wonderful, with a long wide stretch of shingle and sand beach, backed by high red cliffs. There are lots of rocky areas and many rockpools to explore. We had a wonderful time, drawing in the sand, making patterns with the pebbles and looking for sea-creatures.

We found a starfish!

DD2 was absolutely thrilled to find a beautiful starfish in one of the rock pools. We carefully placed it back in the water and covered it up with some sand in order to put some marauding small boys brandishing driftwood sticks off the scent… the poor starfish might not survive otherwise. I love this photo, the look on her face is wonderful.

The evening was a clear, still, bright one. Perfect conditions to set off a paper sky lantern :) DH and I went out onto the hillside, the girls in their pyjamas looking on from the huge french windows in the lounge. After we lit the lantern and the heat from the flame breathed life into it, we let it go and watched it float upwards into the night sky. It was a perfect ending to a perfect weekend. :)

I’m glad the wind was blowing in the right direction. Otherwise ‘Red sky at night’ might have meant ‘barn’s on fire’ rather than ‘shepherd’s delight’…

4 Comments

Filed under Out and About

Start a blog, they said.

So here I am. Starting a blog. It’s taken me nearly all evening struggling with WordPress and a very slow computer. Not a good start, really. Is this the shape of things to come? Mindlessly staring at a screen while waiting for a page to load? God I hope not.

More from me…. later. *waves*

4 Comments

Filed under Grumbles