Archive for the ‘small talk’ Category

Merry Christmas internaut!

December 25, 2009


Primary Health Crust

July 30, 2008

I just called my local surgery to book an appointment, predictably they can’t see me today but what does get on my nerves is that they won’t take an appointment for tomorrow either.
I was told that I can book an appointment for next week but if I want it sooner than that then I’ll have to call on the day at 8:00 am and if you have already been subjected to this particular kind of torture you know that by 8:15 all appointments have been booked. This is when the redial button comes into its own, saying that the telephone was busy won’t get you anywhere.
The fiddling with numbers goes on. Statistically they will have dealt with a large number of requests within the day, I just hope that the Chair of Primary Care Trust doesn’t get a bonus for this.

Sailing by

July 18, 2008

Do all sailors listen to Radio4?

Your call is important to us

March 29, 2008

As I’m typing this post I’m held in a queue waiting for BT to answer my call, I’ve just been told that if I sign up to something:

…BT will purchase a native sapling

Isn’t that wonderful? Even the bloodsuckers care for the environment now!

Safe Lewisham

March 8, 2008

Last night, as I arrived at the Royal Albert in New Cross for the Lewisham bloggers drinks and I searched my pockets for my bunch of keys to lock my bike, all I found was some spare change.

I didn’t really want to pedal back, get my keys and back to the pub again, so I decided to brave the reputation of the area and just left the bike there, leaning on the rail, pretending to be locked as one would expect any bike to be, and joined in with the rest of the social Lewisham bloggers inside the pub. There I borrowed a mobile from Rob, called home and told my wife that I had forgot the keys and that therefore I will have to ring the bell and promised I would not stay out too long.

Keeping an eye on the bike through the window didn’t impair my enjoyment, had a great night with people that by definition have something to say and shortly before midnight made my way home. With my bike, that was still there.

As I arrived home I saw my keys hanging from the keyhole and as I soon discovered, whilst I was away and my wife and daughter were sleeping upstairs no eagle-eyed opportunistic criminal had spotted the hanging keys and helped himself with the content of my fridge (that included a full Guinea Fowl).

I guess that this doesn’t count much as a statistic but yesterday I left my keys hanging from the door, went to a pub in New Cross Road, left my bike unlocked outside and nothing terrible happened.

How many PFI consultants to change a lightbulb?

January 15, 2008

I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a while for the simple reason that I’ve been very busy with real life but I have just read this little news on the local newspaper and as I realized that it’s a unique opportunity to write this title I decided to break the silence.

Bright future for streets thanks to cash boost is about the privatisation (pfisation?) of the street lighting maintenance services for Lewisham and Croydon through a joint contract with some company still to be appointed (but that we can imagine is already in negotiation).

The figure that the newspaper gives is for a £ 79.5 m contract to change 44,000 lights over 25 years and if my calculator works correctly this means that the changing of each streetlight comes at a cost of £ 1,806 and that on average each one of the two Boroughs will have 2.4 lights upgraded (changed) every day. You can also read it as a £ 1.59 m yearly budget to change the lights in one borough, not little money I dare say, I checked on the Council’s budget and this year there’s £ 410 k for the job.

The article ends with a positive message from the government:

Government transport minister Rosie Winterton said: “Experience shows better street lighting helps improve road safety and reduce crime and the fear of crime.

“It also helps create happier and healthier communities by promoting social inclusion and more sustainable patterns of transport by encouraging people to cycle and walk.”

I just wonder if transport minister Rosie Winterton has any idea whether these fundings for street lighting coming from her department are well spent by employing a private company to change lightbulbs for 25 years and if they will they do a much better job than the Council would do with the same sum? I suppose that this press release was a good opportunity to tell us, and now a missed one.

What’s quite ridiculous about this pfisation of everything is that it is an implicit admission of being unable to do all the jobs that they were supposed to be doing and I am the first to agree with it, the street lamp outside my house is a vision to behold, until a few weeks ago, apart from the characteristic peeling and rust, it used to be a nice Victorian-style post, then one day a man from the Council came round here and sawed off the top of it to replaced it with a plastic football-field-like light transforming it into a two-style monster. I challenged him and told him that it was ugly, “it’s an upgrade” he replied*.

Will the private-men upgrade lights better than the Council would do with those money? Well, not necessarily, first consideration that I would make is that a 25 years contract shelters you from any competitive pressure, and that’s one reason for private sector instead of public that goes out of the window, another consideration is that the contractors will still be accountable to the same people that are now sending us these current upgrades so maybe it’s them that need an upgrade first.

Anyway, since it’s a unique opportunity I want to repeat the original question, how many pfi consultants do you need to change a light bulb? This is not a silly question, every time that there’s a pfi contract millions are spent on negotiations, with a £ 79.5 m contract at stake you can imagine that negotiations will be serious and quite a lot of tax money will go to solicitors and accountants (tax money heaven).

* it’s dark now, tomorrow I take a picture of the awful lamp post and post it here for you.

Vicar 1 – Government 0

July 13, 2007

Rev David Garlick, Vicar of the local St Mary’s Church scored a massive point against the over-regulation that the most disfunctional elements of the British Government just can’t stop imposing on us all.

In a stunt performance of dizzy height the Vicar led the congregation and blessed the no-smoking sign that sticks as an eyesore on the door of the 18th century’s church, next to the medieval tower. Well done!!

This is not the first time that I see local Vicars displaying excellent judgement. I will never forget when a couple of years ago at an electoral husting another local Vicar, that of St Swithun, interrupted the speech of one of the candidates at the uttering of the word “citizens”. The Vicar quickly corrected it with “subjects” reminding all present that in our democracy some have more rights than others.


Update: I just bumped into the Vicar queuing at the supermarket. BBC Radio London contacted him to interview him on Monday morning.

For the rainy days

July 1, 2007

Rain, rain and more rain, the shells of countless snails crumbling under my feet as I walk to the compost bin and back.
Are you also fed up with this senseless mass suicide?

What to do with them? Here’s an idea.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

June 13, 2007

I just received this email:

Dear Member:

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited claiming that this material is infringing:


Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube’s copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.

If you elect to send us a counter notice, please go to our Help Center to access the instructions.

Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.


YouTube, Inc.

And so, Lord Coe, where’s your fair play and sense of humour? Don’t you think that we all own a piece of the Olympics? Sure we do! You’ve got all our money!

Update: I clicked on the link and the video is still there, and it had over 600 views, that’s great.

Update #2: They finally took it off.

Catford Beer Festival

June 6, 2007

Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, is inviting everyone to sample the finest beers and ciders at this year’s Catford Beer Festival

Well, thanks Steve, see you there then. But if we get pissed and we have a fight don’t say that you hadn’t been warned!

The wrong post office

May 26, 2007

“The packet is opened here, you should stick a piece of tape” said the young woman behind the post office counter.
“Yes please, can you stick a bit of tape there?” I replied.
“You’ll have to buy it if you want to do that.”

She insisted that she didn’t have any tape to use but that rolls were on sale, she added that even if she needed a piece of tape she would have had to buy one roll.
And so I had to give in and buy a roll of tape despite needing only about two inches of it.
At first she came with a gigantic roll for £1.49, I asked if she didn’t have anything less, at that point she told me that yes, there were also smaller rolls, but that they were not adequate for the job. I insisted to see a small roll. She came back with a perfectly adequate roll for sale at 69p.
After my dealings at the counter I asked to see the manager.
I told him that all through my life I had been able to have pieces of tape applied to letters and packets without having to buy rolls.
“This is not a government office, this is a private business” he said shaking his head.
“It is a matter of courtesy to have some tape at hand to help clients” I said.
“It’s a private business” he repeated.

This happened to me today at the post office in Catford but it could have been anywhere. The world is full of mean people but this won’t stop me from trying to be nice.
Still, I won’t be going back there in a hurry.


May 9, 2007

It’s one week that I listen to the same disc over and over again. Can’t help, it’s wonderful.

Visiting fellow

April 27, 2007

Searching the net on the keyword Lewisham I found this very funny page of Lewisham College’s website from December last year, Boris Johnson MP visits Lewisham College wearing his shadow minister for education hat, flirts with a 19 yo student and the school’s website writes all about it! Unless I read wrong.

What’s New: Lewisham College: Beauty tips for Boris: ”

Boris asked Deborah Frost, a 19 year old Beauty Therapy student, whether she was using cucumber in her facial treatments. After explaining that she does use cucumber essence in the mixture, Deborah burst out laughing when Boris suggested that it looked more like taramosalata or Shipman’s fish paste! Deborah said “I would love to give Mr Johnson a facial treatment and manicure next time he comes to the College. He seemed really impressed by our salon and professional uniforms and I promise I won’t use any fish products when treating him!”

Same event from Boris’ own website. Much more serious take, no mention of flirting with students there.

Switch off

April 1, 2007

A few weeks ago the scart plugs on the back of my Widescreen Panasonic stopped working, first one, a couple of weeks later the other one gave up too. And this means no DVD but especially no Digital TV.

Since then it’s been paradise.
I have a lot more time available and my daughter is becoming seriously clever playing with those cubes with letters, numbers and pictures.

Analog TV with its 5 channels is all we need to get by really. You read the programs and that takes only 5 minutes because there’s only 5 channels and not 500, then you discover that there’s something good for an hour in the evening and that’s when you switch the telly on and then you switch off. Perfect.

Apart for those few programs that I watch on purpose I sometimes watch telly when I wash dishes, and for that purpose I watch the very old small Ferguson that’s in the kitchen that despite falling on the floor from high a number of times, just keeps on working perfectly.
There I can watch all the most awful stuff. Last week I watched the Apprentice, I often watch Relocation, Relocation and if I have a lot of dishes to wash I can even watch Relocation, Relocation followed by Escape to the Country.

Soon this self-harming pleasure will be taken away from me, you and everybody else with a small, old Ferguson in the kitchen.
It is called switchover, but for all those trusty old sets it will really be their last switch off.

This is in effect the greatest fly-tipping ever. Millions of useless TV sets dumped in millions of British kitchens.

We’re far too clever

April 1, 2007

Official: BBC is too upmarket | UK News | The Observer: “The BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, has ordered a far-reaching review called Household Value, which will identify who uses the BBC’s services most often. Although in its early stages, it has already discovered that lower-income families are less well served than their wealthier counterparts. ‘There is a feeling we may be serving the professional classes well, but not reaching the C2s and D1s,’ said one BBC insider.”

D1s? Dumb ones maybe?

Any Radio 4 listener should be very worried.
Mark Thompson wants to dumb down the BBC because the distasteful side of the BBC production makes more money than its quality counterpart.

Still, we can draw some consolation by yet another evidence that Huxley was right.

What’s cat food made of?

March 26, 2007

catfoodWell, according to the label of this can of cheap stuff rats may have something to do with it and judging by my cats response, it could be made of rats gone bad since they would happily put their teeth in a recently deceased one but would not go near this stuff.

I have to admit that I bought this can of cat food because it’s cheap. But I am not being mean with my cats, it’s that the price of catfood has been soaring together with housing, gold and any other precious thing under the sun.

Am I the only one that thinks that there is a cartel at work to squeeze every last penny from the pockets of us feline lovers?

Two days ago I decided to give it a go at cooking my own catfood but only Bighead has shown appreciation. But Bighead is a bit wild and his diet probably includes the odd rodent with some frequency.

I tried to keep it on a budget, I used one packet of Tesco Value minced pork (1 Kg, £1) , one packet of lamb liver (1/2 Kg, £1), carrots (Tesco Value again, about 30 p for a bag that you need a wheelbarrel to carry around) and a pack of Tesco Value long grain rice ( 34 p).

I had to try it, I feed a colony of five cats that live in my back-garden (three of them are also lodgers) and on the long run that’s an expensive business. I tell myself that I have to keep them lean to bring out the best of them. A month ago one of them brought a small agonizing rodent on my doorstep, she dropped it there and looked up at me with eyes full of pride (good girl, pat pat).

That’s a positive effect of not overfeeding your cats but unfortunately a month before that it was a beautiful bird and I remember last summer when one morning I woke up and found that my garden was covered in pidgeon’s feathers. I could not find the corpse, a few days later the smell led me to the right place. But I love cats, they bring a lot of joy, I always had them around and I place them very near the top of the evolutionary scale but this doesn’t mean that I will give into the blackmail of the catfood industry, I didn’t have much luck with my first attempt but I will improve my recipe and be free.

I’ve since read a bit around the net and there’s some yummy recipes around and I learnt that I should cut on the rice and add some supplements. Will I be able to save some money also? For now I have a freezer full of packets of this stuff that I’ve cooked and that’s probably better for dogs than cats but Bighead will have to go through it anyway. I am also left with five cans of Tesco Rat Value that again only Bighead eats. Four out of five of my cats are becoming very lean and tomorrow I could find another corpse on my doorstep.

Target audience

March 24, 2007

“Excuse me Sir, do you often smoke and drink?” said the emaciated young man in the brown suit jumping in front of me after he had just recited the same line to another passerby that like anybody else had duly ignored him. I raised my eyes and looked at him. Before I could say a word or shake my head he smiled broadly and quickly added “No need to worry though!”

This is the current chat up line of young Axa insurance agents trying to sign out policies from their kiosk at Catford mall these days. And you don’t need to worry, he’s not trying to stop you harming yourself, he only wants some of your money, by direct debit.

I wonder if in other places around London Axa agents have different lines to pick on the most common risks run by people there.

In Heathrow “do you often fly?”, in Harley Street “do you often have botox?”, in Bermondsey “have you got into fights recently?”, in Soho “do you practice unprotected sex with strangers?”, in Whitehall “do you often lie to the public?”. Whatever that is you don’t need to worry, they’re not trying to stop you.