Thursday, June 24, 2004

Anyone for Tennis?

Read this, then this for full story
Football and i met up again tonight. It was definitely a night to remember if not a little weird. Everything started off so well, we were getting on great until things started to get a bit tense. Id noticed this behaviour before about 3 and a half weeks ago and then last Sunday, but i hadnt expected another repeat performance until the beginning of next week as this coincided with the fortnightly cycle. But i knew what was happening and what to expect. Football was in one of those moods.

It all started over nothing, but i could see in footballs eyes that this was going to be no ordinary night. Im still a little perplexed about what happened next, all i can remember is football coming up to me and kicking me squarely in the nads. I tried to reason with football, to find out why football was doing this again. But football said nothing other than to shout 'im off to La Manga, dont try to contact me till August', before running off into the night.

So there we have it, i dont think me and football are together anymore. Its best that we have some time apart i think, these little problems keep occurring and there seems to be nothing you can do about it. At least my bank balance is safe for a while. I hope.

Thats the end of that then. The official end of the football season happened when the sweaty Portuguese goalie put the penalty past David James. That was just after he'd saved Darius Vassells penalty with no gloves, i thought it was only school kids that played in the nets with no gloves. Mind you, the way he picked the ball up after saving Vassells effort and baggsied taking the next penalty before anybody had a chance to made you wonder whether it was his ball and his Dad was the Manager.

I'm immune from all that penalty miss chaff though, as a Mansfield Town fan i've been there, done that. Next tragedy please. Im a team leader at PA (Penalties Anonymous), we specialise in giving advice to fans who's teams have been beaten on penalties. Our clients appreciate empathy from people who have suffered too. To ensure the night wasnt a total loss, i made £7.41 by backing the draw after 90 minutes. All's well that ends well eh? Wonder how long it will be before Darius gets a call from the pizza guys?

There are lots of people in the running for the blame. Someones going to get hammered for this. The Editor of the Sun will be running round trying to get a picture of the Swiss referee Urs Meier, with a target on his head for the cut out and keep centre spread in tomorrows edition. That was until he realised that obtaining a picture of Vassell might be easier. And everyone hates David James anyway so he might as well go for the safe bet. My bet for tomorrows award winning Sun headline would be: 'Goal? Meier Arse!'

What exactly is an offensive term to call the Swiss? Theyve never offended anyone in their lives so no-one has bad names for them. If it was German, French, Italian or any other European country come to think of it then we'd have a field day. I bet Ron Atkinson can come up with a better term than my best effort: blanket folderers. Hardly going to get a Swiss person recoiling in anger is it?

Beckhams got to be in the running too. This would complete a 'miserable circle' for him, or he even could always call it an 'annus horriblus' but theres far to many accidents waiting to happen if he went down that road. He was hated, then hounded, then pitied, then liked, then admired, then respected, then revered, then worshipped. It must be about his time for him to enter the red side of the circle again.

Sven is likely to get a few terse lines in the next couple of days too. He and Nancy will be under the spotlight. He's a bit too cool for me. Being interviewed after the game he could only say 'well, that's football'. It might only be bloody football to you Sven. Crikey, im sat here with a chainsaw in my hand waiting for the neighbours to come home. I wish he'd lose it, just once. I'd love to see him smash the place up in blind rage after having a throw go against him or something.

The BBC are in danger of falling behind in the punditry stakes too, Gary Lineker is ok but if they cant assemble a more literate set of pundits than Joe 'everyones a cheat' Royle, Peter 'i state the obvious' Reid and Ian 'one word is not a sentence' Wright for the biggest England game for years then i can forecast a long period of mid-table obscurity for Mottys boys. It was all Alan Hansen could do to not break into a gleeful, one man rendition of 'The Hills are Alive...' and tour the country with a big band.

On the subject of Motty, i wish he'd calm down a bit. The tone of his voice doesnt reflect whats happening on the pitch. I was having a pee and heard 'and OWEN!!!!'. I fell out of the toilet and rolled down the stairs with my trousers round my knees to see Michael Owen taking a swig of water. I ran in from the kitchen scalding myself with tea when he exalted 'beckham to LAMPARD!!!!!!!!' only to find David Beckham throwing the ball to Frank Lampard so he could take a throw in on his own penalty area. He must be responsible for 50% of the domestic accidents in England over a year.

Maybe now we'll see the plethora of JJB sponsored George Crosses reeled in from the bedroom windows. Did St George ever buy tennis rackets from JJB do you think?. I wonder if people would be so willing to fly the flag if they realised St George was a Turk and never set foot in England. "Im not flying no greasy kebab munchers flag, give us that red, white and blue thing there"

And will the car mounted flags be consigned to the loft in a box that says 'do not open till next public outpouring of patriotism'? I bet it feels like taking the Christmas Decorations down for some. I read some public views on the nations sudden love for St George and whether it said we were too Nationalistic as a country. One woman replied 'of course its not Nationalistic, even the Italians and Indians have got English flags flying from their restaurants in this town, no problem'. I thought: I bet they bloody have, its to at least give their shopfronts a fighting chance against the marauding band of cavemen set to invade the country on the final shrill of a knockout whistle.

Anyway is that the sound of fire-engines i can hear? The local Indian must be on fire.

Wonder when Tim and Greg are playing next...


The Futures Bright....

Read this, then this, then this for full story..
No call back last night or this morning from Jen as promised. Her standards were definitely falling in line with the rest of her corporations. My phone was being delivered between 1 and 5 and i wanted clarification of the procedures before i accepted delivery of it. I rang her myself this morning, but i must have caught her in the middle of crocodile wresting practice as she was 'unable to take my call'

Unfortunately, a guy arrived with the phone before Jen rang. It was unfortunate for nobody else except him because i sent him away. He was here at 1.01pm so he must have been hanging around the end of the road until then.

I rang Jen straight after, she said she was just about to call me. I've used that line enough in my time to know when someone having their lunch. I told her that i'd refused the delivery. I got the distinct impression that it was a good job i wasnt within Jens arms length.

She then sighed the sigh of a defeated woman before telling me what i'd wanted all along. She was arranging for me to be able to switch my phone at any Orange store once i'd sent my faulty one back. Apparently she was also willing to waive the £300 cost of changing phones mid contract.

I did think of pursuing the line that i wasnt effectively in a contract so the phone switch would only cost the upgrade fee anyway but i know when i've pushed my luck to the limit and didnt fancy answering the front door to Jens 'boys'. The poor lady had had enough Watski'ing over the past few days so i didnt really have the heart to press the matter any further. Especially as i'd got what i wanted.

So all seems well that ends well. Missing 'Customer Relations' out of any complaint and going straight to the top is the lesson ive learned from all this. And having a Jen to talk to always helps. Hopefully i wont be typing the next update from a hospital bed after being double-sixed by Jens booby-trapped mobile. I get the feeling she's a 'last word' woman, and its her move.


Posh Clappers.

One thing ive noticed from watching TV this week is that posh people dont clap properly.

For an example of this watch when the camera cuts to the Royal Box or Tim Henmans family at Wimbledon, they all clap with just the palms of their hands. Like their fingers arent allowed to touch each other. It must be a sign of the gentry, like a Masons handshake or something.

Youre not going to get any volume fannying around with that type of clap, cup your hands and give it some welly.


The Future's Unpredictable....

Read this first, then this for full perspective
The great Orange saga continues. It may be a saga for you lot having to read about it every other day, but it's also a right pain for me being the lead character in this sham. At least you can turn the channel over or stop reading. Ive run out of petrol in Orangetown and it seems like im the only resident.

I got a call today from Jen at the 'Office of the Directors'. This was more like it. My letter to the top had obviously paid immediate dividends. Jen seemed pretty keen to talk to me judging by the 4 messages in 30 minutes she had left on my voicemail. Curiously, a message from 'Technical Support' dissected Jens messages, no doubt left as a result of being given a verbal rocket by Jen with an added threat of personal violence.

I could tell Jen wasnt a woman to be messed with - i bet she'd done some serious damage to insubordinates in her time. Banging heads together would have been her particular forte and her punishment beatings would have been the stuff of legends. She probably ran Orange HQ with a steely stare and an iron rod, the Directors were almost certainly petrified of her. Every one of them. Jen was obviously quite important too, she even had people to answer her phone for her. No doubt tasked with telling people she wasnt there when they called.

Anyway, the message left by technical support said that my phone had been diagnosed as being faulty and i was to contact them to arrange for it to be picked up. This was an especially clever trick by Orange considering i had spoke to no-one about the specific problems i was having with the phone. It was a move i hadnt expected - they had diagnosed the fault without knowing what problems i was having?. I had obviously mis-judged the level of intelligence i was dealing with.

It was a straight choice of ringing Jen or technical support back, i plumped for power over brawn. Jen cut straight to the chase, there was no messing about with formalities. Her time was obviously precious and her words were very valuable, she didnt intend wasting any of it on plankton like me.

By the end of our initial conversation Jen had arranged for another phone to be sent to me, it had taken her 30 seconds to sort out the problem which had taken the rest of Orange 8 weeks. So as i had an audience with the Head Honcho i thought i'd push my luck a little further. I was in the big boys arena, so why not play?

Jen wasnt committing to my request of having the 7 days approval of the phone with full facilities that an upgrader is entitled to. My argument was that although i upgraded 8 weeks ago the contract was effectively broken by Orange because i was supplied with a faulty phone, the contract should start as soon as i had a fully functioning phone surely? My sensible argument fell on deaf ears. She probably had stopped concentrating on me to berate an employee for breathing, there was no doubt some poor sap under the desk with Jens foot on his neck.

Added to this requst was the fact that i wasnt that impressed with the phone anyway. It looked good when i first saw it but its magic dissipated in front of my very eyes when it didnt work properly. I wanted a different phone.

Jen and i went head to head in a battle of attrition: I wanted another type of phone, she said it wasnt possible, i made my case, she umm'ed and arrr'ed. Feeling immortal i was even filling in the gaps where she should speak.

I then delivered my killer line by telling her that her own Orange people at Technical Support had told me i could have a new phone if the original was diagnosed as faulty. Im sure i heard the sound of bones breaking at the other end of the line. Jen conceded that there might be something she could do if only i would accept delivery of the new phone.

I smelt a trick, a dirty rat. The hand of surrender was being offered just as i was going in for the kill? This was no doubt a bluff. By accepting delivery of the new phone and waving goodbye to the faulty phone i was going to be tied into a fresh contract for a year without 7 days approval wasnt i? Jen was going to tell me nothing could be done once i'd accepted delivery of the new phone wasnt she? By having a faulty phone in my sweaty mitts i held the power to dictate to Orange didnt i?

I asked her to find out the procedure, Jen said she would get back to me....


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Back in the good books.

Read this first
Football seems to be liking me very much at the moment. We've met up a few times since the incident with the French and although theres been a few tense moments everything seems to be going as well as can be expected. Although the 2 weekly cycle of abuse doesnt come round again till the end of this weekend, so expect nothing in the way of favours from football if we qualify for the semi-finals.

Isnt it typical of the English, the morning after qualifying for the Quarter Finals of the European Championships half the population are convinced we're going to win the bloody thing and the other half wont rest unless Beckham and Owen are dropped. God help all of our sanities if we'd lost 1-0 to the Beckham inspired Croatian free-kick. Glass shards and 'Kill Beckham' headlines from the red tops would have been abound. Then we'd have all gone back in time to 1998 and been none the wiser.

You wouldnt have been able to move for drunken apes covered in the George Crosses throwing market stalls through windows and Indian takeaways being firebombed. The poor Indians, they cant do anything right. Everytime the English suffer some sort of national setback the Indians are the first place the IQ challenged go for. Indian restaurants must have some sort of magnetic attraction for all knuckle draggers, like pretty girls have to the walking dead.

Obviously the biggest tragedy thats going to come from all this is that 'Wayne' is going to become the name of choice in maternity wards up and down this fair land. Overtaking Britney, Brad and Kylie as the name to have. I ask you, the biggest footballer we've had since, err, err...Beckham and his family see fit to name him Wayne.

Whats even worse is that theres a female version of Wayne too: "Waynettaaaaaaaaaah, put that back or i'll bleedin give you summink to cry abaaaht"

Every time we get a footballer worthy of the name, he is built up to be this, that and the other before being knocked back down at the first sign of immortality. Rooney might be a great prospect but lets be honest, he's looked nothing like an international footballer before this tournament. Even Chelsea were worried about wasting money on him, and they bought Veron! Now he's getting compared to Pele and being called our greatest ever footballer. He's scored 3 goals against Switzerland and Croatia! Its about time people who knew better kept a hold on their emotions until the lad is mature enough to know how to handle it.

One of the bizarrest things that happens around football times is that the world goes ever so slightly football mad, and i dont mean mad about football, i just mean mad.

I read this morning about a Radio Station who were ringing round Rooneys in their area to see if they would like to take part in a game of table football live on air against...wait for it: a Portuguese restaurant owner called Mr Figo. Just think about that for a second. How short of material do you have to be to propose that? Never mind follow it up. Never mind get people to do it. Never mind broadcast it. And heaven help the sanity of the people who listen to it longer than it takes to switch it off. What about people who are incapacitated and cant physically switch it over? Can you imagine the creative meeting they had to decide that topic? there would have been bodies everywhere if i'd been in on it.

It seems that the fans in Portugal have missed their nightly updates of Big Brother so much that they attempted to recreate scenes from inside the house - it didnt take much effort to recreate alcohol fuelled idiots fighting a lot in a place of high tension.

And finally, The 'Im not going to look happy, no way' award this week goes to sour faced Alan Hansen. The BBC coverage versus Croatia showed Ian Wright and Peter Reid jumping around to a goal while Alan Hansen sat impassively in his chair determined not to show one iota of emotion, like a sulking child. Heaven forbid that he might be human. Go on Alan, you know you want us to win.


Monday, June 21, 2004


Im getting worried about my mental state. Im forgetting things, not just actual things, but forgetting to do things too. Im not entirely sure whats happening. I think it comes from my Mums side of the family but im definitely starting to show the early symptoms of Dennett-itis.

I know you can buy more memory for a PC, but can you do a similar thing for your mind? That'd be a great idea.

Forgetting things was never normally a problem for me and Id accepted that my mind was always bound to get full at some stage after the way i collect useless information. You name it, theres a section for it in my mind: Mansfield Town players, FA Cup results, Dates of Wars, names of Prime Ministers, geography of motorways. A friend at junior school called me Encyclopaedia.

I thought my memory getting full might come a bit later than 31 years old though but i suppose i have accumulated a lot of junk over the years. When the memory fills is the generally accepted mode of disposal first in first out? Remembering how to put those shapes in the spaces in my bucket when i was baby is nostalgic and a nice to know but would i rather have it than knowing the Chemical symbol for Lead? Which is more likely to come up in a pub quiz?

Or maybe my memory has realised that space is limited up there and has taken it upon itself to have a bit of a clearout, maybe it cant move up there for 1980's music, Shed Seven back catalogue 1994-2003, Conservative cabinet ministers 1979-1997 or 3rd Division Football grounds and is moving things around. I get the vision of my memory falling back into a chair in a clean room thinking 'there, thats better'. Maybe i havent forgotten stuff, maybe its just in another place where my memory has moved it to, but cant be bothered to get it for me.

Theres also a fair possibility that my memory is saying "isnt it about time you sorted this crap out?'. 'Howard Jones' first pets name? What the bloody hell will you need that for? I'll sort it for you. 'Will you need Meadowbank Thistles nickname anymore?' 'do you think you'll need the year the pound coin was introduced again?".

Picture yourself sorting through someone elses dusty loft, this is what my memory is doing. The only problem is that i dont know what it is getting rid of until i cant remember something that i was sure i knew. It doesnt do me the courtesy of letting me know, so that i at least have a chance of salvaging it from the tip.

The worst thing is knowing that you know something, then not being able to regurgitate it when you need to. You keep information up there for a reason, for a point in the future where this piece of information has its moment in the spotlight. The moment that'll show you to be either very sad or very sadder.

Theres not many times that you are going to need to know the presenters of Playschool again in your lifetime, and if your memory cant put the answer forward in the answers 15 seconds of fame then why bother having it in the first place?

You: "Come on, come on, think, think, think.....ooh i know it. On the tip of my tongue"
You cover for your memory, buy it time. Cut to shot of memory running round looking in kitchen drawers.
Memory: "its here somewhere, im sure i put it here next to Islands in the Mediterranean"
You: "Too late. That question is hardly likely to be asked twice now is it. Might as well chuck that away now memory when you lay your hands on it. I was keeping that information just for this moment."

Its very similar to knowing something, then needing it and forgetting it. Then finding it out again, knowing that you need to remember it...and forgetting it again. Its just soul-destroying and makes you question your sanity.

Im going one further though, im forgetting to do things. Ive recently come home and the iron is still on 3 days after i left the house. I got back this morning from a weekend away and the gas hob is still blazing away merrily to itself. This isnt normal behaviour. I got in the car the other day and came back in the house not once, not twice but three times for things i forgot. Then i still forgot something when i was half way down the road. I left it, i wasnt giving my memory the satisfaction of seeing me turn the car around. It wasnt worth it.

31 is not an age to start losing it. The more i think about it the more worried i am. Ive got my whole life ahead of me, ive got to have kids yet, ive got to have wedding anniversarys and birthdays to remember. At least give me a fighting chance of rememebering parents evenings and school plays. I seriously am a dead man.

Back in the rat race.

Well i accepted one of the jobs this morning. I'd just had enough of thinking them over and decided to plump for one of them. I was meant to be seeing someone from the other job today but i rang up and cancelled. It was getting to the point where i didnt want to answer the phone in case it was one of the agencies wanting me to do something i didnt want to do, they can be pretty forceful. And when it gets to that point you know you have to do something to stop it.

Moving house is often said to be the most stressful thing you'll ever do, but moving jobs is also pretty painful. Most things are stressful if you let them get to you.

So i start on July 12th, ive got 3 weeks of freedom to make the most of. Im not going to like getting back to work i can tell. I'd better start looking at doing those jobs that i've held off because i had loads of time to do them.

With new jobs comes new things to think about. As theres no car with this job I need to buy a car too. Its the first big car purchase i will make. I had a company car for the last 3 years and before that i just had bangers, they were all relatively big financial commitments but this one will be a fair size.

The challenge is that i will be doing around 25,000 miles a year. I want a decent, nice car but doing that many miles means im going to need to get something that'll do decent MPG and wont mind doing 2500 miles a month which kind of means that i'll need a diesel and also rules out the TT's, Z3's or SLK's that i'd been angling for and maybe have to go for the more practical A3, A4 or the like. Look at me being all geeky talking about cars. Im sure any would do the job.

I also will need to think about pensions, ive had a pension since i was 16 and the last place was non-contributory which was great but this one isnt. So i now need to weigh up whether to move it all to my new place or whether to put it into an independent pension. Im a bit wary of getting financial advice because you never get the whole picture with these people, they say they're independent but they only have a select rosta of companies they work with so they arent as independent as they like to make out they are. I just need to make sure that im ok.

I also need to have a serious think about re-mortgaging the house as well. Im a mortgage tart, one of the people who never sit on their mortgages and switch round all the time to get the best deals, my last deal expired a few months ago and i didnt re-do it then as i didnt want to be tied into a mortgage with the uncertainty about where i might need to work. I should really sort it out now that i know where i will be, the down-side is that the rates have gone up a bit in the last few months so ive kind of missed out on really good deals.

So, much more to think about.

The futures's getting duller...

Read this first
Im reveling in my current position of 'the wronged'. It means i can ring Orange up at any time i want and vent my spleen, just for the fun of it. And there's nothing they can do about it. Other than taking out a restraining order.

I was bored early Saturday morning - as you probably noticed from the early blog update. And i was also still a bit narked about my lack of a promised call back from Orange technical support. Its been 5 days since i was promised a call straight back, so I thought id have another play with my personal sponge ball.

I dont want to give you the impression that this is some type of obsession, that i think about nothing else or like ive been lying awake at night picking the legs off Daddy Long-Legs, while the thunder roars and the rain beats down through an open window. Im doing this for the small people. You'll all thank me one day.

My main objective of the phone call on Saturday morning, other than outright sadism, was to get them to just pick my phone up and send me another one. I was fed up of my phone, and the type of phone, "so just arrange for it to be picked up please". "Im sorry Sir" came the predictable response followed by some blurb concerning a maximum of 7 days trial period before i can send the phone back no more.

I was pretty clear on my aims: "look, someone is going to arrange for my phone to be picked up and switched for another, so either you arrange it for me or put me onto someone who will". She transferred me. To my nemesis: technical support.

I told the guy on the other end "i dont know why ive been transferred to you, im waiting for a call back from you guys, can you tell me how long it will be? ". "Well theyre very busy Sir" he said. So phones break down a lot at Orange then? Hmmmmm....

He then 'Customer Serviced' me, which involves allowing people to rant before trying to talk to them. He was there a while. He then said that he also didnt know why i'd been transferred there and he proceeded to transfer me back from whence i came. I gave my next poor victim my 'pick my phone up now' ultimatum and she tried to tell me it couldnt be done so i just told her to put me through to Head Of Orange UK to see if he knew any different.

"How can i help Sir" said Mark, call centre supervisor. Not exactly the corporate strategist with the multi-million pound share options i was hoping for but at least i was at Level 2 now. No more fannying around with the minnions on Level 1. Now i was getting somewhere. Now they will listen. Or so i thought.

He helped me no more than the others, except to unwittingly reveal to me that the person who gave me what i thought was the Head of Orange UK's address, now known as geek boy, was in fact trying to pull the wool over my eyes as i had suspected. Hmmmm....

Previously i was told to write to Customer Relations in Bristol, but i didnt want to speak to them as i know that Customer Relations as a whole are a pretty soulless and de-sensitised bunch. They see complaints all the time and are less likely to go the extra mile because of that. I wanted the Head, he might not even read it, but at the very least his secretary will and even if he/she sends it straight to Customer Relations then they are far more likely to make a person happy whose complaint has come through their leader.

Anyway, geek boy gave me the address of the Head as a PO Box address in Bristol, i had my suspicions at the time as i didnt think the top banana at Orange would have his mail through a PO Box in Bristol, i had a feeling that i'd been double-sixed and my letter would end up going straight to Customer Relations. But i was assured this was the address until my new friend Mark revealed the true location of Orange HQ when i asked him to confirm it. They thought they could fool Watski.

I wouldnt normally advocate having a go at the worker ants, ive been there before - following the company line is no fun, especially when you normally sympathise with the person on the other end of the line who's making your life hell. But there is always slack in the system, he who makes most noise often gets what he wants. So it doesnt pay to be a shrinking violet when faced with appalling service.

The letter has now gone, i did feel like toning it down a little, but Mr Fraser has now got both barrels afters Saturday mornings chenanigans.


Saturday, June 19, 2004


Makes me smile the way that English people abroad are categorised. The trouble at the moment in Portugal is an example. Theres no doubt that football has a part to play in all this but its a very small part. These people arent football hooligans as such, its covenient for the government to label them as that as its easier than admitting that our culture has a yob problem.

They are purely English hooligans, their type of violence can be found most weekends up and down the country, it also happens when people get abroad. Portugal this year happens to be a magnet for the 'lad brigade' as its sunny, close, bound to be busy with like minded people and the football is on.

The people arrested are classifed as 'xx English supporters'. They support England because theyre English, in the same way as most English people are English supporters so the label sticks quite comfortably, you cant escape it. But to associate the behaviour directly with football hooliganism is short sighted. When someone is arrested in England we dont refer to them as an English supporter when they probably are, so why now? Why dont we call them English holidaymakers? Because relating the trouble to football is easier to swallow.

I laughed when i heard a Portuguese woman interviewed. Her pigeon English made her cut straight to the point. 'we dont understand why they want to do this to our beautiful country? they dont like the drink, it doesnt agree with them so why do they drink?'

Of course not all English people are hooligans and not all those caught up in the trouble are guilty. One guy was an innocent bystander and was arrested and threatened with jail for 7 months. This kind of thing happens and you get trouble travelling again, getting a passport, etc. Watching England play abroad is an ambition for many, but its just not getting worth it.

They are English people causing trouble abroad fueled by the football. The problems are far more to do with our culture than it is to do with football.


Friday, June 18, 2004

The futures not bright at all...

As you may have read in an earlier blog, im a bit of a techno phobe. Although im sometimes not helped by the incompetence of others. Take Orange for example.

After much ridicule about my brick-esque mobile phone i took the plunge and upgraded to a phone with Camera and Video messaging. 'Upgrades are easy' i was mis-informed, 'you dont need to do anything' they lied, 'its all done for you' they sniggered.

Being an Orange customer of at least 5 years standing, I have never encountered any problems at all with the service I have received from Orange. Which is an achievement in itself in this age of appalling service given to British consumers. My recent experience leads me to realise that the only reason ive never had any problems is because ive never had the cause to speak to anyone at Orange. For thats when the problems begin.

I upgraded my phone very early May 2004, I was amazed to receive my phone the following day, but less surprised to note there was no SIM card in the package. I rang Orange to tell them this. The pleasant gentleman let me know that sometimes the SIM card is sent separately and advised me to wait a few more days. A few more days passed and still no SIM card, I rang again and was told by an equally pleasant lady that a SIM card for an upgrade would never be sent separately and another one would be sent in the post. She spoke to me as if i should know this. I should have seen the early warning signs. Two contacts, two versions of events.

Here followed a few rounds of telephone tennis lasting a few weeks, where I would ring enquiring about the whereabouts of the SIM card only to be told it was on its way. One day i awoke, saw the light and it dawned that it was coming no more. So I rang and demanded a new one was sent. One was, and I received it pretty soon after.

It wasn’t till early June that I registered the SIM card, mainly because i couldnt fathom out how to change phones and SIM cards without losing all my numbers, but I looked forward to using the facilities on my new phone like a child on Boxing Day morning wanting to play with his Christmas presents. The phone didn’t reciprocate my advances though. I rang a few days later to find out why my photo and video messaging wasn’t working. Apparently the reason was that someone had neglected to change my account details when doing the upgrade. Orange in classic 'right arm not speaking to left arm' shock. So I was told that it was now rectified.

I again tried to use the new facilities, again no response, again another phone call, again another promise, again another let down. This circle of frustration happened a few more times but I cant really be bothered to go into the details as my therapist says I should relax more. I keep having nightmares that phones are breaking into my house and laughing at me in the shower.

Then a bizarre thing happened, Orange texted me saying 'call us free by dialling 249'. I wasnt sure whether the Customer Service number had changed, whether they wanted me to ring them for any particular reason or maybe they just fancied a bit of a chinwag. So i waited a few days until temptation got the better of me and i rang the number. It was someone wanting me to answer a questionnaire about Orange Customer Service. I thought I was being set up. I had a field day. It was carnage.

The top and bottom of this sorry episode is that nothing about my upgrade is an upgrade; the phone is all but a downgrade and calling the service a downgrade would be complimenting it. Its about 8 weeks since i had my phone and i still cant use it properly. I still dont know if the problem is phone related, network related, SIM card related or the bookies favourite: plain old Watski related. It could be Weapons of Mass Destruction related though for all Orange are bothered.

Im currently waiting for a phonecall back from Orange 'technical support'. I rang 2 days ago and was told i would be called back straight away, i rang again today and was told the same thing. Their units of measuring time must be different to the rest of the human race. Maybe their 'straight away' means exactly the opposite of the meaning on Earth.

The Orange Customer Service people are very nice, very knowledgeable and probably smile very sweetly but they are equally clueless. In these days of dog eat dog in the business world how many times should a customer need to speak to an organisation that relies on the business of its customers before a problem is solved? I must have called Orange about 10 times.

The shame of the situation is that i would threaten them with moving my business, but they know as well as i do that the industry customer service standard, like the standard of Customer Service in general, is no better. So id be worse off in the long run. And they probably wouldnt give a monkeys anyway as im a very small rat in a very large global sewer. Maybe i should just be thankful ive had no problems before.

I fired off a letter to the Head of Orange UK today, lets see how long it takes them to get back. I hope its not straight away. Stand by for updates.

Gizza Job!

Currently on a sabbatical from employment I am reveling in my new nickname of 'Dosser Watski' (thanks Jake). I left my old job in February for a break and have been enjoying lazing around doing as little as possible in the meantime, which I suppose is remarkably similar to my performance when I was working...although im being paid a damn sight less. Well im being paid nothing really.

Recently and very reluctantly I've dipped my toe back into the employment water, more through financial necessity than anything. None of us work because we want to. Its only mad people that really enjoy working, the kind of people that have 30 cats, these people are best given a wide berth. I've been contacting agencies and employers directly, etc and in the last month I've been up hill and down dale visiting these agencies and having interviews. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your outlook, I now have 2 job offers on the table. This brings its own brand of problem which I'll elaborate on later.

Its more specifically my experiences with agencies that id like to talk about. Most of us have been headhunted at some stage or at least contacted by agencies when we are least expecting it. It was always a tradition of mine to answer the phone to agencies on the hands free whilst in the car with the boss:

Watski: "Hello Watski speaking"
Caller: "Hello Watski,this is A creep from A Dodgy Agency, im just getting back to you on the position you applied for at 'Youre in so much trouble now PLC'
Watski: "Erm, erm, erm....i cant talk right now"
Boss: Complete silence..... for a long time. Only interrupted by the scratching sound of pen of P45.

The problem is that not answering your work phone in working hours whilst at work with your boss arouses suspicion in itself. You could always say 'its not convenient to talk right now', but you might as well stick a CD on with the song 'that was an agency on the phone, but you already knew that didn't you?' on repeat. You must remember that song.

It just got so much of a hassle that i never used to return their phonecalls, how do they expect you to explain a day out of the office going to an interview for something you weren't interested in in the first place? I wonder what the generally accepted strategy is for dealing with employment agencies. Swearing would feature heavily i guess.

I digress. I think i am a digresser by trade, i wonder if there are jobs as digressers? I could do that, id be good at that. Anyway, coming back to the present day i really never realised that there were so many agencies, web sites, etc set up to help/hinder job searchers. I believe that i have been in contact with most of them at some time or another in recent weeks. They must look on new job seekers with the blood thirsty lust in which Dracula preyed upon his victims. Whenever i mention agencies i want you to picture that thought.

You tend to become a hard nosed job seeker pretty quickly and immune to most of the bile they throw at you. But the first few steps are trepidating - you are at their mercy. At first the agencies would say 'the CV's great, you'll have no problem. Will you do me a few things?' And here begins Watski's job seeking advice Rule No.1.

The first request asked of me would be to keep them in touch of any developments - great in theory but when you are applying for jobs all over the place with all and sundry agencies but in practice its impossible. Ignore this request - they're just being nosy and want to know if any other agency are doing a better job than them. Which they are. The second thing i would be asked is to 'let them know which jobs you are going for as it gets embarrassing putting people forward who have been put forward by other agencies' - again ignore this request, for the same reason as the first question. They just want you to do the work and dont want to be seen as the same as all the rest.

The third thing that would be requested of me would be to not apply for the same job through another agency as again it gets embarrassing. Again, ignore this request. It seems a pretty honourable and moral thing to do as a job seeking virgin but i have lost count of the times an agency has said that they are putting you forward for a position you are interested in and thats the last you hear from them. Resulting in you seeing the same position advertised and thinking 'no, i wont apply for that because thats already in hand with that other agency'. Little do you know. And then you miss the position entirely. This has happened to me a few times. The Look After No.1 rule seems pretty sensible now but it can be tempting to be a bit overawed by agencies to start off with.

Its very easy to get carried away with agencies - most of them double up as car salesmen at the weekend, or sewer rats. Its true. Their 2 main aims are to a) get quality candidates to interviews and b) make sure one of their candidates gets the job. Dont be fooled into thinking they have your interests at heart - they are the new estate agents. Nothing seems to get in the way of those 2 aims, not even the small matter of not fancying the job. So here begins Watski's Job Seeking Rule No.2: 'Dont fall for the flattery'

Some agencies insist on seeing you in person which often means a long trip to their offices for a half hour chat. This, they say, is because they dont want to put forward people who they havent had chance to vet personally. This is a lie, they have an office game where they all try to get someone to travel the furthest for the shortest pointless meeting. The most worthless trip ive had was a 6 hour round trip to Bracknell for a 30 minute chat. I rang them the day before to see if i could have a telephone interview, they refused and said it wouldnt be a wasted journey as there were lots of things happening. I havent heard from them since, have i Ashwood Associates? Im not saying dont do this, you just have to bite the bullet sometimes, but i wont condone personal violence. Just be prepared for nothing coming from some meetings. It can be a little dis-heartening in truth if you let it get to you. I find chocolate helps.

Its very easy to fall for their flattery. They can make even the dullest job sound interesting, mine-clearing in Iraq suddenly has exceptional career development potential. You can find yourself having 3 days worth of interviews for a job you never had any intention of taking even if you were offered it, just because the agency made it sound 'just your thing' and you dont want to let them down because they sound so nice and are working so hard for you. So make sure you only have interviews for positions that you would consider accepting.

Rule No.3: 'Set Yourself Parameters' links in with Rule 2 to some extent and its that you must set your self parameters that all jobs must fall within, it may be salary, location, anything. Just so that you arent tempted to go for something that involves you doing something you dont want to. Dont be afraid to say no to the agency, they dont care, they'll be onto their next victim within 3 seconds of putting the phone down to you.

Getting to interviews is a job in itself, ive a pretty good sense of direction as most men have. They do!. I went for an interview at a business park near Birmingham recently and ended up 40 minutes late for it when i planned to be 30 minutes early. There are so many business parks near Birmingham called almost the same things and some of these parks stretch 'near Birmingham' to ridiculous lengths. Having a 'B' in your name doesnt give you the licence to advertise that youre near Birmingham.

The road planners have a little game of their own too, the main purpose of this game seems to be to give you directions for the park you want then fail to give any more directions to it. I was about to give up when i found it entirely by accident - the God of Interviews decided that id had enough punishment and placed the venue right in front of me. "Go on, show him the way. He's had enough". I was beginning to think it was an initiative test. Pity he didnt help me with the heat in a car with no A/C too but i suppose we cant have everything. I was sat in reception and the receptionist must have had 5 calls from people who couldnt find it too. Which made me feel much better, i felt part of the stupid club.

This brings me to the final Rule No.4: 'Dont be rushed into anything'. Today is Friday and im sat here with 2 job offers in front of me, i should be happy but i can see my life of freedom and laziness being packed away into the loft with a sticker on that says 'DO NOT OPEN TILL OLD AND GREY'. The problem is that theres probably another job offer coming on Monday afternoon but the 2 i have at the moment want an answer by Monday lunchtime. Ive already put their deadline back and probably cant stretch it anymore. One agency is putting pressure on me to accept one of them and the other is putting pressure on me to put a decision off. Bet you cant guess which agency belongs to which job. They can almost smell the pound notes that im earning them and nothings going to stop them.

Consider yourself briefed and fore-armed.


So.... Labour take a kicking in the local election polls. The UKIP get massive gains in the Euro elections with Kilroy-Silk proclaiming that he's going to 'wreck' the European Assembly. Whats he going to do? Fake tan them to death? dazzle them with his teeth? Conduct an impromptu 'My husbands a transvestite and he wont stop wearing my clothes' style special in the foyer?

Im very interested in politics, i like to think im socially aware too. I research stuff and i keep well up to date with current affairs. I'm also British and very proud of it too. But i still dont know enough about Europe to make an informed decision as to whether we should be part of it. I dont know whether it would be a good or bad thing.

Holding a referendum seems a very strange decision to me. Its obviously only been sanctioned because Tony Blair sees not having one as a vote loser. My MP is elected to make informed parliamantary decisions on my behalf. He does it all year round, why not now? He knows the ins and outs of it. Let him decide for me.

Holding a referendum seems a bad idea because i dont believe it will be a fair trial. As soon as the tabloids get into the act and whip the public up into a xenophobic frenzy based on the fact that Brussels want to get rid of the pound, change the shape of the sausages and make us all wear clogs then we'll have 10 million Sun readers deciding our Economic fate. Not the position we want to be in. Surely the debate should be about whether Britain would be a more prosperous place if we were in Europe.

If Britain will be a more prosperous place then the 'keeping the pound' argument becomes pretty futile as much as it would be sad to see it go. You tell the average 'White Van Man' that going into Europe would add £10 a week to his pay packet or the average shop owner that he'd be able to 'round up' prices to Euro equivalents and i'd wager that they'd both cheerily wave goodbye to the pound.

Like i said, im very interested in politics and i still dont know the positives and negatives of being in Europe. It may seem a big-headed thing to say too but if i dont know then theres a fair chance that those that dont take much interest in politics wont either. So the chances are that they know the negatives like removing the pound, but not the positives. You cant have a vote when the majority of the electorate doesnt know the full details. And probably wont be allowed to view the positives because of the nationalistic, xenophobic ramblings of the red tops.

Its just an accident waiting to happen.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Its just not cricket..

Its time to investigate alternative sporting past-times. Not only because its the summer and the domestic football season has ended, but because im getting a bit bored at being let down by the teams I follow. Its Euro 2004 i hear you cry, well that may be so but following England is becoming as much of a rocky road to despair as it is following Mansfield. Maybe i just need a rest.

Nottinghamshire Cricket Club are top of their league, and seem to be doing really well. There cant be many better things than sitting in the middle of a crowd on a sunny day get steadily sozzled. England are also in the throes of bit of success too, which is attracting the attention of more than just the cricket loving public. England tend to hit this apex of achievement just before the Aussies hit town to sit on their heads, nick their pocket money, copy their homework and make us realise England werent as good as we thought they were. This needs further investigation methinks, the weather has to be right and the potential for disappointment rivals football.

The Tennis season is upon us too, pretty soon middle aged women up and down the country will dust down the strawberries and Pimms and become ardent tennis followers cooing about Tiger Tim, whilst most of the male population will be waiting to lay into him and say 'told you so' when he bottles it again against some Croatian carpet layer. Playing tennis is never as easy as it looks either. Again, the disappointment potential is high for this game.

Somebody once said that golf is a good walk spoiled, and you cant really argue with that. Its a good game if you can hit the ball pretty straight, but you can add about 10 miles to a round if youre a bit of a zig-zagger. Added to the fact that you have to find some mates who can actually play golf too without getting bored and dont mind wearing all the clobber. There arent many more pressurised moments in sport than being a poor golfer and having to tee off in front of a group of about 12 people because of the backlog thats been formed by Gordon, Malcolm and their mates in front looking for their balls in a hedge bottom. Ive seen this pressure turn many a confident man into a blancmange. The dress code and rules tend to put me off too, but as long as you ignore them both fully then you can be excused for being a working class oik.

Rugby League seems to be a bit of a free for all, the rules obviously change every game. Im not sure if anyone actually knows them let alone the referee, it seems to be a real mess of a game if im brutally honest. Looks very painful, the whole purpose seeming to be taking it in turns to charge headlong into the nearest opposition player. No self respecting male can wear shorts that tight in public either. Avoid wherever possible.

Ive always liked Fishing, but ive only ever been when someone has a)lent me their tackle, b) set it up for me and c) taken the fish ive caught off the hook and put it back. So that doesnt leave a lot else for me to do other than sit on the bank and watch a float for 8 hours, whilst eating someone elses sandwiches and throwing maggots into the water. Its kind of Fishing without the effort, or outlay. So it could be argued that im not technically participating. Ive always wondered why fisherman get up really early in the morning too? Dont fish sleep as well?

Swimming, never been a sport. For kids, big kids and old people.

I dont really have an opinion on Athletics, i cant really get excited by something that seems to be populated more and more by people obtaining a narcotic edge. I'll watch the Olympics when there's some Brit involved but wont go out of my way.

So thats kind of it really, there doesnt seem to be anything else. Makes you wonder why we bother with it all doesnt it?


Kick in the nads anyone?

Football is an odd mistress. You spend lots of money on her and get very little back, you treat her well and end up getting kicked in the teeth, you're very loyal but she just laughs at your weakness. You tend to realise all of this on a regular basis being a Mansfeld Town fan. Just when you think you're getting on well football ends up cutting up all of your clothes and locking you out of the house as punishment for getting too complacent.

Watching your back has become almost habitual with football, never be too sure that this might be it, that you might actually be happy with football, because its only a short while before football lets you know who's boss. Most football devotees have more down days with football than up - which makes it all the more amazing that we actually entertain this mistress at all.

Football currently seems to be embarking on a particularly cruel and sadistic regime of giving me a kick in the nads once a fortnight, i'm not entirely sure why she's taking this course of action. Maybe she's bored because the season has ended, maybe she's just taken a dislike to me or maybe im not the man she thought i was. Who knows what ive done. Two weeks ago Mansfield were deprived of promotion in the cruelest fashion at the Millennium Stadium losing on penalties to Huddersfield, tonight France scored twice in the last minute to move from 1-0 losers to 2-1 winners. Much to the amusement of the Scots and Welsh I would guess, who, in a touch of irony seem to get most of their football pleasures from an English defeat. Football recently seems to be getting a big kick out of my anguish.

Im going to stay in bed in two weeks time so football cant find me to deliver her ritual pain, although if i am discovered i'm hoping its something a little more original than outright defeat and devastation. Its getting predictable.

I could go into a large full scale review of tonights rendezvous with football, but im conscious that I don't get many visitors to this blog and I don't want to risk losing the odd one or two that I do have. So I wont bother.

Suffice to say that I'll be back on Thursday for the next date with football armed with flowers and a big box of chocolates hoping i get invited back to hers.


Saturday, June 12, 2004

"Im not gay or owt..."

Ive just noticed that theres an advert at the top of the page for some gay chat thing. Now I'm not homophobic or anything, but i wouldnt want anybody reading this to get the wrong idea about me. Not that theres anything wrong with being gay or anything. Am i PC'ing this to death enough?

Ive tried logging out and logging back in, but its still there. Ive tried refreshing, still no change - and now ive fully exhausted my technological know-how with those 2 attempts.

Ive tried to see if i can change the advert to something a bit more manly or a bit Grrrr, football, beer - not that theres anything not manly about gay men and im sure some of them like football and beer, but if you've read my technology problems below then you'll probably already know what the outcome is on that attempt.

I notice that its called Isnt it a little sefish to use a random name like kagoul? Theres probably some camping shop or manufacturer out there whose business would benefit from a web address that says exactly what they sell, but they cant because of group of men are talking about tight white t-shirts or whatever it is gay men talk about. If Derek from Worthing wanted a new kagoul for a camping trip next week and decided to search google for nearest stockists he might have a shock that he'd never recover from. Although Worthing might be pretty handy if he liked what he saw.

The funniest thing is that i found this explanation of why google place ads on particular sites:

"..Google uses search-based technologies to match advertisements to the content and context of web pages - so the ads you see are related to the information you are viewing..."

So it looks like its all my fault and im being far too effeminate about this blog lark. I guess the inclusion of words such as: gay, chat and manly in this blog wont have helped matters that much. To rectify this situation all future blogs will feature more manly words such as: football, beer, women, cars, etc. For the time being though it looks like i/we're stuck with it.

So in the spirit of things, click on the link, have a look around - you never know, it might change your life.


Now, im a patriotic kind of guy. Im English (well 75% anyway) and im very proud of it. Thats not to say that i dont sometimes wonder what this country is coming to and i find myself wishing of sunnier, more tolerable climes, but i guess we all question it sometimes.

Im very confused with my opinions on the plethora of flags that has been awash everywhere lately. As if poking the eyes of passing pedestrians isnt good enough, flags are now being hung from bedroom windows. My problem is that I dont think i like it but i dont know why. I think i view the flags in the same way as i view red noses for cars: its a bit sad. Thats not to say that i wont put a couple of quid in for red nose day, but i'll pass on the hooter for the front grill if you dont mind.

Do some people forget that theyve got these red noses on? do they never go round to the front of their cars? its the only explanation for them being on cars sometimes a year after Comic Relief. "Yes we can see you gave to charity and i believe youre a bit wacky, but dont drag it out mate". Or are they hoping to save a bit of money by making it last to the next Red Nose Day?

I digress. Im really struggling with my opinion on it, my natural reaction is that its a bit sad, but the left side of my brain is screaming 'why not, whats the problem?'. But I cant get away from the fact that i think that the flag bit is just a bit of attention seeking, almost a "look at me, i may be driving a Micra but you'll find that im really interesting if you spoke to me" kind of thing. Almost as though these people are striving to be noticed, like the office geek on a night out who tries to come across as one of the lads in his Bart Simpson tie.

I feel like saying "im English, theres a fair chance youre English, we both know we're in England. Taking all that into account i would hazard a guess that you would want England to do well so do us all a favour and give the flags a miss eh?"

But then again, i recently drove all the way to Cardiff with my Mansfield Town scarf hanging from my rear window. I removed it for the way back, but it wouldnt be in my car still if we won. Is this the same behaviour? Am i as guilty as the flag bearers? Have i contradicted my 'tolerable' claim?

I kind of think its more acceptable, but then again i would as it was my behaviour.

Car stickers are another, but i'll save that for another day...


Friday, June 11, 2004

Being catapulted kicking and screaming into the 21st Century

Well here goes. First blog and all that, blog virgin. I thought id better start doing something constructive with all the time ive got on my hands at the moment. Thats if you consider even more time on the internet than i currently spend as constructive.

Jake, a friend of mine has his own blog and to be honest im pretty impressed with it, although i wouldnt necessarily tell him that. Its nice to be able to chat with people around the world who are share nothing but the url address in the browser. I want some friends who i dont know yet, im sure there are people out there who would talk to me. Please talk to me.

Stand by for the ay to day mutterings and observations of a 31 year old serial thinker with far too much time on his hands. I dont promise that you'll agree with everything or be interested in absolutely anything at all but i hope you do at least find it amusing and can identify with an early 30's male and his daily life.