Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Watski recipe.

Boil a pan full of water.

Take 3 fair sized eggs. Preferably Organic. Definitely free range.

Run some hot water from the tap over them.

Lower the eggs into the boiling water using a spoon.

Add a dash of vinegar.

Leave for 7 minutes.

Butter 4 slices of bread and leave. Choose something nice and soft.

Piss about on t'internet for 6 minutes.

Forget that you're cooking something.

Remember you're cooking something

Run into kitchen.

Kick dog by mistake.

Quickly remove eggs from pan using spoon.

Place in bowl and remove shells.

Swear a little.

Chop eggs using spoon or knife.

Add man sized dollop of salad cream, a little pepper to taste and mix.

Layer eggs onto bread and cut to shape preference.

Eat noisily.

2 hours later - burn hand on gas hob that you inadvertently left on.

Run hand under cold tap.

Switch gas off.

Egg sandwiches. Beautiful. Not just for shit wedding receptions.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


I was batonned earlier this week by Rob, which didn't feel much like I thought a baton would feel like. I should be cheeky to police more often.


The total volume of music on my computer: I've just had to buy an external hard drive to accomodate it all - 45GB....and rising.

The last CD I bought was:

The Futureheads - but haven't got round to listening to it yet.

Five songs I listen to a lot or mean a lot to me, in no particular order. I don't really have 5 favourite songs but these are songs that I could listen to forever.

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows. Probably the greatest song ever written, by a man with so much stuff going on his head that we should be grateful for a little bit spilling out for us to listen to.

Moby - Go. Takes me back to the great times I had in the early 90's. It's a shame as I hate Moby, wish someone else would have made it.

The Kinks - Autumn Almanac. So much atmosphere in the song and is blessed with a great line: "This is my street, and I'm never gonna leave it and I'm always gonna stay, if I live to be ninety - nine, cos all the people I meet, seem to come from my street. And I cant get away - because it's calling me."

Shed Seven - Sensitive. Don't know why - just a great song. Can't even find a link to it.

The Doves - Sea Songs. A song to get lost in.

And now I feel bad because I didn't include:
Ian Dury - Hit me with your rhythm stick
Tweet - Boogie Tonight (Seamus Haji remix)
Sheila and B. Devotion - Spacer
Sex Pistols - Pretty Vacant
Billy Bragg - New England
Public Enemy - Shut 'em Down (Pe-et Rock remix)

and now I feel bad because I haven't included anything by The Smiths, The Cure and The Bluetones

I hate questions like this.

Which 5 people are you passing this baton to and why?

I'll curse Robin, Girl, Firsttimer, Mick and GrocerJack. Just cos.

If they're looking.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Equal rights

The couple who own the local corner shop have gone all equality conscious on us.

Popping in this morning I noticed a new sign in the window amongst all the slimming pill adverts:

'Disabled People'
If you are disabled our staff are specially trained to notice you.

Bet that was a long course. I'd have paid good money to see the role play though.

NB. For some crazy frog relief try this. Colourful language though.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The righteous one..

The bus sounded his horn at the group of lads standing talking half-on, half-off the road as the driver tried to negotiate a tight bend in the town centre. Their position in the narrow street wasn't helping the situation at all.

One of the lads took umbrage at this public affront to his manliness and duly acknowledged the driver with a hand signal that wasn't too friendly.

The bus driver also took offence at this and stopped, opened the door and confronted them.

I couldn't hear too much of the conversation but the angry, contorted, spitting face of the young lad told me that he wasn't wishing the driver bon voyage.

As I walked past, the driver closed the door and carried on his journey. I heard the lad say

'yeah, that's fucking right - drive on or I'll do ya!'.

I really wanted to say:

'look, what's the problem here? You were standing talking needlessly on the main road through town, a bus driver carrying passengers couldn't get past as you were in the way so he rebuked you gently to alert you of the presence of a multi tonne vehicle heading in your direction and to ask you to step out of the way before you got hurt'

'You seem to have took this request as an affront to your cavemanic pride and thanked the driver for this warning with a volley of abuse that really wasn't warranted'

But I didn't say this. Firstly, because I'm not sure he would have understood the majority of the words I used, and secondly because I didn't fancy getting 'burberry'd' to death with text words by the baseball cap wearing orangutans.

So I shook my head slightly at the youth of today in the condascending way that I seem to have acquired in my 30's, and tutted my way back to the car park, running across the main road as I did so. One car obviously thought I was taking too much of a risk in doing this and hooted me ever so slightly.

I was never in any danger and my sub-conscious must have known this too as I instinctively turned in the direction of the sound.

I was just about to give them the finger when luckily I remembered just how righteous I am nowadays.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A friend indeed....

If you deigned to spend more than 5 consecutive minutes outside a house in CJ's area then the chances are that you would be joined by a young lad called Paul.

You can normally hear Paul approaching before you see him. Because he's got a kind of hum when he runs. Paul is disabled.

I don't know how he knows you're there - I can't see his house from CJ's, nor CJ's from his. The only explanation would be that he has some sort of thermal imaging in his bedroom. Either that or there's some CCTV/Intercom thing going off with the neighbours.

Washing the car I could hear the distant sound of humming, which gradually got louder and louder, until it stopped with:

"Hello Watski"

"Hello Paul - are you alright? I reckon I've been outside about 8 minutes - you're slacking!"

"I know - what are you doing?"

"I'm washing the car Paul"

"I can see that!"

"Oh right. Why did you ask then?"

"I've had my tea"

Paul always told you what he'd just had to eat. He loved his food.

"Nice. What have you had?"

"It's Friday, it's Eggs and Bacon"

"That sounds like a breakfasty sort of meal to me. I thought it was Fish and Chips on a Friday?"

"Yes, Fish and Chips on Friday"

He generally got it wrong too. He wasn't much good under interrogation - his stories would fall apart. I made a note not to rely on him for an alibi.


"What you had for your tea?"

"Nothing yet Paul.

"Oooh, you must be hungry. "

"Yes I am now you come to mention it"

"I've had fish and chips. Fish and chips on a Friday"

"That sounds nice"

What are you going to have?"

"I'm not sure yet"

"Don't know? How could you?"

Mortified by this terrible news he aimed a shake of the fist at the kitchen window where CJ was and pointed at me and pointed at my stomach. She waved back. Paul liked to know what he was having for his tea before he had it, and the following days tea, and the day after that, etc.

"Have you been out today?"

"Yes, I went to Nottingham earlier"

"In this old thing?"

"It's older than you Paul"

"Yeah I know. So you don't know what you're having for your tea?"

"No Paul. It's terrible isn't it"

"Yeah it is. Are you hungry?"


"It's just not right is it?"

"No Paul, it's shocking. I don't know how I cope"

"No, me neither" he muttered whilst shaking his head

"Are you my friend" he asked, after he'd got over the lack of food problem.

Paul always wanted to know if I was his friend. He wanted to know if everyone was his friend.

"Yes Paul, of course. You know I am. We're best friends aren't we?" I said, expecting some sort of advice that best friends might give about the wiseness of having a girlfriend who didn't provide adequate sustenance.

"No. Christian's my best friend"

"Oh right. I see" I said, mortally wounded.

"Christian lets me ride his bike"
explained Paul

"Ah. Easily bought then?"

"What you washing this old rust bucket for?"

"You're not much of a friend Paul. Do you know that?"

But it was too late. Christian had just opened his back door and Paul was already humming his way over there.

"I've had my tea Christian. Eggs and Bacon! What you had?"

Friday, May 20, 2005

It happens to us all.

I'm gettting old.

Yes I am.

No, seriously I am. I thank you in advance for all the protestations that will undoubtedly overwhelm the comments box but it is to no avail. My mind is made.

For all those young 'uns wondering which age it is that birthdays stop being all about receiving then I can now disclose the secret that all us old 'uns know.

For all those wanting to keep it a surprise; 'please look away now' - in true Saturday night, pre-Match of the Day news style.

"Good heavens. Is that a microwave in the wall
behind me? My eyes aren't what they used to be."

Last month was my 32nd birthday. I know this because the strapline at the top of this page says I'm that old. So I must be. It's the only way I have of remembering it. It wouldn't be up there if I could remember it any other way. But sadder still was the fact that my birthday seems to have passed all my family and friends by. The birthday cards and presents stack, that has been so full of delights in previous years - maybe because I'm such a lovable, likeable fellow - was barren. Almost empty.

Maybe this was because I was away on holiday at the time. I'm unsure. I may accept this as a reason.

Even my present from CJ was a scuba driving trip for her, that I paid for on my credit card.

Oh I'm so old.

And just to rub salt in the wounds three Polish nurses have rented the house next door to CJ. The care home down the road is taking advantage of the recently expanded EU labour market mixed with the girl's desire to live in England, by paying them a pittance for the priviledge.

Years ago I would have tried to take advantage of them too.

Now I just tell them to turn their music down.

I want to be left alone for a while.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mind games

"Why don't you come over here? Pick Mummy Duck up on the way and we can have a drive out for something to eat" I text Young Watski on Sunday morning in reply to his own text asking what I was up to that day.

Is it text or texted? I'm still unsure.

"Mummy Duck's gone with Mad Auntie to see some voodoo witch fortune teller thing - she said that she'd be back around 1. I'll give her a ring back then" he replied.

We don't talk anymore - that's so 20th century - nowadays one of us will text 'what you up to?' to the other, followed by 'oh nice' when the other has disclosed their plans. And that's it.

"Well if they're any good, she'll know that you're going to ring and why before she gets back" I replied, pleased with my mental agility whilst earning Orange another easy buck.

"Maybe if I think hard enough I can get her to bring the lawnmower over with her too"

I pressed send but my mind was already debating whether the 'do you reckon you have to cross their palms with silver twice on a Sunday?' reply would have been better instead.

Never mind, the punchline drummer had already *bdum tsh'd* and the adoring audience were building up their rapturous applause.


Before I sent that one too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Should I...

...mind taking in 2 parcels for the guy at No.50 as he's not in?

...be worried that it was over a week ago?

...consider charging him storage?

...be worried about his welfare having not seen him since?

...be worried about the fact that he doesn't appear overly concerned about collecting them?

...be more worried about: a) his welfare having not seen him since or, b) the fact that he doesn't appear overly keen about collecting them?

...therfore contact the authorities?

...google the name of the sender to see the type of product that might be inside?

...wish that I hadn't googled the name of the sender to see the type of product that might be inside?

...keep the boxes for myself?

...deny all knowledge of receiving the parcels?

...pretend it's not my signature on the delivery note?

...get myself measured for an orange boiler suit.

...stop being a nosy bastard?

Friday, May 13, 2005

I'm not that kind of guy..

Whilst in Thailand I thought it would be good to learn a bit of the lingo, if only to ask someone where the ping pong shows were. I need not have worried, I was pointed to them often enough without asking.

So I picked up the Lonely Planet Thai phrasebook. Over the holiday it proved to be really useful - if it's only use was to show us how not to say something. We'd end up attempting to ask someone for another beer only to be faced with puzzled faces and a lesson in how it should be said. Serves us right for asking the taxi driver.

I nearly choked on my boiled sausage when browsing it on the plane. There is a section on romance, which reads more like 'how to pick up'. This is the exact sequence of phrases - no word of a lie:

  • Would you like to do something tomorrow? - Blimey fast mover, I only came in for a packet of chewing gum
  • Yes I'd love to - Oooh, I think we're in
  • I'm busy - Knock back, bummer.
  • What a babe! - shit, sorry - I just meant to think that, not say it.
  • He/She gets around - is that one person or 2? We are in Thailand.
  • Would you like a drink? - good thinking
  • You look like someone I know - don't say....Brad Pitt is it? I get that often. Bob Hoskins? Shit.
  • You're a fantastic dancer - I wasn't dancing, that's the way I walk
  • Can I take you home? - *mental note - walk like that more often*
  • I'm here with my boyfriend/girlfriend - Now you say. I was just practising my dancing walking. You didn't say if that was just the one person or not.
  • Excuse me, I have to go - Isn't that always the case?
  • I'd rather not - Rather not what? Go? Oh sorry, I didn't realise my hand was there.
  • No thank you - time to give up with the suggestions now.
  • Leave me alone - Ok, Ok, I get the idea.
  • Piss off - look I dont want any trouble, you invited me here.
  • I like you very much - Make your mind up.
  • Can I kiss you? - blimey, must be this fake aftershave. Is your boy/girlfriend watching? There are so many that it could be.
  • Do you want to come inside for a while? - Let me finish my drink...oh we're not in the pub anymore. How did that happen? Two minutes ago I was dancing, where have all those people gone? I think I'm hallucinating.
  • Do you want a massage? - well, if you're offering.
  • Do you have a condom? - what type of massage is this?
  • Let's use a condom - are you going to be expecting some sort of payment for this?
  • I wont do it without protection - I think I need some protection, you're a mental.
  • I want to make love to you - I think that's abundantly clear
  • Kiss me - crikey
  • I want you - crikey
  • Let's go to bed - crikey
  • Touch me here - Look, I know what to do.
  • Do you like this? - Depends what it is - is it sharp? Will it hurt? Owwww..
  • I dont like that - You just told me to touch you there. Make your mind up.
  • I like that - I'm not doing anything different
  • I think we should stop now - Already? Aww....
  • Oh yeah - Oh yeah for you, what about me?
  • Oh my God - Oh, don't need me now?
  • That's great - I bet it is but what about me?
  • Easy tiger - easy yourself, you started it.
  • Faster - Who? Me?
  • Harder - Can you keep the noise down?
  • Slower - I'm just going to shut this door.
  • It's my first time - yeah righto
  • It helps to have a sense of humour - what are you saying?
  • Dont worry, I'll do it myself - I thought you just had.
  • That was amazing - For you maybe
  • Can I call you? - I'm not sure I'm into freaks
  • I love you - I'm sort of getting a few mixed messages from you now.
  • You're great - Well, it has been said before
  • I think we're good together - I think you're a bit weird.
  • Will you marry me - *spits coffee out*
  • Are you seeing someone else? - easy with all the questions, I only met you 2 pages ago
  • He/she is just a friend - how long's he been there? Was he watching? It is a 'he' isn't it? You said the he-she was your boy-girlfriend.
  • You're just using me for sex - Well I wouldn't be getting much use would I?
  • I never want to see you again - Fine by me.
  • I don't think it's working out - I know what you mean, do you have the number of a taxi firm?
  • We'll work it out - about that taxi..
  • I have to leave tomorrow - Can't say I'm too sorry about that.
  • I'll keep in touch - Sod that, weirdo.
Sounds like a night in with Girl.

I'm in trouble now.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I'm O-podo sorry about all this...

You may like to read about this in chronological order. If you do then try: here, here, here, here, here, oh and not forgetting here. Although I suspect that most of you, if not all, are as sick to the back teeth as I am about it. There are more than I realised too.

You can either read on, or take the day off - go on, feel free. I'll see those of you that abstain tomorrow, where hopefully I may have reverted back to more inane ramblings about spiders and shit.

One more for now though,

Trot on:

11th May 2005
Katie Powell
Opodo Limited
PO Box 6589
LE1 3ZZ.

Dear Ms Powell

Thank you for your letter dated 29th April. It’s strange that it didn’t arrive at my house until the 10th May. I’m getting used to things happening with Opodo a week after they should have happened. I’m beginning to believe that Opodo is located in its own little time zone where it’s a week later than the rest of the world. Which would actually explain quite a lot.

Anyway, the other strange thing is that the letter also seems to be a page short, or even two. The page(s) that are missing are, I presume, the one(s) where it actually answers the questions that I posed.

Or maybe I didn’t make it clear that they were questions. So I’ll take the liberty of asking them again. For ease of understanding I’ll start them all with ‘Why’, so you can be in no doubt that they are questions and as such, need answering:

1) Why was it that the first time I knew that I wasn’t booked on a flight that Opodo said I was booked on, was when I tried to check in for the flight, at an airport in a foreign country? I know what the airline did – I want to know why YOUR COMPANY didn’t contact me straight away to save me the hassle of travelling all the way to the airport for the flight that your company knew I wasn’t booked on 3 days before.

2) Why is it that your company didn’t arrange for me to be put on another flight, when you realised that I wasn’t booked on the flight that you told me I was booked on, the same 3 days before? Why was it left to me to take time out of my holiday to sort something I’d paid you to do?

3) Why as a result, was I then left to wander around the airline desks at the previously mentioned ‘airport in a foreign country’ on my holiday asking them in my ‘pigeon Thai’ whether they would mind checking whether I happened to be booked on any of their flights that day? When I’d paid Opodo some time prior to do all this for me.

4) Why it is that your internal procedures are so lax that it took until an hour before I boarded a plane on my holiday to sort out the above problem with a further flight on said holiday that was initially highlighted over a week prior, taking this long simply because an operator was ‘off sick’? Being the sole reason, to anyone in possession of a brain, for the entire catalogue of cock ups.

5) Why it is that no-one else could have dealt with the issue that ‘buck-passing’ Amanda left on my answer phone whilst in the air on a Friday, essentially saying that there wasn’t much else that could be done about my flight, because she wasn’t back in work till the following. Monday? Does only one person work at Opodo? Do you close for the weekend?

6) 6) Why have you effectively charged me for the privilege of running around Bangkok airport, wasting almost a day of my holiday in the process, clearing up the remnants of your inability to manage a flight booking? It would have been less hassle to turn up on spec whilst naked.

Shall I answer them for you? Well from the looks of it your internal procedures are shot to pieces. Easy. And I don’t even work there. These are just some examples of this off the top of my head:

* No-one else was able to call me in the absence of an operator being off sick,
* No-one else was able to deal with a cancelled flight because an operator was off for the weekend, and
* No-one was blessed with the initiative to think that I might need to be contacted when it turns out that I wasn’t booked on a flight you told me I was booked on, whilst in a foreign country.

You should be imagining me shouting now.

And I’m sure I could think of more examples, which I’d tell you if I could be certain that I wasn’t wasting my time on a company that takes consumers money in exchange for old rope, before ducking out of the consequences when the questions get a bit too difficult to understand.

So after that you can see why I’d prefer the answers rather than compensation if it’s all the same to you, as the latter would require me to risk going through all this again by using a £50 compensation flight voucher on a company with ‘previous’ when it comes to crap service.

Maybe the missing page(s) didn’t answer my questions at all, maybe instead there was just a paragraph which said something along the lines of: “We’re really sorry Mr Watski, our procedures failed, please forgive us”. That would be nice. I’d be happy with that. But I’d guess that the likelihood of you admitting what we both know happened is even less likely than the likelihood of actually getting some answers.

I’ve read your letter Ms Powell, I’ve read it a couple of times. I have even held it up to the light to see if there are any hidden words. But as many times as I read it, look at it upside down or translate it into Swahili, I still can’t seem to see any answers at all to my letter of the 19th April 2005. Maybe you could point them out to me if they’re there as I’m obviously missing something.

Yes you tell me that the airline ‘did this’ and the airline ‘did that’, as I guess airlines are always doing – but it’s the way that your department handled the aftermath of the airline’s changes that I’m really interested in the detail of, as I guess your CEO would be too if he’s truly consumer focussed. I’m interested because that is the part that has inconvenienced me the most. It can’t be coincidence that you got it wrong on almost EVERY step of the way.

You also say that you understand my frustrations. You haven’t got a clue. Otherwise you’d help me in getting to the bottom of the reasons for your company seriously inconveniencing me on my holiday. I would be willing to meet you to discuss the answers to these questions if you so wish.

I’m not interested in compensation Ms Powell and frankly I’m offended that you think its compensation and not answers that will bring this matter to an end. I am a paying customer after all, lest you forget.

It’s not difficult Ms Powell. In fact it’s quite easy.

Mr Watski

PS. Mr Vincent, I’ve copied you in on this in the hope that your intervention might at least start getting me some answers as to why I was set adrift on the other side of the world. I’m also interested in your observations as to how you would feel if all the above had happened to you and your family. Not that I think for one minute that they would happen to the erstwhile CEO of a travel company, at least not his own travel company anyway.

PPS. Thank you for the contact details of IATA, I had already taken the liberty of contacting them after seeing their logo on your literature – they actually seem to be of less use than your company, which is a remarkable achievement in itself. They should be congratulated. It must have taken years of practice.

I am unsure why you promote the fact to consumers that you are affiliated to the IATA in your livery, when the only people that seem to benefit from being affiliated are the members themselves. From what I can gather the IATA is nothing more than a Travel agents talking shop which gives accreditation out over coffee, but ultimately serves no end benefit to consumers whatsoever.

Simon Vincent – CEO Opodo

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Great overheard conversations of our time

"Have you remembered the Iceberg lettuce" the elderly man said to the lady who may, or may not have been his wife as he joined her and her trolley, just before me in the queue at the local supermarket.

Ok, it was Asda. I'm not afraid of advertising, this is not The BBC after all. Like you weren't aware.

"Oooh that reminds me, I need to take that book on The Titanic back to the library" she replied.

"Oh yes" he commented, whilst pinching the lettuce - unaware that the gentleman in the queue behind him was doing his best to refrain from peeing his person.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

New arrival

We have a new arrival.

May I introduce Missy:

Missy: 'not cute'

She's been with us for a few weeks now, and her main activity within this time has been to attempt to eat me piece by piece, starting with the fingers.

That, and pissing on the rug. Oh and general all round disobedience, which she succeeds in hiding behind her puppy cuteness, either that or getting me to carry the can for her.

She could probably get away with hotwiring the car, taking it for a spin, knocking over a couple of pensioners before torching it in the middle of a nature reserve and the general response would be:

"Aah, she's only a puppy - she's so cute"

"How do you think she feels about being parted from her Mum and Brothers and Sisters?" I asked CJ after the first few days of 6am starts that I seem to have drawn the short straw for "Will she be sad?"

"Oh no, she's probably forgot all about them by now" was the reply.

"What kind of cold hearted beast are we allowing under our roof? No wonder she has no respect for my fingers"

Something capable of such levels of heartless cruelty should not be underestimated.

No matter how cute they look.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Here we g-opodo again

7th May 2005

Mr Simon Vincent
Chief Executive Officer
Opodo Limited
Hammersmith Embankment
W6 9RU

Dear Mr Vincent

I’m writing to you as a last resort, to hopefully resolve the farcical dance I am currently performing with your UK offshoot, who seem to be entirely bereft of any level of customer service worth the name.

I’d take you through the whole situation, but I’m really afraid that my blood pressure may ascend to the point of no return if I go through it with one more person from Opodo. So I’ve attached the correspondence for you to peruse at your leisure.

I appreciate that you may be a busy man but I do urge you to read it, there is no greater barometer of company perception than the views of a sharp end consumer, especially one with a valid complaint. And if that fails to sufficiently inspire you enough to become familiar with my case then perhaps the fact that I have also, as a last resort, exasperatingly sent this letter to British Trading Standards, The Office of Fair Trading, Capital Letters in The Guardian, A Question of Money in The Sunday Times and ATOL might tempt you to at least give it a glance.

The excruciatingly poor level of service I have received is all attached in chronological order for your delectation. All except details of the poor level of service I have received since my last email complaining about the poor level of service. Some people just never seem to get it do they?

The last email I wrote to Katie Powell (my 4th), dated the 19th April, was pretty damning, maybe it was too damning, but you have to understand that I wrote it less than 24 hours after returning from a holiday that Opodo did its best to sabotage with levels of incompetence previously unequalled. I’m only sorry that Roy Castle wasn’t around to adjudicate this World Record contender.

I’d expected some sort of swift resolution following this email, a phone call at least to tell me it was being dealt with, maybe an email back saying that someone was on the case, or even a letter of acknowledgement simply saying that my email had been received.


Still nothing! 3 weeks since I sent the most annoyed letter I have ever written.

So concerned was I that the email had become another victim of the email ether, that I have since called Opodo twice (my 19th and 20th call to them) to find out whether they have received it and if so, whether they are performing the established method of resolving consumer dissatisfaction, i.e, dealing with it.

Between me, you and the numerous other people I have copied this to Mr Vincent – as well as my website www.watski.co.uk, I’m not entirely convinced that this is happening. The person who answered the second call (Friday 30th April) couldn’t have sounded more like it was the first time anyone had looked at it if she tried. She did say that someone was looking at it at that precise moment – maybe it was her. And that was still over a week ago. Maybe they are still looking at it. Who knows what’s happening anymore? I certainly don’t.

I’m hoping you do.

Please tell me you do Mr Vincent. Please tell me that the monkeys have an organ grinder.

I’ve given your company every opportunity to resolve this matter Mr Vincent, I’ve made 20 phone calls, being promised a return call almost every time but receiving 3 at the most. I’ve written 4 emails, receiving 1 reply which might just as well have contained the words ‘So what?’ in capital letters. I’ve even toyed with the idea of giving up, but the truth is that your company simply cannot be allowed to get away with treating consumers the way I have been treated.

Yours, suffering fools-a-plenty

PS. You’ll also be pleased to know that if you enter the words ‘Simon Vincent Opodo email’ into Google, then this letter comes up on the first page of results. You must be so proud.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Vote Watski

So election day is upon us. Thank god, some might say.

I have to admit that I do get quite interested in it though - coming from a politically savvy family it was difficult not to be affected, especially when the house was decorated red.

"Daddy, why have you dyed the cat red?"

"No reason comrade, now finish reading your Socialist Worker"

As a kid, watching any TV other than news or current affairs style programmes was very difficult when my Dad was in the house. I'd come home from school hoping that he wasn't in so that I could watch kids TV, and then end up arguing with him when I got home to find him in and in his usual 'not budging' mood in his usual place on the settee. I'd go over to the radio when I lost the argument only to find that he'd commandeered that as well to listen to with his other ear.

Even the papers we had back then were information providers like The Guardian and The Observer - I adopted the Japanese way of reading newspapers back to front, the sport was my only respite. The bookshelves were full of Marx and Engels and The Morning Star was a regular arrival through the letter box. Most weeks Dad would also come home with the Socialist Worker - which annoyed my Mum no end, as she was quite attractive.

I always remember the Socialist Worker stands in the town centre, my mad art teacher was manning it more often than not and the front page would always had some derogatory comment about Thatcher and her policies. I remember wondering what would happen when their wish came true, would they just pack up and go home? Would their last headline say: 'What The Bloody Hell Do We Do Now?'.

At an early age Young Watski had somehow managed to convince Dad, through conscious decision or accident that he was a dead loss as far as following in the family tradition was concerned, which seemed to make Dad all the more determined to inititiate me. I distinctly remember one day Dad taking me to one side and advising me to read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Which was always going to be a bit heavy for a 12 year old.

As I got older and was eventually brainwashed by the constant propoganda, Dads politics became clearer to me, as did politics as a whole. I realised that Dad was about as far left wing as it got. Which also means that shouting 'you communist' at him in an argument wasn't as clever as it seemed back then, Dad probably took it as a compliment.

Our family has always been a very staunch Labour voting family as you can probably tell, even before the Tories ripped our local community apart in the mid-eighties both my Mum and Dad were card carrying Labour supporters. I was even made a member so that I could be reeled in when the voting got tight on certain matters. It was made clear to me from eye opening age that voting Conservative would result in my immediate ostracision from the family.

Dad was also quite high profile locally, in addition to being a NUM branch secretary at the local pit he was also a district councillor for many years and a subsequent chair of the council, which meant that the phone would never stop ringing and there would more often than not be some stranger in the house who Dad was filling forms in for.

Now, things have changed drastically. Dad is no longer a member of the 'Labour in Tory clothing' party, as he calls them, and actually stood against the local Labour candidate at the last election for the Ricky Tomlinson endorsed Socialist Labour Party. Which would have been a good idea if the local Labour candidate wasn't a high profile member of the cabinet and didn't have over 50% of the vote - and that's before the fact that the only celebrity you had endorsing your party played a fat, layabout slob on the TV.

In fact Geoff Hoon could probably drive round the streets of our area in an ice cream van shouting: "You're all gay" out of the loud speaker and still be elected with an improved majority. Which is what he does effectively, I guess.

Dad is not standing in this election though and as a result is very traumatised by the whole thing, he's actually got to make a decision who to vote for for the first time. In 1997 he voted Labour, as most people in posession of any form of voluntary motion did, he stood himself in the last election, so this election is the first one he's had to really make a decision about, even though in reality his vote will matter very little.

I can tell he's a bit traumatised by it all as he keeps sending me little political soundbites by text, he's cryptically telling me that he's not voting for Labour and he wants to ensure that I know the reason why. But what I think he really wants me to know is that he's not selling the family silver without having had a good, long, hard, heart to heart with his conscience about it, and that I shouldn't think that he's a bad person by doing so.

His text to me this morning just says:

"I feel like I've betrayed a brother, but it had to be done"

I know how he feels.

Words are one thing, actions are another.