Thursday 29 March 2007


This cold and dreary day is the sort of day that you wish you could just huddle up by the fire and bunk off work. This is the sort of day when you’re retired that you wish the weather would just get a grip of itself and behave so you can go out. Get my drift – different perspectives.

Which leads me on to say that we are still not quite getting it right regarding communication between the revolutionary committee and the old guard.

There was a meeting that I would have liked to attend in the office yesterday but old grumpy wanted to go to the movies. OK, I went to the movies.

So - this morning he announced as he was walking out of the door, “I’m just going over to the office to see how that meeting went yesterday”. This is exactly the sort of situation that I have been trying to avoid, with him demanding information and then me demanding the same information later in the day. I shouted “wait ‘til I get there and then they can tell us both” – no answer.

I think, bloody hell, I need to go to the bank early and buy some bread for his lunch but now I have to trundle over to the office first. By the time I arrived I was totally pissed off with him and flounced in demanding to be included in the discussions.

They all looked at me as though I had gone out. He smiled serenely and said he had asked them to fill us in later when we were both there and asked me to apologise for my attitude. Why should I apologise when he had made me out to be a total cow again.

After I slunk out he arranged that we would return at 1230 but then told me they would call us when they were ready. At 1400 I was ‘phoned and asked if we were still coming. He is a maniac, totally out of control.

Come to think of it he has been the cause of most of my problems over the years and I will definitely have to kill him. If I don’t someone else will. Maybe that would be a better plan, let someone else go down for his murder.

Wednesday 28 March 2007


Today the builder came for a “strategy meeting”. We have been talking about doing this since he failed to start the job after Christmas. The trouble seeming to be that he is hung up at his last job with “bits and pieces”. I only hope that our “bits and pieces” become important to him too. He is vaguely talking about starting in “four to six weeks” which old grumpy accepts with a smile. He likes our builder. You can tell.

If it wasn’t for total boredom and this burning obsession to squander the inheritance money I wouldn’t put myself through this hell again. I have lived on building sites for most of my married life and know that what starts off as an exciting and interesting project full of eastern promise ends up as a nervous breakdown. Normally it is the builder that has the breakdown and as the builder used to be my husband this was not good news.

Despite the fact that he has become too unfit and old to tackle such strenuous work he was getting excited about “building up the block work before taking off the roof”. The builder blanched and looked alarmed, obviously not from the advanced school of building, but I think my husband will convince him that it’s do-able.

Old grumpy is obviously not about to be consigned to being a back room boy. A position that would not entirely jive with his personality. It worries me that he is salivating about getting stuck in, because although the man is willing the mans body is weak and this nervous breakdown might be the one that he doesn’t recover from.

Tuesday 27 March 2007


Being retired is giving me time to sansy doodle around the town, chill out with my family and catch up with friendships I had let lapse. In fact, now that am building up a bit of a social diary I am wondering how I managed to find time to work.

Today my daughter has invited me swimming, but this is a difficult one because it may interfere with my power nap. Health or indulgence? Umm - I don’t know. I know, I’ll sleep on it and then decide.

More on the “frittering away the inheritance” front. We have recently been told that that the neighbouring studio apartment in Switzerland is up for sale. As foreigners we are not allowed to own more than one property, but this apartment could be integrated into ours to make a stunning home without us breaking the regulations.

If you read my blog on 11th March - Far, Far Away on a Lonely Hillside – you will have read the story of how we first came to buy our apartment on a 50 year mortgage. Well this is the story of how we increased our 50 year mortgage in order to buy the adjoining studio apartment

Are you ready for this? Emailed the bank, within 10 minutes I received a call from the manager, we had a pleasant 5 minute chat. Job done at an interest rate of 2.7%! This is why we love the country so much, the people are practical, un-dramatic, straight down the middle and, best of all, will lend us money.

The advantages of a 50 year mortgage? We get to live in a wonderful place and the kids get to settle up the bill when we go to that great mountain in the sky! A win, win situation.

Monday 26 March 2007


Email query from DogLover: Where's this? "The population of the city is expected to grow by 40,000 people this month, and every month for years to come".

My reply: Beijing or Mexico?

Answer comes back: Well done. Not Beijing, but some Chinese city that was a village a year or so back. Probably a 1,000 miles from Beijing. Can't remember the name and can't find the article!

Now, what sort of dingbat asks a serious question and doesn’t know the serious pigging answer? Answer – DogLover.

This is an email from my “tired and over-emotional” friend from Saturday lunch to thank me for it being my turn to pay.

Got home and thought I'd e-mail you straight away to say thanks and found the keyboard had blown up - famine, drought, nuclear explosions - there's nothing as earth-shattering as your keyboard has blown up - unless it's your mobile has run out of juice!!!! - so £s more than the meal I can now send the message to say thank you.

YOU SEE .............there's no such thing as a free lunch!!!!!

Take care and be happy - see you 30 June if not before xxx

30th June? That’s when we hit Covent Garden for our next girls lunch out! Lordy, lordy, lordy.
Do I really deserve friends like this? Yes! Why me Lord? I’m just an ordinary working girl!

Friday 23 March 2007


I feel deflated after reading, my inspiration and, if you like, my writing benchmark. She is currently describing the trauma of a spate of bullying that her 6 year old is being subjected to at school. I can FEEL her anguish, helplessness, and hopelessness. This is writing par excellence and although I have no words to describe the empathy I feel I have to make a modest attempt.

I have come across bullying twice. My daughters were bullied at school when they were 8 and 10. Because we were in the course of moving home anyway it wasn’t necessary for me to confront the problem, but I can still remember the gut wrenching horror I experienced.

The other incidence was when my grandson was abused, bullied and attacked on the school bus. He was in his first term at the grammar school and the abusers were two brothers from the comprehensive school. Again, nothing can make you feel more inadequate than trying to protect a helpless child. My daughter handled it amazingly well, did not hold back in the pursuit of justice to protect her boy and the two villains were eventually banned from the bus.

The scary thing is that this had happened to other kids during the preceding year and nothing had been done about it. The school took the line that anything happening outside the school was not their province and the bus company said it wasn’t their job to police the bus, they simply carried passengers. My daughter reported the matter to the police and eventually it was resolved. Where are the dreaded Health and Safety wallahs when you need them?

On a lighter note, old grumpy has just announced he bought himself a pair of roller boots. I suspect that the maniac is probably dyspraxic, he has no sense of balance or rhythm and probably will end up killing himself or some other poor sap.

Thursday 22 March 2007


There are certain age indicators as you go through life and today I realised I had reached another one. I hadn’t realised that I was doing this but every morning I look at my pills to see which day I’m in. Today the pill says “Thursday”. Hurray, nearly to the end of the week and I’m still alive. All I need now is a pill that tells me which month I’m in and a memory to take the pill every morning so that I don’t end up thinking that Monday is a Saturday.

My activity plan for today is to cram as many unusual words as possible into my conversations. The first hurdle is to actually have a conversation. My dear husband is quite deaf and I find myself clearing my throat and wondering how to enunciate my words and phrase my sentences so that I won’t get “I canna hear you” each time I speak.

He accuses me of being like Gengis Khan when I shout and abuse him. I say he is a self-centred son of a bitch who is just not interested in me. I think that I am correct in this assumption because I have noticed that whenever someone else speaks his attention levels are high and, miraculously, he can hear.

So, unusual words…my online dictionary word of the day is Perforce which comes from French par force, "by force." But how would you get that into conversation? The dictionary example is “It will be an astonishing sight, should it come to pass, and even those of us who have followed every twist and turn of this process will perforce rub our eyes”. Eh?

Maybe I ought to have a different plan for the day because this one is obviously a non-starter (I was going to say that this plan is total bollocks, but one of my plans is to stop swearing).

I know. New plan - I will try to upset as many people as possible today. Now that IS an achievable goal. In fact I've already achieved it!

Wednesday 21 March 2007


I had the shock of my life yesterday when my daughter revealed that it was her 46th birthday. Who wants to be known as a person with a 46-year-old child? I ask you how un-cool is that? I think she must be lying to gain brownie points. She is trying to catch up with me?.

We “did lunch” with her 45-year-old sister and 27-year-old niece. Gosh, golly and all that jolly stuff. Because I now have all the time in the world I didn’t even have to marry the trip up with a quick dash into the supermarket. I will savour that treat for another day.

One complaint about the lunch, the large wine was smaller that usual. I did comment on this but our “server” snootily informed me that it was the standard 175 ml whatever that is. Is that like a half pint or something? I think the bitch should have given me 250 ml. I will obviously have to make up for this deprivation on Saturday.

One of the pleasures of lunching out is that I can normally turn it into a cook free day, but when I arrived home old grumpy cheerily announced that he had bought himself a steak pie from the butcher for his dinner. He was so pleased with himself for being so helpful that I didn’t have the heart to remind him that steak pies = turning on the oven and thinking what the fuck else do I do to go with it.

Then, unplanned and unannounced, the hoard arrived. My granddaughter and her two lively full on, in your face girls. My granddaughter announced that she was starving, (this is the said niece that had just lardy bloatered her way through lunch three hours earlier and is as thin as a pikestaff).

In a moment of weakness I offered to cook extra. I had a cunning plan. I had some prepared M&S new potatoes that I could just stick into water, but they wouldn’t realise that and they would be totally impressed with my laid back efficiency. Easy! Not so. Old grumpy saw the potatoes and asked for chips. And he doesn’t even do oven chips, only homemade. Damn, I had dug a hole for myself.

By the time I had slaved over a hot stove whilst trying to get the two girls to stop grinding biscuits and assorted goodies that old grumpy had plied them with into the carpet I was totally drained.

When they left old grumpy said “weren’t those girls great?” Yes, great for him who they love to bits, not so great for me who they hate. But I will have them to myself when I take them to Switzerland in the summer. What is it they say? Revenge is sweet when served cold (something like that anyway)

Tuesday 20 March 2007


DogLover yesterday asked a question of Lesley in the comments section and then satirically answered on her behalf. I don’t thing that DogLover has quite grasped the concept of blogging. Lesley, I am so sorry. This is inexcusable, inappropriate and, dare I say it racist.

I do happen to know that DogLover is truly a great admirer of Switzerland and everything Swiss. Now DogLover, please behave yourself and apologise to the nice lady.

Let me tell fill you in about DogLover. He is 8 years older than me but in fact quite juvenile. Before he retired he purported to be a “MEMBER OF THE ESTABLISHMENT” and was held in high esteem by his colleagues but really he was (an obviously still is) a very, very naughty little boy.

One time on a “guys trip to the Alps” he tried to persuade my husband to invent a jibberish language. To my husband’s horror the next couple that got on the train were subjected to the most appalling display of nonsensical behaviour from this pillar of respectability. Shameful.

However, he did introduce us to Switzerland for which we are eternally grateful so we tend to be more forgiving than we should be. He actually deserves a good slapping.

I have to say that he is probably a good example of our generation. As one friend put it last weekend “I realised that I had done the 3 score years and was now in the 10 and I wondered - what will I be when I grow up?”

OR – is DogLover masquerading as Lesley in the most heinous send-up in history? Nah, surely not! I think you’ve been rumbled mate!

Monday 19 March 2007


I have a full day ahead of me today. I have to get a new pad thingy fitted to the bridge of my glasses, take some paperwork into the solicitor, buy two birthday presents, a card and a loaf of bread, collect my OAP survival pills from the pharmacy and at 1140 I have an appointment with the dental hygienist to get my teeth spruced up. How will I fit this all in bearing in mind that I have to be back by 1300 for my lunch and then take a power nap this afternoon!! Sorry old grumpy, with such a busy schedule I may not be able to attend to your every need today

And I’m really looking forward to my lunch date next Saturday originally postponed because of man H5N1. For more on that read “Weekends? Abfab!”

My lunch date email this:

Be ready for a long lunch - this H5N1 business is a humungous story!!!!

All booked for 12.30 at Morgans next Saturday - including a LARGE glass of something!!!!!!! (To kill the bugs you understand!!!!!!)

Can't wait to see you

J xxxxxxxxxxx

Bring on Edina and Patsy again! And Morgans – hold on to your hat!

Sunday 18 March 2007


We have spent a weekend of pure nostalgia at a reunion of old friends, some we hadn’t met for 20 odd years. We had all lived nearby and, for various reasons, had moved to other areas.

I was very apprehensive. I thought “I probably wouldn’t recognise any of them if I walked by them in the street and I’m sure none of them would recognise this old biddy”. How wrong could I have been? Immediately we were together the years rolled away and we hugged, kissed, laughed and cried.

One friend had been in America for years and was now on the cusp of retirement. She had moved to the coast and was trying to persuade her 87-year-old mother to join her. Her mother would have none of it. She said: “no way could I move in with her. She has a lovely flat overlooking the sea, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, but I need my own pad”.

Another couple had, unbeknown to us, moved to our area several years ago, so we immediately exchanged ‘phone numbers and vowed to meet up somewhere locally.

Another exotic rabble rousing friend who had been in San Francisco during the flower power era, knew all the bands and pop stars of that time and some of this time, lived on three continents in mansions, semis, tepees and parks and was now contemplating the strange concept of retirement. How can an old hippy be expected to retire? What would she do with herself? Now that I understood!

Another had retired to Spain and was now involved in another business enterprise. The flesh was week but the spirit was willing and he couldn’t just lie around in the sun all day could he?
We reminisced on how life had been so great for all of us way back then and how we really hadn’t appreciated it until it was too late

But now we have email and things will be different. What a great thing this email is.

Friday 16 March 2007


Oh I’m in full flow today! This bloody government again. We have been invited to embrace the concept of fortnightly waste collection because our landfill sites are stretched to the limits. Apparently there are no health or environmental dangers in this, provided food waste is ”wrapped properly”.

So …..can someone please tell me what I am supposed to wrap my food in? Surely not the plastic bags that I, like the good citizen that I am, have militantly and aggressively been “persuading” checkout personnel not to foist on me by the million or the paper that I have diligently been recycling to reduce my global footprint (or some such claptrap).

And have rats and birds lost the art of scratching and pecking their way into the most resistant of receptacles, albeit that the contents are “wrapped properly”, to gain access to the tasty morsel within? I think not.

Also, surely fortnightly collections will be twice the volume - so how will this help anyway? IS IT ME?

Thursday 15 March 2007


Another memorable “meeting whilst travelling” was with a young and patently successful couple (judging by their expensive, understated clothes). She started the conversation with “Do you mind us sitting next to you or would you rather be alone?” “Please don’t worry if I start freaking out, 'plane travel panics me, but I’ll try not to disturb you”. With that out comes her laptop and she begins to tap away, I guessed to take her mind off of the journey.

I suddenly realised that I had left my ‘phone switched on and she heard me groan. She volunteered her husband to get my bag down from the luggage rack for me to switch it off, which he did.

I have a very old, very un-cool Nokia mobile that everyone is begging me to upgrade (especially the ‘phone companies). When she saw it she said “Look darling she’s got a ‘phone like you” and then to me “don’t ever think of changing it, my husband says it’s the most reliable ‘phone ever made” at which point he joins in the conversation and confirms “I would never dream of changing mine, the battery lasts forever, the functions are straightforward, the display is clear, it’s very robust and I only want to used it to make ‘phone calls - not to play games, take photographs, surf the net and stuff like that”. I was chuffed to bits especially when it turned out that he was an IT department head at one of the blue chip companies. Wow, vindicated again! I’m so clever. Question - so why does no one ever listen to me?

We delve deeper into each other’s lives. She is a natural sales person asking open questions and soon has me confessing “I’m trying to retire, but making a complete hash of things”.

More probing questions reveal that her mother was in exactly the same situation. Started a business from scratch, bought my new found friend into the business when she planned to retire but, in their case, it didn’t work. “It was her passion and her vision and I was never going to meet her expectations, she sold the company for loads of money. It was the best thing she ever did. Now she really enjoys her retirement.”

I explained that this wasn’t the case with us. Our successors do have the passion and vision (if anything more than us) and they are taking the business places we never imagined possible. The problem is entirely mine. We live next to the office and I’m nosy, demanding to be kept abreast of everything. Her next solution was “well you will have to move then”. If only life could be as simple as a conversation on a ‘plane.

Wednesday 14 March 2007


I meet some interesting people whilst travelling. Yesterday I got chatting to a 50 something lady at Geneva airport who had moved there on business five years ago. She loves it and would never consider living anywhere else. Switzerland is home. Eventually the conversation came around, as it usually does, to the “decline of Britain”.

She has two children who decided to stay in England to complete their education hence the reason for her trip. She is inspecting prospective Universities with her daughter who is studying medicine. Unfortunately, the prospect of the daughter actually plying her trade in Britain is nil. She intends to work abroad when qualified because the quality of life is better and she will probably not be offered a job in Britain anyway!

The son is at Loughborough University where that was a shooting last weekend in which six people were injured. It was at that point she rested her case and we boarded the plane to be parted forever.

Two lives that touched and bonded for a few minutes and so many questions unanswered. Who moved there on business, her or (if there was one) her husband? what business?, why exactly had the two children decided to stay in England? what is her new life in Geneva like? And many, many more.
Now I shall never know.

Monday 12 March 2007


I did a very “retired day out” thing yesterday. I went in search of a flower called Adonis that now only blooms for a few short weeks in early spring in the few acres around Charrat. The climate suits the flower and is unique to the area. Now that’s very exciting isn’t it? The worrying aspect of this is that I really enjoyed myself and actually photographed the flower!

I have a mad friend and neighbour who originally hails from Lancashire but has lived in these mountains for nearly 30 years. What she doesn’t know about these ‘ere parts ain’t worth knowing. And the best part is that she enjoys a drink or three.

We had a great laugh being very un-PC, not sticking to the path and stumbling across the hillside trampling on the rare flowers in glorious sunshine. Being retired is one thing, but us baby boomers need constant sensual stimulation and after a couple of hours I’d had enough and wanted feeding.

One thing I will say for the Swiss is that they can cook up a pretty decent meal. We decided to have a midday meal in a good restaurant we had been at last summer nearby in Saillon.

One of the best things about eating in the Swiss villages is that you can normally drink the wines of the vineyards around about. It makes the wine more interesting!
But if you want to have a peaceful meal don’t go with my mate. Before long she invariably has the patron and clients engaged in conversation and yesterday it was about wine. What was the legal amount that she was permitted to drink whilst driving? (As if she didn’t know!)

The Swiss are very pragmatic, especially in the villages and especially on this subject. She was immediately told “drink the bottle, there are no police on duty here today, in fact drink two!”. Call me suspicious if you like, but I suspect that either the patron or his diners may have shares in the vinyard! Either way we had a very pleasant lunch and drank only one small bottle of wine, most of which found it’s way into my belly.

More about Saillon, now there IS an interesting and tranquil place. We first discovered it when went to the mineral spa baths with the kids one summer.

The Dalai Lama originally opened the spa and must have a connection with the area. Unfortunately most of the information is in unfathomable (to me) French and I’m sure that it would be fascinating to know the whole history.

The Dalai Lama also planted a diddy vineyard on a hillside overlooking the village. It’s a place of great beauty and peace. Many famous people, including Princess Diane, have visited the there and you can read their wise thoughts on plaques displayed along the pathways.
The area was extremely poor in the 19thC and was home to a Robin Hood type hero called Farinet but instead of robbing the rich to feed the poor he forged money to feed the poor. is Naturally, he was protected by the local population. However, there was a bounty placed on his head and eventually some treacherous bastard ratted on him and he was shot by the constabulary. There goes that treachery thing again!

Sunday 11 March 2007


I have been at our “bolt hole” in Switzerland all week. We always loved the order and cleanliness of the country and used to regularly pile the grandkids into the back of the car for a cheap holiday when money was scarce.

In the summer rented mountain ski apartments were half price and we would walk the mountains, live on local produce and play pig in the evenings (pig is a story for another day). Everyone thought we were really rich, but we actually spent less than the average package holiday maker and probably had much, much more fun.

One memorable summer we spent the whole journey across France with the kids singing “I’m too sexy for my shirt”, followed by the “in” chant of time “Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut, McDonalds, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut, McDonalds ….. over and over until we were more demented than they were.

Anyway, during one trip to Verbier with 10 kids (not all bundled into the car, by the way. This trip was by plane) I went window-shopping for an apartment and decided we could just about afford a modest studio.

Trawling the net I came across a specialist site, got in touch and arranged to view some apartments. Our requirements were modest but top of the wish list was it had to have good views. We looked at several that I thought were fine, but Davy kept insisting the view wasn’t good enough.

Finally, in desperation, the agent said “If you want a view, I’ll show you an apartment with the best view in Switzerland but it’s much bigger than you want”. When we saw it we knew that this was the one. It has glorious views across the Rhone valley to the Monte Blanc Massif but, like he said, it was much bigger and far more expensive that we intended.

So, what to do? What we always do, go out on a limb. We went to see the bank manager who told us that the Swiss way was to buy the property on a 50 year interest only mortgage! We immediately made the decision that if we passed the credit checks (which we were convinced we would not) we would go for it. After all it wouldn’t be our problem, merely a problem for the kids after we’re gone! Amazingly we passed the checks, it was all done and dusted within 4 days and the rest, as they say, is history.

The downside of this tale is that property prices in Switzerland have remained stable for years. So guess what? As soon as we bought the apartment there was a property boom and prices doubled so that’s even more inheritance money that I have to squander before our heirs get their mitts on it. Problems, problems, problems. Life’s a bitch!

Saturday 10 March 2007


News item: increase in granny bikers - 60 is the new 30! I could have told them that. How much money did it cost to commission that survey? I’m more and more convinced that I should run everything. I’m so clever and knowledgeable.

Question? If 60 is the new 30 does that make 66 the new 36? I don’t think so. When I was 36 my body bent and my knees didn’t hurt, my memory didn’t let me down all the time, I was reasonably good looking and fun to be with, my hair was glossy and bouncy and I didn’t have these odd brown blotches on my skin. Oh well!

Davy and I looked forward to growing old together and wondered why some people were so obsessed with youth. Now we understand. It’s not always a vanity thing, it’s more practical than that. Bits don’t work any more, bits sag too much, most bits hurt, beds and chairs aren’t comfortable, food is boring, as are TV, films, books and people! No, this getting old is not the fun we thought it would be.

But, inside we are still the rock ‘n roll generation that saved the whale, claimed Che Guevara as our hero, waited expectantly for the revolution, revelled in flower power, embraced life, and had great hopes for the future. We are still waiting.

Friday 9 March 2007


I read compulsively. Yesterday she describes her feelings when her husband visits. I say “visits” because that’s what it is, a visit. He persuaded her that he would like to “live the dream” and live in rural Northumberland, moved the family and then stayed in the London that she loves. Now his position is untenable. He doesn’t even have the status of a sailor returning home from the sea because a sailor is at least returning to a home he helped set up.

This poor man has a mountain to climb and he doesn’t even seem to realise it. He has no sensibilities and thinks that on his rare trips to his rural paradise it is alright to sit in her chair at the table, take over the driving, remove keys from the ring because it makes the bunch too heavy, and interfere with routines so that the kids are late for a party. He has to sit down and evaluate where he’s at before there is no place for him at the table at all.

But, he does know that she is writing all this stuff so what’s it all about? Has he been seduced by her £70,000 book deal? He sounds like a politician to me! She talks about the family being a complex structure. Ain’t that the truth.

Thursday 8 March 2007


I’ve been trying to work out why retirement has been so traumatic for me. It may be because I’m nosy and can’t come to terms with being “out of the loop”. Or is it that I invested most of my life in my family and business and now half of my purpose for living has gone? Also my husband is attempting to retire too – a double whammy! I guess all of the above and much, much more. It has been pointed out to me that this is not just my problem. Apparently I’m causing mayhem wherever I go! Good.

My husband’s retirement plan is to build stuff. This seems a bit odd considering he was a builder in his former life and hated it. But he assures me that this is different. He will be doing it because he wants to not because he has to.

We have had plans drawn up to remove internal walls and the ceiling in the kitchen to create a huge vaulted kitchen, dining, living area with suspended walkway through to a new 1st floor bedroom suite. As if that’s not enough we have plans to build a swimming pool. And that’s just the beginning!

Is his secret plan to keep me occupied too because, unlike wifeinthenorth who has sensibly moved out whilst the builders demolish her house, we will live on site? Or is he trying to recapture our youth when we did this for fun? Every time we renovated a house we swore that we would never do that again, but here we are, raring to go and looking forward to disrupting our comfortable, boring life. Isn’t one definition of madness that you keep repeating the same mistakes but expect a different outcome?

I did initially think, ah! this is a good way to spend the inheritance money until I realised that it will increase the value of the house and they will still benefit. The plan to waste money on travel is not working too well either because the wretched airlines will only charged me £1 to travel around the world. Luckily the government is more co-operative and is obsessed with depriving heirs of their rights by taxing everything out of sight.

Tuesday 6 March 2007


At all three of our call centres infotel, findmeahotelroom and findmeaconference we are passionate about giving an “excellent customer experience”. I kid you not, it sounds cheesey but that's what strive to achieve. Our telephone systems intelligently recognise hoteliers, clients who have outstanding bookings, clients who have booked before etc and routes callers to, not only the right department, but the right person in that department. No infernal buttons to press and minimum wait time (like seconds not minutes/hours).

I, along with 100% of the human race, hate “sorry for asking you to wait for 16 hours, but your call is really important to us” call centres. So you can imagine my dismay and frustration when yesterday I spent all morning and most of the afternoon trying to conduct a transaction that had to be completed by close of business. If human beings had been involved it would have taken 2 minutes.

The problem, it appeared, was that “the system won’t accept your details”. GREAT. Just get a fucking form and write the information out in longhand until your IT department can give the system a beating so that it will accept my details! I kept getting the “I do apologise” guff. Don’t apologise just get the job done. It ain’t rocket science.

I finally had to threaten to get someone sacked and – guess what – it made no difference at all! “I do apologise that you feel that way madam, but we really are doing our best to resolve the situation”. My blood pressure went into outer orbit. Little old ladies like me should not be subjected to this life sapping debilitating bullshit.

Late afternoon I finally lucked on a saint. She imposed HER will on the sodding system and bludgeoned it to death. Job done in time for Coronation Street.

Monday 5 March 2007


MONDAY 05/03/2007

What do Maggie Thatcher, Tony Blair and I have in common? We are all surrounded by treacherous bastards who don’t appreciate how truly great we are! In my earlier incarnation when I was menopausal and having difficulties coping with the stresses and strains of business my husband would throw Maggie Thatcher up to me. “She is older than you, and she manages OK”. She was his inspiration on how I should be. I fell short on every count.

Mind you I think that Tony Blair does deserve to be shafted by the secret self-serving society that he has surrounded himself with. What’s that saying about those that live by the sword die by the sword? On the other hand Maggie and I don’t deserve this treatment. We really ARE great. There is another saying “the prophet is not recognised in his own land”. Amen.

This mornings’ early TV rant was directed at the “revamping of the benefits system” to force long term unemployed back to work. Forgive me for asking, isn’t it called Job Seekers Allowance? And if you don’t keep yourself available for work or refuse to take a job aren’t benefits stopped? When did that change? Is it me?

My great granddaughter is scarily saying things like “I used to watch this programme when was little” and on Saturday I had to beg the puzzled lady in McDonalds to take the kids meal out of the box and put it in a paper bag because the kid was “too old for a kid’s meal”. She is 5!
Talking about McDonalds my husband can’t get his head around set meals. If he wants a double whammy thingy burger with small fries and small coffee that’s what he actually wants. He doesn’t want to big up the fries or order a large coffee and only drink half because “it’s cheaper”. I know, he’s a very strange man. Are we family from hell? Don’t answer that!

Saturday 3 March 2007


  • My potential lunch date email this:-

    Sorry I was too late to reply to your earlier mail. Lunch today would've been great

    - apart that is from the "man thing" - Geoff's ill and Dad's ill (with the nasty little H5N1 plus 100 thing)

    - and when I say ill, I mean ill, ill - death's door - get their affairs in order quickly before it's too late ill.

    Nurse Jean is on the case - Boots the Chemist has nothing left on the shelves - and with the sympathy span of a gnat I have leapt into action. "Take it ......NOW" I yell and to add to the fantastic bed-side manner I say serenely "I had this at the beginning of the week AND I STILL WENT TO f******g WORK..........dear". (So in you own time - GET OVER IT!!!!)

    So as I say, lunch today would've been great!!!!

    Away for the next couple of week-ends - ICU patients allowing - but if a Saturday lunch is good for you how about 24th - that'd do me fine. If we're good on that let's chat location, location - if you're not let's chat date, date!

    Hope all's well with you and yours. So looking forward to seeing you again - see, this let's make a date is a great thing???!!!!


    Your friendly neighbourhood s**t specialist”
Now you have an insight into my life. We are Edina and Patsy (interchangeable) and our children/grandchildren/great grandchildren would not be seen dead with us.


This morning I come expectantly to my computer to read all the comments that have been posted on my blog. None. So apart from my IT darlings (who are not at work today) I’m still blogging to an empty world.

Come to mention it, I notice that IT only comment in my time, not their own. So….I have a cunning plan. To get their attention during working hours simply dis their site and work in my blog to get results. What a discovery! Are “Change Control Forms” a thing of the past?

OK, lets start. Ashley sent me info on how to promote my blog and a link to GREAT, but I’m an old woman who can’t even concentrate long enough to read instructions on IKEA stuff, so what chance have I got to understand all that guff? I need help – NOW! Like someone has to do it for me. Comprende?

But this morning has not been all disappointments. I did receive a great e-mail from my friend Jean to warn me “aliens are coming to abduct all the good looking and sexy people. You will be safe, I'm just emailing to say goodbye”. What can I say? I simply asked her to meet me for lunch before she goes, so hopefully we should be pissed by early afternoon.

Friday 2 March 2007


FRIDAY 02/03/2007

Old grumpy and I have a homely morning routine. I make the coffee and he drinks it. We then sit in bed and watch the morning news on TV.

Question? Have you noticed that the news repeats unchanged endlessly all morning, afternoon and evening and then, miraculously, between the hours of 2230 and 0600 new news happens? How is that? Do the news ants only work the night shift?

Anyway, I digress. We sit propped up on our pillows being comfy cosy together looking through our TV window at the horrifying, scary, witless, and soulless world. How did things get so bad? Every morning I find myself shouting and swearing at the TV, demanding to know how the idiotic Home Office has "lost" ANOTHER several hundred criminally insane prisoners. Trouble at the NHS? Throw another squillion at it. I tell you, I have invented swear words that a navvy would be proud of. But seriously, it really panics me to think of the gross inefficiencies in the public sector.

Now I'm no expert but we learned early on in our business that throwing money at a problem was not the answer. (Not that we had any to throw anyway). More money and people only serve to muddy the waters and inefficiencies can then hide from the light. Several times we have had to re-group, go back to basics and increase efficiency. That’s the only thing that works so why don't the reckless morons that run this country recognise that simple fact? I'm only a 'umble typist but they are supposed to be highly educated experts. I say bring back Maggie, now there was a lady.

Thursday 1 March 2007


THURSDAY 01/03/2007

I demanded “am I blogging to an empty world”? “Have patience” came the reply “write a few more blogs and then we will submit you to (an entirely incomprehensible name)” “Are you looking for comments then?” “Yes” “OK I’ll comment” said our ex-WWW ex-genius ex-employee.

Now, considering that I am joint MD (sometimes retired, sometimes not), a MAJOR shareholder and the brains behind this ‘ere international conglomerate (Infotel Solutions Ltd) I think that I am due a modicum of respect. Therefore when Ashley’s comments refer to the development of a foolproof system for management called the PHBM (pointy haired boss model) I feel, quite justifiably, miffed.

OK, so I did think that Stockholm was in Denmark, but any fool can make that mistake and it’s IT’s job to watch my back. That’s what I pay them for.

And talking of being miffed…. Today a group of my senior colleagues are on an “away day” to discuss strategic planning. That sounded very grown up and when I tried to blag my way into being included I was told I would be very welcome to “have lunch” with them. The word patronising sprang to mind but I refrained from wrecking the office, smiled sweetly and reminded myself not to get mad, but to get even. Be scared, be very, very scared.

Oh! Someone is in for a very bumpy ride today, and it ain’t gonna be me!