Monday 25 February 2008


More tales of unspeakably silly and frustrating bureaucracy. We have three properties on this site. Our originally house, a derelict black bungalow that we bought some years ago and the office. This has caused severe “bolt on, sod off” problems with the water and electricity authorities which goes something like this.

When we built the office we were told that there was only 1-phase electricity available. “OK” we said “we have 3-phase at the house can we swap them about” “Not possible” they said “but, you can build a sub-station at our own cost” “For our own unique supply?” “No, to service the whole area”. “But we are an International company that relies on a good electricity supply and Internet access, surely, there must be something that can be done. We are ecologically sound, employing and training 60 local people in new technologies in this rural part of Lincolnshire ” “Sorry, no can help”. Brick wall.

We then applied to the water authorities to have a separate water supply piped to the new office. All it required was for them to fit a meter and connect the new pipe to the mains at the top of our drive. We paid for this to be done and after several months of arguments, unfulfilled promises, lost paperwork (by them), people going off sick, varying opinions on how and when is should be done and how much it should cost, it was finally accomplished.

While this is going on we decide to have the old black bungalow electricity and water supplies disconnected. The place had not been used for years and until we ever get around to re-building it seemed silly to pay rates. After several months and many, many letters and phone calls this was also finally achieved.

Job done. We now have our main file servers off site in a secure location with reliable electricity and a backup generator in case of electrical failure, the office has its own billed water supply and the old black bungalow has had the electricity and water disconnected. Sorted! You reckon? Not a chance.

All three properties are now classified as unoccupied by both the electricity and water authorities and an old lady who has lived in a bungalow down the road for 47 years is having sleepless nights because her electricity is being charged to our old black bungalow and her house has also been classified as unoccupied. BUT, we are still getting our meters read and paying the bills! How does that work?

We have endeavoured, almost weekly, to get someone to listen to us and finally last Friday we thought the water authority part had been resolved. My colleague happened across someone who not only appeared to understand the problem, but was convinced it could be rectified. Together they went through the whole process and at the end of the conversation agreed it had been resolved.

This morning we received a notice referring to this conversation, confirming that the office is now classified as an unoccupied building. You couldn’t make it up could you? Hello! Is there life out there anywhere?


You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons

You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.


You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public then buys your bull.

You have two cows. You shred them.

You have two cows. You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.


Wednesday 20 February 2008


My toy boy reached the age of 65 last October. Recently his new Tax Coding Notification arrived but the IR had calculated that he had received state pension for 12 months instead of 6 months.

As he never taxes (geddit?) his brains with such trivia I ‘phoned the tax office, handed him the ‘phone to give his permission and to answer a couple of security questions, including his address, so that I could speak on his behalf.

The call centre operative was very efficient and assured me that this error would be corrected immediately, and I thanked her. That was easy.

“Before you go, can I check his address again please?” I repeated our address to her.
“That isn’t the address that I have on the screen”
“What address do you have on the screen?”
“I’m sorry, I am not able to tell you that”
“Sorry? But I don’t understand, all his correspondence from you comes to this address, how can you have a different address on the screen?”
“I’m sorry, I am not able to discuss that with you”
“Will you discuss it with my husband then?”
“No I’m not able to discuss it with him either”
“So, you have a different address that you are not allowed to divulge to us, but all his mail is coming to this address”
“Yes, but I will alter the address on the screen now”
“But that doesn’t make sense, how is the mail coming here if this isn’t the address you have?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you”

I woke up this morning thinking, this just isn't right. They must be breaking some sort of data protection law by not divulging this information. Should I ring up and demand they give me the information or do I do what I increasingly seem to be doing nowadays – just go WHATEVER and start screaming at breakfast TV again! I decide to go the “whatever” route. So the bastards have won again. I feel a Deja-Vu stress headache coming on!

While this was going on my husband received a call from the Radiologist to say that his kidneys could not tolerate the chemo, so we should expect a call from the surgeon to arrange a consultation within the week. Excuse me, fuck, fuck, fuck. Sorry about that. Now I guess we have more weeks to wait for an operation date.

On a lighter note I received a long, long email from my lovely loony friend entitled:


You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbour.

You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk

You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.

You have 2 cows. The State takes both and shoots you

You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away... (note from me - doesn't that sound scarily familiar?)

TO BE CONTINUED....................

Saturday 16 February 2008


This is a very poor photograph of the view from our window. The mountains in the background are the Monte Blanc Massif. A photograph cannot do this view justice, it is simply awsome.

The trip became even more interesting this morning when I backed into the car of a VIP jetsetting idiot who was driving an Alpha. I had a car full of children on the way to ski lessons, passed a parking space, glanced in my mirror to see that there was a car coming, but he could stop, backed only to find he was right up my backside. I had inflicted a tiny, tiny dent in his Alpha logo that you could only see because the dirt had been scrapped off, but you would have thought the end of the world had come. I let him dance around a bit while I calmly got the children dressed in their mitts and helmets, by then he had calmed down a bit and I gave him my business card. I then received a very civilised call from his English speaking friend and it was arranged that he would get an estimate from the garage and get back to me. I stressed that it was necessary to do this without delay because we are leaving on Monday, but so far no word. Hey ho!

Now that the skiing lessons are over the challenge is to entertain four little children who have had their entertainment stolen. There are too many of us to go anywhere by car and from early morning it became apparent that we were in for a bumpy ride today. The natives were getting restless. Solution, on the expection of receiving insurance money we decided to buy more entertainment and take them to McD’s! I know, I know, this is a very weak solution but, trust me, very practical. So my son-in-law has taken them to the shops to buy one new Nintendo and three new games (after the theft we were only left with three Nintendo’s and two games, a bad combination for four warring children). This afternoon, God willing, will be peaceful. At some point in the day we may walk them up to the village. There are several activities planned for this weekend, but it will be our luck that they are all totally unsuitable for children.

Since we left my dearly beloved had had a great week and I was beginning to think that I was the cause of all his troubles, but last night he was really unwell again. If only they would start the treatment we would feel he was on the road to recovery, in the meantime there is just this panicy feeling that this "thing" inside him is getting out of control. Scary. He should get the results of his kidney function test this coming week and then they may be able to start the chemo
Originally uploaded by anninfotel

Thursday 14 February 2008


Am I chuffed or what? MaggieMay has gifted me with another award. She is now officially my bestest friend.
I now humbly pass this award on to those far more deserving that me:-
Fully caffinated
Confessions of a rotten correspondent
Laughing alone in the dark
Big blue barn west
Famous for all kinds of wickedness
Mutley the dog
Red, white & Blue
Wayne Ashford Racing
And- who cares
Seven Year Itch

Wednesday 13 February 2008


The trip didn’t get off to a terribly auspicious start. First thing to happen was that my sister-in-law, after reassuring the checking desk clerk and the security gate man that she had no liquids in her luggage, was actually found to be carrying several items of liquid! After setting off the scanner, being frisked, having her bags searched, she finally had several items confiscated. Great.

While this was all going on my son-in-law waited patiently in charge of four excited little children. Then a message was announced on the tanoy asking him to go back to the bureau de change (located in the main passenger terminal) where he had left his credit card. Second great!

No problem on the plane, the children and adults behaved impeccably; took off on time, no problem; arrived Geneva, no problem; collected baggage, no problem; caught train on schedule, no problem; arrived at destination station,ah! problem. One item of baggage had been stolen. No only that, it was the item of baggage that contained all the children’s entertainment ie Nintenos, DVDs, Gameboy, etc. etc. In fact it turned out that £1600 worth of entertainment had been stolen! I said this was an obscene amount of money. In hindsight, that was probably not the most helpful thing to say at the time. Third great!

So - four over excited, hyperactive children are now trapped in an apartment with us without their accoutrements. Thankfully the weather is stunningly beautiful (as usual) and they are enjoying the skiing clases so there is respite for them and for us.

The first day was spent enrolling the children in the classes, getting them kitted out and reporting stolen items to the police. Yesterday we settled ourselves in and my son-in-law’s two brothers arrived. Today the three adult boys have taken themselves off skiing and the four little children are at ski school. At 1600 they all arrive back, together with son-in-law’s cousin, who is also coming to visit. Until this time my sister-in-law and I are enjoying the blissful peace.

Saturday 9 February 2008


I am such a saddo. I have received an award from MaggieMay and I am so delighted you wouldn't believe it.

I have been asked to pass it on and I nominate

Three Dog Blog
Reluctant Memsahib
Dulwich Mum
Mutterings & Meaderings
Crystal Jigsaw
Frog in the Field
Stinking Bill
Not Wrong Just Different

I hope you are all as chuffed as I was and ask that you pass the award on to your top 10 blogs.

Love, Ann xx

Thursday 7 February 2008


Some of my family escaped to France and sent me pictures of the two little ones having fun on the ice in the South of France.
Of the three children the little boy is the one who is having the most trouble adapting to the French school system. The oldest boy (not pictured because he loathes sport of any discription) is being "head hunted" by the maths teacher because he is considered to be a bit of a genius so he is acting very cool and waiting for a better offer. Good lad.
The little girl is a natural actress/performer and we are sure that one day she will be a great star, so each day is a production number in which she takes the main lead. There are other non-french speaking students in her class and they are all being given an intensive course in how to survive. She is always upbeat and optimistic and, I am sure, loves the attention.
Although the little boy is always laughing and appears to be outgoing he is actually quite shy. He is the only non-french speaker in his class and life is a little difficult for him at the moment. I'm sure he will overcome this, but our heart goes out to him at the moment.
Apart from this little wobble things are very new and exciting for the family. They are gradually working their way through French beaurocracy and loving every minute of it. Needless to say we miss them.
I am off to Switzerland for a week on Sunday with two grandsons, two great granddaughters, one son-in-law and his two brothers and my sister-in-law. This trip has been planned for some months and originally my beloved was coming with us but for obvious reasons he is staying behind. I had also dropped out until this week when it became "do-able" because there is a "window" between tests being finalised and chemo starting. So I am leaving him in the capable hands of the family and heading out for a mad week in the snow with two little girls who call me "Nanny Bully" and two little boys who are not totally sure about me at all! Should be fun.

Tuesday 5 February 2008


Originally uploaded by anninfotel

This is the box that they bought my new spiral staircase in! I thought that it was way too small to house a big staircase, but it's like the tardis. Bit by bit they unpacked it and - wadoyuknow, there it was! It will soon transport me between my wonderful new bedroom and a huge dressing room upstairs. Victoria Beckham eat your heart out.

Now I'm off to take one of my daughters to the hospital to get her leg plastered up (Dr. speak - "you've done your ligament in"- I can remember a time, not so long ago, when doctors were articulate and well educated). Oh what an exciting, exhilarating life I lead.


One of the news headlines this morning was “shock horror” an MP has been bugged by the security services whilst speaking to a terrorist suspect in prison, This, apparently, is not allowed because MPs are afforded special protection from bugging under the Wilson Doctrine. Excuse me? Wasn’t Harold Wilson the Prime Minister that security services suspected of being a Russian spy? No wonder he introduced this “doctrine”.

And if us mere mortals can be bugged why should MP’s be exempt? They are the most disreputable bunch of no-good tossers that ever walked this earth. There, now I’ve upset myself again.

A second news item was that the 600-year old tradition of pancake racing at Rippon Cathedral has had to be abandoned this year because they couldn’t find enough volunteers to a do a risk assessment. Scream, scream, pull hair out!

And on a more random note - Ernest Hemingway made a $10 bet that he could write a complete story in 6 words. He wrote - For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. My life in 6 words? I came, I saw, I failed. Only kidding.

Saturday 2 February 2008


So, we take one step closer to "the treatment plan". The most likely scenario is that "my darling husband" formerly know as "old grumpy" will have a 3 to 4 month course of aggressive chemotherapy followed by surgery. The first stage of this is to test easly next week that his kidneys can cope. If it proves that his kidneys are up to the job the chemo to start within days. If not they will go directly for the operation.

One of the specialists who will be treating him said "we are going for a cure here" and as "old grumpy" (sorry, habit) will be in the care of one of the best teams in the country there is no reason to doubt this statement. However, until we get to "the cure" life will be very rough for him. As one of our medical friends put it "bladder cancer is a vicious disease".

In the meantime, bizzarely, life goes on. This morning we took delivery of our "loop" radiator for the en suite in our newly built bedroom which is within weeks of being finished. That only leaves several months work to finish the new kitchen/family room and then on to refurbish the part of the house we are living in now! Still it gives us something to look forward to. As my old Dad used to say "the only good thing to say about banging your head against a brick wall is that it feels so good when you stop".