Category Archives: Uncategorized

It’s Monday and I’m Back to Work

I’m not sure if I mentioned the customer who contacted us last week. We had sent him a refund after he had waited for his parcel and opened a case on eBay. Despite their assertion they were making allowances for the delays caused by Royal Mail disruption, they haven’t been particularly flexible and we have refunded around £1,000 to date. Fortunately, this customer , having had his medallion, was an honest man and emailed to ask how to pay. This was particularly welcome as it restores my faith in customers. He was American and, though it pains me to admit it, Americans are, in general, more honest than the average European.

We had a real classic this afternoon. Two months ago we had a customer order a medallion and then, just after we had posted it, ask to cancel as he hadn’t read the details properly. We told him that he could return it for a refund, and he did that. He returned it and had a full refund. I would have refused to refund the postage but the owner doesn’t like to quibble and stood the loss of the postage (which was actually the fault of the purchaser, who didn’t read the details properly.

Late this afternoon we had an email from the customer telling us he had been checking on his recent transactions and he has not received his medallion. He either wants the medallion or a refund. He’s out of luck, because we have, as I said, already refunded him. This what happens when you give good customer service.

He has now had an email telling him what the situation is. Hopefully this will jog his memory and he will leave us alone. Sometimes these things happen.

Currently we are waiting for snow, ice, frost, rain or just a coldish spell. What ever it is, we are on the edge of it and the weather forecasters aren’t very precise about what to expect. I have the cover on my windscreen and a hot water bottle ready for bed.

Old Breakfast, New Trousers?

It is Sunday breakfast time and the dress code is relaxed. In other words, I haven’t put my trousers on yet. My balance improves as I move around and I find that optimal time for putting on trousers is about half an hour after getting up. In addition, I need to measure them to check the size of a pair of new trousers. You would think that i was easy enough to buy new trousers in he digital age, jus press a button and reorder the ones you had last time. Or the ones you had last time with (possibly) a slightly larger waist. But no, there are always new styles and gaps in the old range. Nothing is simple these days. The current set I am examining have the same size waist as my old ones but the legs are an inch longer and the pockets are almost impossible to unbutton. As the old trousers had legs that were slightly too long, and I have arthritic fingers, neither variation is ideal.

I am now going to put my trousers on and start making breakfast as I can hear Julia moving about. Sunday breakfast usually involves a frying pan and the use of trousers in this scenario makes a great deal of sense.

It will be our healthy vegetarian option with bacon and black pudding garnish. We have some leftover black pudding which is hovering on the edge of perdition and if you have that, you may as well decorate with bacon. Scrambled eggs, toast, tomatoes, beans and mushrooms complete the meal. We have some big mushrooms so I am going to slice them and do them in the frying pans which puts the dark lines on things. There is a chance this breakfast could look quite good, which is more than you can say for the cook.

McDonald’s Breakfast


Old Age and Brainpower

As usual, there is much to write about, and, as usual, I’ve forgotten most of it.

I know there was something interesting to tell you, and a few other things that weren’t quite so riveting. Ah well, they say the first two signs of old age are poor memory and . . .

. . . I’m sure I’ll remember the other.

Sorry, it’s an old joke, but I have nothing better to offer.

I’ve just been reading a book on how to write poetry, It should have been subtitled “Or why self-publishing is dangerous“. It enables people who have lots of confidence, a few published poems and a couple of college courses to write books about how to write mediocre poetry. I can write mediocre poetry, I was hoping to read about how to write good stuff. There are always a few pointers you can pick up from a book like this but t is irksome to pay money for mediocrity.

I also bought a book of monostich poetry. Well, you have to keep learning, don’t you. 50 poems, each of one line. It cost 49p, so it wasn’t a fortune. On the other hand, it did highlight the perils of one-line poetry. There’s a type of haiku, which is often called a monostich or a monoku. One term is imprecise and the other is probably grammatically offensive to scholars of Japanese, but it’s all we have, unless you prefer “haiku written in one line”. I thought I’d have a look at it in more detail. It’s never too late to learn something new, even if it is that one line poetry is often a let down.

I just remembered one of the things I was going to say. A quiz question last night  (final round of Pointless) wanted three obscure publications of the Bronte sisters. I said Villette, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I’m always worried about Villette because I wonder if I’m confusing it with the novel by Churchill, or Disraeli. However, I was correct – Villette and Agnes Grey were both pointless answers. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is slightly better known. I did know there was another less known one but couldn’t remember it. It is Shirley.

Churchill’s novel is Savrola. Disraeli wrote Vivian Grey and Sybil – close but not quite the same.

My point? I know the names of most of the Bronte novels, but have only ever read Jane Eyre, which convinced me never to read another. I have never even picked up Churchill’s novel or any by Disraeli. This highlights the difference between knowledge (which I have) and education, which I do not. So I  bought The Canterbury Tales for my Kindle. You know where you are with Chaucer, even if you don’t know all the words. I will never be as well read as Derrick Knight, but I still have time to expand my mind.

Jewels Amongst Customers

After yesterday’s rant, it seems only fair to report that we had an email from a satisfied customer today. He was impressed with the quality of packing and the speed of the service. Sometimes we do get it right. We get positive feedback via eBay all the time but much of it is meaningless. It’s all part of the artificial “have a nice day” culture we have imported from the USA.

Along with Pollyanna and cosmetic dentistry, it has never caught on in Europe and reference to Wikipedia reveals that I’m not the only one who has negative feelings about the use of the phrase.

I had to laugh as I researched it. As with so many “new” “Americanisms” it comes from the UK, and is first recorded in 1205 and was frequently used by Chaucer in the 14th Century. However, there are many things in Chaucer that wouldn’t fit in the 21st Century, so that is not necessarily a recommendation.  It’s amazing how many things turn out to be our fault.

Anyway – feedback on eBay is such that any average service (such as putting a properly described item in an envelope and sending it by post after taking money for it) is described as “positive”. Surely it is what you should expect and is more properly described as “normal”, “average” or (in modern eBay usage) “neutral”.

It is always nice to get a message from a happy customer, despite us just doing our job.

Then we had an email from a customer who we had refunded last week, much against our wishes, but he insisted instead of waiting. He told us the item had arrived and that he would like to pay for it. This is unusual. Normally they just keep it and ignore us.

The payment came in just before the end of the day. He is American, by the way. When I do the emails tomorrow morning, would it be hypocritical of me to thank him and tell him to have a nice day?

Another 15 minute Post

We had to refund £250 at the end of last week and £350 this morning. One of the packages is stuck in customs in Italy, and for the last three weeks has been within 20 miles of its final destination but he customer has been complaining and eBay has refunded him despite the recent difficulties and the obvious looming problem. Yes, it will be delivered soon, so the Royal Mail insurance won’t pay out, the customer will “forget” to pay and eBay will wash their hands of us.

It’s he same story for our Malaysian parcels – they have been in the UK as part of the massive backlog from the cyber attack, and is still showing as in transit – one parcel being in Milton Keynes and the other slightly further along the chain. But these are exceptional times and as we can prove they are on the way I don’t see why we should suffer. Yes, it’s irritating for the customers, but in the end i’s not our fault. Patience would not hurt.

However, things are a little different this time as I am recording all the details so we can chase up the issues with the local police. I doubt it will help, but it’s worth a try. I’m fed up with people pulling this one, and thinking we are too stupid to spot it. It’s usually too small a sum to be worth chasing up but in this case they are big enough to warrant taking time over following up.

We have another one active at the moment too –  and he wrote to tell us that he has had two parcels through from the USA recently so doesn’t understand why his parcel from us hasn’t got there. Let’s see . . .

Royal Mail is targeted by Russian criminals for a cyber  attack and their woeful lack of cyber security is exposed. They make heavy weather of the recovery. We have mail in the system and  can’t do anything about i. Meanwhile, a totally different country, with no problems, is able to process its mail efficiently. Apart froma customer who is clearly unable to process logical thoughts, tghe two things have nothing in common.

Pah! Is all I can say.

Eighteen minutes – not too bad . . .

Magical Worlds Stamps

One of Life’s Downs

ll lives have ups and downs, and yesterday was, I admit, a down. I did not submit a single piece during the month of February. The fault lies with me being lazy and disorganised. I’m not happy that I allowed it to happen but I’m finding it remarkably easy to bounce back. I am, after all, accustomed to being lazy and disorganised, and experience shows that I will gain nothing from being dramatic about it.

Last month is over. Next month is a whole new month, and there are at least six opportunities, probably more if I start looking. I have been getting into a rut lately so it’s probably good to have a shake up.

This month I don’t have a presentation to give at the Numismatic Society,so I have no excuses for not getting on with writing.

For now, however, I have washed up, eaten breakfast and watched |TV – my normal sort of Wednesday morning. Julia is off to lunch with friends soon and I will be accompanying as chauffeur. Not sure hat I’ll be doing for lunch but this afternoon I will be doing some planning and writing, followed by preparing tea and doing a little more writing and some TV viewing. It’s not a punishing routine, but I thought I’d work my way into it gently.

The forsythia has started to flower, and I can see a mass of yellow from my seat. As today is the first day of meteorological Spring, it’s a good day to see it. Poetry today is going to feature blossom quite heavily (it’s one of the penalties of writing nature poetry – it’s easy to find a cliched subject). I ill have to try to find a new way to write about it.

Time to go now. I will be back later to report on progress. The picture is one from stock, and a little optimistic.


Something I Forgot

I forgot to tell you the most interesting bit of the day on Sunday. I got home, tried to ring my sister to check she was home safely, and found that I had no phone service. No telephone, no texting and a big notice telling me there was no network service. This was still the same when we went to bed, and still the same when we got up next day. Julia had the day off, so while I dressed and made breakfast she checked in with my phone provider. No help. They reported no faults and suggested she contacted the airtime provider. They, in turn, suggested turning it off nd turning it back on.

It’s like something out of a joke isn’t it?

But it worked.

21st century technology which includes, if you bother to use it (guess who doesn’t?), enough technology to fly you to the moon. And it responds to the old switch off/switch on method, which is little better than the way we used to slap the side of the Tv to correct faults.

I now have four and a half hours to submit four sets of poetry. I think tomorrow’s blog may be a selection of excuses. Sometimes you jut have to rest and regroup. I’m going to be washing up and cooking for the next hour or so, which leaves three and a half hours. I may as well skip the poetry and just start writing the excuses.

Talking of which, I can smell burning, so I’d better go and prod the potatoes.

The picture is Trinity Bridge in Crowland. It cropped up in conversation recently.

Trinity Bridge – Crowland, Lincolnshire

A (Mostly) Relaxing trip

I’m getting too old for sitting in a car for hours. It’s not as if it’s even  long journey but by the time we got home on Sunday night I felt like my back had changed shape permanently. It still does. I’m going to have to start doing some stretching exercises.

Apart from that, I didn’t do much. I was just there to drive Julia who was intent on doing family stuff like visiting and being pleasant. I quite like my family (I’m not a monster, after all) but I don’t require them to be in touching distance.

If you ever find yourself in Norwich on a Sunday morning I can recommend the Rushcutter’s Arms. The portions aren’t huge and their “sourdough” toast is disappointing for a number of reasons (mainly lack of size and lack of actual sourdough), but it’s good food, served professionally and the portion sizes are probably OK for most people.

Apart from that, not much happened. We had tea and sandwiches at Waitrose in Swaffham. They cost slightly less than an arm and a leg (but not much) watched rugby on Saturday, ate Number One Sons Jambalaya, watched “Military Wives” on TV in the hotel (script could have been better and Kristin Scott Thomas had to do much of the heavy lifting for the rest of the cast) and spent a night on a hard bed. I like my own familiar bed. On Sunday we had porridge made in pots we had bought from the supermarket, loafed around for a couple of hours, had brunch (as mentioned), went to a crowded Country Park (everyone wanted to get outside for the first nice day of spring) and pottered home.

Not bad, apart from my back, and a useful reminder about doing more exercise.

A Bad Start . . .

Today started badly when I woke up at 4.30 am in my chair. Normally Julia wakes, realises I am not in bed and wakes me up. Today she slept. It could have been worse, at least I was generally fit and well, and the fire was on so I was warm. I was, in fact, warmer than I had been for much of the evening.

Later, after almost three hours in bed we had a milkless breakfast, due to our inability to  buy milk on the way back from work, we walked out to find the remains of a McDonalds spread across the road. We have had problems with this before. A few months ago we had a run of littering that followed the same pattern. It’s always at the same point in the road, give or take a few yards and it always involves paper bags, lettuce and pots of sauce. It also involves all our other neighbours ignoring the mess, even though it is actually in front of their house, not ours. Experience shows that if we don’t move it, it will spread all over the road as cars drive over it, so it’s easier just to clear it.

Could things get worse? Surprisingly, they didn’t seem to. My car went into the garage today and, for instance, only needed one new tyre rather than the expected two. And while they were doing that they checked the others and found a  nail in one, so they repaired the hole. As we will be driving several hundred miles tomorrow, this is a good thing to find. All in all, I am chalking this up as a day that ended well, despite n unpromising start.

The pictures – just random, I’m afraid.

Sciatica, Sensitivity and Strange Collapses

I have just spent the last few weeks shaking off sciatica. I have been lucky as it was only really bad for a few of days and I was able to work out the likely cause and a possible solution. So far, the solution (padding on my typing chairs) seems to be working. I’m also walking round instead of sitting all the time and limiting my typing time in the evening. It’s not 100% gone but it’s gone for 95% of the time and the severity is much reduced.

As that declined, I found myself becoming more agitated about Roald Dahl and the Sensitivity Readers. The more I read about it, the more I realise it’s about money and pushing an agenda rather than real sensitivity, and when I see that Matilda’s favourite authors have been changed from Conrad, Hemingway and Kipling to Austen, Hemingway and Steinbeck I find myself completely lost.

I don’t understand why Hemingway is seen as more sensitive than Conrad and Kipling. And I don’t understand why Austen and Steinbeck are considered adequate substitutes. Dahl presumably wanted to portray Matilda as a girl who enjoyed reading the sea stories of Conrad, a Polish emigre who had been persecuted by Russian invaders and taught himself to write classic works in English. The revision sees he as a girl who enjoys reading the mannered stories of jane Austen –  undoubtedly a writer of great stature, but not at all the same. As for Steinbeck, I don’t know what to say. It just seems a random selection, probably from an American reader, as he doesn’t feature heavily in UK reading lists.

And then we have the drive . . .

Our drive adjoins the drive of the people next door. The previous people damaged the edge of ours when they had their new one laid and the present people tend to catch ours as they swing into theirs. It’s one of those things that is no big deal, but just a minor irritant of suburban living.

Yesterday morning we stepped out to go to work and found that the cast iron drain cover in the drive has collapsed. It’s been cracked for years, but I never drive over it, so I’ve never done anything about it.  I think that the neighbours have driven over it as they swung in and it has collapsed. However, it may have simply collapsed under it’s own weight, or the footsteps of a passing fox may have been the last straw. We will never know. All I do know is that they rushed past us last night without stopping as they took the dog for a walk, which is suspicious behaviour. . .

I’m currently waiting for quotes, which are, no doubt, going to look more like ransom demands than the bill for a simple repair job.