Tag Archives: Britannia

Insurance, Illusion and Infamy

Also see here.

Insurance, you say?

When I took on breakdown cover from Green Flag just four years ago, it cost me, as I recall, about £60. The AA were asking a lot more. I think it was about £250, though it may have been more. That was my “reward” for being with the AA for 38 years. When I rang to complain about their new member prices a few years previously  they basically told me to get lost, as there was no reduction for me, just a lifetime of servitude as a cash cow. I put up with it a while longer, as I am always a little afraid of changing insurance companies, but their prices rose and my standard of living fell, so I had to do something.

When I rang to cancel they offered me a better deal, based on the same deal they were currently doing for new members. I told him they should have thought of that when I had originally asked, as they had now pushed me to the point of no return.

Green Flag, which I have used to help with tyre changes twice in four years has been good, but they have doubled in price in four years, well ahead of the rate of inflation. This is even more noticeable as i hardly use the car these days.

St George – enamel on a Crown coin

I am now with Britannia, who are providing my cover for £99, about £30 less than Green Flag. Ironically, the AA, which does not seem to have gone up over the years, has a half price offer on and would have provided this cover for £110 – slightly less than Green Flag. Even the full rate appears to be lower than the price I paid four years ago. I won’t, of course, go back to the AA at the moment, because I’m still annoyed with their piratical pricing practices. The RAC has just had an offer that came in around the £99 mark. In their case I passed because I had arranged to transfer to them but they didn’t contact me to arrange it at the agreed time. You don’t want breakdown insurance with a company that might forget you, do you?

Something I find very interesting is that both the AA and RAC have comparison websites to telll you how much better they are than Green Flag and Britannia. I take these sites, and the special offers, to mean that more and more people are buying on cost these days.

When I told Green Flag I would not be renewing, guess what they said? Yes, straight from the playbook – they could reduce the price for me if that would get me to stay.

Car insurance companies are now supposed to offer the same price to existing customers as they do to new customers. This doesn’t seem to be the case with breakdown insurance. In fact I just looked this up – the new rules apply to car and household insurance, but testing the market still seems to indicate that you can get a discount by shopping around.

I remember a cartoon from many years ago – one City banker saying to another, “No, they didn’t banks can “police” themselves, they said banks can “please” themselves.” Same, I suspect, for insurance companies.

It was the Alex strip in The Independent but I can’t find the actual cartoon. Some of these are quite funny too. And these. And these . . .

St George – enamel on a Crown coin

Soup, Squash and Stings

Julia walked down to the local shop this afternoon and on the way back an insect (a wasp or bee we think) flew in between her glasses and her face, got stuck, panicked and, as she tried to get the glasses off, stung her just below the eye.

She is currently swollen, uncomfortable and nursing a grudge against all winged insects.

I made roasted butternut squash for tea and we had a tuna mayonnaise sandwich with it, but it doesn’t seem to have made her feel any better. It’s automatically elevated as it’s her head, I have administered antihistamine cream and painkillers and I can do no more.  I did offer her a cold compress but it was declined.

I’m not sure how it will go tonight, as she is clearly going to have trouble if she tries to sleep on her left side.

It was a simple soup, by the way – roasted squash, softened onions, water, stock cubes and garlic. I don’t subscribe to all these recipes with cream and butter and other stuff.

Fortunately, the rest of the day was better. I wasn’t keen on the bit where they had five unsuccessful attempts at taking a blood sample (I’m off to phlebotomy on Friday morning – they will get it) but it improved after that – picked up my pills, went to work to pick up my phone (I’d left it there last night) and had lunch at KFC. In the early evening my new medication arrived by courier and the ASDA delivery arrived promptly and without substitutions. This is more than you can say for recent TESCO deliveries, which have been annoyingly patchy and badly organised.

That’s about it really. I had intended transcribing a lot of poetry from my notebooks to the computer but I ended up watching TV instead. It’s not one of my favourite jobs and I always seem able to find something as a displacement activity. I have plans for a lot of submissions next month (which is just seven minutes from the time of writing) and need to up my game.

The picture is an 1806 farthing of George III – just a random coin picture from the year that saw the funeral of Admiral Nelson, the death of Pitt the Younger and the Delicate Investigation into the life of Caroline of Brunswick, who was a problem Princess of Wales.  Some things, it seems, don’t change.

Reverse of the 1806 farthing – note that Britannia now has a trident in place of her spear – a symbol of growing Naval power.

Day 24

Years ago, when Russia invaded Afghanistan (oh,  life seemed so simple in those days) someone put a letter through my door, detailing the seriousness of the situation, the fact that I may be needed to answer my country’s call, and various other semi-official hings. I was feeling quite concerned until I got to the final sentence – “Due to recent cut-backs in Defence spending, we would be grateful if you could provide your own gun.”

I never found out who sent it, but it was amusing at the time. Less amusing now, after British troops have died in several wars because they didn’t have enough equipment.

The writing is still going slowly. This post has taken me half an hour already, though a lot of that has been checking the internet for “research”. As for the poetry, it’s hard to write when you are asleep in font of the TV.

It’s not so much a case of writer’s block (which I am convinced does not exist) but a case of bad sleep habits and lack of focus. If I stayed off eBay and got to bed at a decent time I would be able o write more prolifically. Simple really – there’s only so much time in a day and you have to use it wisely. Over Christmas I allowed myself to stay up later and that led to me sleeping in late, meaning I felt wide awake at bedtime. Or sleeping in front of the TV, with the same result. That, in turn, meant I wasn’t sleeping enough at nights and when I went back to work I found I’d established a bad habit. Why are they always so much easier to establish than good ones?

Anyway, that’s enough words. I’m off to bed now before I get my second wind and start doing something else instead of sleeping.

There have been some great sunrises on the way to work recently (admittedly interspersed by some miserable grey ones). The picture is one I took a few years ago.

We have ben spotting a cormorant regularly on the way to work too. It seems to take up position on a lamp post and gaze down at the canal. We have seen it perching, and flying to its perch, but have not yet seen it fish in the canal.

I went through 1,500 photos without finding a cormorant, but I did find these photos of silver Britannia coins, taken a few years ago. Somehow, I just couldn’t get the balance right last time I photographed a new set we had for sale. Maybe my camera is wearing out, or maybe I am . . .

Silver Britannia coin

Silver Britannia coin

Silver Britannia coin

Silver Britannia coin

Silver Britannia coin


Distressing Devilment and Diabolical Deliveries

Where do I start?

Last night I came home to find a card through my door telling me that Royal Mail had tried to deliver a parcel, but as it needed signing for they had taken it back to the depot to await further instructions. This was irritating as I’d instructed the auctioneer who sent it to send it to the shop, and he had confirmed he would. There should have been no need for me to collect it.

There were two books waiting for me, but I’m going to gloss over that as I really don’t need more.

At 5.10,  well inside the planned delivery window, Currys arrived with their delivery. This was good, and one less thing to worry about. It was also a demonstration that Currys do get some things right.

We rose at 6.30 next morning, one of us being quite unhappy with the situation, and the other being grumpy because she had had no breakfast.

When we walked to the car all the windows were down. This has happened before. It has even rained in before, as it had done this morning. Fortunately a quick wipe and the heated seats soon cured the damp. I finally got round to Googling it later in the day. There are two causes – faulty wiring or pressing the unlock button by accident – if you have the keys in your pocket, for instance. Last night I sat down with the keys in my pocket so this is a likely scenario. I’m hoping it won’t happen again.

The parcel was  duly picked up. As I waited I struggled not to strike up a conversation with the next man in the queue. Generally I find this quite easy. But I’m generally not stood next to a man with a head full of metal and mutilations. He had massive earlobes with rings in, a row of studs doen the centre of his head and two “horns” built up under the skin of his head. I was impressed by his dedication to ugliness, but also slightly repelled.

It was disappointing to walk out of the office and watch the spawn of Satan drive away in a Peugeot 208. It’s practical for commuting and great round town, but when you think End of Days you don’t really think Peugeot.

Julia cheered up after we stopped for breakfast. We don’t usually have McDonald’s twice in a week – honestly!

At the surgery I picked up my replacement prescription, and, the “lost” prescription tucked in it, though slightly messy. I suspect they had a good look for the lost one and found it before deciding to irritate me further by giving me both.

Of course, if I now take it into the surgery they will accuse me of having had it all the time.

I dropped Julia off at work, went to work myself, did some parcels, put a few things on eBay and did a bit of admin.


Silver Eagle, Silver Britannia

An Amazon driver came to drop something off for me but had to ring to find where I was – it seems they aren’t trained to look at shop fronts and spot the numbers.



One tenth of an ounce of 22 carat gold – A £10 Britannia and a $5 Coin – the stated face values have little to do with the gold content and the exchange rate is not accurate either

When I got into the car at 4pm, the quiz show I had been listening to in the morning was being repeated. I had to listen to 15 seconds that I’d heard in the morning, and after that I was able to listen to the parts I’d missed when I’d switched off the car in the morning.

I’m now waiting for the people next door to come home because they have a parcel for me – the Amazon system went wrong somewhere, I was sure I’d asked for a delivery to work, but the system shows I ordered it for delivery to the house. It’s a cheap camera case so I don’t know why they just didn’t leave it in the porch like they usually do.

Today’s coins are from a couple of sets produced by the Royal Mint – gold in 1997 and silver in 2003 – with blurb about friendship between nations. The coins are decent enough – Philip Nathan has done some great Britannia designs and the Walking Liberty by Saint-Gaudensis an all time classic coin design. The branding, on the other hand, could do with some work. Words like Ladies, Freedom and Liberty are usually associated with products other than coins.


The Captains and the Kings depart…

This morning I stood in a queue with a lot of old people and a medic with a cough stabbed me in the arm with a flu vaccination before saying: “Really, I’m too ill to be in work today.”

Just what you want to hear at this time of year.

That, of course, wasn’t the worst thing that happened today. England threw the Rugby World Cup away.

Work was work. Good in places.

When I got home from work there was an ambulance parked outside the house almost opposite. The man who lives there is younger than me and is on his last lap with prostate cancer, so even losing the rugby recedes into perspective.

The coins are from a set made in 2006 using the Britannia silver bullion coin as a base and adding gold highlights.

It is made from .958 silver (known as Britannia silver) rather than the more normal .925 Sterling silver. This standard was used in Georgian times for silver items to stop silversmiths melting down coins as their raw material, coins being .925 silver (as they remained until 1919)

Britannias are pleasant enough but have no real history as they are yet another invention of the marketing department at the Royal Mint.