Greg's Occasional News & Views

4 August 2019

Good week on the whole – we baby sat one of our favourite canine companions for an over-nighter while his parents were away, there’s been good progress on the building, we are close to a resolution of the Mystery of the Missing Medications, the Conservatives lost a by-election and now have a working majority of just one and, although we had some genuinely crappy weather in the early part of the week, the picture has steadily improved with some warm sunshine towards the end of the week. We must be grateful for small mercies.

Bertie is a spaniel of some description who lives a couple of doors down who has been to visit several times before. Usually it’s just during the day when both his parents have to be out for an extended period. This time, though, he came for an over-nighter while his parents were away at their daughter’s graduation ceremonies on the South Coast. He’s a lovely friendly young man and Jessie simply adores him – someone she can boss around for a change, I guess. He is though, as many spaniels seem to be, utterly obsessed with his ball, chasing and fetching at every opportunity. He carries it around with him constantly and unless you physically take it off him and hide it somewhere he will pester you to death! It does mean, I guess, that he is extraordinarily obedient – all you have to do is carry the ball and he will follow you anywhere.

Good building progress this week – we had plasterers here for much of the week boarding out the ceiling. Now that that’s all been done you get a real feel for what the room is going to look like when it’s finished – very nice. Spacious and airy.

This week is supposed to be when they break through into the “old” kitchen which will be when things start getting a bit more difficult. We will lose a couple of kitchen cupboards so they all have to be emptied and their contents stored somewhere where we can conveniently forget them. And, we will lose the kitchen sink. Washing up will need to take place in the Utility Room which means that area needs to be cleared out and tidied up as well! Still, it’s progress.

When our dear friends the Boyntons were visiting back at the end of June, Leca unfortunately left her medication behind when they set off to visit Paris for a few days. No worries, we confidently exclaimed, we’ll have it couriered to you overnight. So, we parcelled it all up and Adam kindly delivered it to a DHL Service Point in Banbury. Unfortunately, we missed the deadline for next morning delivery but we were promised that it would be delivered the next day by early evening. We sent the Boyntons a message with the tracking information and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.

You can probably guess the next chapter in this saga – the parcel did not arrive in Paris the next day nor the day after that, nor the day after that ad nauseum. In fact, the parcel was stuck in Oxford – as it was medication and was clearly labelled as such, it needed to be accompanied by a prescription. Sadly, no one at the Service Point had made this known to us or we would have kept it – Chip and Leca were coming back to London after a couple of days in Paris and we could have delivered it personally. So, poor Leca was without her medication until she returned to Boston, more than a week after leaving it behind.

I got on to DHL and explained the sorry saga to their customer service representative. They were, obviously, very sorry for the distress caused and were at pains to point out that this was well below their usual standard of service. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do anything to rectify the situation until the parcel was “off their network.” So, after another week or so it eventually arrived back with me, a mere two weeks after it was supposed to have been delivered.

Then began the long discussion with DHL about a refund for the service they failed to provide. Back and forth we went until eventually, and very reluctantly, they agreed to refund the amount we had originally paid to have it delivered. I then pointed out that I had spent about 40 minutes on the phone trying to get the issue resolved and I would quite like to have my costs refunded as well. You will be “astonished” to learn that their customer support number is a premium one which charges the customer for phoning. You will also be astonished to learn that most of the time you are on the phone to them you are listening to music. Naturally, your call is important to them so please hang on and you will be connected to the next available operator. Funnily enough, every time I phoned the next available operator turned out to be Emma. Do they really only have one person answering the phones? Anyway, long story short, they did, as “a gesture of goodwill and without prejudice nor any admission of liability” agree to refund the original cost as well as the £ 7 something I had been charged for phoning them. I guess we won’t be using DHL in the future.

The Tour de France finished last week – it was a great race this year and the result was in doubt up until the last two days. The Guardian had some great photos.

Someone posted this on Facebook the other day.

I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change.

I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems.

But I was wrong.

The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy . . .

. . . and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation

– and we scientists don’t know how to do that.”

Gus Speth – American Environmental Lawyer and former head of the UN Development Program.

Sad but true.

And finally, an excellent cartoon which I also ran across on Facebook the other day. A bit of background for my American friends – Boris Johnson, our new Prime Minister, was largely responsible for the Brexit Bus, a bus which the loony Brexiteers drove around the country during the referendum with the slogan “We send the EU £350 million each week. Let’s spend it on the NHS instead.” Many people voted to leave the EU on the strength of that slogan. Sadly, it was a lie and the true figure, when one considers the rebates and support for various projects we used to receive from the EU, is substantially lower. Still, it is true that there was a cost attached to being a member of the European Union – a cost which brought us free trade with the largest trading block in the world, free movement and the right to live and work anywhere in the Union, governmental cooperation in a vast array of projects, most importantly, perhaps, security, and on and on and on.

After the referendum a bill was brought before Parliament to guarantee that the government would invest £350 million each week in the NHS. Surprisingly, the government (of which Boris was a member at the time) voted it down as they and anyone with any sense knew there was no such sum of money available.

In ramping up the rhetoric for the UK crashing out of the EU at the end of October with no deal in place, Boris has just announced that the government will spend £2.1 BILLION on preparations for No Deal.

Nope. You could not make this up.

Lots of love to you all,

Greg

 

 

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