Postcard from Wales #1

To Whom is reading this, the following posts this week, will be written in the style of good old postcard style, unless I get really carried away and start to waffle like I normally do.

So today the first Postcard picture is this beauty.

Hello,

Arrived in Wales, with a nice drive through the National Park of Snowdonia. I arrived at my Hotel before check in so carried on driving through to Harlech, where I stumbled across a castle. I say stumbled I almost crashed my car has it appeared round the bend. I knew it was there, it was on  my list to do, but I never expected it to look like it did. It was wonderful. (Pictures on my Flicker Site) As I walked round this town, which is now on my list of retirement towns when I reach that grand old age, I stumbled across this shop (See front of Postcard) I have no idea what marketing person they hired as I looked high and low and could not find any more Ice Cream makers. So by simple deduction even if they were the worst they should also be the best. Anyway running out of room on this fictitious card. If the weather does the same tomorrow as it did today then Snowdon will be getting me trampling all over it. If not then it’s to the television set of the Prisoner at Portmeirion.

See you when I get back.

 

Driving a Steam Train

Well I must say that I have not achieved this little ambition, but with my 30th this year then any kind friends would do good to take note. I was for my birthday weekend going to take part in another love of mine and take to the water on a canal boat and explore the industrial heritage of our land as well as the usual several pints in a pub along the route.

For those who know me, and I hope I have a following of readers now, will know I love history and in particular have a strong passion for two era’s. The first being medieval and the second being the Industrial revolution, anytime from 1750 to 1850.

On Sunday I was drawn to Victoria Station which I must say is one of my favorite railway stations, I even like the inside, or at least part of it. Now I was out running on Saturday and I timed my run to end at Victoria so I could catch the wonderful sight of the steam train departing. I have already written this in a previous blog entry along with the turn out of events that shortly followed, so I won’t dampen my mood or yours and go into the nightmare that Saturday turned into. If you wish to have read then feel free to do so.

What this entry is about is my love of the period of steam. I wish I could be a small boy and stand on the bridges as the trains tunneled through, blowing their steam and smoke high into the heavens. I am about to embark on a holiday to Wales and there’s not going to be a joke about them being backwards and behind in modern living. I’m not about to offend the very people I will be staying with. In fact my holiday in Wales is going to take in sights and scenery of the age of steam and the progress of the age and I can’t wait.

Anyway on Saturday I was aware that the locomotive would once again pass through Victoria so I decided to head on down to experience the full atmosphere of what it would have been like to witness a steam locomotive pulling into an roofed station (even only 30 years ago where my dad would have seen it all the time. I’ve witnessed steam trains before but always in open stations) and by god I was peeing myself. I loved it, the noise and the heat from the engine, the constant release of steam that bulldozed out and bellowed up into the rafters hiding everything behind a white fluffy screen, the smoke that puffed angrily from the loco, it was the most thrilling experience I have had in many years.

Now I know a lot of you are saying “This man needs to be laid” (And I did seem to be the only person under 60 on the platform) but I think this wonderful sight should be experienced by everyone. The sheer science and engineering involved lay before me on the tracks, the very object that made Britain great and transformed the landscape and industry was stood proud by platform 3 and in those fifteen minutes I stood and watched I wanted to climb on board and be part of history. To think that I was thinking the same or feeling the emotions that people 200 years early had felt at the rain-hill trails, or as they had arrived at King Cross to board the Flying Scotsman. My tiny little brain could not imagine a whole station filled with these huge monsters as they geared up for their journeys as they bellowed to be fed by the men who quickly shovelled the feast of coal into their hungry bellies. To be back in time and seeing the eruption of smoke as the trains grew nearer to their departure time is an imagine I will only imagine and will never get to see.

Now I have no intention of becoming a train driver, or when I was a kid wishing to drive a train, but I do want to have a go and I would still pick the industrial age as the one era I would choose to live in. Next week I will be experiencing several railways and travelling on several steam trains, I’m wetting myself just thinking about it but railway travel is still in my heart and the age steam and watching these huge beats pump along the tracks will always make me stop in awe. Steam Trains are truly great and given any opportunity to see one, or experience there presence makes me very happy and giddy.

 

 

A little annoyed

A little annoyed is a understaement. A huge understatement. If it was any more under it would be popping out in Australia.

The day was going well, I had got up and had gone on a nice run only to pause at the end to wait by Victoria Station to see the Steam train depart. And by George what a departure, the smoke and steam that bellowed from the heart of the engine that was whisked by the mild wind was truly extraordinary. One minute the locomotive was there the next it was wrapped in a blanket of her own doing, and with a high pitch whistle and a slow ‘Chud Chud Chud’ the curtain of smoke lifted to reveal the shiny black boiler of a truly beautiful machine, and with another blow and large exhale of smoke it began to move, picking up speed and filling its path with glorious black and white clouds, and as I watched it vanish into the distance I thought what a thrill it would have been seeing these engines in a station every day and with that thought fresh in my mind I carried on running back to my house, for the nightmare that was about to happen.

By the time I got back to my house and reached for my keys, all I wanted to do was get back in, but my key fob had other ideas… the electronic button that allows me to open my door had decided to disconnect itself from the circuit board thus preventing the radio waves to transmit the signal to the door. I was outside, in shorts a little muddy as I had run through a park and all I wanted to do was the put the kettle on. My housemate was alway and I was not about to buzz other flats asking if they would be so kind as to allow me into the complex. I circled the building trying the doors, waiting outside for people to leave so I could gain access.

Eventually I got in, and straight into my flat to phone the agents. No answer. They seem to think that working Saturdays is beneath them. I phoned the emergency line. ‘Sorry can’t help you, don’t have a spare key’ Can’t help, can’t help so I am now trapped, no wait I am now imprisoned in my house I have no way to get back in so you’re telling me to sit tight till Monday when the office opens again. The response was simple and like the steam engine caused me to expel a lot of steam. ‘Yes’.

Yes, Yes, Yes…. You mean to tell me there is noting you can do. ‘No Sir, I don’t have access to the office as I’m just a sub contractor, if you were locked out of your flat then I could let you in by changing your locks’.

Well that was good to know, as if and when I was ever in that situation I would know whom to phone. ‘I could call a management person but that is £125.00 call out charge’.

£125.00 for what, coming to the office which should be open and opening the key cupboard to give me a new key is going to cost me a third of my weekly wage. This was not a good start to the weekend. After being pissed off yesterday and extremely annoyed in the evening I thought that after listening to Stereophonics I was in a good mood and felt good, felt fit and had enjoyed my run, seen a bit of history puffing through Manchester and was looking forward to the holiday, the holiday that was the first one in 11 years. But now my evil key fob had decided to bring me smashing down to the ground so quick that I had to take time out to put boots on to kick objects, so I didn’t break my feet.

I decided to agree to the £125.00. I have to, my housemate is away, I’m working tomorrow, and when I return from holiday my housemate will be working and it will be the weekend again and I need that fob to gain access to my apartments front door. With a fob I can’t go out, I can not leave my house. Some my argue that is worth £125.00, others and this includes my good self will argue that the agents should drop the call out as it was there equipment that has failed and thus not keeping to the terms of the tenancy agreement.

So to say that I am little ticked off is an understatement. Thats £125.00 that I never had, I can’t afford that money, that was holiday budget money. March is going to be a hard month as it is with insurance, MOT and Car service and the fact that I have no income until the middle of April does not bring me any happiness. I also have a hotel to pay for and petrol to put in my little car, credit card to pay plus the electric and water.

So at the moment if you imagine me as a cartoon, I am slowing burning with anger and as I type away at the board in front of me that anger seems to be for ever-growing. Hopefully at 4 O’Clock when the new fob arrives I will have calmed down and treat myself to seeing the Steam Train pull into Victoria, but for now I am one angry guy who is finding it hard not to throw this portable computer across the room.

 

A big Thank you

Well today I got a phone call from Vodafone, not from Dave or Allen or John who said they would phone back. This was in fact a call from the Vodafone twitter team member who I had emailed after she saw my rant on twitter. She had handled the case several weeks before and now is disappointed that it is still not resolved but now promises me that she will  be on hand to sort out this issue.

This can only be seen as a result.

Lets hope she doesn’t let me down.

Last Day

Today is the last day of my three-month short-term contract at work, and after today I will once again be left out in the cold trying to fend for myself.

The thing about last days, is you know they are coming and you try to prepare for them, unless you get called into the office and are promptly fired and told to leave the premises.

I have been prepared. I packed all my stuff away and cleared out my locker, I booked a holiday (first one in 11 years) to celebrate and relax as it has been quite a stressful time and friendships have been tried and pushed to the max which is not an experience I wish to repeat as I almost lost some good friends.

The other only item that I have not done is to get another job to go into at the end of this one, so as from next week I will be jobless, with an MOT, Insurance, Service, and a life to pay for.

I am glad to be out of there, but I will miss that regular income coming in every week, and because of these past few months I have now decided I want to change career. Not move out of the arts but do something else. Maybe work in a museum, or telly, or become an administrator, or office worker somewhere in the arts.

In other news I have now after a week got the 5K to under 25 minutes on the road and to celebrate ran 7K. You can help me celebrate by….. Well you know the score, my Just Giving Page link is to the right, under the heading my links. Who would have thought raising money would be harder than me trying to run 10K

The Bigger They Are the Less They Care

Well today I have had enough of Vodafone.

I phoned them up, and as per the rubbish they told me that should (according to them) have fixed my issues have (as I informed them wouldn’t) not actually worked and once again I am back to square one.

So I phoned VF to tell them to get a suit, not some student or team leader who had a different script to ring me back, and for this issue to be resolved by the end of the week.

That should be pretty easy! Surly, as they have been working on it for 6 months apparently. If they don’t then I am withdrawing all my business from their network.

When I told them this they did not seem to care one little bit.

So Come Friday I will be looking for a new operator and reading what new phone I should get myself, as if any bookies are out there I will put a grand on them not sorting this shite out.

In other news I have now got the 5k on the street down to 25 minutes. Thats the same time as in the gym, and thats with running up hills and on uneven surfaces so I’m very happy about that. So happy that I ran an extra 1km today when I got up at 7am before a 14 hour stint at work. Go team ME!!!

My Progress, and some one eyeing up my dinner

Well, I have achieved it. I have gone to gym, or ran everyday this week. And I feel good. My tyres are still sitting around my waist however depending on the day they feel like there deflating.

I write this as I went on a 5.5 K run around my block with hills, and steps and completed it in 30 minutes. Five minutes slower than on the treadmill but I put this down to the fact that the treadmill is flat and even. Even so if I keep this up then completing the 10k in 1 hour 10 minutes is well in sight.

However this post is not just about my conquests at the gym, it is about the walk back via Tesco’s to buy some fruit and juice for the morning. As I ambled around the aisles I saw soup. I like soup I thought, I will have some soup as a treat and so I picked up a can of soup, and saw some nice Ciabatta. I’ll have some of that, and before I had counted the calories in my head my arm had reached out and my hand was snatching the fresh loaf and placing it in the basket.

The Self checkout was closed, so it was to the good old serviced checkout. I ended up with an old man serving me. As he slowly passed the items over the scanner he paused as his wrinkly hand got to the bread. He looked up and questioned the item in his hand “What’s this?” It’s Ciabatta I replied shocked that he didn’t know what it was. Then I thought maybe he comes from a background where they think Hovis and Warbartons are a type of bread and not a brand.  This has happened to me before when some one questioned the item of veg they had in there hand and astonished that Sainsbury had not informed there check out staff what am aubergine looked like.

The man who we will call Terry, as I think he looked like a Terry. He looked like he was a simple man, and had come from an engineering background and married to Dorris. Terry was probably doing this job to top up his pension amount so he could take his grandkids out a little more ever since their mother had got involved with the smack, the two kids Dennis and Lucy had never been the same. It all started when Kevin walked out on Sarah after Lucy was born claiming she wasn’t his and in a desperate hope Sarah turned to Mic who started to pimp her out, from there it went all day hill and now Sarah’s Dad was working in Tesco’s to try to pay the debt that his daughter created.

Anyway Terry carried on placing the items into the bag “Ciabatta, That looks nice and crusty. Mmm with soup that looks a nice meal and some fruit for afterwards” I thought it was strange that he was speaking my thoughts of why I had chosen my shopping basket items but carried on unphased on our peculiar this was narrating the thoughts of the customers journey though the aisles, amplifying there thoughts on how they made there shopping decisions. Or maybe he was just licking his lips as all he had to look forward to was Dorris’s Cheese and Ham on Hovis as all there earning had been spent paying Glen the dealer off.

After that I went home, ate and promptly fell asleep.

I like exercise as it’s good for. It’s allowing me to let of a lot of steam, and is giving me energy as well as creating a paradox of making me tired and therefore allowing me to fall to sleep when my head it’s the pillow instead of tossing and turning for half the night. I am also waking up at 8am with no artificial alarm, just the good old body clock.

What is also good about exercise is that people can help donate to your charity. Like Christies, and sponsor you for running 10k. So once again me being subtle as every then if you click HERE you can donate at my just giving page If every one who reads this post gave a pound it would treble the total amount raised to date.

 

Thank You

 

Terry is not a real man and has been made up for comic effect, all bit a dark and rather sick one, non the less I hoped Terry and his family made you smile. I often create biographies of people who I meet it entertains me.

Vodafone – The On Going Battle

Well, it’s a ongong battle, and so much so that I have decided to make new category just for Vodafone and the issues I have. Might even make a new blog just dedicated to the Company that answers the phone with the UK’s number one Network. (I am slowly building up a one man case on why I feel that is not the truth)

Last week, I put pen to paper to write about the ongoing issue of the online account being deactivated, and my Vodafone at Home account following suit. After a phone call to the Online at Home team who assured me the fault was because the account had been dormant for a month I injected with “it hasn’t I downloaded my Online bill two weeks ago” They quickly and helpfully said that Keith from Tech Support would phone on Monday.

Keith didn’t phone till Friday, and below is the transcript of what happened. As much as I remember it. To protect the identity of people Keith will be played by me and is called Burt. Oh wait! Hang on, I’ve already told you his name is Keith! Dam! Well there must be lots of Keith’s in Tech Support, It’s a tech support name. Plain and boring. He probably goes home to his wife Cassandra to eat Shepherds pie and watch the News before retiring to the shed or garage to paint his tiny army figures, and read up on battle of the Somme and listening to his Ham Radio.

Any way, I digress. Keith phoned at 9:30 making me late for work as he would not shut up, defiantly not trained in the art of Customer service he was going it alone without the aid of a script, and any research of what a nightmare of a customer I could be to agents.

Me – Hello

Keith – Hello is that Mr Scott

Me – Speaking

Keith – Hello it’s Keith here from Vodafone at Home, I had a memo to ring you about logging on to the website.

Me – Oh yes!

Keith – I’m afraid it has always been this way. You can only log on with your main email address, the one you first set up. Any other emails address’ you have registered can only be accessed through 3rd party clients through PoP3, as there is no way to check these emails online……

Me – I’m sorry Keith can I interrupt you. As interesting as this is, I only have one email address, and this is not the problem. My account is being deactivated. So when I log on, I can’t as it is asking me for an activation code.

Keith – Oh do you require a activation code?

Me – No I got one last week, the reason why they said you would phone, is to investigate why this keeps happening!

Keith – Well it’s because the account becomes inactivate after 2 months of no use, so you need an activation code.

Me – This has been explained to me, as I explained to your colleague this is not the case with me, as I went on-line 2 weeks ago to download my bill, and I still get my emails pushed to me from the server to my 3rd party email client. However last week I went on-line to find I needed to activate my account.

Keith – well, yes that does seem to be an issue.

(No shit Sherlock that is why I’m phoning and why you were phoning me)

Keith – Obviously you think there is a problem there that needs looking into. If it keeps happening I would suggest you phone back.

(But you don’t seem to think there is an issue Keith. Don’t make me out to be a complaining fool. I want to log on, download my bill, quickly. Not log on, phone you up, get a code. Wait for an hour for the system to reset. Input the code, and download my bill. I’m sure On-line billing is suppose to save you the Company Money. But it seems that you are spending the money saved on call centre staff dishing out activation codes.)

Me – It is keep happening which is why they passed the issue to ‘Tech Support” and for you to look into.

Keith – Well all I can suggest is you phone back if it keeps happening, and we will take it from there, as it is an issue that is upsetting you and is causing you some problems.

(Some, It’s wasting half my day is what it’s doing. Can’t we go back to the time when I woke up, have my cereal and opening the post, which contains a Bill from Vodafone that I can file away, rather than wake up, check my emails – see that my bill is ready, log on to the account, click on the link to At home – Phone up to get an activation code, input it, click on bills, download, open it and save as PDF to FIles – Bills- Vodafone – 2010-2011)

The rest of the conversation was me looking at my watch, thinking I have no time to battle with a 49 year still living with his mother and playing with toy soldiers and enjoying a boiled egg and sweet tea for diner. Him and his team don’t know what the matter is, and turning it off and back on is not working, or the fact of trying to blame the web browser as I told them I have used several apart from explorer. The last failed attempt to try to fix it was telling me to delete the cookies and cache as that could be somehow informing the servers at Vodafone towers to deactivate my account. If there are any computer geeks out there I would love to see how this affects the my online account.

Tomorrow I am getting a phone call from the normal Vodafone Customer Agent to inform me that my online account for my phone is fixed. It’s not. Everyday this week I have logged on and had to register. So we will see what happens there.

On the Street

Well, after having 3 weeks off from the gym, and replacing that natural drug which is released when you pump your bodies to exhaustion, with that powerful drug they call alcohol I’m back to my routine with the first port of call to get rid of all the tyres that have been placed around my midriff from the cider.

There is now only four months left until the big day and still the sponsorship is low, and so is my energy. I find running 5k easy on the treadmill, it’s flat and with my long legs I can complete the distance in 25 minutes. However the road is a different story, and with my area being a mix of up and downs as well as several small parks It’s taking me 25 minutes to run 4k. Still not that bad. What I find hard is getting my pace correct. If I run fast I become tired and out of breath, where on the old treadmill in the gym, I am fine running with my legs flapping all over the place in an uncontrolled sprint.

Anyway, I did some road jogging and got the pace correct, almost got hit my some cars and was almost ran over twice but apart from that I got home in one piece. The last time I went road running, the next couple of days my legs felt it, especially in the shins, so hopefully my warm up and cool down routine I did to-day will solve that little unfortunate issue, as that was the main course that prevented me from going to the gym as my legs would not of responded well to any more unnatural abuse in the strive to become fit and healthy, and hence the vacation in the land of beer also bought on my some turbulent times and just basically being annoyed and pissed off.

But I think I am back on track. All I need to do now is get my stomach back to expecting the food at the right times. As when I drink, and I wouldn’t say I’m a/or was an alcoholic, but I feel I have to continue until I am so pissed I fall asleep or at least all the beer and wine I have as been nested in my stomach. So a couple of drinks with friends after work would involve me going home to buy a bottle or two to continue the spirit by myself. With this, I cottoned on to making sure I got pissed at a slow rate, so I would eat before I drank, and then just before I went to bed I would have pizza or take-away to make sure the hang over was minor or in most cases not present.

Basically I was consuming a lot of calories, and my body still thinks he needs it. So when I go to the gym now I return to my flat with healthy food, but also some very high calorific items. This is not helping to deflate the tyres that have surrounded my once toned body (I wish) But running and burning off 1000 calories is easy, the hard part is to train yourself into eating the foods that are good for you, and not being tempted by those treats every second of the day.

Anyway, the jog was good, and I’m back in the routine, just in time for work to spoil it by going into a tech week and then I have a week off before I return to the cut and thrust world of self employment. I just have to remain focused on the training, and force myself to go when I have a spare minute or two.

And here comes the asking part as a blog entry about the training would not be complete with out the selfish act of me holding out my hands asking for any spare change. But unlike people on the street it’s not to buy a cup of tea, its to buy a life, or a machine that would ease someones suffering, or help give a family the support they need of loosing a loved one.

Any donations that you could spare, would keep me focused. I am trying to raise £500.00 for Christies a Cancer Charity based in Manchester, that treat patients from across the UK as well as researching treatments and causes. If you would like to donate then please click HERE to go to my just giving page, or if you know me personally then get in touch if you would like to give me the money direct.

Speak to you all soon

Looking for a writing partner!!!

Calling all potential comedy writers. I need a partner!

As you may or may not know I love my comedy. Love it. Everything from Radio to Stand up. I often think throughout the day of funny ideas for shows, or sketches, but never have the discipline to write them down, or turn it into that little pot of gold. Well now as I approach thirty I think that may change. I want to write my own sitcom, or sketch show. But I need help, I need someone to help me to structure the comedy and input fresh ideas.

I have a wide variety from the plain bizarre to the clever thought out structured one liners. I like slapstick, and silly humour. I like the play on words and the dry sarcasm and british wit. Basically when it comes to comedy I am a whore, in-fact there is not a lot of comedy I dislike. I will always give a comedy a show the once over and will re-visit it through the ages to see if it ever improves. Little Britain never did

My comedy influence comes from a wide source of British and American writers, from all decades and I still love listening to old comedy shows on the wireless now as well as watching repeats of shows from the 60’s and 70’s that amazes my farther that I like the humour or even get it as he thinks a lot of the comedy was ‘of the time’. I also love the new comedy talent  of today, but i must say that modern British Sitcom is rather dead on the ground. There are don’t get me wrong some classics like the IT Crowd, but I am hard pushed to name any more.

A few years back, myself and an unemployed friend was going to write a sketch show, but we had a disagreement on a small detail. The idea were ASBO Aliens, which we; and I still think is an amusing idea. Picture the scene people going into an Off-Lience to buy drink, and you have a group of hooded aliens asking if you could buy them a pack of stella, and then in the next sketch there in a childs playground. The small detail came from on what they should look like. I thought the Alien out the self titled film would be good comic effect as something so scary and ugly walking around with a swagger and trackie bottoms hanging down to his ankles in a chav voice makes me smile just picturing it, however my friend thought otherwise. On the same night we also dreamt up the Blind racist, who was in fact black, I don’t know why this is funny but I think it has some thing to do with playing on the ignorance of who racists are that I think it works, Oh look what do you know? I do know why it works.

Other gems were animals against Marketing with the scene being the Caramel Bunny, and Muller cows sat round a table discussing how there being exploited. The tall midget and the writer who had Tourette’s.

So if you would like to come on board and be a comedy partner then let me know. I really want to write a show for the Radio, as I think the medium is best for comedy. I will sooner or later get around to doing a list of my comedy shows that I love, but it is a big old list, and that is easy compared to writing a six episode series of top knotch sketches.