Vaccinaceous

Somewhat fortuitously, I managed to get my Covid booster jab a few weeks ahead of the latest Omicron variant’s appearance, so it was already in full effect by the time Omicron occurred.  (That wasn’t through anything like me being organised, of course, just the way timings worked out) At the time it was a nicely organised process – rock up at the time booked, sign in, get the jab, wait fifteen minutes (in case I’m allergic to the jab and die, or something) and then fuck off to get on with the rest of my day.

The week after, I also ended up getting my flu jab.  (In my opinion, getting the “you now qualify for a flu jab” message is *definitely* a sign you’re getting old) It’s safe to say that getting that one done was pretty much the polar opposite, and not far short of an absolute clusterfuck.

I’d originally tried booking it through Superdrug, but their entire online presence seems to be “Give us a call to find out”. Utterly, utterly fucking useless.

So eventually I went to Boots where the booking process was long, with big doses of repeated information. (No idea why, but hey ho, got it booked) That bit was OK(ish) though. It was when I got to the shop that things went utterly tits-up.

I got there a couple of minutes early, and no-0ne was in the waiting area. No-one at all. Not even staff.  Another couple of people also arrived to get their jabs. Eventually someone turned up, and gave me a paper form to fill in with all my details. Which was a bit of a concern.

It turned out that – in a large town-centre store – the “proper” jab person was on a day off, and no-one knew their password, or could log in to the system and see what bookings were expected. (Nor, as it turned out, mark appointments as completed etc.) So it was all back to paper, and no-one had a single sodding clue about what was happening, who was booked in (or when) and generally shambolic.

The jab process itself was fine, once everything was sorted.  And thankfully I’ve experienced no real side-effects from either vaccination.

Mind you, the following day, I got a set of messages and emails from Boots telling me that I’d missed my appointment. I assume it’s also not gone into my medical record, so I could probably decide to get another one early in the new year, or something. (Not that I would, but still, fucking hell)

Anyway, it’s all done now, and so far as I’m concerned, if one of these viruses is going to get me, they’re going to have to work bloody hard to do so.


Re-Identified

For some reason, this year has involved renewing both of my primary forms of ID – a few months ago it was the passport that got done, and I’ve now had to do the driving licence as well.

In fairness, both processes have been pretty painless, and made much easier through technology – the passport had some issues with uploading a new photo (because I wear glasses, and photos without a reflection on the lenses is *difficult*) but it’s all involved a lot less hassle than one would expect.

The driving licence also pulls through the photo from the passport process (although the reverse doesn’t apply, weirdly) but it needed a lot more linked information than I expected – for example, why does my driving licence renewal require me to know/remember my NI Number? I’d already connected it to the passport system/number etc. for verification, so that seems like an unnecessary extra step, really.

Still, it’s all done, the new licence card arrived promptly – and well within the quoted two weeks – and the old one got cut in two and returned.

I now shouldn’t need a renewal on these things for another decade. How time flies, and all that!


MoTivated

Today, the car got its annual service, and also passed its MoT for this year. All told, a much better process than last year – and, of course, a lot cheaper!

I did take it back to the same dealership to get things done, and they’re still as shambolic as ever, insisting on filling every slot in the workshop, rather than leaving anything free for people who need work (for example, if the car had failed the MoT today, they’d have had to book me in for work to be done, rather than having availability on the day)  It’s a farcical situation – and similar to the bullshit system my GP is currently operating – and takes no account of things failing, or accidents happening.  Deeply annoying, to say the least.

The thing is, despite me raising it every time I deal with them, they just don’t seem to understand that the servicing side of the business is just as much of a sales tool as any of the people on the shop floor (most of whom seem to spend their days just farting around, but that’s beside the point)  The company – in this case, Kia – make a huge thing of their reliability, of their seven-year guarantee (so long as people follow the service routine, of course) which is great. But when I’m faced with a constant “Oh no, we can’t do [the work] on [that date], you’ll have to book something else” attitude, why on Earth would I buy a car that ties me in to that even more?

It’s something that would be so simple to fix – and something I’ve been told that they’ll try, but I’ve been being told that for three years now – but there just seems to be no real inclination to do it.

Still, my little car is doing OK, and as and when it does die, I just won’t get another Kia. Their loss long-term, not mine.


Non-Emergency

Back in early 2021, I did something stupid to my knee – still no idea what – which I didn’t take overly seriously.  It was sore enough that I did use a knee brace – particularly overnight – but it didn’t incapacitate me or anything.

Anyway, it turns out that the brace is quite possibly the worst thing I could’ve done, as it allowed things to heal incorrectly and so on.

The knee still plays up – but it’s intermittent. When I first stand or move, it’s sore as fuck, but then it eases off. I’m still fully capable of walking miles on it, but it’ll hurt significantly the next day, or if I then stop and leave it in one position for a long time (for example, driving home from wherever)  Having talked to others with a similar thing, and doing some research, I think what I managed to do was a meniscal tear – basically ripping some of the meniscal membranes in my knee.  Ooops.

Honestly, it’s pretty certain now that there’s not going to be much I can do to improve it. It’s as healed as it’ll get.  But I’d like to get a proper diagnosis of it, in case I’m wrong – I’m only basing this so far on personal experience (of my own damage, and the stories of others) and Dr. Google/Wikipedia, so it’s quite possible that I could be wrong.

However, getting that diagnosis is proving problematic.  It’s not an urgent thing by any chalk, but that’s an issue. My GP surgery are still only taking bookings on the actual day, so it’s a free-for-all of calling in at 8:30 in the morning in order to get a slot that day.  And honestly, I feel guilty at that point about trying to get a slot that could be better used by someone with, you know, something actually important/urgent.

It really is a massively fuckwitted plan. I don’t understand why they can’t do it so that at least one of the GPs in the practice is doing non-urgent bookings for even one day a week.  (Or balance the load and have a rota of who does a non-urgent day, or even week as a break from the urgent daily shit)

As it is, in this case I don’t honestly know that the GP would even be the best thing – all they’re likely to do is say “Oh, that’ll need an X-Ray/MRI” and refer it to the local(ish) hospital anyway.  So maybe it’d be better to go direct to what used to be the “Minor Injuries” clinic, so I can get a scan straight away. But “Minor Injuries” is now somehow “Urgent Care” (which is somehow different to “Accident and Emergency”) and that has the same effect on me – it’s non-urgent, and there are people way more in need of treatment than I am.

I’ll get round to it in the end, I’m sure. But in the meantime it’s a situation that is utter, utter bollocks.


Renewals

As it turns out, this year it’s time to do a couple of renewals – both my Passport and Driving Licence will need replacing in the next couple of months.

The passport renewal was first, and came back earlier this week (and the old passport arrived today).  It’s been fairly painless, all things considered  (I’d rather have had a nice red EU one, but there we go)

Doing it all online, I also used my own phone to provide the photo, which was the only bit that was a hassle.  It took several goes, including a rejected one, basically because of wearing glasses. Any reflection in them causes the processing to fail – and even the one that finally got accepted was rated as “Poor” in the upload tool.  (Impressive, for a 12MP camera)

So it’s been a faff, but it’s also been painless, and generally quite efficient. I also set it up for text-message updates as it went through the process, which kept things informed.

Amusingly (and just to prove that they’re not really all that efficient) having received everything back, I also got a text message telling me that I could renew my passport easily by doing it all online…


Excessive Renewal

This time last year, I was planning on going to a friend’s wedding over in Madeira, and bought some travel insurance along the way.

Obviously it didn’t work out, because of Covid and the like, and the insurance didn’t get used for any other trips, for similar reasons. Thankfully, I’d had a good deal on it, so wasn’t too upset. Them’s the breaks, and all that.

This week, I got the renewal letter from the company, telling me what I’d pay this year.

Now OK, there’s been a lot going on in the world this year, and I assume insurance has taken a kicking (although I wouldn’t have thought it was a huge one, in comparison to travel companies, credit cards and the like) but still, the increase from last year to this is a 50% rise.  And bear in mind, there’s no way I’d be using it ’til at least May/June, so it would cost me more to able to use it for less time.

Needless to say, they’ve been told to fuck off. I’ll buy travel insurance again as and when I need it – but that’s still not going to be any time soon.


Return of Warmth

Following on from the post about the car’s heating system having packed up, I finally got it sorted just before Christmas.

As usual my dealership was a clusterfuck from start to finish – although there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel on that one.

Initially, I asked them to have a look at what was wrong when I took it to get the brakes fixed. They ‘checked everything they could’ and couldn’t find a problem, but the heater pack is behind the centre console, and they hadn’t allocated the time to do that, so it had to come in again.

That happened on the 21st, at which point they told me it was “only a diagnostic visit – we’re just finding out what’s going wrong“, which was what I’d suspected might be the case, but regardless, my sense of humour started to fail. Because obviously that would mean a third visit for the same problem, which is just fucking ridiculous.

As it turned out, the problem wasn’t with the heating system itself, but with a cracked/fucked radiator that was leaking at a good pace. (The mechanic actually brought me through to the garage to show me) Apparently it was only doing so once the system became pressurised (about 10-15 mins into a drive), but still, fairly serious. And because the leak meant it was losing pressure, the heating system wasn’t working.   So we needed to get that sorted.

Then they told me it couldn’t be done ’til December 31st, and my sense of humour utterly failed. I wasn’t nasty, but I was quite obviously pissed off that they were happy to send me home (a not insignificant distance) with a close-to-broken car, and leave it that way for ten days.

Fortunately, at that point the light at the tunnel switched on, and one of their people (a sales manager) suggested to the reception that they move some stuff around, so that they could deal with my car the next day. Not ideal, but far better than waiting ten days.  Even better, he’d come and collect it from my house, get the work done, and bring it back.  (Which also meant it would be their problem if it went pop on the way there)

And that’s what happened.  I filled the rad with water before he arrived, to make sure it was as good as possible. The car got collected, fixed, and returned. (They fucked up the costs too, but that’s another story)   And since then, it’s all been OK, so it does appear that the problem’s been fixed.

Once he brought it back, we had a chat about how the service department had really let down the sales side on this – when it went in for a pre-MoT service, they noted that it was virtually empty of coolant, but never looked at why; they missed the leaking rad in the MoT itself; when the brakes were being replaced and they were ‘looking at everything’, they didn’t notice the rad pissing water everywhere; and the ‘diagnostic visit and then return to get it fixed’ was bullshit.

As it turned out, they’ve listened to my previous complaints about these practices, and that sales manager is now in charge of the service department, and has been tasked with making it run better, with a more customer-focused attitude. It’ll be a challenge, but it was good for him to have been able to see exactly why he was needed, and what the problems are with the current set up.

I hope it works – they’re at least aware of the problem, and trying to fix it – but only time will tell.