D4D

B&Q can't find their arses with both hands and a flashlight

Archive for the category “Cynicism”

Laziness and Safety

I regularly drive through Woburn, and at least a couple of times a week I’m amazed at how lazy people are, even when it comes to their own safety.

In the case of Woburn, there are two zebra crossings within a very short stretch of road. There are good reasons for this – the road is usually busy, and fairly fast. But people still cross away from the crossings, where it’s apparently “more convenient” rather than walking a tiny way to the crossing where cars *have* to stop for pedestrians…

The first one looks like this…

image (C) Google Streetmap

This is where most people cross – and you can see the markings for the zebra crossing at the top of the photo (the zig-zags, for non-UK readers) Note also that this is just after a busy crossroads, so has any number of vehicles coming round corners and paying far more attention to other vehicles than to pedestrians. I measured it on Google Maps – it’s 30 metres from here to the crossing. Not even a minute’s walk.  (I’ll also note that all the people avoiding the crossing are able-bodied, so it’s not like they can’t walk that distance.)

The second one (slightly further up the road from here, after a tight choke-point and just round the corner so out of view from this one) looks like this

image (C) Google Streetmap

This one is a bit harder to see – it’s a bit further, at 45m from where people actually cross – but it’s still there, with markings visible across the road.  Here, people cross from the pub to the hotel and back – and again, with parked cars on the right, an extremely tight road with drivers focusing on squeezing through rather than on pedestrians, people trying to park (or turn into the various lanes and archways along this bit) rather than walking that 45m to be able to do so safely.

I know people in general are lazy bastards and so on, but really, it utterly amazes me just how many (and even more so at school times, as there’s a school just back from where this shot is taken) are prepared to ‘save’ time waiting for a space in traffic and then risk their all to cross the road, rather than walking that tiny distance to do so safely (and actually usually more quickly than waiting for that gap!)

I don’t know if they don’t see the crossing, that they’re blinkered to just going straight across the road instead, or if they’re all just fuckwit examples of Darwinism waiting to happen.  Either way, it is (to me) a gobsmacking way to live.

Gutless

As part of my whole weight/fitness thing, I’ve been going once a week to a programme called Gutless for the last twelve weeks.

It’s been an interesting programme, basically one two hour evening session a week, which consists of one hour of physical exercise, and one of information and chat about food and nutrition.

For me, the exercise has been of more use and interest than the food and nutrition stuff (as I learned more for exercise techniques etc. than I did for the food/nutrition) but it’s all been a generally positive programme.

As with other things I’ve been trying this year, it hasn’t been as successful as I’d have hoped – for me, at least – but in general it appears to have worked well for the other members of the group.

For me, it’s given me extra ideas and stuff to do, as well as knowledge of better workouts and so on, I’ll take that knowledge and go forwards with it as well, so it has been a positive process.

I’m glad I’ve done the course – and the workout/exercise side is going to be continuing on as a separate programme we’ve worked out with the instructor from the programme – and we’ll see how things work out going forwards.

All told, I’m happy with how it’s been. I’d be happier if the weight loss had been better and so on, but I know that it’s also helped me make other positive changes, and right now that’ll do me.

Labelling

This week, I’ve found myself actually shocked by the news stories about Pret a Manger and their labelling – and more relevantly, the whole story about the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to unlabelled sesame in a Pret sandwich.

The inquest into Natasha’s death was this week – she died two years ago – which is why it’s been in the news this week.

It turns out that the UK’s Food Regulations 2014 have an exception that allows freshly handmade, non pre-packaged food to not be individually labelled – which is the loophole that allowed Pret to get away with not labelling each sandwich individually. To me, that’s disgraceful. The loophole was (understandably) intended for small sandwich bars etc. to not be constrained by huge amounts of red tape. It’s not intended for large commercial efforts. (Although of course they’ve taken advantage of it)

Even worse, Natasha isn’t even the first person to have died as a result of this mis-labelling or lack of information.

All told though, two things in the whole sorry story left me utterly gobsmacked and despairing of people and corporations.

The first was how badly the staff on the flight handled Natasha’s allergic reaction. The doctor who attended to her wasn’t made aware of all the equipment on the plane, and also that “because Natasha went into cardiac arrest as the plane was landing, it would have been unsafe to retrieve the defibrillator from the back of the plane, where it was stored, while Natasha was being tended to at the front” (that quote is from the Guardian story)  I mean really, for fuck’s sake, how robotic and uncaring do you have to be, to go “Nope, I’m not going to get that, we’ve got to be prepared for landing the plane”?

The second thing – and to me, the worst – is the timescales involved. Pret a Manger knew about this issue when Natasha died. Two years ago.  Yet it’s only now, once the coroner has finished the inquest, that they say “We’ll look at changing our labels“. That’s two years where they’ve known about the problem, and have done nothing. I wonder what the reaction would/will be if someone else turns out to have died for the same reason within that time.

I assume there’s been some corporate legal bullshit going on that says that if they changed the labels before the inquest, they’d be acknowledging they were liable, or some such.  Thing is, they were – and are – liable. If the labels had been in place, she wouldn’t have taken that sandwich, and wouldn’t have died. How on earth can that be anything other than being responsible for her death?

Debtor’s Tales

This week I read the story on the BBC of a woman whose father committed suicide because of his debts. It’s an interesting piece – but, having been through that process, there’s something just Not Quite Right about it too.

I know lots of people – particularly middle-aged men – hide their heads in the sand when it comes to debts and so on, in the seeming hope that it’ll all just go away. (Spoiler Alert – It never does)

In this case, the man ended up being declared bankrupt by the local council, as he couldn’t keep up payments having missed one. (And the council behaved shockingly badly, even for local authorities – I know that if I’ve ever had a problem, I’ve got in touch and it’s all been easily sorted. But of course, you have to get in touch)

According to the story, once he missed a payment, the council billed him for the whole year at once. (Again, I’ve received that letter, but then got in touch and got it sorted down to a new monthly amount that accounted for the missed payment to be spread over the remaining payments)  He couldn’t afford the full year, so just didn’t pay anything – and kept on not paying anything.  (There is also a quite stunning degree of stupidity going on here, but I do semi-understand the mindset)

Where I get really twitchy about the story, though, is after he’s declared bankrupt.  Supposedly, the court-appointed trustees for the debt – and this is where he and I differ, in that he was declared bankrupt by someone else, where I declared myself – super-loaded the entire thing with extra charges, which is something that simply didn’t happen with my own Payments Agreement.  From the article…

Straight away he was charged £3,800 in something called “statutory interest”, which took his debt to about £15,500. But that was just the start. Over the next three years my dad actually paid £15,000 to the trustees appointed to collect the debt – the accounting and consultancy firm, BDO – but over the same period the bill from the trustees grew to £72,000.

(c) BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-45581526

Whatever was happening, that was iniquitous – but I don’t know what it was about.  When I got my agreement, it was the amount remaining from my income after all the bills and expenses had gone.  I paid that amount for three years, and that was it. No further charges, no ‘statutory interest’, nothing. The only other thing I had had to pay was the court fees, which came to £700-odd, from memory. That was it. 

Yes, I paid any extra income for three years – but that figure was set at the start of the process, and only changed if my situation did. The entire process was clean, fair, and the best thing I ever did.  Obviously I’d have preferred to not be in the situation where I needed to go through that process, but there we go – hindsight is a wonderful thing on that score.

So yes, it’s a terrible story of what happened to this man. But there’s also a lot that’s not being said, or that (in my humble opinion) needs further exploration.

But as always, the biggest thing to say about it all is that the help is there – so long as you make the effort to find it, to keep in touch, to talk to the right people.  If you just hide away then it’ll all keep on coming back, bigger, nastier and more brutal than before.  There’s no escaping this sort of shit, it just gets worse if you hide from it.

An Unholy Clusterfuck

It seems at the moment like there’s a massive conspiracy going on that makes access from my area to Milton Keynes into an absolute nightmare.

Last month, the Highways Agency started work on the M1 from J13 to 16, installing “smart motorways” stuff, and shoving in a dirty long 50mph speed limit, enforced by average speed cameras. (And there’ll be a post on those some other time)   That work is going on ’til March 2022.

Next month, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes councils are starting the second phase of their joint project to make the A421 dual-carriageway between J13 of the M1 and Milton Keynes.  That’s going to have a 40mph limit on it, and will be in place ’til the end of 2020.

So for the next 18 months minimum, the two primary routes into Milton Keynes will be speed-limited and being worked on at the same time.

And then just to top things off, one half of the other primary route (on the other side of Milton Keynes) is undergoing resurfacing work for the next couple of months – which means that my only other primary route is going to be handling all the traffic that should be on that one.

Like I said, it’s all just seeming like either a sinister plot, or a massive organisational clusterfuck.  Both of which have the same results, when all’s said and done.

Turbo Near-Miss

While driving down to London yesterday (of which more in another post) my car started to make an odd noise. Primarily a whining noise when under acceleration, and generally not all that well.

I called my usual garage, told them what was happening, and got told “Oh, first time we can look at it will be September 3rd”.  (The usual “fob off the customer” approach that they’ve excelled at so many times)  So instead I contacted the other dealership in the area – part of the same group, but run as a separate entity – and the person there made noises of “Oooh, that’s not good”, and asked if I could bring it in the next day (today)

I did so, and as I’d suspected, the turbo is on its way out.  Bollocks.

So the car’s booked in for the work – not cheap, but less than getting a replacement vehicle – and I’ve got a replacement vehicle while they do it.

So far, the new dealership looks really promising – the service department have been great so far, and the deal I’ve got from them has been positive.  It may be that they turn out to be shite – but if not, I’ve got other options.

It’s surprising to see the difference between the two dealerships – the previous/main one (as I’ve mentioned before) consists of a patronising bunch of fuckknuckles. They seem so complacent about everything, and their idea of customer service appears to be to make the customer feel like a fuckwit.

What they’ve never understood – and the new place appears to – is that the service department is just as much of a sales tool as the actual cars in the showroom.  If I’m being treated like crap by the service department with the current vehicle, what on earth would make me buy another car of the same make, and lock myself into further years of being treated like crap?

That’s what the new one seems to understand – that this is the way to keep people coming back. It’s what the Saab garage I used with the previous car understood – and so did the Ford one before that.

We’ll see what happens now, and how things go after the repair. I’m hoping that this time won’t have the same knock-on after-effects that it did when the same thing happened on the Saab.  (Although this time it’ll also help that the turbo was just on the way out, rather than having gone pop when travelling at speed, as the Saab one did!)

Friends and Family

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the dumb-ass “Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family” survey that I received. Between here and Facebook, I received a number of comments from friends saying “Yeah, we keep getting those as well”.

So I complained to the hospital about it, and how stupid it was as a question, and how ill-thought-out it was.

Turns out, this question is that this is the “Friends and Family Test“, which is the NHS’ major/primary metric on what people think of their hospital visit.

According to the NHS, it’s “an important feedback tool that supports the fundamental principle that people who use NHS services should have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience. Listening to the views of patients and staff helps identify what is working well, what can be improved and how.

Of course, that’s still garbage, because the question has absolutely nothing to do with what can be improved, or how the actual visit/appointment was. So it’s all a bit pointless.

So it’s worth knowing that if you are someone who gets a lot of these surveys, you can talk to the PALS department of your hospital and get taken off the survey list.

And finally, if you think it’s a dumb-ass question and a pointless survey, it’s worth registering a complaint with the hospital about the survey. The only way they’re going to learn it’s shit is if enough people keep telling them it’s shit.

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