Happy Days!

7/29/2009 02:06:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 9 Comments

When I was most unwell, unable to get outside and rarely able to see people I would lie in the depressing dinge of a house starved of natural light and dream about having a garden to sit in.

This weekend I thought back to that and counted my blessings. Over and over. A
nd then some.

The beautiful weather on Saturday allowed us to organise a BBQ. At the beach just by my home. With wonderful company and fabulous food. Friends who not only carried everything, but helped me back and forth whenever I needed to enable me to be there with them.

Then afterwards a garden to sit in and reflect upon the day.

ay sore, tired and aching I may not be able to get out but the flat is flooded with light and I can remember. Sheer, complete bliss!


Vignette a la BendyGirl

7/28/2009 06:14:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

Nicecheckoutlady: I'll just pop that in a bag for you love

BendyGirl: It's ok, I don't need a bag thank you, it's just one item, I'll be kind to the environment

Nicecheckoutlady: If you're sure

BendyGirl: I am, thank you, bye!

BendyGirl: walks away thinking "Hmm, it is a bit heavy this soup, I really must wear my wrist braces more often...


BendyGirl: Erm, actually I do need that bag after all please. Sorry about the floor


Bog Off - Sainsbury's Set An Example

7/24/2009 06:28:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 14 Comments

As I need some more shelving for the flat and he is chief shelf builder Roland took me to B&Q this afternoon. I know how to live an exciting life, oh yes....Mind you, what am I talking about...you lot are reading this!

So, B&Q*. Armed with the wheelchair and my pink leather clad blue badge off we set. Driving with Roland is always an experience but this time it wasn't the drive making me feel queasy. When we arrived in the car park the disabled parking to one side of the entrance was empty. Well, empty apart from the woman in the car parked across 3 or 4 spaces.

That kind of behaviour drives me nuts. It's just so damn selfish. Roland waved at her in that gesture universally known to drivers but impossible to describe which loosely translates to 'move yer arse'** The woman in the car gestured back to indicate we should wait as she was waiting to pick something up.

We gestured back by displaying the blue badge. The woman didn't move. We waved the blue badge about a bit more, mouthed that they were disabled bays and that she should move.

She shifted forward slightly so she was blocking more spaces than previously. Still indicating that she was waiting for something.

It was obvious by how she was parked that she was not waiting for a disabled person. Partly because she was across so many disabled bays, but mostly because if she had been waiting for someone with mobility difficulties she would've been making them walk further than they needed to go by parking across the spaces. That, and that mostly those with a genuine need for a disabled bay are considerate towards the needs of others requiring a disabled bay.

The increasing gesticulations and blue badge waving made it very clear
we were serious about her moving. She pulled off angrily to wait just outside the main entrance and mouthed something about there being no need for it.

As we pulled forward into a disabled bay another car which had been stuck waiting for this lady to move was able to park a couple of bays over.

As this kind of incident is so common I was delighted to see the news today that Sainsbury's are to start issuing £50 fines to people misusing their accessible parking bays. Way to go Sainsbury's, here's hoping other businesses will follow your example!

*Orangey looking hardware type store for non Brits.
** No, not the two fingered salute. The other one. Where you flap your arms round a bit type thing


Bog Off! Exhibit 13 The girl in the mirror

7/21/2009 06:51:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 8 Comments

This was the disabled toilet located in the Borders store at Cheshire Oaks. It could have been cleaner, but compared to the standards of many supposedly accessible loos it wasn't too bad.

Unusually the pull for help cord was actually hanging down to the floor where it should be rather than having been cut off or looped around a grab bar to 'keep it out of the way'

The one big criticism I'd make of this particular disabled toilet is that for anyone with visual impairment it would be terribly difficult to use. There are no contrasting colours, the grab bars are white against white tiles, all of which reflect the light in a somewhat dazzling manner producing the effect you see in this first photo (no flash used)

The toilet would also have been difficult for a wheelchair user to access properly. As you can just see in this photo the sanitary disposal bin was so close to the right hand side of the toilet it didn't allow any room to manoeuvre.

On the upside, it even had a mirror for my lipgloss....which was actually positioned at the correct height for a wheelchair user...or short bendy person!


The BT saga-let's hope this is the end!

7/17/2009 04:12:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 7 Comments

As anyone who follows me on twitter already knows...the BT saga has rumbled along. And along. And along.

I currently have 3 home hub's cluttering up my lounge, only 2 boxes for them and no 'return to sender' jiffy bags. Which I suppose don't really matter as much as if they were fully functioning home hub's. Not that I think BT would be as cavalier as other companies in simply recycling their hardware out to other customers. But that's only because I have no evidence that's the case. Unlike, say...O2 who've done that to me on many occasions.

I digress. BT were on the case as soon as that email to their Chief Executive went into the public domain. Kate, the executive level complaints lady they put on the case has been helpful, polite and reliable throughout. She's pretty much the only one though.

One of the biggest problems has been liasing with BT's technical support team to try and sort out the homehub. Whilst I'm no IT expert, I'm also no idiot. Well, not when it comes to IT anyway...everything else is probably fair game. I heard from another tweeter that his problem's with the homehub had only been resolved when he'd paid for BT's technical expert to come out, off the top of my head that's a payment of about £50. In addition to BT's broadband/phone services being twice the price of everyone else's to start with that seems a bit rich to me.

To be fair to BT's technical support team...they have phoned me. They've just phoned at times I haven't been available or stocked with sufficient spoons to go through a process that involves shutting down a fully functioning wireless internet connection and messing about with lots of wires. That's about all I can say in their favour. At no point when I've had enough time/energy have I been able to get through to the technical help team, and on occasion they've proceeded with that favourite BT trick...simply putting the phone down. My final attempt to contact them was yesterday...the first call was 'terminated' after 10 minutes on hold, the second I terminated after 15 minutes on hold.

I've tried numerous times to install the homehub before coming to the decision that with limited time and energy to start with it was utterly ridiculous to be wasting any of that time and energy on a completely pointless process. After speaking to Kate yesterday we decided to try and sort out a final time for the tech team to get in touch and Kate contacted them to book a call for 10am today. It's now nearly 6pm and the tech team are yet to phone. I'm confident of this as I've not been able to open the front door today to leave the flat as the weather is so bad. And because Kate had not heard anything from them either.

Whilst the tech support team failed to call, Kate did not. She phoned just before 11am to see how I'd got on with the installation and if there was anything she could do. We arranged for her to send some vouchers as a goodwill gesture, some bags so I can return the homehubs (note to BT that is yet more time and physical energy I am having to waste on your mistakes) and that I would continue using my own equipment (an excellent if a little pricey Belkin router & a seemingly indestructible yet cheap crap old talktalk modem) as it was simply not possible to install the homehubs. I suspect the homehub's won't work wirelessly because there are a limited number of channels for them to transmit on* and there is already such a large number of homehub's in range of my computer that it's impossible to tell which from which. It isn't an environmental issue as the Belkin has a great signal. It's just as good at the top of the three storey house I live in, which I know because I allow teenage neighbour who has the two top floors to use my wireless connection**

After nearly six months as a BT customer my advice to them would be as follows:

Understand that communications is an incredibly competitive market and lose the monopoly provider attitude of not putting the customer first. WE pay YOU. Remember that, incorporate it effectively into your business model and stick to it.

Slash prices. They are so far out of line with other phone/internet providers it's outrageous. Telling customers they are paying a premium for world class customer service is ludicrous when people are well aware BT's customer service is appalling. Follow the example of TalkTalk who, whilst far from perfect, gained respect by admitting their mistakes, then very publicly acting to change it. Poor customer service is always annoying, but it is incensing when a service is so much more expensive than it's competitors.

Stop ALL overseas outsourcing. No exceptions. Customers hate it for a whole variety of reasons. It does not matter how good the overseas staff may be, language or accent will always reduce quality. Always. The implication of racism if customers do not wish to speak to overseas call centre staff only promotes racist or xenophobic attitudes.

Institute an effective call booking system. Guaranteeing a return call sometime within 24 hours is unacceptable. Calls should be booked in half hour time slots at the CUSTOMER'S convenience and adhered to.

Employ enough UK based frontline staff to answer customer's phone calls in less than 5 minutes. No exceptions.

Train and empower frontline call staff to make decisions.

Ensure a proportion of frontline call staff are able to deal with more than just a narrow area of expertise. Complaints should be possible to easily and efficiently solve by one staff member not countless staff in countless different departments. Whilst expertise in certain areas is desirable, it should not be at the expense of overall competence.

Understand that the needs of disabled people are complex. Ensuring those with special needs are not cut off is not a 21st century solution. Neither is relying on the NHS in the form of a GP's signature to police said system. Clarify where the cost of this lies? Is it the individual customer forced into paying for a GP's time, do BT pay, or have BT relied on the taxpayer via the NHS footing the bill?

*or technical equivalent
**on threat of pain of death if he clogs up my connection with porn!


Getting On

7/13/2009 06:03:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 3 Comments

"Ward B4 is a world of slips, trips and hips, where health care is at its least glamorous. Sister Den Flixter, Nurse Kim Wilde and Dr Pippa Moore assemble for ward round. The daily grind of new admissions and discharges has begun, but Hilary Loftus, the new male modern matron, has just started work and an unsavoury stool sample and a dead patient give him cause for concern. Kim finishes a slice of the dead patient's birthday cake and heads for home."

'Getting On' written by Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine and Joanna Scanlan is an absolute gem hidden away on BBC4. Based on an elderly medicine ward it may not be the most obvious choice for comedy drama but it is inspired in it's ability to mix hilarity and heartache as depicts day to day life working in this often ignored area of the NHS.

The first episode focuses on the faeces on the chair. Someone, no-one is quite sure who, has poo'd on a chair. Beautifully satirising the layers of bureaucracy drowning the NHS it shows Nurse Kim's initial attempts to clear away the poo thwarted by multiple forms to fill in and Dr Moore's vital poo study she hopes to publish to update the Bristol Stool Chart.

Superb watching for anyone who has experience of elderly medicine and essential for everyone who intends to one day be an elderly person!


Sex and Sexability

7/08/2009 05:39:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

There has been a distinct lack of smut on this blog recently, so whilst I'm still feeling like a pig knocked me over I thought it'd be a good time to show some of the cartoons Crippen aka Dave Lupton has kindly given me permission to reproduce here. Thanks Dave!


Assisted Suicide Protest

7/06/2009 03:21:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

Details found hereCartoon reproduced with thanks from Crippen's Blog


1940's Bendy Girls!

7/03/2009 12:39:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

This is a cute video of bendy girl's back in 1944. The bending starts after the song, about 45 seconds in. Enjoy!