Monthly Archives: March 2006

Arcel Force

The term “first class delivery” has changed its meaning in the past few years. Nowadays it refers to a value-added service provided by the post office and other couriers whereby you pay a substantial amount more for the delivery and in return they reduce the risk of the package getting stolen en route. It’s very similar to what they used to call a protection racket. Nowadays whenever you send anything by post it’s as if the delivery company say “Oh what a lovely parcel eh Ron ? Let’s hope it doesn’t get stolen during the delivery – you can’t trust anyone these days. Hey, tell you what, why don’t you buy our parcel protection service and we’ll take extra special care of it.”

This is why I don’t like buying on-line. No matter how good the vendors’ service is, and these days it’s usually much better than a shop, to actually get you the goods they throw your purchace into the black-hole of the post.

I ordered a digital camera from amazon last week and saved 60 quid on the price compared to buying on the high street. I payed for the “first class, 2 business day” delivery. Firstly because I wanted it quickly, secondly because I actually wanted to receive it. Well, bugger me backwards, I still haven’t got it and probably won’t get it until next week. pARSEl Force’s excellent tracking website has a list of the many times they tried and failed to deliver it to me. Odd that they failed, I mean there’s someone on the door pretty much 24 hours a day . It’s almost as if they’re a bunch of fucking liars or something!

However, it’s the 21st century so we need worry not because the excellent automated telephone systems will sort it out for us! They have a very simple to use voice recognition system with an understanding and apologetic male voice THAT DOESN’T BASTARD WELL WORK. Of course it doesn’t! VR doesn’t work. You’ll know when it does because all of the call-centre workers will get the sack over night. But still Parcel Force use it. I can only imagine the reason for this is that it is a very cheap an efficient way of pissing the customers off so much that they give up in despair.

Geek food

Some good things:

  • Trac – A blog, Subversion repository viewer, and project management system in one easy-to-swally capsule. Gorgeous diff display too 🙂
  • Synergy – share a mouse and keyboard with multiple machines, all running different operating systems with no hardware. And it’s free!
  • csoap – SOAP in pure C with http client and server.
  • The last 30 picture uploads on livejournal – all human life, in pictures. A good way to kill those spare minutes/hours/years. Click and reload to lose your spare time.

Thanks to Nik for the first 2.

Our brave boys

Makes you feel proud to be British it does! When our brave boys managed to rescue 3 hostages from the terrorists in Iraq. Not only that but, thanks to their superior intelligence, not a single shot was fired and no-one was even injured! And the whole rescue lasted a matter of minutes. Now, as skeptical as I am about patriotism and the military, I was quite impressed by this. The SAS have a very good reputation on the hostage rescue front, but usually at the expense of many other lives. In fact, it’s widely known that they are some of the most efficient killers on the planet…and that isn’t a criticism. That’s their job and they’re really good at it!

So when every rag printed 3 days worth of in-depth speculation, praise and jingoism about them, it was re-assuring to note that no-one was harmed….so presumably they managed to capture the kidnappers so we could interrogate them ?

Well no.

In fact, a few days after the SAN stopped waving union jacks it transpired that the kidnappers had fucked off 2 days before !.

No wonder “not a shot was fired”! I could have rescued them, and still got back to the hotel in time for a beta-blocker! All you’d need is a car and a pair of scissors. And I wouldn’t have demanded the geezers’ thanks on international telly in return.

The fact that the US Army were involved should make us grateful that no other allied forces were shot in friendly fire during the process I suppose. But when the Christian peace activist refused to wrap himself in a union flag and volunteer his back-side to the SAS NAFFI, we really shouldn’t be angry with him.

Personal stuff: we’re a hairs-breadth from getting me a work Visa in the U.S. but have some really tedious paperwork to sort out. Work has been intense but enjoyable and my mum made us the best lasagne in the history of pasta last Sunday….which was mothers day. I know, we’re supposed to treat her on that day but there are two mitigating circumstances:

  1. We got the week wrong and brought her a pot-plant the week before
  2. We’re going to go to a fish restaurant in Greenwich next week with the family. The reviews are either 10 or 1. Hopefully we’ll get a 10 experience 🙂


Normal, worldly, people will fail to be excited about a documentary exposing estate agents as a bunch of lying, cheating, selfish, nasty, bastards. Everyone in the civilised world knows that surely? However tonight’s BBC1 programme ‘Whistleblower’ demonstrated the problem with such simplicity and clarity that I can only encourage everyone to watch it, even if you know the truth already.
They’re like lawyers – don’t play with them; they’re dirty and covered in germs.

BTW – Expats, and any other people who like UK TV should set themselves up with accounts on They provide high-speed access to all of the brit-tv that isn’t available on DVD/Video to those brits with broken videos, ex-pats and TV connaisseurs. This includes documentaries, soaps and just about everything else….anyway

They even provided me with links to a load of material from recently deceased comic hero

Linda Smith

Even a fortnight after she died I’m still upset. If you don’t know the name then try to get hold of a few News Quiz, HIGNFY, or “A brief history of timewastings” because she was great.

Michele and I also watched Watchdog tonight and played PR bingo. Every week they slag-off businesses for their poor behaviour, practices and service. Every week some monkey ends up trying to defend the company. Fuck knows why. It’s not that persons fault. But they turn up and then read a string of trite cliches to the camera while we all sit at home thinking “you twat”. We came up with a list of things this week’s poor cow would have to deal with…it was a tough call because she was defending Parcel Force (a private spin-off of the recently privatised Royal Mail)….the list we constructed included:

  1. Last year we delivered X million packages
  2. We’re constantly striving to improve our customer service
  3. Our business has increased X amount over Y years
  4. Look you fuckers it’s not my fault, we all know that our decision to employ anyone off the street who will accept our diabolical wages to do a skilled job was for money reasons. None of us like it but as long as we get our 30 pieces of silver we can’t complain and have to do our pointless jobs

Funnily enough we get about 20 points on list item 1 and zero points on item 4.

A week ago I got hassled by some Eltham skallies. They yelled “Jesus!” and “Hip Hop rules” as I walked past, obviously because I looked like the messiah and clearly love heavy metal…. I was on the phone at the time and didn’t have the opportunity to tell them that not only was I an atheist but I was also going to hip-hop concerts before they were twinkles in their daddies’ hogs-eyes. Pity. Mind you when I was their age I did exactly the same thing to people walking past.


Friday was the day that we had been waiting for since we married: the interview with the U.S. Embassy concerning my application for an immigrant visa. The soul-destroying, expensive misery of the application process continued right up until the actual interview proper. We queued in the rain for half an hour, but did get to chat to another prospective immigrant who turned out to be a thoroughly bloody nice chap. He had kids and everything but still had to endure the same process as us, with the added insult of having to fly from LA to London for his interview. Yes, he had to fly 6000 miles, from the US to London, for his interview with US immigration.
Once we’d worked our way past the tooled-up [Glocks and MP5s, one even with a holographic reflex sight] coppers, private security people (including one guy that always makes jokes about being bought coffee, and has done for many months at least), and an x-ray machine, we were allowed inside the hallowed atrium of the Embassy.
We took a number and waited awhile until we were summoned up to window number 1 where a clerk systematically pointed out all of the paperwork we had failed to produce. We protested that form 27B/6 had told us not to bother but it was met with incredulity. Just as we were about to give up and settle in the UK she also told us that, despite previously having sent in multiple photographs of ourselves, yet more were required and that that they had to be in a different format.
Michele encouraged me not to blow myself up and instead we went outside to a local chemist to pay a fortune for the legitimate pics.
Of course getting back in involved a pretty tortuous experience again, only this time we were able to preempt the coffee joke from the man with no neck on the front gate.
Once we handed over the pics, the entire experience changed. After a short wait we were directed to a different window, behind which sat the paragon of efficiency, understanding and cooperation. This woman was wonderful. She told us everything we wanted to know, told us how to rectify our omissions with as little hassle as possible, agreed with us that the misleading form was indeed misleading, and told us she would let the appropriate people know!
She then told us that we had finished the immigration procedure, on the understanding that we would get the missing documentation back to them asap.
Michele, incredulous, asked what had happenned to the “Green Card” style interrogation about toothbrush colour. The woman explained:

“Seeing as all you two have done since you got here is bicker, I know your marriage is genuine. If you’d have been all kissy cuddly then I’d have been suspicious…you’ve been married too long for that.”

So, providing I don’t fail the medical, that’s it!
Scary eh ?

Evil state-powered wallpaper

pukey wallpaperIn the 70’s, before the ethics people had any power, it was possible to conduct fascinating experiments on all sorts of people including small children. Evidently my dad decided he would see how much a 4 year old’s mind could be disturbed just by his immediate environment. So he decided to paper my new bedroom with this wallpaper. Now, it was the 70’s I grant you, but this is straight out of The Wall. Observe the scary spikey bits. Regard the brown background. See how the whole is more evil than the sum of its parts.
As bad as this wallpaper clearly manages to be, my dad didn’t think it was evil enough on its own to really cause mental scarring on his son. So he hung it upside-down. Hence the peculiarly sinister tentacles. It remained on the walls of my childhood bedroom until last week…well…some of it remained on the walls. This is probably the last time you’ll ever get to see a photo of the wall of satan’s lounge.

There have been 2 documentaries about the Metropolitan Police on TV in the past week or so. Another Peter Oborne Dispatches and then a nice 30-minute “Inside Out” with Stephen “Shagger” Norris. For those that don’t know “Inside Out”, it’s a sort of Happy Shopper version of Tonight with Trev McD.
Anyway, the essence of both programmes was very similar: The Police are at best crap, but more frequently more interested in nicking innocent people for stupid shit rather than doing the stuff they’re supposed to be doing. Lots of anecdotal evidence for this was provided involving scenarios with which most Londoners are more familiar: burglary and rape victims being ignored; people getting shot in the head for evading their fares etc etc.
Now, it’s obvious to me, and many others, that this is exactly what the Police in London are like. However the programmes both took an odd turn whereby they tried to portray these problems as modern issues, and imply that there was a time when the police were “public servants” rather than opressors.
This irritated me because, despite not having a good education, I know how the Police came about and I know why they still exist. As the Met website explains:

The word “Police” means, generally, the arrangements made in all civilised countries to ensure that the inhabitants keep the peace and obey the law.

Or “shut up” and “do what they’re told” in plain English. Nothing there about protecting the opressed and defending the rights of man you’ll notice. The Police have never been there for any other reason than to protect the rich; that’s what is meant by “keeping the peace”. It actually means stamping on those rowdy hooligans who question why people can be born into privilege while others starve.
There have been several news items over the past few years where people get mugged/burgled/attacked and the police tell them that there’s nothing they can do. Yet, the next morning, there are about 60 of the fuckers at the station helping the “revenue protection officers” protect the revenues of the private companies by nicking the poor sods who can’t afford the outrageous train fares.
Whilst this is all true, just don’t forget it’s nothing new! The police were created to protect the rich, and thats what they’re doing. All that’s new is the league tables (where they have to outdo their mates in terms of number of nicks) and the new “anti-terrorism” laws which simply help them improve their averages.