Friday 26 July 2013


I just came across this and wanted to share it.

Life is settling down again and I hope to be back to  more regular blogging although next week I am babysitting my youngest grandchild :-)

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Bureaucracy or The Right Hand Doesn't Know What The Left Hand's Doing

My husband had occasion to seek advice from HM Revenue and Customs this morning.  He phoned the help desk and explained the problem, viz, his late mother’s estate (she died in March this year) was being handled by his brother who died suddenly on Saturday. Probate had been granted but administration of the estate had not been completed. Barry’s sister-in-law told Barry she had been informed she would have to take over probate.

The help desk told Barry that was nonsense and he, as next of kin, would be responsible and he should apply for a second grant of probate. Barry then checked with Winchester, the office that granted probate, and was told that his sister-in-law would definitely be responsible for probate, along with her deceased husband’s estate.

Barry checked with the help desk again and the man he spoke to consulted three of his senior colleagues who insisted that their advice was right. A further phone call to Winchester resulted in three managers confirming that the advice they were giving was accurate. Back to the help desk who maintained their position but advised him to get legal advice (!!) but also said that as Winchester was responsible for granting probate he’d better accept their advice as they would be dealing with it.

Everyone Barry spoke to was helpful and polite but why was there so much disagreement between them? Finally, Barry phoned the principal Registry in London and The Winchester office’s advice was confirmed as correct.    

Fortunately, Barry and his sister-in-law get on well together and there is no conflict of interest or argument about the disposal of his late mother’s estate.

Help desks should help, not confuse. There needs to be clarification in training so that all parties are giving the same advice.


Thursday 4 July 2013

Slow Down!

Slow Down!
Festival of Britain, 1951
I have always spoken quickly, words tumbling out of my mouth in their rush to get away from me. Even in the classroom I was aware that I was speaking too fast and tried to moderate the speed, without success. Add to that my clipped delivery and fairly quiet voice and you may understand that most people have difficulty hearing what I’m saying. (Naturally, when I was teaching, I ensured that my voice was loud enough to be heard – sometimes very loud. I can project very well when required to do so.)

As an example, this is what my writing looks like these days before I correct it . . . I hace alwysa spoeken qycjkty, words tumblins our of my nmuth in th r rush to gwe awat form me.
Lincolnshire, 1964
Of course, it may just be my poor touch-typing but it is a fact that it is getting progressively worse. It would appear that the less I speak the more my fingers tangle in the keys and produce gobbledegook. When I stopped going out to work (I refused to say I had retired, such vanity! I was not of retirement age and did not wish to be considered OLD) I relished the prospect of not having to talk all day and now I am almost monosyllabic. (You must allow for exaggeration here!)

Now, when required to conduct some sort of social interaction I often fumble for words, desperate to respond intelligibly and not in an ELDERLY fashion and then I see myself as youngsters see me – past it, bless her. It happened the other day when I went to the hospital to have my eyes dealt with (Visual Fields, don’t you know – all those flashing lights, a patch over one eye and then the other and the buzzer in my hand. I’m sure you know the form:  ’Press the buzzer when you see the white light, keep your eye on the orange light in the centre, don’t search for the white light,’ with the result that I frantically press the buzzer, afraid I might miss one of the spots or think back and realise I have missed one. I listen to the buzzers all around me and hear the ophthalmologist explaining patiently to others what they must do and tell myself to concentrate.)

Both eyes having been tested the pleasant young woman (very young . . . how old could she be? Surely not old enough to be doing this job?) asked me, as she had asked every other person, ‘Have you any other appointments today?’ (What did she think? Was I going to have my mental acuity tested or a prosthetic limb fixed?) and that’s when my quick-wittedness came to my aid as I mumbled, ‘No,’ and she said lightly, ‘Oh, another one with no other appointments so you’re free to go now,’ which is when I compounded my elderliness by saying, ‘I’ve got another appointment on July 22nd,’ thus proving that my memory is not quite shot yet. I wanted to stride out of the room in a parody of youthful energy but my bag strap was stuck under the chair and as I fumbled to free it she came to my aid and picked it up for me. I think she was quite surprised at the weight of it. She didn’t exactly grunt as she lifted it, but I had the impression of renewed respect.

As for stepping out smartly, that was never going to happen. For two months I had sciatica which dissipated to be replaced by pain in my hips (one or other, sometimes both), the result of walking badly because of the sciatica *sigh*. After I’ve been sitting for a while I stiffen and it takes a while to unbend and so I hobbled out, pride not quite intact, thus completing the image of a poor old dear.

Who was it said, ‘Would that we could see ourselves as others see us’?* I’d rather not, thank you. It’s enough of a shock to encounter myself in the mirror and too off-putting to realise that a young slip of a lad or lass is looking at me unable, or unwilling, to understand that one day they too will be old(er).

*I cannot let pass a quotation without checking it to make sure I have it correct. (Is this another instance of impending – or ongoing – decrepitude? Or OCD?) In this case, I didn’t . . .  have it correct, that is. I paraphrased the immortal words of Robert Burns, Rabbie to his familiars:-

O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion. 

 Robert Burns, The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns
Blandford, 2013

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Words for Wednesday

Words for Wednesday

Delores from ‘The Feathered Nest’ offers six words as a writing prompt – recalcitrant, fangs, dithering, glassy, rodeo, wet. Why not visit her and see what other writing has been prompted?

It was summer and the season of school fayres and community fĂȘtes with every group hoping to raise funds. In a bid to appeal to a wider audience the local church had decided to rename their Flower Festival the Floral Rodeo. People came out of curiosity, hoping for prancing stallions in the aisles but found instead dithering officials apologising for any disappointment they had caused. Recalcitrant children, dragged along by their parents, bared their fangs in a semblance of good humour as a rather wet young curate tried to engage them in conversation. Glassy-eyed visitors, anxious to escape his enthusiastic exhortations to join the congregation, gladly donated substantial amounts of loose change to the church restoration fund and gratefully made their exit to the cool air of an English summer.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

The Entropy Gang's July blog (formerly Conservatory Cats' Chats)

The Entropy Gang’s July blog (formerly Conservatory Cats’ Chats)
Isambard, Bertie, Jellicoe and Herschel
Herschel: Since last we wrote some interesting things have occurred.

Isambard: First we all went to spend a day with the Vet servants. I was much happier this time because my brothers came with me.

Jellicoe: The Vet servants’ nurse who greeted us was really excited.

Herschel: She had never seen Ocicats before so we were met with great enthusiasm.

Isambard: We were taken into another room but we don’t really know what happened next.

Jellicoe: Don’t you remember? We were each given an injection and then we fell asleep.

Herschel: When we woke up we felt that something was missing but we didn’t quite know what.
Isambard, Herschel and Jellicoe on the cat tree 
Isambard: We all had something we didn’t have before – transparent collars. We couldn’t get them off even though we tried.

Jellicoe: We were pleased when The Thinker and The Maid came to take us home. They thought we were going to be quiet. I don’t know why.

Herschel: We were so pleased to be out of the little pens we had been kept in at the Vets that we charged all over the house.

Isambard: The collars made a screeching noise as they scraped along the floor and it was difficult to groom ourselves. They got rather a lot of food in them, too.

Jellicoe: We had to go back to the Vets to be checked and then at last The Thinker and The Maid took the collars off and we were free again.

Herschel: Since then I have been into the GARDEN three times. I wasn’t supposed to because the special fence isn’t in place yet.

Isambard: The THINKER and The MAID have had to wait while their next-door neighbours had a new fence put up. It looks very smart.

Jellicoe: The DOGS didn’t like it because the men had to come into our GARDEN and they barked. Then BERTIE realised that next-door’s GARDEN was open and he could go in it. He liked that.

Herschel: We have plenty of room to play in the house. We can climb very high.
Herschel and Jellicoe 
Isambard: We’ve all been on top of the kitchen cupboards . . .
 Jellicoe and Herschel
Jellicoe: . . . and the grandfather clock . . .
Herschel: . . . and we like climbing the wire mesh door that allows fresh air into the sitting room but doesn’t let us out.
 Herschel (and Bertie)
 Isambard: The THINKER and The MAID say they’re going to move the bird feeder. They think we might catch the birds.

Jellicoe: We can catch flies and spiders but they’re much smaller.

Herschel: Some of the birds are quite small but the black and white birds (editor’s note: Magpies) and the heavy grey ones (editor’s note: wood pigeons) are too big for us.

Isambard: We could work together – we’re good at that.

Jellicoe: For example, we know how to open doors but we can’t quite manage it yet. We keep trying, though.

Herschel: In the mornings, as soon as we hear any movement from the BEDROOM where The THINKER and The MAID and the DOGS sleep we start miaouing and scratching at the door. Isambard is the first to start and he tries to push the door handle down to open the door.

Isambard: I jump down on it from the chest of drawers.

Jellicoe: Eventually we are allowed into the BEDROOM and we purr very loudly for a very long time and then we settle down on the bed and go to sleep.

Herschel: We’ve discovered a new game. One of us hides, one of us stays with The THINKER and The MAID and one of us goes upstairs.

Isambard: I usually stay downstairs with the Servants and Jellicoe goes upstairs while Herschel hides.

Jellicoe: After a while I start to cry and that alarms the Servants. They’re always relieved when they see me so then I go upstairs again and miaou.

Herschel: That’s when the Servants freak out. They know where Jellicoe and Isambard are but they realise they haven’t seen me. They hunt everywhere for me, even in the places I’ve never been. Then one of them sees me in the cat tree. I’m usually asleep by the time they find me. It’s fun to play hide and seek but it can get rather boring.

Isambard: We are still creating entropy. Yesterday we knocked a casserole dish off the top of the cupboard and broke it. The bits went everywhere. The MAID had to use the vacuum cleaner and that made GUS shiver and shake – silly DOG.
Jellicoe, Isambard and Herschel

Jellicoe: Time for a zizz now – I hope next time we can show you some photographs of us in the GARDEN. We’re really looking forward to exploring OUTDOORS.

We are linking to Gattina's Cats on Tuesday