9/11

Posted in 911, air traffic control, canon, life, London, media, photography, September 11 on September 11, 2011 by norvenmunky

Grosvenor Square, London, September 15, 2001

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BT

Posted in BT, Darwin Awards, disruption, entertainment, environment, Humour, internet shopping, life, media, shark feeding, Uncategorized on August 31, 2011 by norvenmunky

BT's 'Talk to the Hand' Customer Service Center

This week I have mainly had the pleasure of being subjected to BT’s customer ‘service’. The only thing remotely close to service that springs to mind is one of those days when you’re standing outside a garage and some halitosis ridden wizzened old codger sucks air through his teeth and says ‘It’s going to cost yer’.

As one of BT’s valued customers we had the pleasure of being cut off from their ‘service’, for not paying the bill. Unfortunately for BT, our bank records, and after subsequent detailed investigations on their part (i.e. them actually fecking looking), proved that we had in fact, using a well know phrase or saying, ‘paid in full’. Getting to this stage however took a good few wasted hours. Firstly one had to deal with their ‘offshore’ service center, not for the first time either. BT happens to not recognise my card. This is unusual. My bank recognises it, the local Co-Op recognises it, it seems vaguely familiar to myself, it being the primary means of commercial transactions that I use, and BT are able to recognise it having taken a payment from it. Yes thats right, the one they hadn’t received but acknowledged they had received. The payment had been taken by their obsequious ‘submissive or fawning in attitude or behavior’ offshore department whom assured me with a guarantee that this problem would not re-occurr. I mentioned at the time that I was on the phone because it had already re-occurred after a previous event, so the promise was somewhat hollow. Well having held on today for 14 minutes before they managed to cut me off whilst ‘transferring’ me, (Note to self: When someone says ‘I’ll just put you on hold to transfer you’, it’s corporate speak for, ‘stick it up yer @rse, your questions are too difficult’)

Well imagine my surprise to call again and then speak to a person in England! This time there were no ‘system problems’ or ‘all our computers are down’, the lady could actually speak to me about my account. Odd though that they wanted to charge a re-connection fee and a late payment fee for a bill that was paid in full. I mentioned in passing I felt that was unsporting of them and mentioned that if they had actually taken the full amount as instructed, both BT and its customer, (me) would get on a little better. I was then told it was my fault BT hadn’t taken the correct amount, and I queried why there was any logic to me not paying the full amount, using the age old ‘keeping a shark in the toilet’ comparison arguement. In fairness the manager now admitted that it was unlikely that having paid in full, and it being confirmed on my bank statement that I would think there was an outstanding balance. Rather like keeping a shark in the toilet, I may well keep a shark in the crapper, but on the basis he’s likley to get a bit fed up being dumped on (literally, see, another BT customer), and me ‘chumming’ the bog every other week would take some explaining to the wife, it’s pretty unlikely I’d consider the possibility.

An annoyed shark, yesterday

But we’ve written you letters and tried calling you she oppined, yes, maybe, but one was on holiday, so responding to a problem caused by your company that I was unaware of, and thought had been resolved, (that pesky bank statement ‘proof’ thing thing again), wouldn’t be a high priority.

Do you mind if I listen to our recording of the original conversation? (for training purposes) she asked. Of course not said I, I’ll hold on. Well out of the 90% of calls that BT tell me they do record, (for training purposes), what do you think the odds were that my call had not been recorded? Call me ever so slightly cynical but me standing in front of the bog and ‘chumming’ just seems more likely by the moment …

Do the Maths …

Posted in air traffic control, atc, baa, bbc, Darwin Awards, disruption, entertainment, environment, Humour, life, media, simon calder, snow, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 13, 2011 by norvenmunky

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, apparently the UK’s MP’s have come to the conclusion that the UK now needs a ‘Snow Supremo’ because its mid May and someone in accounts has just knocked the calender over, it falling open at ‘December’. This group of MP’s examined the impact of heavy snow last December which shut Heathrow, Gatwick and major train lines, and left roads impassable. There’s an inevitability here that a load of people have sat around a table listening to people who don’t have a simple grasp of maths, talking to people who don’t have a grasp of maths. You rapidly come to the conclusion that we’d learn more factual and useful information if we’d paid them to sit around lighting and analysing their own farts. Don’t get me wrong re mathematical ability, despite my current employ, I was labelled early on as ‘Suitable for Parks and Gardens’. In retrospect it may have been an extremely astute careers teacher who thought, ‘this ones trouble’ keep him outside in the shit, rather than inside creating it, alternatively, they may have been as thick as pig muck. I know where my vote is.
We all know there are known knowns as Mr Rumsfeld would have us believe. For simplicity there are various impirical measures that we use, and we all understand what they mean as we can all relate to the sizes quoted. They are in no particular order, london bus, Wales, jumbo jet. These are helpfully rolled out by our ‘meejah mates’ so we, as simple folk can understand whats going on. Unfortunately our ‘meejah mates’ don’t stop to think about how to use the cumulative drivel they are seeping into the nations subconcious to provide a more ballanced outlook on life.

So lets look at out ‘stressed passenger’ at the airport that has just closed in heavy snow. Apparently airlines must give accurate information about delays out to the passenger and provide acommodation etc etc. So assume we’re on RyanJet, a low cost airline flying 150 seat airliners. Today we’re lucky all the aircraft are only 2/3rds full with 100 punters per flight. We are however at a busy single runway airport with 30 movements per hour. That means every two minutes an aeroplane departs. We won’t bother with arrivals it’ll get too messy, we’ll assume its the first wave banzai charge of the morning thats been culled. Unfortunately we are at the back of the queue of those wanting info. So in front of us we have 30 x 100 passengers all wanting information they can bellow into their crackberries that they’re ‘at the airport’. Thats 3,000 people/6 x jumbo jets/53.57 x london busses of people all in front of us. We have ten check in desks available to help answer our questions. Thats 300 people/5.3 london busses, per bint per desk. Fortunately all the bints are as fast/helpful as the legendary Jane Boulton and either answer the query or shoot the passenger dead within one minute of them arriving at the front of the queue. So at the back of the queue we will be waiting ‘a while’ before we get seen or shot individually.

So one aggrieved passenger suggests …
Major airports and stations should have accommodation reserved for when people are stranded, and food in place.

Ok, Mrs Thickass-Hite at the back of the queue, lets look at the Abiss Hotel in Luton. 162 rooms, (we’ll assume they’re all doubles). That means one hotel can accomodate one queue each (for cash). So the airport/airline has to book for Mrs TS (in case it snows), ten entire hotels in the vicinity of the airport, just for one hours worth of departures at two thirds airframe capacity. For the benefit of Mrs TS that assumes they are fortuitously empty on that particular day, and that as if by magic, when it pisses down with snow, not one other non-airline traveller in the vicinity of the airport is going to consider booking into a hotel overnight because the weathers bad. Also no doubt she’ll want a personal taxi to the pre-booked hotel, or a coach, and she’ll insist on being at the front of the queue. Course with the snow falling and the roads a bit ‘busy’ you’ll be at any of the ‘pre-booked just in case and cost not passed on to you in increased ticket price hotels’, in a matter of minutes inside the taxi or coach that would have been doing nothing at that time of the morning anyway.

An 'empty' hotel car park

Then there’s clearing the snow at airports. The most important thing is to get the runway clear, then you can land an aeroplane. And thats it, thats all you can do, because you haven’t cleared the taxiway or parking stand. Until you do that you’re cattled. Lets look at those times. The runway is 2,000 metres long x 50 metres wide. Your snow plough is 10 metres wide and can plough at 10kmh. So if the snow has stopped falling enough to allow the runway to remain clear after each pass, that’s an hour just to do the runway before you start on the parking stand and taxiways. Oh and the service roads because you’ll need to put fuel in the plane and food water etc etc, and no, you can’t use salt. One thing missing is the shamen whom are able to tell us exactly how much snow will fall, and where, and when it will stop, not terribly surprising the comittee didn’t find one either. So if you’re a punter at the end of the second hours worth of booking in/flights … well do the maths, and ask Simon Calder to do them too while you’re at it, then he can talk a little less drivel than normal …

Clingons on the starboard bow…

Posted in air traffic control, atc, belton, canon, canon g10, doncaster, entertainment, horse trial, Humour, life, media, photography, spitfire, Uncategorized, vulcan, xh558 on April 2, 2011 by norvenmunky

Vulcan at Doncaster

Well it’s been an interesting week. This week NM has managed to get a newspaper front cover, always a crowd pleaser that one, and has been to a horse trial. Most were found guilty even the sheepish looking ones, hence the long faces. Also this week the aviation foamers have been whipped into a froth by the arrival at Doncaster of the Vulcan, arguably biggest financial sponge in aviation since Neil Robertson. Ex Navs of course didn’t bat an eyelid, an arrival of a Vulcan at Doncaster even now meant nothing to them, most of them had pulled at least one during their time at the Eagle and Child in Aukley, “For one night only your dads are back in town. If you don’t understand then ask your mum!”
Our intrepid reporter snapped the above exclusive, before being sent back to do the job properly due to an unfortunate misunderstanding of the ‘brief’. Getting into his time machine he turned up a couple of reasonable snaps of the arrival.

Vulcan, Doncaster

Vulcan, Doncaster

Later a proper aeroplane went up for a bit

Spitfire

Choleryk (Spitfire, in Polish, BNP take note ... )

Taking the above shots was a bit of a game, the camera battery seem to have a shorter life than a Bernard Matthews turkey, probably due to lack of use, so NM will ensure they now get a caning to try and revive them. This meant that within a week they had fully discharged leaving NM with the unenviable task of trying to get some decent neddy action shots with a G10. Fortunately its a brilliant little camera and came up with the goods again and again. NM was getting some very odd looks from people who were giving the old ‘he doesn’t stand a chance with that’ look. I was quite pleased with the results, looking at the buy it now photo booth at the event, there were clearly some snappers whose cutting room exploits would have been better employed in a french butchers rather than a photographic studio …

Horse at Belton

Horse thingy

Another horse

Patience

Posted in canon, canon g10, Canon G12, Darwin Awards, disruption, entertainment, Humour, internet shopping, life, media, photography, travel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 28, 2011 by norvenmunky

Well every now and then we all have to say ‘stop the world I want to get off’. Well the ‘Berg’ has decided to do just that. He’s taken a leaf from the book of life and headed out on his ‘road trip’. Nowadays its fashionable for yoof to have a ‘Gap’ year after leaving skool, when they run around in grey clothing to the sounds of popular beat combo’s. Berg being an experienced member of the school of life has departed these shores and like NM a good few years before, slung the backpack on, (a double berger then) to circumnavigate the world. Whether he takes the full NM life experience trip and returns with tales of derring do, being woken by cops with guns, smiling sweetly to avoid subsequent arrest, tearing up parking lots in Z28’s, winding up border guards, getting on local radio stations for having a ‘cute accent’, and laying out in the fields drinking beer and shouting ‘shooting star’ remains to be seen, but I hope he does, he deserves it. The good stuff that is, not the cops, guns, arrest, thing, though to be fair that has a certain ‘cred’ factor so long as you don’t tell the wife/kids. Before he left, he sampled the true delights of camera shop customer service, so he’d remember what he was missing.

Nuff said, over to the ”Berg” …

I have a copy of the G12. However therein lies the usual tale of gash service etc. You may recall a few years ago the lens purchasing saga. I knew the risk of engaging Bristol Cameras to supply the said device. Any way a week previously I had phoned and they said the camera would be there but the housing might be a day or two later. I went ahead with it.

Then last Wednesday, as per the verbal agreement, Berg shuffled into their city centre premises next door to the site of the previous debacle. Armed with a copy of the order number hastily scribed on a small piece of paper I quoted the digits to the staff: or at least I tried. I had entered a shop some ten feet square; not the largest retail space on the planet. Three staff members were distributed about the shop and not one acknowledged my existence for at least a minute. It eventually dawned on one of these creatures that the idiot stood there expectantly was that rarest of beasts; a fecking analogue customer!!
The code was quoted, not exactly Davinci, just a few integers and characters, the sort of things commonly found on digital devices. The expression became pained, and that was just the ‘assistant’.
“Oh! But we call or e-mail to say the stock is in.” The Berg doesn’t remember this and is sure he would not have graced their doorstep before checking had he known this was required. He remained calm; recalling the saga of the 50mm lens.
A scintilla of service crept into the proceedings.
“Let me check if we have any stock”. The staffer began his search at one end of a shelf affixed near the ceiling. Berg glanced up and spotted the distinctive group of Canon boxes at the opposite end of the shelf to the staffer’s search. The products were distressingly arranged by manufacturer; Canon, Sigma, Nikon etc. Now; call me a bluff old traditionalist, but if I had a ten foot square shop and I worked in it all the time and a customer walked in asking for a Canon camera I’m not too sure I would begin my search at the other end of the shelf. Indeed I’d like to think I would derive some professional satisfaction from knowing what the feck I was doing and having a reasonable grip on what was stored where. We are not talking about some Amazonian warehouse of football pitch dimensions.
“Let me just check again” this time he disappeared to the back room. Berg had already decided he was going to bin this pantomime but remained waiting patiently. The assistant returned and continued to fidget with his ear; a near constant companion of proceedings so far. No joy.
He then picked up the phone and displayed yet more incompetence as he checked the whereabouts of the accessory Berg had also ordered. Remember Berg was told it would be available maybe a day or so later.
“No; we won’t have that until mid March at the earliest”
As a result of residing at her majesty’s pleasure some years ago Berg has been left with, shall we say, an arcane skill set. He repressed all of them and departed the fix; leaving the staff with the ability to walk and talk; and their premises intact.
Time was of the essence so being in a city centre shopping area, Berg trudged off in search of other camera emporia. He found one and walked in. A brief recce revealed a copy of the desired model on the shelf. The tried and tested point and grunt mode of communication succeeded. Moments later he emerged onto the high street with a brand new G12, twenty beer tokens cheaper, so the resultant saving could be spent on beer, wimin and guns, (this is Bristol after all).

The left over cash he’d waste.

Another 20 tons of rubber dog shit leaves Nam,
One day Berg, all this will be yours, with your luck that is ...

Paradise City

Posted in canon, canon g10, entertainment, environment, exhibition, Humour, internet shopping, life, London, london underground, media, model railroad, model railway, modelling, photography, rail, travel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2011 by norvenmunky

Albert Square 2010

Albert Square

We’ve all got our idea of a Paradise City, places we’ve been, lived, worked, read about, well this is mine, unashamedly, London. Where it all started was Lambeff, Albert Square to be precise, not that crappy beeb London one, but the real, sahf of the riva, see above. I never really thought about why I felt such an affinity with the Kings Cross area when I worked there, but re-visiting pictures it seems that the similar architecture of Georgian three storey architecture with basements and Portland stone probably made an impact on the two year old NM prior to heading out of town, a relief then to realise it wasn’t just the drink, prostitutes and drugs that captivated me on my return. Sometimes I wasted my money on toy trains.

MRM Kings Cross London

That led me to working at the Model Railway Manufacturing Co. Ltd. of York Way. The building has survived the recent development of the area and is now a restaurant. That will be somewhat ironic for the previous staff members who worked there, in that you can now order food to be eaten in the building, rather than using our shop intercom from three buildings away. That could be used, (allegedly), to order food in a cafe, Renzo’s, (three doors away), much to the dissapointment of the proprietor whom on opening an unsummoned dumb waiter, was to see ‘Dooamaneg’ glaring balefully at him on a grease laden sloppy plate…

The friendships built up there still last to this day, some of the antics still bring a wry smile to the face. As youngsters into ‘London’ it was important to find out the area, so we had a street map on the wall, theoretically, for customers who pre googlespace/mytube/facetwatter, wanted to know how to get from place to place. Well there was only one way to find out. Research.

St Pauls

There wasn’t a reseach budget as such, just an unerring faith in our ability to leave the shop at 13:01pm (without a map), ‘RLF’ for twenty to twenty five minutes, and then deliberately find a different route back to be through the door at 13:59pm. The result then being plotted on the map using the shop as the centre and a radius/range being drawn in with a compass. Therefore if a customer asked how long it took to walk to X, you could theoretically give an answer …

Thames from the 'right' side of the river ...

Now, Nm’s regular readers will already be seeing ‘potential’ for interesting and frank, free flowing discussion with ‘management’ on return to the shop, and to be fair there were a few occasisions when such discussion took place. I can recall one particular return trip that went ‘a bit wrong’. We’d headed south to Holborn, via Bloomsbury on a beautiful spring day, but had headed back to route up Grays Inn road. We’d been a bit too long and it wasn’t the first time we’d been bollocked for being late, so the pressure was on. The lack of map bit us here and we were actually lost but continued ducking and diving up side streets to head north. We came across a small playing field and thought we could see a way out at the far end, so we were ‘safe’ and stated to walk. At the end of the field we came to a brick wall, literally, about 8ft high, too high to see over. Doing the old schoolboy run at it and jump, scrabble up and sit on the top worked. The only problem there was, was a concrete yard the other side but with a bigger drop, and expensive cars, probably a law firms parking area. A shout and we simultaneously took our chance and dropped into the yard, splitting in opposite directions, just like the filums. We exited through two different gates running, followed by shouts of very rude words, from an old boy presumably in charge of ‘security’ having served on the Russian Convoys, and used to chasing cabin boys all over the decks. We got back to the shop in time for a summary bollocking, and every siren that sounded that afternoon had us on tenterhooks.

What it did do was to provide a better than ‘the knowledge’ knowledge of the part of North London around the Kings Cross area, including all the street life that entailed.

Trafalgar Square

Street life occaisionally came into the shop, where it was the job of whoever wasn’t ‘busy’ to remove them. Nm had a absolute pearler of a case where he very quickly learnt one of lifes lessons, this was re-inforced by ones colleagues ‘QFO’ing as soon as they realised the Quatermass pit sized whole Nm had dug himself. A lady came into the shop, looking a little distressed, but nothing un-usual to raise alarm bells. (Even at that time Nm was pretty streetwise, being able to identify a pimp/pro/ned/alchy/smackhead at twenty paces). It was a lunchtime, ‘may I use your toilet she asked?’, seemed reasonable, didn’t smell odd, she looked alright, ‘clean’, if you know what I mean, if you don’t … Well, yep Nm says and showed her the way (to the bog).

After about five mins she hadn’t re-appeared. Helpfull comments and queries such as ‘is she still in there?’ from my colleagues rapidly followed, countered with ‘Yeh, she’s probably reading a paper or summat’ from an increasingly intrigued worried Nm. Well a good half an hour passed, questioned through the door, ‘are you alright luv?’ from Nm, his colleagues helpfully asking ‘how are you going to get her out then?’ When on Top Gear one of the guys gets left by the others whilst taking the piss as they leave is just so true, it’s almost a right of passage, and when it happens to you with the right bunch of mates it almost makes it alright. Now the crapper was on the stairs and Nm had to hovver near it to appear like he was just going for one whenever the bosses appreared, to prevent them asking any awkward questions, like ‘WTF is the smackhead doing in the crapper?’

After a good hour or so Nm was thinking I’m going to
a/ have to go in, but the door is locked from the inside …
b/ tell the boss the smell isn’t in fact one of Bri’s unholy ones
c/ just run away

There was a dreadful groaning from the crapper, which was peculiar for Nm. It at least meant that the tart wasn’t dead, but filled him with the dread of getting the aforementioned ‘trollied’ bint out of the shop, negotiating her past a counter full of customers, ‘interested’ colleagues and a security camera attached to a CCTV. The thought of dragging or firemans lifting an unconscious bird through the shop and being caught on camera (again) just filled him with ‘bowell water’ making fear. It is at these times that you realise why adrenaline is brown and leads to real moments of fear inspired brilliance. There were two front doors to the shop, No14 and No12, No12 rarely used. If the bint could be steered through the rear stock room, past the phone and map to No12, there was a real chance she could be released into the wild relatively discretely. So Nm managed to lift the latch of the door at No12, easing it shut so the boss couldn’t see it was open, and as soon as the bint opened the door to the karzi, at about the hour + fifteen mark, he very quickly shoved, escorted her to the other door where on leaving she belched a projectile stream of the foulest smelling puke Nm’s ever had the displeasure to encounter. Well you’ve read the blog, you can easily imagine…
Nm slammed the door behind her and turned to see the boss who had come down the other stairs looking at him very oddly. ‘Whats up’ he said?, ‘Oh just some drunken tart who’s puked in 12’s doorway’ Nm straightface replied. Seemed to work. There were a few comments re the whiff from No14’s crapper though, it stank as though someone had emptied the entire waste contents of Smithfield, Covent Garden and Billingsgate and a bit of soggy cardboard into the smallest room. Nm gave it a quick clean, and declared it clear of sharps and fit for use, (the tart that is, not the bog).

In true team spirit the smell was blamed on Bri.
It’s what mates are for.

Millenium Bridge

Albert Sq piccies from http://www.flickr.com/photos/sczscz/

Long Walk Home

Posted in air traffic control, canon, canon g10, Humour, life, photography, sheep, Uncategorized on December 7, 2010 by norvenmunky

It’ll be a long walk home for these three, dropped in yesterday, presumably to avoid another night out in Kings Lynn, so they got the delights of Doncaster instead.

NM’s been a bit busy this back end of the year, it must be nearly christmas, theres snow on the blog and we’re redecorating a room. And NM is being supervised to make sure nothing inappropriate is scratched into the new plaster.

Back with the sheep soon …