Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ahh ... Bisto!!!

I suppose that searching for your dead dad on the internet is an exercise in narcissism, or perhaps a desperate attempt to conjur him in some sort of guise, any one will do.

He loved computers and the internet and though he was an intensely private person, I think it would have given him a certain smug satisfaction to find himself.

Imagine my surprise when I found a copy of this image in an online archive. We had the photo at home for as long as I can remember but we didn't know where or when the photo was taken.

Now we know. My dad in Roseburn (Edinburgh) Park on Coronation Day (1953 for those who don't know) aged 11. He's the boy Bisto Kid. The girl is Margaret Swan according to the archive.

Monday, January 30, 2006

From pillar to post ...

... or "Every little helps, Reprise" Reprise.

FYI I enclose the following:

a copy of an email from me to Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy;
a response from Tesco Customer Service.

Dear Mr Leahy

I am contacting you to explain about a problem I had with your organisation before Christmas. I am a longstanding customer and for our income, which is limited, we spend a lot with you.

In February last year my husband, aged 42, suffered his first stroke and was in hospital for about a month. I don't drive and we live in a second floor council flat with our three children (one of whom is a toddler): having Tesco deliver our shopping seemed like the ideal solution.

Some of the drivers were reluctant to bring stuff up the stairs and I contacted customer service in Dundee to make sure that I was right in assuming groceries should be delivered to my door. I was assured that they should. Over the next few weeks while XXXX was recovering we continued to use the service but some of the drivers were obviously so reluctant to bring shopping up the stairs that as soon as XXXX was able to help me, we stopped having the shopping delivered.

In September, after making an almost complete recovery, XXXX had an even more serious stroke and was in hospital until mid November. We'd had a flyer asking us to come back to Tesco.com and though I was reluctant to do this given the way I was made to feel, I felt like I had no option. On the first or second occasion (in November) the driver stated he wasn't bringing the shopping up the stairs - I said I'd clarified the matter with customer service and would he deliver it to the door please. He brought it up the stairs and though he was not rude, was obviously furious.

I had more shopping delivered without any problems until 13 December when a driver I believe to be the one just cited buzzed the security buzzer. I said I would let him in and he said not to bother as I would have to come and collect the shopping. I said I couldn't and he said I would have to as he was not bringing it up the stairs. I explained my husband's health problems (we are now due to be rehoused because of the severity of the stroke) and said that we needed our shopping delivered. He then stated that he was not coming in as a hypodermic syrringe had been reported in the building and that customer service knew all about it. He gave me the number of the local store to ring. He was rude, confrontational and very abrupt from the outset of the conversation.

I rang customer services at Real-Life-Tesco-Store and the first lady I dealt with said he should have delivered to the door and she knew nothing about the driver's complaint. I then phoned Plymouth City Council to try and ascertain if the complaint had been made to them. I spoke to various different departments none of whom knew anything about such a complaint at my address. The final department I spoke to was the Street Cleansing emergency response team who actually go out and clean syrringes up. The manager there stated that to his knowledge there had never been anything of that nature collected from the address.

While I was on the phone, XXXX (or perhaps XXXX - I'm sorry I can't
remember) XXXXXX phoned and asked me to ring her back which I duly did.
She explained that your terms and conditions meant that the driver only had to deliver to the external door of the property if there were health and safety contraindications. I explained my conversations with the council and she said that would not compel her driver to deliver to me. She said she was passing the matter on to head office who would contact me.

XXX XXXXX left a message on my answerphone to say an email was on its way and asking me to contact him. I tried to contact Miss XXXXXX to say I wanted the orders (I'd only that morning placed my order for Christmas) cancelled but only got through to a delivery driver - when I asked to speak to Miss XXXXXX about an outstanding complaint and said I was Mrs XXXXXX, he said "Oh, you're number 7" he said she wasn't there so I decided to deal with Mr XXXXX.

The email never turned up but he rang back and spoke to my husband the following day while I was at work with the information that we were now boycotted by all of your Real-Life-Tesco-Store drivers because of the smell of urine in the lobby.

I rang Mr XXXXX back the following day to clarify the situation. I said what I was most upset about was not the non-delivery but the way I had been treated and it was that I wanted addressed - I'm working with the local council to try and resolve the issues in our lobby which are caused by others. I couldn't blame people for not wanting to come in to the building - I don't most days.

Mr XXXXX said that if I lived more locally he would come and see me personally but as that could not happen he would pass the matter back to Real-Life-Tesco-Store for them to deal with. I asked him to ensure that the order was cancelled and that however the matter was resolved, I wouldn't want any of the drivers delivering to me as I felt completely humiliated by the whole experience.

I'm sorry to be so long-winded about this but I have received only one communication from Real-Life-Tesco-Store - a Tesco.com receipt (the type they bring with your delivery) at the top it merely states "we are sorry you are unhappy with the following items".

I had expected some kind of goodwill gesture for the upset and distress I have been made to feel in the course of spending money with your company, at the very least an apology.

We continue to shop with Tesco - I believe that the boycott, whilst able to be sustained by the poor environment in my lobby, was basically about one person's unwillingness to bring shopping up some stairs. I enjoy shopping with you, we like using our reward points to save for Christmas and want to go on shopping with you.

I would like a proper apology for the hurt and humiliation I now feel. My husband's health, our at times appalling environment and caring for my family and myself are enough to worry about without being made to feel like a pariah.

Yours sincerely

After some time (original sent 7 January) I received this on Saturday evening.

Dear Mrs Sheweevil

Thank you for your email addressed to Sir Terry Leahy. As Sir Terry is away from the office at the moment I have been asked to respond on his behalf.

I was very concerned to learn of the problems you have axperienced with our Grocery Home Shopping service and that your delivery driver was unwilling to make a delivery to you. I was also concerned to hear that you have yet to receive a response from the Real-Life-Tesco-Store as promised.

I would like to advise that we expect all our staff to treat customers with respect and to approach any difficult situations with tact and discretion. When the condition of the communal access to your address became a cause for concern I would have expected the driver to discuss this in a polite and friendly manner with yourself and explain the concerns they have about making the deliveries.

We would then expect our driver to bring this to the attention of the Home Shopping Manager and discuss with them the justifications for their concerns that to continue making a delivery would pose a risk to their personal health and safety. The Home Shopping Manager should then arrange to assess the situation directly and act accordingly.

The Home Shopping Manager should contact the customer and advise them of the reasons that it will no longer be possible for them to receive a delivery at that address, if it is felt there is a risk to the health and safety of the driver or store staff.

While I am sure you can appreciate the reasons taken by the store to no longer deliver to your address, I am sincerely sorry this has been handled in such a poor and insensitive manner that has caused you so much inconvenience and upset.

I have contacted the store and asked that they write to you as promised and issue their own apologies fro the poor traetment you have received from their staff.

I do hope, that despite the inconvenience and distress already suffered, you will accept my sincere apologies and that you will give us the opportunity to restore your confidence in our services.

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to contact us.
If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us at
Kind Regards

Tesco Customer Service

Obviously I have changed names but what do you think? I will have to wait and see if there is anything from the store involved - but how long do I wait?

Tommy this and Tommy that ...

I have recently been doing some family history research. It turns out I found a great uncle that was lost after the Second World War. It's a small and hollow victory as he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cassino Memorial.

This doesn't mean he died during the battle for Monte Cassino, just that he died during the Italian campaign. He was a regular soldier in the 1st Batallion Durham Light Infantry, having joined up before the war and he died on September 8 1943. He was from Liverpool where all the English side of my family is from. His name was Thomas Harvey.

If anyone in Blogland can help me tie up his date of death with a particular action in which 1st Bn DLI were involved. Names like Pergola Ridge and Salerno keep cropping up but I can't pin the 1st BN DLI down to them.

His two sisters, my grandmother and my great aunt, tried to find him after the war but had no luck - the advent of the computer makes records searches easy.

So if you have any connections to the DLI or can help in any way please contact me.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A certain nostalgia ...

The promised demise of the UK Theme has set me on a course of nostalgia and sentementality. Born at the end of the 60s, I was not old enough to understand the politics of the Vietnam War, the likelihood that man in fact never has stepped on the moon, or the machinations that lay behind the three day week.

But I do remember things. Nixon resigning, Jeremy Thorpe, Princess Anne's wedding (the first time round) and watching the fireworks from Windsor Castle all in glorious black and white.

It's not surprising, I suppose, that memories of these things tend to be in black and white and even that some faces, perhaps only remembered through the medium of a black and white photo are also black and white.

But whole memories of visiting places - a particular visit to my great aunts and uncles in flats at Upper Pitt Street in Liverpool (I think), with flocks of pigeons all flapping about in black and white against a grey (blue) sky. Searching for Upper Pitt Street, I found a reference to a park there now and then found another to Picton Playground, a place of wonderment and awe for me when I was three. In contrast to the park we had back home in the depths of Cornwall this place was a technicolour dream of equipment (most of which I was much too timid to use). I know it was colourful but I can only remember it in black and white.

And an old man picking up dogends on the top deck of a double decker bus and my mum telling me not to stare. He's in black and white too.

Is it only me? Am I going ever-so-slightly round the twist? Are there any scientific types out there who put my mind at ease and tell my I'm completely normal, in this regard at least.

And will my children remeber things in black and white or colour?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fabulous Minigallery

About a year ago I found, quite by accident, Minigallery's website. After some umming and ahhing the Artist was persuaded that it might be a better idea than the struggle he was having to sell his art through ebay and the derisory prices he was getting.

He signed up last February, shortly before stroke number one, and through sales he has been able to upgrade his subscription level twice. It also led to his first exhibition at The Art Garden Cafe on the historic Barbican, Plymouth.

If you are an artist, budding or otherwise, get yourself over to Minigallery:

Create your very own virtual art gallery online now!

They offer a range of subscriptions to suit even the most struggling and garret stricken of artists. Alternatively, if you want something lovely to stick on your wall, original works, prints even greetings cards and free ecards.

The Artist is very much on the mend now and starting to think about going back to work. He's got stuff to finish from last Autumn and new ideas he's almost desperate to work on.

Life is steadily getting back to normal, whatever that is.

Mercedes Tiffany Rolls-Royce

I have just decided to make this my movie star name. What's yours?

Every little helps ... reprise

I had lots of helpful advice on this topic, none of which I took. I waited for a reasonable period of time (around two or three weeks) and had nothing but a receipt confirming our card had been refunded.

So I emailed Sir Terry Leahy, CEO of Tesco. On 20 January having had no response or acknowledgement I sent it again. This time I received an email from a PA or assistant saying my email is receiving attention.

Watch this space.

UK Theme - demise of - discuss

Perhaps many of you are not aware of this catchy little number. Or perhaps, like me, you catch it from time to time in the greyish gloom of a new day.

For the Artist it's an irritation: a remembrance of a time when he had to get up very early in the morning to deliver veterinary supplies.

For me it particularly reminds me of a pin-money cleaning job and a halcyion last few months in our old home, coming home from cleaning up old lady spit and gardening in my lovely established garden full of hardy perennials and shrubs and peace.

It is, I suppose, an anachronism but is there really any harm? And if they suceed in dumping this what will be next - not Sailing By, please. It is so often the music we drift off to in that post-coital swoon.

The strength of feeling is apparent with questions tabled in parliament - I suppose, a ludicrous misuse of parliamentary time but I don't want it to go.

If you agree visit savetheradio4theme.co.uk and add your name.

In the scheme of things it's a trivial cause, I know but if things can be changed here, they can be changed in other places too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bette Davis and me

Thanks very much, Cheryl, for the plaudits at Christmastime. I was not ignoring your kind remarks but finding a way to respond which either completely ignored my new hairdo or pretended I was fine with it.

Four days before Christmas I woke up with the urge to have hair a bit like Stockard Channing in Grease (above). There are worse things I could do.

Instead of leaving this little fantasy firmly on the inside of my head where it belonged and due to the proximity of our local hairdresser (downstairs) I was convinced what I needed was a perm. I'd never been to the place before but I'd seen lots of old ladies going in and having perms - they must know what they're doing, mustn't they?

The answer is they do. They know how to do old-lady-perms. The stylist did ask me if I'd considered a colour - but the thought of a blue or pink rinse was just a bridge too far. I wanted to look like Stockard Channing for f***s sake, not Frenchy in her Pink Lady phase. I was quite pleased with it until I got home, which given it is only upstairs is not long.
I persevered with it and went into town looking like Deirdre Barlow's 20:20 vision sister. By Christmas Day I was absolutely in hate with it but fairly circumspect: what could I do? I cooked and served Christmas dinner looking like the leader of the hair bear bunch and struggled like a gladiator to get my Christmas Cracker hat over the frizz. It perched improbably on the top and just enhanced the effect perfectly.

Now, most of the time, it behaves itself fairly well. And a lot of the time I even quite like it - I would caution anyone with somewhat blurred and fond remembrances not to try it at home though - a place in fashion history is what it deserves not a place in modern life.