Thursday, 30 January 2014

A new perspective...

No pictures this week I'm afraid but I'm gonna postulate on for a little while about the NHS here in England.  Please bear in mind these are my views and I know I'm not at all in the "know" when it comes to having fact and figures.  Also please think on that I am a great NHS fan, after all they provided quite a large part of the Waddy's household budget when Sanny was doing her nursey bit, and I do think that the country would be much the poorer for not having an NHS service.  Disclaimers over.  My story is starting when both Geoff and I turned up at our local surgery on Monday morning for separate appointments made some fifteen days earlier, Geoff with the nurse for his his routine blood tests and myself with my doctor, for the back injury updates, this is fine now but I have a very severe lung inflection so kept the appointment, it never rains.  Seems pretty straight forward.

In our surgery there is a touch screen computer which asks D.O.B  and first letter of surname and then registers your arrival with the clinician you have been appointed to.  Geoff's worked, mine didn't.  No problem I'll just ask at the desk and the ever so helpful young lady will oblige, NOT.  I'm not knocking the clinical side of the surgery here, all NHS facilities have fantastic clinical staff but also they are needed to be run to a budget and have bean counters employed to do this side of things.  I suspect however that many of the in house management team are the ones who they can't fit in any other role because there skill sets don't suit the need to talk to organisms more advanced than protozoa.  In the bean counters attempt to make their small and otherwise meaningless little empires secure they employ a team of back office staff who then have a radical effect on certain section of front office staff who aspire to their positions.  I know this sounds sexist but could equally apply to men in this job although I have never come across any so from my perspective it's "usually" a gender specific role.  The doctors receptionist is always a woman.  She always has a point to prove.  She always is underpaid and overworked but most of all she will always walk on water to do whatever the bean counters dept. has said she must do.

I my case, this infuriating little female dictator, decided that I hadn't made an appoint (this was true San had) "If an appointment had been made then it would have been on the system!"  Sandra said, "well I made two appointments on the same phone call how is it that one is there and the other isn't, and also the telephonist was asked to repeat back to me the details thus ensuring I knew you had it right."  "But, if you'd made an appointment it would have been on the system."  Sandra, "you know how you record the calls for training purposes? would you like to listen to that now?"  No because you don't have a appointment booked.  Frazzled and ill I decide to put in my five bobs worth.  "Well if that's the case when can I have an appointment" I am on the verge of collapsing at this point. "And if not I go straight to the hospital." I said "you do realise that my health going forward at this time is very fragile as I have had the nutritional input of an Iceland Lasagna in the last ten days and feel like I may be about to expire in your very face."  "Well I can fit you in a week tonight" came back the totally unconcerned bean counters apprentice,  I went to sit down before a felony was committed.  This didn't stop my missus having a go and five minutes later I had an appointment in the next quarter of an hour and was told my lungs were totally full of fluid and given all the commensurate drugs to start things going the right way.

In the meantime Geoff goes in to see the nurse with his "pukka" appointment and she says to him "right Geoff why are you here" "for my blood tests" says Geoff quick as a flash (not much gets past him!).  "What blood test" says the Nurse, "I have to prepare the correct foils for various different tests", "can't you just take a couple of syringes full and sort it later" the ebullient Geoff replies.  Anyway after a little banter it gets sorted out but should have all been on the notes attached to the appointment, more incompetence.

My GP, Simon Marshall, is second to none a great doctor who has a sense of humour thanks for putting up with my through my ongoing dying period.  I've not mentioned any names of the front office staff deliberately, BUT YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!!

Other issues of note this week, there are a couple, firstly we got a call from our letting agents on Tuesday to say that our tenants insurance company were now not paying out on the carpets and could we do anything to help.  For a Yorkshire man my pockets are now stretched beyond redemption but we went out to a local carpet dealer we have used many times before and always give us a good deal.  They did as well this time with enough room sized remnants to do Lobby and stairs bottom, lounge, dining room and very complicated hallway, plus as a bonus there was enough of an off cut to re-carpet our caravan and the fitter did it for us. Two days from phone call to fitted can't be bad service can it. Well done Morgan and Quinn they come with a no fuss recommendation from me.

On Monday, Geoff got a letter from a company working as a cooperative to buy central heating oil at bulk purchase prices.  Anyway, the call was put in and oil ordered, the next day they called back to ratify some details such as how much oil, the address etc.  not that this had not been done the day before.  Wednesday we got a letter from them with a prepaid reply envelope and a form to fill in.  At this point I decided to send the following letter to them:-


                Thanks for your message sent out yesterday, the same day we had spoken on the phone to order some oil using this bulk oil buying system.  In your letter you repeat back to me the entire contents of the conversation I had yesterday with your telephone operative, who obviously made very adequate notes.  I then assume that this information has been forwarded onward to some person in the office to type out onto a computer and thus print off ready for your eminent signature and then onward back to us in the merest moments of time. 

However the gist of the letter is to repeat back to you what I have already told you and then you have repeated back to me with two lots of letter preparations and postage in the meantime.   Surely an efficient company would have taken the order when the telephone rang and from there filled in the computerised form for the customer (I do notice that the paper form enclosed has a line saying that this paper becomes a contract effectively between buyer and seller.) and perhaps the details of the card to be charged to when the delivery is made.

Surely for a dot org company listing  pushing it’s environmentally aware message as well as having a web site sporting many, many links to all the green, clean and lean sponsors you are trying to amass, you really should be looking a little more slick in the  front office dept.  and who knows with the potential savings made you may be able to do an even better deal with for your customers or better still offset the proposed charging system to some degree.

Just so there is no further confusion to us simple folk, we have returned the fully filled in paper form for five hundred litres of heating oil (which will now needs transferring to computer) and duly signed.  I thus expect a call from you early next week as discussed on the telephone.

Finest regards,

Geoffrey Scarr aged 89 & 3/4

 Within moments of this email hitting the ether, the phone was ringing, I answered with a jovial "intensive care, how can I help" and the companies MD was there wondering what he had done to upset someone so much.  After explaining to that it was tongue in cheek and that perhaps a little latitude should be sought for people of a humorous disposition I think the penny finally dropped.

I think I may be going batty as well as dying at the moment so I close it at that.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Doohhhh I don't feel well!...

Sandra with the thing in the window at the Thai restaurant.
 Last Thursday Sandra and I went for a special treat to the Thai restaurant at Escrick near York for a stonkingly good meal.  Good job it was a special occasion there wasn't much change out of a hundred quid for the two of us but given all the running about Sandra has had to do for me and her dad since we returned home she deserved the treat.

A reminder of the village when we returned home
Unfortunately we had no sooner got the initial work finished in the house, which would enable our tenants to get their carpets down and get back to some form of normality, than I started to be ill with some lurgy.  The situation with my back has just about returned to it's normal levels of pain so I shan't need an operation just yet but this bug has laid my out flat.  So poor old Sanny is having to take up the slack yet again, she'll have to renamed "saint sanny".

I added the couple of photos of Yokefleet just to show how things were when we returned, it's looking more like the rural idle it is now with the exception of all the static caravans now in the village which people are using now as their homes for the next nine months to a year in some cases.  With this in mind our house got away with it very lightly as our tenants haven't needed to vacate the premises whilst the work is done.

A tad damp methinks.
Well that's about it for this week apart from to wish a speedy outcome for Les Carvall (he of the round the world drive fame) with his treatment for an aggressive form of prostate cancer.  He wanted to keep it quite while he completed his adventure and kept it a secret between himself and his physician in order not to give Vi an excuse to prevent him going.  Good luck you two guys.

Anyone wanting to read about Les's adventures should check out

Thursday, 16 January 2014

AN improvement in a couple of aspects...

Things have progressed on a couple of fronts this week.  Last week I was whinging about insurance, which is still an issue as my insurance has decided to unilaterally withdraw flood cover and backdate it to the beginning of my policy, in other words they are not going to pay out.  As you can imagine I am fighting this to the death but currently I am getting work ongoing with the house and paying out myself, although I will be leaving some of the work until after I get the insurers to extricate their heads from which ever dark hole they are sticking it.
Christmas tree???
The complaints procedure is now under way with the insurers and only when this is exhausted can I escalate it with the ombudsman.  It really is infuriating when you have tried your hardest to make the claim as minimal as possible especially when we all know of people who have really taken the mickey with regards to claims and never had problems at all, hey ho!

I looks as though I may be able to avoid having surgery on the old back as things have eased very much this week, in fact I have been helping with skirting board installation at the house simply to try and reduce the costs a little.  I am down to about twenty five percent of the drugs I was having to take only a week ago so hopefully things will carry on going in the right direction.

One of the things about living at Sandra's dad's house is that we are literally on the river Ouse which is a major shipping artery.  The Jetty which is just over the bank from Geoff's veg garden often has ships staying on it sometimes for several days and sometimes just to wait for the tide to be deep enough to continue their journey.  Overnight they are always lit up like Christmas trees as in the picture above taken at two thirty in the morning just after it had moored.  Ah the penalties of being an insomniac.  It's fascinating to see flags from all over the world (like the Russian one above) being displayed in this sleepy little backwater.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Well it was good week until...

Sandra and her amazing technicolour hair.
 Well the week started off well enough with looking after Jessica and Melissa and having access to proper broadband for the day on Friday whilst John and Fi went to work.  We had a good fun day together and Sandra and the girls all managed to have new hairstyles at the cutting edge of design, well maybe!
Jess the toothless hippy.

The sisters Grimm, Jess and Melissa.
 On Saturday Mason brought his new guitar down for grand dad to tune and to teach him what little I know about playing.  He seems to be loving it and at the moment he is coming down every night after school for an hours "lesson".  Up to now he knows four chords and a finger exercise it's just trying to get him to use the end of his fingers rather than the flat bit which mutes all the strings but his memory is phenomenal, he only has to be shown once and he knows what to do.  Getting it done right however is a little different and  only time and practice will cure that.  Keep it up Mason, it'll never be easier to learn then it is now.

Eric and Jimmy having a jam!
 I had my appointment with the vet for my back on Tuesday evening.  It is certainly getting better and the doctor has advised to keep up the painkillers for another couple of weeks before we decide whether I need to do anything more drastic like have another operation.  Sandra thinks that it will end up needing one anyway and I may as well get it out of the way but I would rather leave it as long as I can before starting the clock again as I know it only lasts for five to ten years, we shall see.
Keeping an eye on the boat, courtesy of marina cam.

I don't think I ever congratulated the intrepid Christmas day swimmers for their mammoth efforts off Vassiliki and raising a huge quantity of money for a local charity in doing so.  To everyone who took part Sandra and I would like to extend our heartiest congratulations, especially Debbie and Liz who I know did at least thirty minutes in the mid winter hog wash.

We have altered the time of our return trip to Lefkas which cost us an arm and leg but we are now set to return on the ninth of March but having to leave home on the eighth and stay overnight at Manchester.  Hopefully we'll get the four thirty bus from Athens so getting home around nine thirty ish at night.  Can't wait!

We were thinking things were well under way with the house but the insurance company are being very slow despite spending loads of time on the phone, they are quick enough to help themselves to your premiums though.  Bloody insurance, there's no wonder many people try to get away with not having any.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2014 gets off to a painful start...

The sun is out... The sky is blue...
 Well I hope that by now all the excesses of the Yuletide period have started to wear off and the hangover (head) and hang under (belly) are now on the wane.  Personally from our point of view the new year was a bit of a none event.  Prior to coming back to the UK we had planned to spend two or three days over the new year with Maureen and Mark but because of other happenings this had to be postponed, thus Sandra and I were in bed by 9 o'clock.

Unfortunately my back has not made any progress towards getting better in fact it has necessitated a visit to the doctors for some elephant sized pain killers to match my swelling girth.  The over the counter drugs I was taking by the scuttle full were having no effect what so ever so I had to bite the bullet and get something more up to the job.  These are working better but I still can't stay on my feet for more than a few minutes at a time but at least now I'm getting a little more sleep, in fact the new pills are sending me to sleep during the day, best be thankful for small mercies.  I have another appointment with the vet next week to see if we need to take it any further, perhaps back to the old chopping block!
Visit from a much missed friend.

Today we had a visit from Maureen who came for lunch with us.  It's great to catch up with her and the time seemed to fly by.  Unfortunately Mark couldn't come as he can't get into the house with his wheelchair and it seems a little selfish to leave your guests outside whilst you have lunch.  Never mind mate we'll get there to see you soon hopefully.

Today has been a beautiful day as can be seen by the photo above, notice how high in the sky the sun is and this was shortly after mid day, it's now quarter to four and the sun has set and darkness is descending, bahhhh, I'm missing the sunshine.

Hope you all had a great new year and I'll maybe have more to say next week.