Thursday 22 April 2010


How many minor irritations do you have to endure before you go ballistic or in this case "postal"?

I have always tried to be an oasis of calm and have failed on many, many occasions. So I will not try to claim the moral high ground about this.

I am a flawed human being. I recognise that. As do my friends and loved ones.

With American Adventure 3 on its way (ash permitting), there are alot of little things that need doing to ensure a smooth passage to and from the US, that is not going to plunge me into a boiling hellish nightmare as I have forgotten to do stuff before I went.

These are all tiny things and it has been interesting to watch others in similar situations and to gauge their response.

Things have got off to a good start vis a vis a replacement pair of sandals for the trip. I like to travel light. So 5 shirts, 5 pairs undercrackers and a couple of pairs of trousers should see me set fair for the expected 7,000 miles. All "white for the use of", which means I can bung them into a motel washing machine without having to wonder about mixing whites and coloureds (or should this be "coloreds" being the US?).

Sandals accomplished and, due to you and your suggestions, I have decided to go slightly upmarket and fork out more than a fiver for a new pair. However, I was still determined not to pay through the nose for foot-related articles, bearing in mind my principles:

“Food should not cost more than clothes should not cost more than cars should not cost more than houses.”

Reasonable price paid (pizza and ice cream for two equivalent) and my feet are now enjoying the first new open footwear for 12 months.

Wearing white including "trisers", however, means that we girls don't want there to be any VP. So, delving into the drawer, I hoiked out the "pants white for the use of" only to discover that several pairs had suffered elastic-failure, so that I would be spending a lot my time wrestling with them as I walked; hitching them up in case they ended up protruding from a trouser leg. (I am sure this is possible, although not exactly sure how).

So strike one for calm.

Need to send a lot of letters and bills as I am going to be away for a month and a lot of bills come midway through that period. Don't want to return to these shores to find the bailiffs waiting.

I have had that once before when I "forgot" to pay my tax and ended up having to pay two years worth in one go. I spent most of 1989 at home with the lights off to save money. Not a good year that.

Armed with my letters I went to the post office. The idea was to pop in and use the machine to buy a few stamps and exit pronto.

As I tweeted at the time there were 17 people ahead of me in the queue and the "Post and Go" machine was out of action.

Strike two for calm.

Then to the bank as the rent was due on the flat. Technology has moved on a pace and so it is no longer acceptable to send a cheque. All transactions have to be carried out electronically. This is due to the landlord having an "Intelligent account", so I was informed.

Into the bank with all the details and asked to sit on a comfy sofa and await my turn.

Enter elderly lady hell-bent on revenge......

"Can I help you Madam?" asked the member of staff who was meeting and greeting.

"You keep sending me letters although I closed my account a year ago."

"Sorry about that, we must sort that out for you"

"I closed it because you were INCOMPETENT", she roared.

"If you would like to take a seat we will deal with you shortly"

She flung herself down on the settee next to me looked at me and said: "USELESS!" hoping that I would agree and enter into a conversation about how awful people were in banks and how generally terrible the working class were.

I have met people like her before so I did what we Brits normally do and smiled and looked the other way.

Strike Three for calm.

I waited some time until it was my go to meet with the banking bloke.

"Need to transfer some cash for my rent into this account."

"Certainly. Well as it is above a certain amount that will incur a charge of £25"

Strike Four to One hundred and forty eight for calm!

"Whaaat? I just used to send a cheque. How come a couple of keystrokes cost that much?"

"Erm, that is just the way it is. If you want the money to transfer immediately"

"RIDICULOUS!" (Not very Zen, but I have always been cool about frittering money away. Not wasting it!)

Well above "X" we charge.

"How about we do two transactions. One the limit and the other for the remainder of the balance? The cash doesn't have to be there for another week"

"Fine, no problem"

A few keystrokes later the money had been sucked from my account and was on its way to its new owner.

"Thank you for saving me money"

"No problem"

Calm One hundred and forty eight back to five.

Next task on the list was to buy some train tickets...

There was a cartoon character in a comic I used to buy called "Billy Bang" who, when sufficiently frustrated, would explode. I know how he felt.

You may have noticed from previous blogs and tweets that rail tickets, the internet and I don't always gel.

Last time I tried, I bought four tickets instead of two.

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival this weekend and so "K...." - now known as "The Dark Lady", as you have dubbed her thus - and I are off to admire their work. There will be outdoor cartooning and workshops and lectures. It will be excellent.

So two tickets on the train is what was required.

I logged on. Made my selection. Was rebuffed by the website.

I logged on. Made my selection. Was rebuffed by the website.

I logged on. Was told there was a website problem. Logged off.

Website didn't load. Went and looked at the Radio 2 site and read the comments from last weeks blog left by you.

I logged on. Still a problem with the website. Logged off.

I logged on. Made my selection. Was told that was fine. Credit card details not accepted. Logged off.

I logged on. Made my selection. Was told that was fine. Credit card details accepted. No more tickets available for that train. Logged off.

I logged on Made another selection. Website froze....


marianne said...

Hi alex love the blogg have a great AA3 hope you have someone nice to look after us while you are away hurry back arnt you taking the dark lady with you
Love the shoe

tailendcharlie said...

Mate, you need a holiday!

Darkwright said...

Newshank! Reports are coming in that Lord Adonis has closed UK Air Space once again for Safety Reasons!

This time it's got nothing to do with Volcanic Ash! Alex Lester has just gone up in smoke!

Apparently all that is left is a pair of slightly charred sandals and a pair of Scorched White Under Crackers!

And Nick Clegg reckons he can do without a Nuclear Deterrent!

Standard Regards

Darkwright of Buffoon Town! :-)

Electro-Kevin said...

"How many minor irritations do you have to endure before you go ballistic or in this case "postal"?"

That Sarah Kennedy is one of them.

How on earth did that incomprehensible woman get a job on prime radio ?

It really isn't fair on those of us who need a fillip early in the morning. I expect that either one of your travelling shoes could do a better job.

mr mocki said...

Hear Hear! That Kennedy woman messes up the radio2 flow....get shot of her, so we can listen straight through from Janice to vine without having to wander off to commercial( or is that comical) radio) between 5 and 7 every morning. If i wanted to listen to radio bliddy 3 i'd retune there..
have a good week 'o' dark one....

Maid of Kent said...

And maybe some of us dont like other programmes on Radio 2 . It caters for all tastes , some we will like and others we wont. The BBC are good but no one can please all of the people all of the time. So enjoy the bits you like and make use of the iplayer or the rich availability of music and programming across the BBC.I personally prefer the thrillers and comedies of BBC7 at lunchtime to Mr Vine.There is also no need to get personal, presenters have a job to do and Im sure none of us like everyone we meet - tolerance is a wonderful thing. It would be a dull place indeed if we all liked the same thing - now getting off my soapbox :)

scarcabco said...

Have fun from Seattle to New Yoik via god's waiting room, er i mean florida. I hope the dark laddette is doing some of the driving and that you avoid the so called "rest areas." (see "there's something about mary")
Of course, had you done some research, you might have bought an amtrak railpass, a much more sedate way of criss crossing the old colony!
Ah well, americans have also forgotten what trains are for...

Slyppery Syd said...

Hey up Alex me old mate ... hope you have a great time and look forward to reading the reviews.
Hope the footware holds out on the trip.
We will all miss you - booo hooo.

GrrrNasher said...

I still think you would be better going on a canal boat holiday. England has an amazing network of canals to navigate ... with the added bonus of having the odd pint (or ten) and not having to drive home.

Electro-Kevin said...

To Maid of Kent

I don't disagree with your sentiments - far from it. But are we not allowed to expect even rudimentary levels of competence ?

I sometimes feel like I'm listening to Radio Geriatric. Kennedy's witterings are utterly disjointed and tedious. Let's give someone more deserving (and more entertaining) a break.