The DVLA – setting new standards in bureaucratic lunacy.

And so that time of year rolls around again and it's car tax time. I had been waiting for the postal reminder to arrive with the reference number on it that would allow me to renew the damn thing online. The post arrives this morning. the day that the current tax disc expires – no reminder. So I decide to ring them from work and renew it over the phone. If only life were so simple. After spending 20 minutes pressing various options from the automated idiot-line I eventually got hold of an operator. I might as well have stuck with the automated Welshman for all the help the operator was.

Him: Hello, welcome to DVLA customerline. Can I help you?

Me: Yes. I've not received a reminder for my car tax which expires today and I was wondering how if I can pay over hte phone.

Him: Do you have your reminder?

Me: Er, no. That's why I'm ringing.

Him: Ooooh. Let's have a look why you didn't get one. Ah, is this (reads out address) where you live?

Me: No. Not even slightly, in fact I don't think I've ever actually been to Surrey.

Him: So why is that address on your file?

Me: Your guess is as good as mine. It definately isn't because i've ever lived there.

Him: So, do you want to pay on the telephone?

Me: Yes, that'd be great.

Him: Well that's fine. You can do that because we give you 14 days grace to sort the disc out.

Me: That's great, I didn't know that.

Him: But you will have to take your car off the road from midnight tonight until the disc arrives in the post in a few days time.

Me: Pardon?

Him: Well it's illegal to drive without displaying a valid tax disc so as of midnight you'll have to take your car off the road. If you don't you'll automatically be fined £80 and receive some licence points.

Me: So when you say that there is a grace period of 14 days what you mean is that there is no grace period and if you drive the damn thing then you're going to get fined.

Him: Yes, indeed.

Me: Is there any right of appeal since the DVLA sent my reminder to somewhere I've never been?

Him: No, 'fraid not. No right of appeal. You'll have to take your ownership papers to the post office with your insurance certificate and get a disc there and then if you want to drive the car.

Me: But I'm at work till 5, a full hour after our post office shuts.

Him: (gleefully) Oh dear. You'll have to take it off the road then won't you?

 

Well thank you for your help young man. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpit hair, you sarcastic little shit. Customer service my backside.

 

Everyone hates paying car tax, everyone thinks it's a rip off and then to rub your nose in it even further they make it as difficult as humanly possible to renew the bloody thing.

Congratulations to the DVLA – setting the gold standard in petty minded, paper based, ridiculously archaic systems.

 

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The stupid things we do.

Why is that sometimes we do really stupid things? Things we know are a dumb idea. We think about them, realise they will not lead us to our finest hour then do it anyway.

 

Watching scary films before bed.

I was blessed with a ridiculously active imagination. It's so big that it took over the space where my common sense should be. This means that scary films aren't a very good plan for me at the best of times, I always end up glueing the dog to my ankles to warn me of psychotic clowns under the bed and the suchlike. With this in mind I cannot imagine why it seemed like a good idea to watch 'The Grudge' before bed last night.

Result: It's 4am and I'm awake because I need a pee. However I know perfectly well that if I go for a wee I'm going to be disturbed mid-flow by either a hairy thing with demonic eyes growing out of a corner of the ceiling or a small, greenish dead boy who makes cat noises and kills people. Neither of these is an appealing prospect. Applying the tiny 'logic' portion of my brain I tell myself that I go for a whizz most nights and nothing has yet attempted to kill me while I've been on the john but it isn't working. Tonight's the night. Eventually it comes to a stark choice – go to the loo or pee in the bed. So off I scamper to the bathroom, taking the dog with me for protection and prior warning of anything sinister approaching. It's official – I'm a prat.

 

 

Cocktails

They look so lovely in their fancy glasses, all bright colours and exotic fruits and fizzy flavour. They look so innocent and hey, they must be mainly mixer surely? So you have  three and they go down so nicely. By this point things are beginning to look warm and fuzzy but since the cocktails are hugely expensive you have a glass of wine instead. Followed by a vodka because too much wine makes you sleepy. There's a little voice at the back of your head trying to tell you something but you can't hear it over the din of the voice telling you that you are definately not pissed and another vodka is a brilliant idea. After this things get a little bit hazy and for all you know you could be drinking cat piss. You wouldn't even care.

Result - The hangover gnome has visited you as you slept. Not only has he beaten you round the head and by the feeling in your stomach, possibly poisoned you as well, he's stolen one of your shoes, your cash card and your jacket plus he's left a traffic cone and a 'For Sale' sign in the corner of your room. You need water but you know if you move your head more than 2 inches to either side you're going to die. You're never going to drink cocktails again. You are an embarrassment to yourself, your family and anyone who has ever met you. And you stink.

 

 

 

Stroppy Emails

So you've had another email from the stroppy bastard at work who always seems to be trying to stir up trouble. He's trying to land you in the shit again. It's his fuck upo but he's tryng to make out like it's your fault and he's being very rude. You know what you have to do, you have to leave it ten minutes until you've calmed down then you have to type a very calm and rational email explaining what has gone wrong and asking if you can have a chat about this breakdown in communications. But what is this? While you've been thinking about this calm and rational response, your fingers have been acting entirely of their own accord, they've been typing merrily, informing the email sender that it's his fuck up, not yours and that you kept evidence to prove it because you know damn well he's a back-stabbing bitch who loves to drop others in it. Your fingers are informing him that he shouldn't let inadequecies in his own work and social life turn him into a poisonous queen who nobody likes. Don't send it, don't send it, don't….oh shit. It's gone.

Result: You've been hauled in by the boss for a lecture on anger management. Is there any more delightful way to spend an afternoon? 

 

One day I'll learn to be sensible. Until then I shall be weathering the shitstorm as best I can. Umbrellas up ladies and gents, it's hit the fan again!!

 

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Portugal – Marvellous. Back at work – not marvellous.

Well I'm back from my holidays and I had a bloody good time. Actually I've been back a few days but all my time has been taken up by laundry and dealing with the titanic level of work-whinging that has built up in my inbox and post heap while I've been away. I would write a full account of holiday but I was there for ten days and I suspect I'd bore even myself writing about ten days worth of holiday, so instead I will list a few of the good and the not-so-good things.

 

Great Holiday Stuff.

  • It was SOOO relaxing. As you can see:
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That is Cass in the pool, showing us all what a stressful place 'holiday' is and the chap under the newspaper is Justin. Disappointingly he did not have newsprint all over his face when he woke up.

  • The marina was gorgeous.

My dad was thinking of buying a yacht when he retires and in Vilamoura Marina I found the perfect one. Now admittedly it might have been a tiny bit more than he was originally thinking of spending but a few extra years working would easily cover the cost. About 490 years should just about do it. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a picture because it had gates to stop the plebs like me getting anywhere near the rich people and causing a nuisance but put it this way – don’t think dinghy, think Royal Yacht Britannia.

  • There was a great deal of general silliness and drunkeness, mainly revolving around Jagermeister (tastes like Covonia cough medicine for anyone who has not had the dubious pleasure of making its acquaintance. Makes everyone get very very very loud.). It can have unfortunate side effects though – someone got very very loud and lairy on the Jager and finished the evening by doing a head first swan-dive into the pool, fully clothed, at 3am. So now there is a video on Facebook of me standing by the pool, hands on hips, bellowing like a Cheapside fishwife “For chrissakes get out of the fucking pool you twat”. Very ladylike, a fine demonstration of the class for which I am famed.

Really, since it was just a generally great holiday it’s difficult to pinpoint specific good things to mention, however the bad things are easier to itemise.

  • The flight out. Oh god, how to describe the flight out. It was a nerve-jangling sensory assault on every level. We were herded on like a flock of sheep and squished into faux-leather seats with approx 3 inches of legroom per person. Finally I managed to somehow fold all 5ft 10 of me into the tiny space, at which point the personin front of me reclined their seat, impaling me and almost shattering my hips. Which was nice. Then the final person appraoched the trio of seats behind me. But’s what’s this? She’s carrying a toddler and there’s only threee seats. Where on earth is that child going to sit? On her knee directly behind me it would seem. 3 whole hours of being kicked repeatedly in the back and listening to ‘In the Night Fucking Garden’ (that might not be the actual full title of the mind-alteringly annoying CD they played on repeat for the entire flight). Still, the CD was from time to time (every 4 minutes) drowned out by the ear splitting nasal shrieks of the child in the seat in front who clearly had a seriously low boredom threshold. When we got off the flight, me and the husband had come to an agreement that we were never going on holiday again until we could afford to fly with a decent airline and preferably business class. This was when our mental state had levelled off enough for us to attempt speech.
  • The bed in the villa. It was satanically uncomfortable, a bit like sleeping on sideboard with sheets on. It came complete with two cotton-clad rooftiles which the brochure laughingly described as ‘pillows’. The only way you could sleep on the bed was to get monumentally pissed. The one night I attempted to sleep on it sober I had to put a jacket and socks on and sleep on top of the sheet and blanket because the bruise on my hip created by the springs from the previous night’s kip was giving me gyp.
  •  The cold. Some bastard gave Cass’s husband a cold which he brought on holiday. It took us down one by one until dinner in the villa sounded like the TB ward in a Victorian sanitorium.

All in all it was a bloody good holiday and I'm not at all impressed to be back at work! 

                                                                                                                           

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Not long to go….

My flight leaves for Portugal in 12 hours. 12 hours and I cannot fr the life of me make my suitcase fit the sodding weight restriction. I've jettisoned 13 bottles of nail varnish, some sun cream and a Jilly Cooper and still the damn thing is sitting stubbornly at 28 kilos. Who the hell is able to survive for ten days with 25 measly kilos of luggage? It's not right. And I weigh miles less than the lads, that means that per person they are taking up more available weight than me. I don't think is at all fair and that smaller people with larger luggage needs, like myself, should be allowed a little leeway on the weight issue.

I've been spraytanned. I hope to god that she was telling the truth when she said that it turned out a nice even golden brown when you shower it off because currently I look like a darkly freckled space monster. It's a look that could most kindly be described as 'unusual'.

I'm going to need a holiday to recover from my holiday preparations. Still, at least I know what does and doesn't need to go in the little plastic bag at security, won't be making THAT mistake again.

Bon voyage folks, see you when I get home. Assuming I'm not languishing in Strangeways prison for trying to smuggle illegal quantites of Sure deodorant through Manchester airport of course.

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Tuesday Stuff

The last Tuesday before my holiday in Portugal – this time next Tuesday I'll be spray-tanned a charming shade of mid-orange and I'll be sitting by the pool drinking fruity cocktails and contemplating how marvellous it is that I don't have to be up at 6.40am for work in the morning. In the meantime, here are my Tuesday thoughts:

Sinking my Dinghy:

  • Wine limits. Why must we have them? This country is run by fuckwits who don't believe they are earning their salaries unless they are telling us that what we do is unhealthy. Now they've finished persuading us that smokers are akin to paedophiles in the 'bad stuff' lists, they've started on booze. I'm sat in front of the telly, having a relaxing glass of shiraz cabernet and what do I get? Some stupid public health advert telling me that because I'm middle class and like a glass of wine in an evening my liver is going to implode and I'm going to die. Well they can just piss off because I'm going to die at some point anyway and I'd rather go out in a blaze of drunken glory than nibbling on a celery stick. Besides, I've worked with 90 year olds and there's no way I want to live to be that old.
  • I have a cold. Not really much to say about it other than that Kleenex balsam tissues are a truly fabulous invention.
  • Everything in this country is SO expensive. Everything. It's mental.


Floating my boat

  • I go on holiday in 3 and a bit days, yay!!
  • I've almost finished ripping all my CDs to my mp3 meaning I won't have to lug half a ton of CDs to Portugal because I couldn't decide which to leave behind.
  • It's sunny outside and I've had a day off work. All is right with the world.
  • I am currently accessorising my outfit with a glass of chilled chablis. Bollocks to the health nazis, bums up folks, cheers!!

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