We had an invoice to pay to the Local Authority(LA). Not a problem I thought. Wrong!! There were several ways to pay, the most obvious one being a BACS transfer. It is safe and so easy that an 87 year can do it without an issue.
Not so in this case. Usually, I would go onto my banking website, enter the payee bank details, the amount and a reference number. On this occasion, the payee account was a collection service (whatever that means) with an account number consisting of simply zeros. I would also be required to email a “remittance advice” to the Local Authority showing the payment details. Not the kind of thing that should be sent by email. Also, I don’t remember receiving any “remittance advice” when I made payments before.
The next option was “Telephone Banking“. This was a 24/7 payment line, which meant it was an automated payment system. I have worked in the Local Authority and know that these automated systems often “misplace” payments. So that was out.
Option three was to visit the LA’s website and pay online, following the “… simple on-screen instructions …”. Unfortunately these instructions did not exist in the same format as on the invoice. Option four was to pay by cash at the Post Office which was another non-starter.
So we are left with a Postal option. I have to write a cheque, write the invoice number on it and post it. No pre-addressed envelope and certainly no pre-payment on the envelope. Given that technology has moved on so far over the past few years it seems very strange that the oldest payment method (that I have ever used) is the prime method. Looking for to paying in groats and shackles in the not so distant future
Picture this. It’s Wednesday. The time is 16:55. All along the street people are sat, poised at their keyboards. Fingers twitching, waiting for the clock to reach 17:00. As the big hand on the clock reach the top, it starts!
“Disgraceful!”…”It’s happening all the time!”…”What are we paying for?”…”Typical mismanagement!”
So, what has happened? Has there been another stabbing? Has there been another joy-rider ploughing into a residents wall? Has there been another gas explosion? No. None of these. So what terrible event has happened this time.
The recycling bin has not been emptied!
It annoys me that these “keyboard warriors” can’t wait to have their say. Now, have they checked with the Council to find the reason? Did they ring them or check the website. No! In order to vent their anger, they turn to the local group page on Facebook. Had they looked on the website, they would have seen that if the bin doesn’t get emptied on the right day, leave it out to be emptied the next day. It’s standard practice.
What people don’t understand, and mostly refuse to understand is that the refuse vehicle has a weight limit. The equipment at the rear of the vehicle is known here as the “bin lift”. This equipment weighs the contents of the bin as it is emptied. Once the weight limit for the vehicle is reached, then the “bin lift” stops operating. The crew then have no alternative, but to return to the refuse site to empty the vehicle. This can often take two hours to turn around.
Some of the comments were absolutely ridiculous. One even stated that “...they should prioritise us, because we pay more council tax…”. One even moaned that”…we shouldn’t be using Euro limits now…” Again, they haven’t taken the trouble to find out the details before they start. The weight limits are set by the UK government and are actually lower than the European limits.
My invitation to book a Covid-19 vaccination arrived on Saturday. The way the letter was worded gave the impression that I would get a letter from the doctors surgery soon advising me on the dates they were offering. By yesterday (Thursday) nothing was forthcoming. I decided to have a look on the local Medical Centre’s website to see If I could find anymore information. There it was, on the front page of the site. I had to book my ‘Jab-spot’ online , the Government website as they were not offering the vaccine locally yet.
So, off I trot to Gov.UK website and quickly found the ‘booking’ page. It was quite easy to navigate and I soon had booked both first and second jab at a vaccination centre just under 10 miles away. Sorted! Now we have to await for my wife’s invitation which should be in the next phase.
This morning, less than 18 hours since I had booked my appointment, I received a txt message from the local Medical Centre. The txt said, in it’s simplest form:
“You have recently been invited to have your coronavirus vaccine at a mass vaccination centre. If you would rather come to the ******** site please contact our reception team who can arrange for an invitation to be sent.”
I gave them a call. Unfortunately they were unable to offer me the dates I had booked, and It would be probably be the 1st week in March. I declined. The vaccination centre is 11 miles away, as opposed to the Medical Centres 5 miles. Not really much in it and as my car is getting 2 months to the tank of petrol, a bit of a run would not do it any harm. I just thought it was typical that if I had just waited for another day, I could have gone really local.
This morning I tried to do two things online with the UK Government website. Firstly, I wanted to renew my driving license before the 11 month COVID-19 extension expires. I have got until May but I thought I would get it out of the way now. I can’t do it online for one reason, which will be revealed in a short while.
The second job, I wanted to do was to check my National Insurance credits as my State Pension quote came this morning and it wasn’t as much as I had been led to expect. Again, not able to do so for the same reason as above.
The reason I am unable to perform these simple tasks (and the website says it’s simple) is that I don’t have a valid UK Passport. I don’t even have an expired one. I have not needed to go abroad for over 25 years, so why would I have/need a passport?
I am now in a position whereby I will need to either post an application form, with a new passport photograph and a cheque(!) for £17.00 or I can go to a Post Office with my expired card and a payment of £21.50, which is a little extortionate in my opinion. I’m also struggling to understand where ‘simple’ comes in.
This, of course, refers to our new bathroom. The fitters finished at around 1pm on Friday, but there was an issue with the lighting. They just couldn’t get it to work. The issue started on Thursday morning when they had fitted the ‘over the sink’ cupboard which has two LED strip lights to light it up. No matter what the guys did, there was no lighting. One of them called the electrician that they use, who couldn’t come straight away, but promised to come early that afternoon. He didn’t turn up. Next time we had was Friday morning which quickly changed to Friday afternoon. We needed him to be away before R*** came home at 5pm. The guy turned up at around 5:30, which was too late if he needed to turn off the main power supply. So it was arranged for him to come on the following Monday, just after 9am, which he did. Took about an hour, and when he finished he explained that one of the cupboard lights was not working. He had informed the company we were buying the bathroom off and they advised that they would be ordering a new one. That was fitted yesterday. K*** is very pleased with the outcome and we both think they have done a good job. It was not cheap by any means, but it is 1000 times better than it was before.
I do think the company is missing a trick though. I would have taken some photos before the job was started and more when it was finished. I would have then asked for permission to upload them to the company website, as a ‘Before & After’ type of self-advertisement. Could even have a few shots (not many though) of the fitters doing the job.
I thought I had found the perfect part-time job for myself yesterday. I don’t want (or need at the moment) a job with many hours. This one would have only been 7 hours, on a Friday doing mainly admin work on the reception desk at a local school. Slightly fewer hours than I was looking for, but it would have been something.
Now, the issue here was that when I took early retirement, there were some conditions laid down. The main one was that I could not work for the Council, either paid or voluntary for 12 months from my final working date. This was because it wasn’t actually retirement in its usual capacity. How it worked was that I was taking voluntary redundancy (VR) and that the Council had arranged with the Local Government Pension scheme, that I could take my pension and lump sum early. As the closing date for this job is the 9th October, I would be in breach of the VR terms by applying before the 1st November.
A little disappointing, but it’s been the first time I have seen anything, that I know I could do with the hours that would suit. I just have to hope that they re-advertise the job again. It sometimes happens.
I did intend to post on Thursday evening. However, due to circumstances, entirely within my control (ie going to the pub again !!!) I failed to make it. The ‘play’ seems to be getting there, slowly but surely. Fingers crossed that on opening night, nobody forgets too many lines. s**** has put a lot of work and thought into this. Just two more cast pictures to add to the programme and that is done.
No win at the quiz-nite this week, bit in our defence, the questions were quite hard. Highest score as only 32, and we were only one behind on 31. The picture quiz, were all international football shirts !!! R**, who is not known as a football fan, got them all bar one!
The work on the blog/website for the PTA is all but finished. I have just to update it with some links,and it will be ready approved. Once i get the go-ahead, I’ll put a link on this blog. There should be no problem with the newsletter, although, I would like to make it into a two page spread. I have a couple of ideas for non-PTA stuff, such as a word-search, Sudoku, crossword, that type of thing. It may add a bit of fun to what could become a quite boring piece of paper.
I don’t think I will watch the football today. I’m interested in who will win, but I seem to have lost interest sine England went out. I feel that Spain will win, but secretly hope that Holland do instead.
Very busy week at work, but it is set to be a bit quieter this week. I am off on Tuesday. Mrs H and me (possibly S**** too) are going to revisit the residential college, that we hope to get R*** into when he finishes school. S**** has never been, and I’m not too sure if he will go this time, but we will see.
It seems to have been a long week already. Never mind, there is Friday to look forward to … Spike is off !! Hurrah. Seriously, he has to be the most unpopular person in the department. Trouble is, I think he knows …… and does not care.
Firefox has been playing up tonight. It seemed to have forgotten some of the sites I have had the password saved for. It could have been when I ran AVG last night. I think I deleted some cookies that should have been kept.
The TinyUrl plugin for IE did not work on Firefox. It did not save the URL to the clipboard as it should. There is a Firefox’s own plugin, that may work. To be honest, I don’t quite know if I’ll use it, but it’s there if I do.
I downloaded a .pdf from the Harrogate RSPB local group. A very professional piece of work. They seem to be fairly well organised group. I have been looking for a local group to possibly join. I also looked at the York group, but that did not seem to be as good. The website was terrible. It was so difficult to see. There did not seem to be a nearer group. I thought there may have been a Wetherby group, but there does not appear to be one. There is probably a local ‘bird watcher’ group, but I would prefer to be part of an RSPB affiliated group. They don’t appear to be as cliquey as the independent groups. The membership of these groups vary very little. Harrogate is £6.00 per year (from April, so that is good), York is £8.00, Richmond and Wharfedale was around the same rate, and I could not see the fee for the Leeds & District (based in Shipley!! More Bradford and District if you ask me). I don’t suppose I’ll go to any meetings, but it would be interesting.
You may have noticed that a proliferation of RSS feeds have sprung up on this blog. Well I am a little geeky, and I do enjoy reading the hints and tips on these IT websites. I also am trying to become an expert on Excel. I have a long way (ie a very long way) to go, but you have to start somewhere. Who knows, I may end up adding an Excel tips page to this blog. Just don’t hold your breath.
The ‘Grow house’ continues to be a success. The salad leaves, are getting a little stronger, and the first of the leaf beat has just started to show. Nothing from the old seeds though. The Marigolds should start to show over the next day or two, and that will be an indicator as to whether the others are going to germinate. I may be pushing it with the Blue Poppies though. The packet said that they were not a novice seed .. hmmm. We will see, I hope.
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