Wednesday, 18 February 2009
State of the Nation 2 - Broken Britain
You know, when I started this blog last year, I never intended it to be some relentless moan about (my) life - I leave that to Charlie Brooker. But four things happened to me this morning, all within the space of one hour; each one of them so accurately depicted just what is wrong with this now-useless and hopeless, broken country.
1 - The post arrived (actually quite early today, at 11am; usually it’s more between noon and 2pm. And these days it gets delivered every Other day).
In the post was my order of new printer cartridges from www.firstcallink.co.uk (remember that name). Or was it? I opened the package to discover I’d been sent someone else’s order.
I telephoned the company and finally got through to a disinterested-sounding gentleman, I’d say, middle-aged. He was already aware of my problem (the other customer having phoned him up).
The man offered no apology. All he said was “Well, it doesn’t happen very often”.
Seeing as this other chap had my order, he said, "why don’t you mail it to him and he can mail your order to you?".
“Fine,” I said, “but what about the mailing costs of £1.15?”. “Oh well", he replied, “I suppose I could credit you with that amount against your next order”.
“What makes you think there’s going to be another order”, I said, doing a double-take. Eventually, after much massaging and persuasion I managed (I think) to get him to send me a free black cartridge. (I’ll believe it when I see it; as of 10th March, nothing has turned up).
So I repackaged the whole thing up again and went to the Post Office, where it actually cost me £1.24 to mail it [it seems that franked mail is cheaper than stamped mail].
2 - Returning from the Post Office I dropped into Tesco, where I was caught in a queue. We were lining up because some twenty-something girl at the counter was trying to remember her pin number.
She was using a credit card to pay for a chocolate bar…costing 42p!
Judging by the look on the face of the woman behind the counter, this was not an uncommon occurrence.
3 - Outside Tesco I wanted to catch a bus (a number 150, if you‘re listening Transport for London). One was approaching.
I happened to be using my walking stick today (my leg was playing up somewhat) so I hailed the bus with my stick. Naturally, I could not run and it was obvious that my walking was a trifle impaired. People were getting on the bus as I approached.
Just as I got to the front doors of the bus, at precisely that moment, the driver - eyes staring straight ahead (ignoring me) - decided to shut the doors and drive off.
All I could do was merrily wave to it as it drove away from me, hoping he might see me in his wing mirror.
4 - Ten minutes later, another 150 turned up. I got on the bus and saw that the Oyster Card machine was broken [the Oyster card is the universal transport card we Londoners use].
The driver calmly waved me onto the bus with a resigned look on his face. At least I got a free bus journey out of it (worth £1.10).
Throughout that journey I pondered on these four incidents and felt: every one of them is just so bloody typical of what is wrong with this country. Things are broken but nobody’s interested in lifting a finger to even get it fixed any more.
We have a broken country - where nobody actually Cares any longer.