Sunday, 22 August 2010

BT - Part 4: Yet ANOTHER Broadband Rant!

Here we go again! It all started on Wednesday night (18th) when my local area experienced a power surge. While some parts of the district lost their entire power for an hour we only noticed a momentary flicker of lights for seconds.

19th August: Next day (Thursday) I was out most of the day at a Wardrobe Fitting (for a film part - I shall write about this in due course). When I returned home about 4pm my broadband was dead.

I tried all the diagnostics suggested by BT on-screen, none of which worked, and ended up on the notice that read “Phone BT engineer on these numbers:
0800 800151
0800 1114567
0800 1690199 "

…and so I did…and waited…and waited…only to reach the recorded message “things are rather busy at the moment, please try later”.

Two hours later, after repeated attempts, I finally got through to speak to someone…at a BT Call Centre…in India (as usual!)….here we go again.

After thirty minutes of fruitless chat and suggestions, I realised I was getting nowhere and asked to speak to the chap’s Supervisor. And I got through to him. Surprisingly, he actually gave me his Full name [they rarely do at BT]: one Mr. Rocky Chaman.

Rocky babbled on incomprehensibly for a while, until I said - as I have had cause to when dealing with BT’s Indian Call Centres - “Could. You. Please. Speak. Slowly. And. Clearly. So. That. I. May. Understand. You?”.

And so he did - or, at least, he tried.

It ended up with me giving him a five-minute lesson in English pronunciation:-

Him: blah blah…prowider…..
Me: I beg your pardon?
Him: prowider….
Me: Eh?
Him: prowider….
Me: Do you mean Provider, with a Vee?
Him: Yes.Prowider.
Me: No, repeat after me: pro-vider
Him: Prowider
Me: No, again: provider
Him: prowider
Me: again...

…and so we went on until it became clear that young Rocky Chaman was not going to speak clearly or properly.

Ah, yes, dear dear Rocky (remember, he is a Superwiser!) he did try to suggest a number of solutions to my broadband problems, while still firmly refusing my repeated requests for a visit from a BT engineer. And then he said…

“what I want you to do is go to the junction box on the wall and, with a screwdriver, unscrew the protective covering off…”

“NO!”, I yelled, “No, no!. What you are telling me is Illegal - in the UK anyway - and if a BT engineer saw that, they would say ‘someone’s been tampering with that connection, I’m not touching that’”.

So now, we have BT employees telling their customers to perform an illegal act.

It was at this point that I informed Supervisor Rocky that I wished to speak to His boss. Eventually, after much pressure and a lot of waiting, he finally put me through to Mr. Samir Das (of the BT Complaints Department). By now I had been on the phone for about an hour.

I explained the situation to Mr. Das and he sounded a little slow on the uptake until I mentioned two things:

(a) I pointed him in the direction of this blog, and to my previous rants about BT, particularly:

and (b) I mentioned to him “funnily enough, this week, I received a bill from BT for over £100. I was going to pay that off, in cash, tomorrow at my bank. You are not seeing a penny of that until this entire matter is cleared up and resolved“. [I also mentioned the word “compensation” and he did not shy away from it].

That seemed to gee-up Mr. Das a little. Finally, he said he would mark-up this case as “High Priority” and book me a visit from a BT engineer (from their Diagnostics Team, whatever that means). We both agreed that this visit take place tomorrow (Friday) between the times of and - he even sent me a text confirming this information [just remember that]. This took, in all, one hour and twenty minutes to resolve. And so on to…
Friday 20th August: Morning,, there’s a knock on the door. It’s the BT engineer. I mentioned that we had arranged a visit “between 1pm and 6pm” and he replied “you were definitely booked-in on my schedule for between 9am and 12 noon.

My heart sank, but I decided not to argue. I explained the problem and he ran various tests on my BT hub, which was still blank on the Broadband light. I also explained to him about the “now go to the junction box with a screwdriver…” nonsense and he threw his hands in the air and agreed with my assertion that a BT engineer would Never touch a junction box that had been tampered with.

It took him almost two hours of comings and goings and visits to the local “Green Box” (the junction box) at the end of the street. He’d worked out that the fault did not lay between my computer and the Green Box, but between the Green Box and the local Exchange.

By He said to me “I may have to time this job out and return it to the depot”. What he meant was: each engineer is given a two-hour space in which to sort out a problem. If it can’t be fixed after two hours, the job goes back to the depot and put in a pool for another engineer to pick it up at another date.

So much for blinding efficiency, BT! (no wonder this country is f***ed). What management consultant thought that one up!?

At twelve noon he left, the broadband seemed to be working somehow (whatever he did I don’t know)….

…and then 45 minutes later, the Broadband stopped again. I pressed the Restart button on the BT Hub (my third in as many years!) and it seemed to work again. So, later that night, as arranged, Samir Das of BT Priority Care (he called it) [number 0800 3289393] phoned me back…at, even though he’d promised to call me between 6pm and 7pm.

I told him that my broadband seemed to be working, albeit unreliably. He agree to phone me back tomorrow (Saturday).
Saturday, 21st August: I was filming in Brighton that day [another project]. No call from Mr. Das at the agreed time (between 11am and 12 noon), but he finally got to me at 1.50pm. I explained that things seemed to be going OK but we both agreed that he keep track of this and phone me again tomorrow.

Sunday 22nd August: Again, the agreed time (between 1-2pm) was irrelevant: Mr. Das of BT Priority Care phoned me at… - I was in bed and barely awake (well it was a hard day’s filming yesterday). I told him to phone me later, which he did…at 2.30pm.

I explained to him that things Seemed to be working OK and he agreed to keep monitoring this on a daily basis for at least another 48 hours; he also mentioned the concept of “compensation”, which I seemed to be bringing him around to.

Ironically, barely three minutes after the end of our chat, at, my broadband stopped again. So I went to the hub and pressed the Restart button and things appeared to work again……..

At 4pm, having come back from a coffee, I went online again…until When (you’ve guessed it) the broadband stopped again. And Again I pressed the Restart button on the BT hub, to get the thing working again.

Oh, Mr. Samir Das of BT Priority Care, I hope you are reading this. We have MUCH to discuss tomorrow (and that‘s even before we reach the moment of “compensation“)
Wednesday 25th August (late evening): Over 48 hours have passed and no communication whatsoever from Mr. Das since we last spoke on Sunday afternoon, and the broadband went down - twice. Oh, and the bill remains unpaid. Congratulations BT, you really sorted that one out, didn’t you?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Sartorial Questions - 4: Little Horseshoes.....

I came across this clip from the Fry & Laurie series of Jeeves and Wooster and could not resist posting ut up here:-

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Stephanie Rushton photo shoot - Part 2 (of 3)

Returning to 25th August 2009 and the second part of the photo shoot with the excellent Stephanie Rushton. (Just click on the images and they will open out to their full glory).

Next we moved into the Rose Garden (see map in the previous posting) and a change of clothes.
I swapped the High Imperial collar for a standard Windsor wing, with a maroon self-tie cravat and a different stickpin, a somewhat new (for then) double breasted frock coat in Hunter Green (perhaps it’s a little difficult to tell) with matching grey/green striped trousers and a dark bottle green velvet waistcoat from years back. Oh, and the top hat is a Dark Green felt one.
As the session gradually progressed, the sky started to darken a little and Stephanie started to experiment with different filters, doing all manne4r of splendis things with the sky…
After a while it started to rain a little so we decided to make our way towards the Mansion itself….

These were done under the entrance to the Mansion itself……
….looking and feeling Totally at home (couldn‘t resist a touch of that Gene Kelly swagger)……
…and then inside sitting on one of the many window seats. You don’t know how comfortable and appropriate I felt in this environment….
As Stephanie and I chatted during the session we discovered we know the same fellow photographer. A chap called Ian Tilton….
Over twenty years ago I employed “Tilly” (then a fledgling photography student) to take some photos of one of the groups I had on a record label I was running, publicity and cover for shots for an album we were planning to release. He was in Manchester and the group were nearby, so it seemed logical; and he delivered a very impressed set of shots, the album ones hand-tinted in colour.
Fast forward about five years and the next time I see his name mentioned is on the first album by the Stone Roses, he took the studio shots… and then later on The Smiths album Rank and then his pic of Kurt Cobain Crying - a “legendary image”, I am informed - is on display at the Brooklyn Museum, New York. [I do pride myself on spotting fledgling talent and early on].

These photos here, of course, are just a mere selection of the shots that were taken by Stephanie Rushton. 
I shall post up the third and final set next week.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

My Heart Will Go On - Recorder By Candle Light by Matt Mulholland

My Heart Will Go On (and on...and on...and on...)
I was sent this by a friend in Sweden (remarkable how quickly these Swedes pick things up on the interweb). I’d been looking for my modern-day equivalent of Jonathan & Darlene Edwards [wikipedia them] and I think I have found it in Matt Mulholland.

Turns out he’s from New Zealand…. Well it made me laugh anyway. Enjoy.

Try his website: I still think his recorder tutorial should be essential viewing for All school orchestras.   or

Monday, 2 August 2010

Stephanie Rushton photo shoot - Part 1 (of 3)

Looking at the backlog of things I have not posted so far (and there is much of it) I am astonished how many of them are photographs of … me! (surprise surprise) - either specific photo shoots or at events I have attended. So, at risk of a surfeit of self, I am going to stagger them over the next few months (chronologically).

Let’s go all the way back to last August (25th) - 2009. I had been approached - probably via the Eccentric Club - by a professional photographer, Stephanie Rushton.
[ ]

We chatted for a while, she had already taken photographs of some friends of mine - the blogger and musician Winston Chesterfield and “fellow eccentric” Lyndon Yorke - and they both had good shoots with her - so I felt a comfort zone there. She said she was putting together a project “English Eccentrics” and, as I never allow people to photograph me ‘at home’, I suggested the local (and recently restored) Valentines Mansion, a Georgian pile just down the road at Gants Hill.  and ], see also my previous posting on the reopening of the Mansion on February 14th 2009 [ ]
The weather was rather splendid for most of the day (a little darkening in the sky, which you will see in the second posting of these 3) and we decided on three different “looks” [not ‘outfits’ and Definitely Not ‘costumes’!]. What follows is just a mere smattering of the first lot of photos that were taken.
I do urge you to visit Steph’s site, she is a rather splendid photographer with a fantastic ‘eye’
As you can see, we started out in the gardens of the Mansion - the walled Old English Garden, to be precise. I have to say, we were both impressed at the splendid and authentic restoration job that had been performed on the Mansion (luckily funded and finished before the credit problems hit this country - and the Borough).
Looking at my clothes for this part of the shoot, I was wearing my single-breasted black barathea frock coat (part of a suit) but with striped trousers. The waistcoat was my (newly finished) red Chinese silk ten-button double-breasted one. Notice the buttons - black - this is the only time you will see these as the deadline for the shoot meant that my tailor (Ayres, who made this creation) did not have the time to cover the buttons in the same fabric so we went with black silk as a stop-gap! (And just wait till you see the back of this magnificent creation!).
[A slightly cropped and "adjusted" version of Stephanie's photograph, done by my pal Brad in the USA, giving me a wrap-around collar.... something which I crave and are simply impossible to find these days!]

[P.S.: This secret link leads to the full selection of the entire photo-shoot, should you care to explore: ]. I shall post up Part 2 of this three-parter next week!

For the record, Winston’s blogsite is:
…and Lyndon’s website is: