How to Complain. #97: Writing to the Council

An elderly reader hopes that by sharing his experience of the newly-named “Royal” Borough of Greenwich, others will be wary of promises made by their local council and spared from similar misery.
Mr. D Rapley
11 ********** Road
New Eltham
SE9 ***
 I write in frustration regarding my ambitious request for a mattress collection. A request was successfully made to your office by my wife and collection duly arranged for last Thursday 7th June.
 We were instructed to leave the mattress out for collection before 6am on the 7th. Wow,we thought,these mattress men are really early worms. Mattress in position and collection naively anticipated.
 Guess what – we still await collection,despite several phone call attempts to advise you of the situation of our deteriorating bedware.These attempts unsurprisingly only resulted in a loop tape of recorded messages reassuring me of all the wonderful services the now Royal Borough boasts.
On one lottery-odded occasion an actual  human eventually decided to pick up the receiver.
 Luckily my wife still managed to remember why she had phoned (she put the phone on speaker during the recorded options, managed to prepare a 5 course meal,wash up and finish knitting a balaclava), and was then given vague assurances from the inexplicably named customer services department that we were “on the computer” and the arrival of the men in the yellow lorry was imminent.
 Well,it still hasn’t happened. Not a reversing beep. Not a welcoming woosh of an airbrake.Nothing.
 Oh yes,all this in despite of the fact that the monstrous £21 charge you demanded was trousered on the spot. Council procedures dictate that the request couldn’t even be registered unless payment was made. I was 20 guineas lighter before the receiver had been slammed back into it’s now cold cradle.
 So,I must dutifully inform you that unless this now sodden,hopefully vermin invested health hazard is not collected as you promised (as is your duty),it will give it a new home in the road.
 I shall then take a picture or two of the festering,soon to be vandalised item and send them,along with a brief invective, to the appropriate consumer interest editor at the local News Shopper. Most probably the same hack who reviews the local pubs with such damning vitriol.
 I live in hope and remind you of the borough’s – sorry,Royal Borough’s – crest that proudly proclaims “WE GOVERN BY SERVING”. Can I have a bit of that please?
Dave Rapley
Your loyal rate payer of forty plus years standing..and waiting.

A Warm Gin and a Stale Whelk

Following my trip down memory lane yesterday, a friend asks if my local pub was ever visited by the seafood man? Well of course it was. A rather dishevelled and smelly man (for obvious reasons) in a white coat and carrying a wicker basket who would announce his arrival in the bar with a hearty “SEAFOOD!”. We’d then queue up and by prawns (shrimps), or crabsticks (mulched shrimp) winkles, whelks or whatever, which he’d hand over in individual portions in polystyrene trays . “Pepper and vinegar, guv?” he’d ask. Now for ten points, what was the name of the bloody company he worked for? He had a blue logo on the back of his jacket. I know one of you out there will remember.


At the risk of dwelling too much on the past (again), it warms the cockles (geddit???) of the heart thinking back to that sort of thing. Remember when you could go for your Sunday lunchtime sharpener and the bar would be laden with Roast potatoes and sometimes drumsticks—to persuade you from going home for lunch? One pub I know (The British Sailor, Greenwich—now demolished) had the revolutionary idea that a treat need merely be a whole, raw onion chopped up and served on a ‘silver’ salver. And we stood there and ate it !!

We were thrown out of a pub on a Sunday at 2 o’clock and kicked our heels til they opened again at 7. One Sunday afternoon 6 of us went into a Pizza parlour and ordered a medium Four Seasons and 3 bottles of Mateus Rose, just to pass the time before pub opening hours.

But the seafood man and the raw onions have long gone, along with free school milk and rickets. It was a time when Twitter was what your mum did during The Big Match, Neil Kinnock was gonna be the next PM and no-one had heard of (or believed) in peanut-allergies or RSI (so not everything’s changed)

Happy days.

And now, an advert:

If you find this blog is far too tame or pub-based for your liking, please check out my mate’s blog. Want a real rant? He’s your man (and he kindly plugged me on his! So there.)


Go Away From My Window…

…Leave at your own chosen speed… as Bob Dylan once wrote. Pretty much how I feel about the upcoming residency of Michael Jackson for a proposed “50 night” stint at the O2 Arena. Those of us who reside in SE London have had enough unpleasantness with seeing the shocking spectacle of Charlton Athletic commit sporting hari kari on the football field every weekend, whithout everyone’s favourite babysitter pitching his tent in, well, a tent!. Yes. The Millenium Bivouac, as was, has witnessed enough disasters over the years since it’s inception but one feels you ain’t seen nothin’ yet when the Jackson entourage (and, what’s worse, his sad fans) roll up into town. 50 nights! FIFTY!! I’m starting a book on how many he’ll actually do before reports of that “throat infection” start to appear and he’s replaced by Gareth Gates. Now remember: rules of the sweepstake mean that ALL of him has to complete the concert. Any limbs or organs that drop off mid-Billie Jean make that performance null and void. Should save a fortune on makeup for Thriller, anyway.
If any of Mr Jackson’s party happen to read this, you could do worse than to book rooms at The Angerstein Hotel, a pub in Greenwich. It’s but a short limp to the O2, most of the locals need oxygen masks to keep going and the bar staff therin are gender-neutral. Rooms start at 27.50 (with sink) and a view of the Blackwall Tunnel Flyover. Advise keeping the window closed as the whiff from the molasses factory up the road get’s a bit rich. But then you don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.