On the Ridiculous


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Noon GMT today.

Brrrring …Brrrrring…..  (that’s my phone impersonation again)

Brrrring …Brrrrring…..Brrrring …Brrrrring….. (it’s my mobile)
Brrrring …Brrrrring…..(I have one of those “retro” rings — same one as everybody else)
Brrrring …Brrrrring….. (so I never know if it’s my phone ringing— unless I’m alone)
Brrrring …Brrrrring….. (like this morning)
Brrrring …Brr- “Hello?”

‘Hello, Mr Bealing?’ a young female Geordie voice asked

“Speaking” an old male Estuary voice replied

“It’s Virgin Media here” she announced triumphantly

“hm-hmm” (I was less than impressed. Having dealt with the English-speaking world’s joint -2nd worst Customer Services** before, I  didn’t anticipate having too much fun here).

There was a slight pause, as if she was waiting for me to either shout ‘hooray’ or hang up. Once she’d established neither was about to happen, she continued.

“I’m calling you today to discuss improvements to your landline and to see if we can provide you with better value in the service we provide to you .”

“hm-hmm”

“Would you have five minutes at the moment ?”

“Of course, I’ve been desperate to talk to you” (that may have been a fib).

dvid-tennant-ad-remote-433-x-222

Another pause while she considered the implications of this statement.

“Oh, ok, well before we start, could you confirm for me the first two characters of you Virgin Media password?”

“I have no idea what my Virgin Media password is, I’m afraid”

“Really?” she was clearly incredulous

Really?” I emphasised. It’s not something I use often. Oh I dunno try X.A.” (regular readers will remember the name of my first pet stoat)

“Ooh, I’m afraid that doesn’t correspond to the password I have here”

“”Oh No!” I was mortified. Ish.

“Would you like me to ask you other questions to confirm you identity ?”

“I know my identity”

“But I need to confirm it before we can proceed, sir”. I don’t think she shared my sense of humour.

“Ok, yes, of course, fire away”

“Good, so can you confirm the method by which you pay for your Virgin Media Services ?”

“Direct Debit”

“Yes, Correct”. I had answered a question correctly. The warm glow of pride inside me was immense. She continued, and I was on a roll,

“Now can you tell me the speed of the broadband service which you currently receive from Virgin Media.”

“Nope. I think it’s 30 ish. Or maybe 50. I know it’s about half the speed of what you lot reckon it is.”

“Er….no… that’s not quite right…so can you tell me the name of the TV package which you currently have with Virgin Media?”

“Ha !  No I can’t. No idea what you call them. I know I reduced it a month or so ago shortly after the Ashes ended. Erm…. Tall ? Grande? “

“Er, no, Mr Bealing, I’m afraid that is not the package you have with us, so I’m afraid as you’ve answered two questions incorrectly we cannot continue this conversation”

“Ok then” I tried unsuccessfully to sound disappointed. She was clearly crestfallen.

“I am really sorry, Mr Bealing, but I do need you to answer these questions of verification, otherwise I cannot help you.”

“But you called me?”

“Excuse me?”

“YOU called ME . On my mobile. For starters, why didn’t you call me on my landline? At least you’d know you were calling the right house? But I was going along fine, not aware that I needed anything Virgin Media-wise until you called me. I didn’t call YOU to ask for anything. YOU called ME ! “

“It’s a procedural thing, sir. We would have called your landline and received no answer so we called your cellphone.”

“Well no, you didn’t, but that’s by-the-by. You called me to sell me something. But because I don’t keep a note of a password I use once every other luna equinox, or know your code names for Television packages, you are prevented from selling me anything. Something wrong with your system, I reckon, don’t you?”

She’d begun to go all Westworld on my ass. “It’s a procedural thing, Mr Bealing. I need you to answer these questions of verification, otherwise I cannot help you.”

“Ok then. Byeee”. I pressed the Fuckoffthen button on my mobile. My legendarily long patience had suddenly deserted me. I was left to consider where I was before the phone call.

sir-richard-branson

Now where was I ?  Ah yes, writing a letter of complaint.

Dear Mr Branston…”

**Tied equal with RBS and Interflora, just behind the British National Party.

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The Lost Weekend


It had to happen eventually. This morning I woke up to no phone, no tv and no internet. You can imagine my mood.

An expensive phone call on my blackberry to those chaps at Virgin Media revealed that they, like me, hadn’t a clue what the problem is.

At 50p a minute (no freephone here, of course) I waded and through and waited on several automatic message machines.

“Press 1 for a fault with your phone; if you have a problem with your TV press
2; or if you want to report a fault with your broadband press 3.”

Not being given the option of being able to press all three, I pressed ‘3’ and waited. Melinda picked up the call.

“Could you confirm your, name, account number and the first line of your address for me, please ?”

Through some stroke of luck my answer tallied with the info she had. I wasn’t actually reporting a fault using someone elses ID.

“Ok Sir, could you turn the wireless modem off, wait for 30 seconds and then turn it on again? That will reset it”

“Did that this morning, Melinda. Still doesn’t work”

“Oh. Ok Mr Bealing, I shall just check to see if there’s been a fault reported in your area.”

75p went by.

“Mr. Bealing ?”
“Yes” (who else was it gonne be?)
“There doesn’t seem to be a problem in your area so I’m going to put you through to my colleague who will be able to book an engineer for you.”

Pause for about £2.25.

Gareth (wouldn’t you know it?) picked up the phone.

“Good morning sir. Could you just confirm your, name, account number and the first line of your address for me, please ?”

Hmmm….Ok, I stood for it and spouted off my details again, and confirmed I’d already performed the turnyoffandon routine, much to Gareth’s surprise.

“There doesn’t seem to have been a problem reported in your area”

“Well I’m reporting it now” I offered.

“Ok” said Gareth, ignoring my tetchiness “the earliest we can get someone out to you is Monday, between 12 and 4pm”

“Do you not come out at weekends?” I asked, already realising the futility of the question.

“We do, but we have so many bookings this weekend that there’s no engineer near you available .”

“Perhaps there’s a fault in my area?” I wondered aloud.

Gareth paused for about 17p.

“I tell you what, Mr Bealing” I think the penny had dropped “if it turns out that a general fault in the area is reported we’ll call you and either address it here remotely or I’ll try to get someone to you this weekend.”

“Ok, you have my mobile number?”

“Er, no…?” He said, wondering why he would have that on record.

“Well how are you going to call me then ? My landline’s down.”

We parted company, Gareth and I. He with my mobile number, me with the raving hump.

So here I sit. Texting a blog on my mobile. The house is silent. No telly, not tv, no phone. No contact with the outside world, no entertainment. Might as well be in Cardiff.

And Where Were The Germans?


Oh for Christ’s sake ! When is this competition gonna liven up ? They’re doing it on purpose, you know. The only sodding World Cup since 1974 that I have any chance of seeing most of, and it’s been a mixture of dullness, mediocrity and monotony. I mean, did you watch Portugal vrs The Ivory Coast? It had everything I love about soccer: Millionaire show-ponies, falling over, feigning injury and trying to cheat their way to a victory. In the end they cheated their way into a 0-0 draw. Anyway, when Drogba and Ronaldo are on the pitch, what did I really expect? Fair play?? Well, actually I did think I was in for at least a goal. Or at least an attempt on goal. Nope, all I watched was some poor ref trying to keep the lid on a particularly niggly, nasty little affair as they pulled shirts, flicked heels and rolled around like they’d been shot. Boo! You’re rubbish ! Get off !!

The more I see of these matches the less painfully woeful Eng vrs USA seems (or is that the beer talking again ?). Brazil have just taken the field against North Korea and one can only hope for either a) Brazil win by a cricket score or b) N Korea nick a shock point, or even better a win. Some hope. Brazil will probably get a last minute penalty and come out 1-0 winners. GOD this is dull. I can’t quite believe that the only side that look like they’re worth watching is The Germans (though, as I write, N Korea look like they want some).I never thought I’d write this, but Germany looked slick, fast and exciting. THE GERMANS!!!! Mind you, they were playing The Strines, who having won the toss and elected to bat, then realised,half way through the second half that they were in fact playing footy, not cricket. By the time the back four had taken their pads off it was too late. They were all out, and were lucky not to asked to follow-on.

I digress (and The North Koreans are getting better and better -32 mins gone)

I thank the gods at Virgin Media for ESPN Classic who all fortnight have been showing classic World Cup encounters from year gone by. This morning’s was 1982 Brazil vrs Italy. remember that one ? Paulo Rossi hat-trick? Zico, Falcao, Socrates? Huge beards and or haircuts, shorts cutting them in half? You must remember ! Earlier I’d watched a recent interview with Socrates who’s still alive, though you’d hardly know it to look at him. I was reminded that the Brazil Captain from that 1982 tournament smoked 40 cigarettes-a-day back then, and by the look of him, he smoked most of them though his eyes.

Ever a thinking footballer, Socrates is now a doctor of both medicine and philosophy. I can’t imagine Wayne, Christiano or Kaka following in his footsteps, or maybe they will. I neither know or care. All I care about is England look dull/crap (delete where or if applicable), Germany look exciting and talented, and to cap it all, Der Kaiser Beckenbauer has been on air telling anyone who cares to listen that English football is going backwards. And he maybe right. Can you imagine this English lot being level at 0-0 with these current Brazilians at half time, as North Korea are ? No, nor can I.

Beckenbauer. Fucking Beckenbauer! Of course he’s right, but he can still fuck off. I was racking my brain to think of an example when a German team was dull, one-paced and were drubbed. I can ‘t bring myself to watch 1966 yet again, and the Berlin 1-5 debacle is too funny to watch at my time of life. But finally, I found one. And it’ll probably be the best match I watch all week.

And it has Socrates in it too. Just not that one.