Terminal Failure

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flts

I feel I just have to get this down after the massive holdup at Heathrow over the bank holiday weekend and the attitude of the people involved. I just couldn’t believe it!

  • There was a problem and a vast number of flights were delayed. As always the fault – or rather the blame – went to the Computer. And once the all-powerful computer system was off there was nothing they could do about it. They couldn’t let the passengers, the tired passengers who’d already endured a long flight, disembark because the computer system wouldn’t disgorge their details. They couldn’t let the aircraft waiting on the tarmac take off – the computers were down.  Now I’m not a computer expert, but surely if the main system and the back-up both failed, then what you do is go back to the old fashioned way – pencil and paper and people shouting out names from a list. Perhaps it’s like Scorton village shop when the till wasn’t working and the only people that could add up bills and give change accurately were those over 50 who had never become dependent on the computer.
  • What really bothers me though, is the sheep-like attitude of the customers; they endure indefinite delays, lack of information and a totally uncaring attitude towards the public. Yet no-one seemed even mildly surprised at the treatment they got. You expect this if you travel by air especially if you use British Airways. Why were the punters not storming the check-in desks, demanding to see the person in charge, making a fuss and demanding redress? Are we really so feeble that we allow the airlines to treat us like sheep? Sorry, scrap that last bit, sheep would get better treatment; RSPCA, Animal Rights and other organisations would see a sheep had food and water and somewhere to bed down.
  • Then the chairman of British Airways boasts that he is not going to resign over the shambles. Resign? It shouldn’t be a question of resign or not resign; it should be whether or not he will be sacked! Personally I think he should.
  • Further to paragraph 2: what were the repercussions to this massive cock-up? Did the shares in B.A. go through he floor? I doubt it. Did the major holiday firms and the business travellers cancel their contracts with B.A. and refuse to use Heathrow or Gatwick again? I doubt it. Did even the ordinary airline travellers who fly to holiday destinations in sunny climes make sure they never travel with this airline in future? I don’t think so. We are too forgiving – or do I mean too spineless?
  • A final grim thought: if the problem had been a bomb – or even just a false report of a bomb – would Heathrow and Gatwick have reacted any more efficiently? I doubt it. So obviously the message this sends to any would-be terrorists: don’t bother with bombs and bullets, target the IT systems, it’s less hassle and more disruptive!

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If you have to fly, this is the way to do it!

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Blogging 101 Task 17 Worst Fear

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In case this isn’t obvious I am trying to write this in the style of Jane Austen.

Esmeralda the eldest daughter of Mr Fitzpatrick Polkington of Hesmondwaite Manor in ****shire was by nature and upbringing a somewhat fearful girl. The absence of any brothers or sisters or male cousins no doubt contributed to this state of affairs. One of Esmeralda’s greatest fears was that of being alone and lost in some strange city where she had no friends to turn to for assistance.

Up to the age of eighteen her life had been passed in the quiet country around Hesmondwaite Manor and even an excursion to the nearest town let alone the bustling metropolis of Bath was viewed with trepidation. When an invitation arrived from her godmother, Lady Miranda, to spend a fortnight’s holiday at her London residence, Esmeralda turned pale.

“Papa, I can’t possibly go,” she quavered, “Pray make some polite excuse on my behalf. Say I have a bad attack of migraine or there is an outbreak of bubonic plague in the village.”

“Rubbish!” said her parent, “Of course you must go. How else can I expect to find an eligible man for you to marry? Besides, Lady Miranda is extremely wealthy and she had intimated to me – in strictest confidence – that you are the sole heir to her considerable fortune.”

ESME

Blogging 101 – Finding Your Own Voice

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Our W.I. our local W.I. the one in our village is to close. I can’t believe it. It’s just not possible. I remember when we first came here. I knew no-one. I was stuck at home most of the time with an eighteen-month-old toddler. My husband took the car to go to work every day and I was left on my own in a little bungalow on a country lane half a mile from the village.

Soon I was walking to the village shop and post office. Then I saw poster advertising the next W.I. meeting. It was only a couple of days away. I turned up. I explained that I had been a W.I. member when we lived in Wales and asked if I could join. The ladies were surprised. I don’t think anyone had just turned up before. Most people were introduced by friends. I didn’t have any friends in the village – not then.

I soon settled in and felt at home. In the village, in the community, in the Women’s Institute. I’ve been on the committee; at different times I’ve been treasurer, president, secretary and press officer. The secretary’s job is definitely the hardest.

And now they are going to close. Lack of interest, they say. No young members. (By “young” they mean women in their forties with kids at school.) No one willing to be officers or committee members. It’s saddening. We had such fun. I got to know women I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I went to meetings, not just in our village, but further afield. I’ve been twice to Denman College, the W.I. residential courses centre near Oxford. But that’s another story – and a fascinating one.

 

 

Blogging 101 – Lost & Found

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Lost & Found

 “You can sort through the Lost Property,” they told me. It had to be better than punching tickets on a draughty platform or dealing with crowds of rowdy football supporters. So here I am with a huge container of lost property. What am I supposed to do with all this?

     “Start small, “said Jenny, “Take out any small items that are worth say, less than a fiver and put them in this bin – she indicated a large black container. They end up in landfill. Then sort the rest into…let’s see… IT stuff, reading matter, clothes, and…er miscellaneous.”

     “Er…miscellaneous?”

     “Miscellaneous, can be fun. We’ve had some odd things in there. We once had a piece of Brie in a carrier bag. Only found out when it started to stink the place out.”

     The job was hardly onerous. After a while it became boring. The things people leave on trains are much the same the world over. Glasses, mobile phones, books and magazines, small items of clothing, gloves or scarves or hats – Jenny claimed she once found a suspender belt and a pair of open crotch panties, but I think she was having me on.

     Halfway through the morning I found the painting. It was quite small and wrapped up in a jiffy bag and brown paper. I could feel the frame through the wrapping and couldn’t resist opening the parcel. It was disappointing. Just a picture like a kid might do of people walking around. It looked as if they were going to work in a mill or somewhere. It didn’t look very good; the figures were more like matchsticks. Surely this was one of the worthless items to be consigned to landfill.

     When Jenny called me over for our coffee break I mentioned the picture. “I put it to go for landfill,” I said, “It was rubbish.”

     Jenny nearly went berserk. She dashed to the discard bin, pulled out the picture and held it up.

     “Thank goodness it hasn’t been sent to landfill,” she said, “Can’t you see how valuable it is?

     “No. It just looks like some kid’s painting that his parents framed. Can’t think why.”

    “Don’t you know anything about painting? Don’t you watch the news?”

    “Welll…er…no,” I admitted.

     “This is a genuine Lowry, stolen last week. It’s been in all the papers and on the telly. They’ve even offered a reward.”

ESME

 

Blogging 101 – Task 14 – Letter

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Dear Sandy

Many thanks for the invitation to your house-warming party. We’d both be delighted to attend. I note that you aren’t looking for gifts, especially stuff to do with the house. A pity. I’ve got several things that I am sure would look well in your new abode and really make it like a home.

They are useful too. There’s a very elegant coffee pot that was a present from my auntie Joan. She didn’t know that we gave up drinking coffee some time ago so it never got used.

Then I’ve a picture of London Bridge, another birthday present; from Gran this time. It’s nice enough but won’t go with the wallpaper in our lounge. Gran is over 90 and lives in Llanfair PG so she won’t call on us and expect to see the picture on display.

Just one query about your party. The invitation says, “Bring a bottle”. As you know, we are both recovering alcoholics so will Vimto be acceptable?

With best wishes
Marmeduke & Magdalen

Blogging 101 – Task 13 Serially Found

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I ‘ve been writing ever since I was little. In fact since before I could write in the sense of holding a pen or pencil and making intelligible marks on paper. I used to make up stories and if I were lucky I’d get my kind auntie to write them out for me. I don’t know if she edited them at all. Probably not. It was only the two of us who ever read my works so a few errors or spelling or punctuation would hardly be important.

I scribbled stories and diaries throughout my childhood and adolescence and into adult life. Prompted by this set piece of work , I looked out one of my journals from 20+ years ago. Surprised at how much I was doing at that period. A part time job -one I really enjoyed with interesting and pleasant colleagues, a fair amount of writing for our local WI and the Arts Centre Newsletter, quite a bit of cycling too. I’ve got one journal entry where I am complaining that I want to ride in preference to walking to the end of the road and waiting for a bus. How different things were then!

As always I kept telling myself to write and keep on writing , at least a page a day etc…etc. and sent items off to competitions. What has changed? Very little!

ESME

 

 

 

Writing 101 Childhood Home

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I am trying to write this using sentences of different lengths

     When I was 12 we lived over the shop. Literally. My parents had a baker’s shop and the upstairs rooms were our living room and bedrooms and bathroom. There were three of us in the family, mum, dad and me. But sometimes it seemed more like six; my paternal grandmother and my aunt lived only a short distance away with another old lady called Mary Ellen – usually known as Nellie. She was not a relative but had lived with my gran for a long time. Nellie worked as shop assistant in our bakers. As long as I can remember the three of them Gaga (my childish name for my auntie Margaret.) Nannie and Nellie were part of the family. They came to us for meals and before I started school I was taken to Nannie’s house every day where she looked after me while my mum was working.

        By today’s standards our little flat above the shop would be considered cramped. But there were good points too. We had a fine view of the street outside from our second floor window. On the relatively few occasions when I couldn’t see across the road because of the dreaded l smog I knew I wouldn’t have to go to school. All buses would be cancelled.

      The bathroom was immediately above the bakehouse oven so we had a nice warm floor to stand on when getting into the bath. Strangely enough, though we had a bathroom upstairs, the lavatory was outside the back door. Not unusual in the 1940s suppose.

     I took a lot for granted about the house we lived in. Everything was close. We were one of a row of shops and most of our daily needs could be supplied within walking distance. There was a post office, a newsagents, a butcher, a fish shop, a sweetshop, a tripe shop, even a hairdresser and a shoe shop. What more could you ask? This was before the advent of supermarkets or shopping malls.

      Well before I was 12 I could run errands to any of the shops on our road, I could go to the newsagents next door to buy a newspaper and twenty cigarettes for my dad. I can’t imagine sending my daughter on a similar errand when she was seven.