24 February 2013

What did I say last time? Something about basking in balmy, Spring-like weather or something similar I seem to recollect. Boy! Did I mis-speak. Temperatures have reverted to their “normal” February range with a bitterly biting easterly wind bringing sub-freezing temperatures from Scandinavia. At least we have been spared the mountains of snow they were predicting (so far – in our part of the country) which I can definitely do without. The silver lining is the frozen tundra, of course, which means that Molly returns from our walks unblemished.

You will recollect the long-running saga of Ms Playchute and the claim for recompense for the lost parcel of Australian playchutes. After three months of wrangling, disputing, arguing, discussing, yelling, crying, screaming, shouting, bawling and generally getting very fed up, Global Parcelforce have finally sent her a cheque (without prejudice, of course) which, I suppose, represents a partial victory. She still lost money on the deal (interestingly, the ones who have made out like bandits are, you will be surprised to learn, the banks, who managed to secure their cut of each transaction whether money was coming to SeamStress from Australia or going back again as a refund to the disappointed customer. Thank goodness the bankers did all right out of all this). Still, it’s definitely better than a kick in the backside.

Apart from the loss of the parcel which was disappointing to both Ms Playchute and the customer, Parcelforce’s method for handling compensation claims of this sort is quite simply pants. Everything is done on-line so you fill in all the details, upload copies of all the documentation and then you wait. And you wait some more.

Fortunately, the system includes a messaging facility so that you can, at regular intervals, send a quick note to someone, somewhere, enquiring as to how the claim is progressing. Then you wait some more. After a few days of silence, when you check the message board again you discover that the status of your original message has been altered from “Pending” to “Completed”. So, presumably someone does actually look at the message but never bothers to provide an answer. Or, perhaps it’s all automated – after the customer posts a message the system automatically updates the status to “Completed” after a period of time passes.

Apart from that, Ms Playchute has been busier than the proverbial one-armed paper hanger this past week. She has produced her last bespoke playchute and the business is finally, after years of warnings and threats, winding down. She still has some ready-made, off the shelf playchutes for dispatch but, other than a small sideline in the distribution of foam balls and dice and the occasional play parachute produced for a third-party distributor, SeamStress Playchutes has ceased production.

SeamStress Workshop

For most “normal” people this would be a cause for celebration and a bit of rest and relaxation. For Penelope it provides the opportunity to clear everything out of the workspace and give the whole place a clean and paint job ready for the space to be re-purposed. You will be relieved to know that, other than assist in the numerous trips to the local recycling depot to dispose of several carloads full of redundant artefacts and material, I have assisted not in the slightest.

I ran across a couple of “fun” bits and pieces this week. Firstly, the arthritic sea otter at a zoo in Portland, Oregon who has been playing basketball to ease his stiffness.

Then, in the Guardian I ran across some clips from of some splendid driving in Russia. Apparently, many Russians have car dashboard mounted cameras, known as “dashcams” which they use to gather evidence in support of their insurance claims where bad roads, extreme weather, drink driving and aggressive drivers produce a high accident rate.

And finally, Penny’s sister J sent a link to the following video of The Husband Song. I’d seen it before and, since I can’t remember whether I’ve shared it already, I’ll share it again. What I want to know is how did the Muppets know how to describe our marital relationship so accurately?


Unfortunately, no time to tell you about Osborne the Tit’s latest travails. He’s doing such a grand job with the economy that Britain has just been stripped of its AAA credit rating for the first time ever.

George Osborne under pressure as Britain loses AAA rating for first time
Chancellor vows to stick to course after downgrade by Moody’s, which blamed subdued growth and rising debt burden

Osborne the Tit

Thank goodness he’s going to stick with what’s been working so well so far!

Love to you all,