Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Traveller's Tale

 As the names Sheffield & Leeds appeared on the motorway signs I felt able to breathe freely once more. There really is no other place on earth quite like God’s own county and, having just travelled up from deepest Hertfordshire, the thought of soon being able to set foot once again on Yorkshire’s sacred ground proved truly heart-warming! To be totally honest, the ‘heart-warming’ was probably in response to the prospect of arriving home on the third day. Although born a “man of Kent”, and having inhabited points North, South, East & West of England, I am proud to be a Northerner and born-again Yorkshire man.

Our outbound journey, on Thursday, was not without its little hiccups as (what should have been) a three and a half hour journey turned into a more tortuous five hours of intermittent frustration. I’m not a good traveller at the best of times and this was most certainly not the best!

We received a most friendly welcome when we finally arrived at the Red Lion Hotel, in Radlett. The purpose of our venture southwards was to attend the wedding of one of Helen’s nieces; the wedding service was being held at St Paul’s Church in St Albans and the reception at Shenley Cricket Centre, the Church approximately seven miles and the reception venue just over one mile from the hotel we’d booked into.

The meal we had in the hotel’s restaurant was really excellent, at the time I thought it almost made the journey worthwhile. A most obliging waitress came back with the recipe for the sauce served with our main course as I’d been so enthusiastic about it and, she also printed out the route to be taken from the hotel to St Pauls.

After a most restless night, I managed to make it down for breakfast even though sundry muscular and joint pains had begun to kick in. The rest of the morning was spent lying down, attempting to get some rest before we set off for the wedding. Come the time we were due for departure to St Albans I knew there was no way I’d be able to cope with neither the journey to nor the ceremony itself.

My attempts to rest and relax whilst ma belle had headed off to the wedding were thwarted by the blaring/beeping of car horns (by the aggressive southern motorists as they approached the mini-roundabout in close proximity to the hotel). By this time a pounding headache and a disorientating spinning sensation, closely akin to that experienced when I suffered with labyrinthitis, joined the by now familiar aches and pains searing through my limbs whilst the ribcage was feeling rather bruised.

I should add that by this time I’d begun to be overwhelmed by a sense of despairing self-pity, after all this same Friday was also my birthday and here I was in an alien land feeling quite alone and desolate. When my beloved returned from the wedding service I reluctantly agreed to take a taxi to the reception. That decision proved totally disastrous as I was unable to cope with the babble of conversation and (joyous?) laughter – a total sensory overload. Within fifteen minutes we were in a taxi back to the hotel.

Later in the evening I felt almost ready to eat so, Helen and I ventured down through the bar to the restaurant only to be informed that the restaurant was closed (due to the extra bar business where the televised soccer seemed to be a major attraction and shortage of staff). I muttered to ma belle, “typical, it’s just not my f…ing day; it’s the most f…ing wretched birthday I’ve ever experienced, a bloody nightmare”.

Suddenly a degree of sanity overwhelmed me; I went to the Hotel Reception Desk to make an official complaint that we, as paying guests, had not been informed that the restaurant would be closed on a Friday evening. A few minutes later we were taken to the restaurant where a waitress took our order and the chef came to check whether and when we needed anything. This is what I consider service beyond the call of duty. I’d mentioned to the waitress that part of the reason I couldn’t cope with the noisy environment (of the bar) was because of my moderate M.E. As we finished our desserts the waitress volunteered that we could exit the restaurant via the kitchen, thus avoiding the bustling activity of the bar.

Although I didn’t manage to attend either the ceremony or the reception, for which we’d made the journey down, it was a delight to experience such real hospitality proffered by the Red Lion, Radlett, Herts.

Our return journey, on Saturday morning, passed without a hitch – the exact reverse of the route we’d intended to take on the outward journey – and we reached home in just three and a quarter hours. Recuperation from the adventure may take quite some time but, it’s slightly easier to cope with sundry ailments when at home in familiar territory.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

just as I am - and do not wish to be

Tuesday morning I removed myself from the duvet lair bright and early, feeling unusually alert and refreshed. It was only later in the day that I started to suffer for this foolhardiness, as I became a totally shattered wreck, and I’m still struggling – four and a half days later - to regain my usual familiarly limited reserves of stamina.

Headaches, giddiness, muscular pains and spasms, tenderness in armpits and under the chin, a bruised feeling around the ribcage alongside a sore throat and roof of the mouth, such have been the rewards for my carelessness.

To be perfectly honest, I suspect the ‘early morning’ was simply the carelessly thrown match landing on a tinder pile which would have self-combusted sooner or later.

Another bout of perspiration, suddenly oozing from forehead, chest and arms, seems to prefigure a renewed surge of shattered exhaustion. Frustration swiftly follows as I teeter on the brink of despair, feebly yielding to a flow of tears; a plenitude of gnawing aches destroys any semblance of composure.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Whatever Happens - (or A Customer Dis-service)

Whatever Happens don’t expect a reasonable service. Early this morning I had occasion to contact PC World’s ‘Whatever Happens’ service as a Packard Bell desktop, purchased less than two years ago (from PC World) and covered by a three year “Whatever Happens” warranty, had gone dead.

On ringing the necessary number on this 24/7 service, and having pushed sundry  buttons on the telephone in an attempt to follow the commands issued by a disembodied telephonic voice, I eventually got through to a real life voice. At this point I was urged to disconnect all leads from the non-functioning PC and press the power switch on whilst repeatedly tapping F8. Not even a beep was heard as I could have told him; no BIOS – no anything.

This wonderful service promises an engineer on the next working day but, according to the technician, that no longer applies as there were too many call outs and the engineer didn’t necessarily have the right components. Why they didn’t have the right components is something of a mystery as they have full knowledge of the machine model which they’re going to be servicing!

Next, he told me that they would collect it tomorrow but was unable to give me a time. Evidently it is the customer’s responsibility to go online after 9.00pm to get a rough idea of when they will be calling. Service obviously isn’t their concern whatever happens. Even the phone call (some 40 odd minutes duration I think)to an 0844 number, is at the customer’s expense and, the PC base unit will be away for a full week. So much for a next day service!

Whatever happens, remember their warranties are subject to change without informing the customer.

 Don’t expect good service – WHATEVER HAPPENS! That way you’ll not be disappointed.