Today has been a bit of a weird day. And it isn’t over yet.

I had two people I needed to call, Amazon, and the HMRC.

As you might remember (or scroll down and read below), I made an order off Amazon.co.uk for some books. I got one (State and Revolution) through the post a while back, but I was still waiting for the rest of the order. Now, it isn’t easy phoning Amazon, you have to submit a phone number, and they call you. Nice.

I spoke to a charming Irish bloke who phoned the couriers to ask where my package was. For some reason, it was dropped off with a neighbour (I’ve been in all day!). But that was sorted.

And then, I had to call the HMRC.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m in the middle of a tax rebate claim. The paperwork was sent to Manchester, and then, for some reason, sent to Devon. So now I’m waiting and waiting, and, quite frankly, I’m rather impatient.

But the woman I spoke to was unrepentent. There was nothing she could (or rather, would) do for me. Even though I’ve done everything that was asked of me. But no, there was no way of speeding things up. They are still dealing with correspondence from the 26th of May.

They are taking the urine. Seriously.

And I got this in my inbox, in response to an ad I placed on Gumtree.com. This was the body of the email. Verbatim.

[email removed]
Hello my new friend! My name Anastasia. I live in Russia. I saw your structure in
agency on which it has been registered today in the morning. Now I have come from my
work and have decided to write to you. I work as the cook. I very well prepare. To
this I was learned by my grandfather when I was still the young girl. To me of 30
years mine birthday on December, 31, in day ” New year ” I hope you know such
holiday.
Well I would like that you have written to me to the answer. And I with impatience
shall wait it.
My mail [email removed]
Write.

Not that I’m laughing at her English (it’s certainly better than my Russian), but she’s 30, and Russian. Either would have been an obsticle to matrimonial bliss, the two combined make it very difficult indeed.

Not my day today, is it?

I was coming home from the Permanent Revolution meeting (more about that later) and I realised: SWT is a weird and wonderful world.

On the way up, I noticed that someone had left an unopened copy of Sugar magazine. A brief look around amongst the suits later, it still remained unclaimed, even with the free Boxfresh bikini that came with it. It somewhat made up for the train being 15 mins late.

But on the way back, I saw the most perculiar thing. I saw a silver bug. No, really. It was SILVER. Like, shiny silver.

I took some photos with my camera phone, and I’ll upload them here.

Anyway, the PR meeting was interesting. I’ve had some of my fear elayed, but I’m still hedging my bets and I’m not joining. Their founding conference is this weekend but I won’t be able to go. But I’ll certainly keep a tab on things.

I’m now bald.

July 8, 2006

And why not?

Sorry for the lack of updates, but that’s because there hasn’t been much to write about, really. Work goes on.

It was my birthday yesterday (21 – argh!), and apart from the cash I got from my parents and Grandmother, I got an Amazon.co.uk gift certificate from my sister and brother. This is what I bought:

  “Armed Madhouse: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?, The Best Legal Whorehouse in Texas, No Child’s Behind Left and Other Tales of Class Combat in a Dying Regime”

and

“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth About Globalization, Corporate Cons and High Finance Fraudsters”
both by Greg Palast.

Greg Palast was taught economics by arch-neo liberal Milton Friedman, and he’s been dedicated to exposing the true horrors of it ever since. For some bizzare reason, as Greg himself will tell you, secret documents just somehow, mysteriously, land on his desks at the BBC and The Guardian, and he gets right in there. He exposed the Florida votes scandal where thousands of Black Floridians were denied their right to vote by the Republican state administration and a company called DBT, lead by… Republican backers. He exposed the “Lobbygate” scandal, where key Blairite aides gave access to Greg, undercover as an American businessman, to key ministers and MPs high up in the New Labour machine.

“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” is his old book. The UK launch of his new book, “Armed Madhouse”, was at Ideas for Freedom, a conference organised and hosted by the Alliance for Workers Liberty last weekend. Greg’s a brilliant writer, but to hear him in the flesh is a much better experience. By his own admission, Greg didn’t prepare for his speech, but it was still interesting to hear the hard evidence about the true reasons for the War in Iraq (oil, if you haven’t have guessed) and a bit more about Hugo Chavez. I can’t say I’m a big a fan of Chavez as Greg is, but both books are essential reading.

  “Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About”

by Mil Millington.

I first came across Mil Millington, but I didn’t know it at the time, when I used to have a Commodore Amiga and an avid reader of Amiga Power. Mil has a fantastic way with words, and a highly sarcastic (but not vicious) sense of humour. His ability to take the mundane into the absurd is something I deeply envy, and I am a mailing-lister too.

“Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: The Encyclopedia of Modern Life”
by Alan McArthur

Alan is a former deputy editor of Solidarity, the AWL’s newspaper, but this book is not so much an acedemic critique of late capitalism, but a cry of dispair at how shit everything has become. Very sarcastic, but also very true, too. And, unlike the Grumpy Old Men, there is a dash of hope there, too.

“The State and Revolution (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics S.)”
and

“Essential Works”
both by Vladimir Lenin.

Essentials that needed to be replaced.

… it ended up as 12.

Today was, quite frankly, a horrible day for me. I had to be in at 8 this morning (already, I know you're thinking "ugh, Kit, that's horrible." I know. I appreciate the sympathy) so, naturally, I thought, "Hmm. Now, if I have to be in an hour before I usually am, that means I have to wake up an hour before I usually do, and therefore logic would dicate that I should also set off an hour before I usually do." I mean, come on people, this is logic. You can't go wrong with logic, surely?

So, it's 6am. A very bedraggled, sleepy, and irratable version of me (same as usual, then, fnar fnar) is walking up the road to the Post Office. This Post Office opens at 6am – huzzah!, you may think, but beware reader – this is just a trap of false security I was lulled into! For, you see, I had to acquire a bus pass. But the Post Office people (who haven't liked me ever since I stopped using a Post Office Card Account to get my benefits paid into and got a proper bank account and being free from the mercy of Post Office opening times) refused to sell me one, on account of it not being half six. 

"It's the law," he said, firmly. "After half six, you can."

Obviously, this is no good. And also utter bollocks, because every other damn person from whom I have had the task of purchasing bus passes or travelcards from have let me buy them from 6am onwards (not to mention the fact that the Tube opens up at well before 6am, and you can buy tickets there, natch). Instead of following my instinct of asking whether this was a Parliamentary law, the law of Transport for London, or his own little spiteful law, I played the Tiny Tim card.

"Oh, please, oh, come on guv, please, I've got to get to work!"

"No."

Time for a different tact.

"Well, can I get some change  then, please?"

"No."

"Not even if I buy something?"

"No, because I don't have the change"

"Gnh."

Defeated, I walk out of the one place where they will pritty much have change. All the time. I mean, it's a Post Office. If they don't have change, how do all of the pensioners get their pensions? (If you think I'm exagerating on this, just wait in line behind three pensioners getting their pension out while you just need a tenner so you can buy some damn food. See for yourself.) And, because it's 6am, there is no other place open. So, armed with a twenty, I try to use it on the bus. I really should have seen this one coming, really.

"You must be joking, mate!"

"Look, I just went to that Post Office, up there. See it? [points] Right over there. He wouldn't sell me a bus pass.  He wouldn't even give me any change or buy anything."

"Well, I can't take it."

Out comes the stressed Tiny Tim card. The stress was totally genuine. 
"Oh, please, oh, come on guv, please, I've got to get to work!"

Begrudingly, the complete and utter jobsworth held onto my twenty, and when we passed an open shop, stopped the bus, and made me get the change. I felt like a naughty schoolboy. 

Soon after I arrived in Hownslow, I couldn't find a single retailer that was open. Oh, the time by the way, is 6.30am – I am way too early. For, you see, my infallable logic was knocked over by the simple fact that at 6am, there is no traffic, so the journey takes a shill 25 mins. Honestly, it's a wonder I don't smack myself in the fact whenever I peel a banana, really.
Still, a fruitless search of Hounslow failed to produce a single ticket seller that was open. Not one. In Hownslow. Which is not just a row of three shops – it's a fairly big shopping centre place type effort, if you've never been to Hownslow (and I wouldn't say there is anything to recommend of the place, either).  

So I have to pay to get on the bus to Osterley. I buy my ticket, and take a seat. I must have dropped it, but then again, when have you ever seen a ticket inspector on the bus?

Err… me. This morning.

Several pleas and driver's interventions later, I end up with a £20 fine. I mean, when I woke up, I just knew this was going to be a shit day. Just knew it. The glass isn't even half empty.

So, I get to work, and it's seven bastarding A bastarding M. I'm an hour early. Literally. I checked the time that I swiped in at, and it was 7.04am, and I have only the Internet orders guy for company.  The lines open at 8am. It's pandemonium.

You may feel, dear reader, than you fully understand the capability of otherwise normal-looking people to be utter fuckwits, but unless you've ever worked in a call centre, you don't. You, it seems, are both God and the dogsbody, just without the respect of either. Oh, and throw into the mix a sale catalouge.

Thankfully, a sympathetic line manager let me go on break early (a paltry 15 minuites) before I committed the Great Massacre of Osterley. One cigerette later, I come back, and until 6pm, the day goes like any other. As I was looking forward to knocking off (not one out) for the day, the call centre manager asks if people can stay on for an extra hour's overtime. 

You may all now be thinking "Oh, Kit, surely this must be end!" but through my own stupidity, I was an hour early. Do you really think that, given my crap day, that my stupidity would like the side down?

My arm thrust up.

To be honest, the last hour flew anyway. Until 7pm, when about three calls came through. And never in my life has my own name sent such a shiver down my spine.

"Kiiiiiit…. can you stay on and take two more calls?"

Gnhhhhhhh…

By the time I swiped out, it was 7.22 pm. Which meant I missed the bus to Hownslow. 

I need a hug. 

Of all the liberals…

June 20, 2006

..the angsty, guilt-wridden, middle class 'socialists' are the worst.

In my somewhat varied political life, through being in various groups, campaigns, and in some aspects of work, I've met a variety of different types of people. There are the Tory Boys who, when they're not being sexist arseholes, will never fail to get the beers in and the party started. The Lib Dems Girl, while appearing hippyish, will usually have the smokes, and Labour kids tend to be quite witty. 

All have, at some point, caused my ire, but I like to think I can see the good in everything.

But then, there are the angsty, guilt-wridden, middle class 'socialists'. They are basically overgrown liberal versions of Kevin The Teenager. Teenage socialists, actual proper ones, I have no problem with, at all. Not one. But when these angsty, guilt-wridden, middle class 'socialists' use twenty words when three would have done, throw around words like "bourgeoise" and "proletariat" to make themselves feel superior, and generally act like stuck-up, bossy, middle-class liberals, then perhaps I can sympathise with Ronald Regan.

And you know what the worse thing is? 

I'm supposed to be on the same side as the angsty, guilt-wridden, middle class 'socialists'.

In other news, a new found best friend (narf) at work brought me cake today, and it put a really big smile on my face. And it was yummy, too, so now I find myself in the same position as Donkey is to Shrek. (Not that I'm calling this girl Shrek in anyway, not all anaologies ring true, y'know.) Eternally indebted to her.

It almost placated the fact that I am working a ten-hour day tomorrow, 8-6. How am I going to cope? Light a candle, everyone. Or bake me a cake. 

Gah. Gah it all. To hell.

Those of you who know me will know that I have have a new job. Well, it's sort of in middle age right now because it only lasts until mid-July, but you know. It's still new. Ish.

In any case, I sort of made a boo-boo. 

An order came in, and I just so happened to be the one who picked up the call (my first mistake). Several repeat orders later, and I head off home, and asking someone to ring the customer and let her know the orders were done. But this didn't happen. Several grovelling apologies to all parties later, I think I have the case settled. I hope.

I'm working this Saturday. I don't think I like the idea of having days off split apart (like, for this week, I have Thursday and Sunday off) but I'm a slave to business interests, I'm afraid. The majority of people I work with are sound, though, so it's all good. So far. Except they say things like "it's all good". Which I don't mind, but it rubs off onto me, and whenever I say it, I sound like a fuckwit. 

Patois, eh?