You know the three great lies?
• The cheque is in the post.
• Of course I’ll still love you in the morning.
• I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.
And I’m sitting here waiting for the government ‘help line’ (No fantasy writer would have dared use the level of irony implied by the name) to tell me how a self employed person claims sick pay for a fortnight.
On Friday I sat and listened to it for 45 minutes. Today I’ve got the speaker phone on so I can get on with something else.
Oh yes, a voice. “Thank you for waiting, please continue to hold and we will answer your call as soon as possible. Or you may prefer to ring back later. Our opening times are from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.”
And now back to the Vivaldi. What did he ever do to get himself involved in the ‘Help-Desk industry?’
Still while I’m waiting I can tell you a story someone reminded me off earlier today.
Way back, when I were a lad (This is the local equivalent of ‘Once upon a time’ so bear with me) I went to the local grammar school. One morning a couple of lads my own age approached me and asked if I could get hold of Ammonium Nitrate.
“No problem, how much would you like?”
“How much does it cost?”
“Well my Dad pays about £100 a ton for it. It comes in hundredweight bags.” (To be honest I’ve forgotten the 1968 price of Ammonium Nitrate).
“Oh we don’t need that much.”
“How much do you want?”
“Oh about this much.” (Gesturing with cupped hands.)
“We’ve got a torn bag; I’ll get you some from that.”
Next morning I arrive with a couple of pounds of Ammonium Nitrate in a plastic bag. We worked out the pro-rata price assuming £100 a ton, rounded up slightly, and they went on their way rejoicing. Keep the customer satisfied, that’s what it’s all about.
A week or so later my Father gets a phone call. Apparently these two lads had made various bangs on waste ground and a ‘concerned parent’ had contacted the headmaster. The headmaster had been so concerned he’d decided to contact my parents immediately rather than have me summoned to his office. So he phoned, and lucky for me, got my Dad. (When I say lucky for me, my Mum was a teacher and tended to regard some things as much more serious than by Dad did.
The headmaster said (I loosely paraphrase) “Did you know your son was selling Ammonium nitrate to other boys who are causing explosions.”
My Dad’s reply, “Well I hope he’s getting more for it that I’m paying for it.”
And that killed it. Dead. At this point the headmaster probably realised that the sale of Ammonium nitrate wasn’t illegal and probably wasn’t even against school rules. Nothing was said to me until some weeks later when my Dad remembered
And when he remembered about the phone call, he told me about the bangs he and his mates had made when he was a lad. I have always been proud of my Dad.
Wonder how many different security services pick up on this blog post?
There again, ask somebody who knows what they’re talking about. From Amazon
As a reviewer commented, “Jim Webster’s recollections, reflections and comments, about life as a Farmer, are always worth reading, not only for information, but also for entertainment and shrewd comments about UK government agencies (and politicians).
One of the many observations that demonstrate his wryness, is as follows:
There was a comment in the paper the other day. Here in the UK, clowns are starting to complain that politicians are being called clowns. The clowns point out that being a clown is damned hard work, demands considerable fitness, great timing and the ability to work closely with others as part of a well drilled team!”