Monday, 28 November 2011

Minister, if I might suggest...

I was much amused to hear that the Cabinet Secretary, Gus O'Donnell - or Sir Gusset as I’ve heard him referred to in a rather typical schoolboy(ish) fashion on more than one occasion - has been whinging to the Public Administration Select Committee that the Freedom of Information Act is interfering with his ability to give advice to ministers.

One particular complaint, which he made in his usual roundabout fashion, was that he could not guarantee that the information would remain private if ministers were to speak "without fear or favor" when they disagreed with something.

Which is complete and utter nonsense of course.

Sir Gusset’s own death might interfere with his ability to give us the 'benefit of his wisdom' but it’s not something I would care to bet on. One thing I am fairly certain of is that nothing as trivial as a mere Act of Parliament is likely to.

Friday, 25 November 2011

It's not dead. It's just resting.

There is an old saying about 'speaking too soon' or as I once heard an American put it, "You just had to open your mouth, didn't ya!"

Well, I lost my broadband connection a few days after making that last post.

Annoying but not earth shattering. Losing the connection is not a particularly rare event as it is a BT line and with no competing services at my local exchange I'm stuck with whatever they choose to provide.

To make matters worse, if their equipment can hold what they interpret as a 'stable' connection at any speed above 0.6mpbs they won't even look at it as this is what they call the "Minimum Fault Threshold".

However all this pales in comparison to the absolute disgrace which is BT Internet's customer/technical support who claimed he couldn't see anything wrong and suggested.

"It's probably just a bit slow due to network congestion."

Even Eric Idle sounded more convincing than that in the now infamous Parrot Sketch.

In the end, it took nearly fifteen minutes for this idiot to satisfy himself that there was a fault and a further week for BT to 'fix' it.

Sort of...

The only real different is now they're claiming that because of something they had to do at the exchange - no explanation of what - they can't escalate the fault until fourteen days have passed.

It took them another three days on top to fix whatever they’d ‘fixed’ the first time round. So in total, I was without a usable internet connection for nearly a month.

And yes. I do have access to the internet at another location but I'd be a right bloody fool to post entries to this blog from there, wouldn't I?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Seconds Out, Round Two...

The person - or persons - who have been trying to break into my Doverwatch accounts are nothing if not persistent and while the Techo-Rabbi is fairly certain they've been unsuccessful, what they have succeeded in doing is temporarily stop me from posting while the attacks are 'in progress'.

So what you can expect for the forseeable future is a brief flurry of activity followed by a somewhat longer period of absolutely nothing while I wait for the resulting nonsense to stop.

At the moment, I'm still quite determined to out-wait these idiots. How long that will last I really could not say, but in the words of Arthur Dent as penned by the late Douglas Adams.

We'll see who rusts first, shall we?

Monday, 2 May 2011


Last week I received an email from the new deputy manager at Ivybank Residential Care Home which is reopening tomorrow under new ownership.

She didn't go into a great deal of detail but did mention that the premises have been extensively refurbished and redecorated, has new management, new staff, etc.

I understand that their recent open day was fairly well attended by the usual suspects. Social Services, local care managers, prospective clients... Well... Their younger relatives actually... All of whom were described as being suitable impressed by the premises and the staff.

Unfortunately none of the local councillors were able to attend which they naturally found a bit disappointing. With local elections later this week, I certainly wouldn't have missed the opportunity to 'show my support' for local business.

One thing I was slightly surprised to hear was that the new owner is keeping the existing name. As some of you may know, Ivybank was closed just before Christmas last year.

I don't have many details and what I do have certainly wouldn't help the new owner - mud sticks as the saying goes. Suffice it to say that the only connection with the previous regime is a single member of the night staff.

Needless to say, I wish them all the very best of British Luck.

By an interesting coincidence, the young lady who emailed me is the former accounts clerk from W.H.Smiths who seems to have 'landed on her feet' after the appalling way she was treated there.

After all the manager's assurances about being "fair", she was the only one to lose her job. While the abusive individual who brought her husband along to help 'browbeat' the manager didn't lose a single hour, despite having received a written warning last year for exactly the same thing, sans-husband.

Naturally, having now made a sort of 'personal' contact with her. I grabbed the opportunity to get her version of the events leading up to her 'departure'.

Or rather, I tried to...

She wasn't very forthcoming. In fact, I suspect she thought I was being just a little impertinent as she was quite blunt in telling me to 'Bugger Off!'

One thing is for certain. Unlike the previous owner and their 24 year old manager, this young lady won't compromise on important issues such as patient care. Or anything else for that matter...

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Over Our Dead Bodies!

I was much amused to see Bob Goldfield's pathetic attempts to bribe DHB staff and their families fail so spectacularly.

With more than 97% of the Dover residents who turned out voting in favour of a 'People's Port' , it was as clear a message telling him where to stick his proposal as you can get.

As you would expect from someone with 'close ties' to the Tories, he's blaming the whole thing on his staff for "not getting DHB's message across to the public".

This is complete nonsense of course. The residents of Dover understand his proposal only too well which is why they voted so overwhelmingly for the alternative.

Naturally this hasn't stopped him from 'bending ears' and 'making promises' up in London, and while he might describe this as 'getting his message across' it still looks like plain old fashioned bribery to me.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Oh No! Not More Queer Science!

I'm constantly amazed by the extremes that Americans will go to in their desperation to prove that Homosexuality is a disease.

Everything from psychobabble about Faulty Parenting, Unsuitable Home Environment, Unisex Schooling, Masturbation...

To more 'medically' inclined explanations such as Mental Illness and Genetic Disorders have been cited as possible 'causes'.

Now a paper circulating within the medical community claims to have evidence that Homosexuality is linked to reduced Serotonin levels within the brain.

Apparently this particular paper is still undergoing 'peer-review' but it can't be a coincidence that another paper claiming similar findings in mice surfaced briefly in Nature magazine before 'disappearing' again.

One thing is certain. If there were any truth at all in this nonsense then there would be few, if any, Homosexuals of either gender using drugs such as Ecstacy which stimulate the release of Serotonin within the brain.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Decline and Fall

A business acquaintance was interviewing last week and in amongst the usual mixed bag of no-shows and timewasters - sent along by the employment service in order to fill their quota - was a woman who would have been suitable had she not refused to say why she was leaving her current job.

Normally that's a bad sign. In this case the woman insisted that she had done nothing wrong but had been ordered not to discuss the reason for her leaving with anyone including prospective employers.

In fact, she seemed more concerned about her employer finding out she had 'talked' than the effect it would have on her search for another job.

Rather odd to say the least.

Fortunately - to use that very american phrase - I know someone, who knows someone...

And it turns out that the poor woman was telling the truth. Staff at W.H.Smiths in Dover have been told by the manager - then later 'reminded' by the supervisor - not to discuss the subject of a recent staff meeting with anyone and were warned there would be 'consequences' for anyone who did.

And what is this great 'secret' which they are going to such lengths to protect?

Some of the staff at Dover are to be made redundant at the end of March.

Yes. That really is all there is to it.

Even the background seems fairly straightforward. A recent audit showed a shortfall of nearly £30,000 which is an awful lot for a small store like Dover. So head office have decreed that staffing levels have to be reduced by a minimum of 30 hours per week.

The manager has been conducting interviews to determine who will be made redundant with predictable consequences. Staff who got along fairly well for the most part are now desperately trying to stab each other in the back.

Worst of the lot was the one who stormed into the manager’s office with her husband on the day after her second interview. His angry demand to know if his wife was going to lose her job could be clearly heard in the staff room across the hall. He became quite abusive when she refused to discuss the matter with him.

All this would be quite bad enough by itself. However it seems that in the case of the accounts clerk, the interviews are nothing more than window dressing on a decision which has already been made.

I've mentioned the investigation into missing scratch cards before. This started when the accounts clerk noticed a number of discrepancies shortly after taking up her new post and reported them to the manager.

What I did not mention for obvious reasons was that by the time I heard about it, the investigation had focused on the store's supervisor.

A fact she was apparently well aware of at the time.

What followed was a ridiculous series of clumsy attempts to 'stitch-up' the accounts clerk which eventually escalated to include the current manager and, on one occasion, the area manager who was severely reprimanded for her behaviour after it blew up in their faces.

Since that incident both the manager and the supervisor have also been reprimanded for their "unprofessional behaviour" towards the young lady in question.

That was several months ago and now it seems that the investigation into this pair of idiots might still be ongoing if the manager's most recent blunder is anything to go by.

Stealing from your employer is pretty stupid to begin with. To follow that with a clumsy and thoroughly disastrous campaign of harassment against the person who discovered the thefts is even worse.

But to then compound the whole thing by telling the young lady in question that she could keep her job if she dropped the matter simply beggars believe.

To do this is a place where they could be overheard by anyone passing nearby simply leaves me speechless in amazement.