Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Its a funny thing with keys. Generally speaking I recon there is a direct correlation between the number of keys you carry round and how complicated your life is. When I was a kid I had no keys and no complications and I was dying for my first key.

Actually I had a thing about locks in general. I think this probably came from the Colditz series in the 1970's. I can't remember the exact episode but its the one where they steal a key off the German guards and make an imprint in a plasticine mould. They then use the imprint to make a copy and make good their escape. I'm pretty sure they also got captured thus making sure there was enough of the cast left for the next thrilling episode. Anyway this I found fascinating and the next day when the opportunity arose used the same trick to copy the most important and closely guarded key in our house; The key to the drinks cabinet! This aged 7 I duly fashioned into a copy using a similar key as a blank which I then sold to my older brother for the ludicrous fortune of 50p. My first commission sale! (Bumping locks it quite good fun to).

Then as you get older you gradually start to get more keys; First motorbike, then bike locks, garage keys etc. Then later in life you get car keys, house keys and work keys. Eventually if your like me you end up with so many keys you can't even get the bunch of key in your jeans pocket (Well not and sit down). Your life has become more complicated, and that's not to mention all the electronic key fob widgets.

Today I went into work to hand back my key and say farewell. Whilst in one respect this was sad, saying good by to my work colleagues (a great team its been a pleasure working with), equally my life got a whole lot less complicated. On Saturday we will hand over the House keys and things will be vastly less complicated. Now I know that the real complication is in the mortgage and the bills and we have already got rid of these. But my point is that there is nothing really tangible there, when you pick up a bunch of keys and its a whole lot lighter, that is something you feel.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Preparing for the move (and a bit of a rant)

Well it's taken a bit of doing, but it looks like were on schedule. The house completed on Friday so now sans mortgage! Yippee. Today we've been paying off the remaining bills and going through all our correspondence. My favorite bit was going through and stopping all the direct debits; felt good ooh yeah. just the Gas, Water and electricity to go. One thing I have become very familiar with over the past few days is automated answering systems. Banks in particular all have them. Some to be fair are OK, a bit of security before being put through to a human. Some though are just atrocious! Particularly where the said bank has spent a fortune in trying to filter as many people away from ever getting to a human as possible. Unfortunately I can just imagine the project steering group for the new call handling system all sitting round discussing the "success criteria" = % calls dealt with by the first two levels of menue...la...di..lar...de..lar. Well in this case they came up with something quite special! Quite how they even got the automated system to mimic the sort of attitude you got from banks 20 years ago I don't now but they managed it. My call went something like this:

Dial number..Ladies voice automated answer.

Automated voice system: "Hello welcome to XXXXX, in order to transfer your call in the most efficient way please tell us in a short sentence what you would to talk to us about?"

Me: "I'd like to speak to an advisor?"

Automated voice system: "Well we offer a wide range of services maybe you could be more specific?

Me: "I'd like to speak to an advisor?"

Automated voice system: "Can I suggest the following options; Perhaps you would like the balance on your account or may-be to check a recent transaction?

Me: "NO I really would like to speak to an advisor, Please?"

Automated voice system: "(pause)...Humph..Alright I will transfer you to am adviser as soon a one becomes available...

This being a euphemism for a long wait in the queue to wait to speak to the one human left on the help desk having got rid of all the others because the new super automated system made them redundant!

Maybe I'm just cynical but, I like speaking to people. I don't like speaking to machines. Just because something is technically possible to me, does not automatically make it a good idea! Another prime example of too much technology was the hire car I've just returned after getting my car back. If by any chance you don't follow the correct starting procedure (usually because, since the gear box is so crap you've stalled it in the middle of a junction) the dash board would start telling you off. The car would even show its disapproval at your scant regard for the carefully worked out and strict German procedure by attaching numerous exclamation marks on the end of the said admonishments!!!

This is the point I want to get off!

I seem to remember watching the science fiction film "demolition man" where all the integrated systems start telling off a recently thawed out and very 20Th century Sylvester Stallone. It seemed a bit far fetched at the time, but VW obviously saw the future.

Bring on that Early 18Th century monastic french living!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Spot the tool

Since I didn't really leave very long for anyone to respond to the last post I thought I would have another small quiz. This time I need the name and brand of the tool and this time there is a prize. VODKA

Tool number 1

Tool number 2

Tool number 3

Tool number 4

Tool number 5

Well that's all folks, easy. And just as a little tip, if you need some help finding the answers try hitching a ride on a magic carpet and visit the best online tool store in the world!