Sometimes, Just Sometimes & Pseudo New Years Eve With Tommo…..

Sometimes, just sometimes everybody needs a bit of time out – yeap even a slightly off beat blogger who could be classed as a bit eccentric.

That combined with a slightly extended visit to EIOT Towers meant that the blog has been chillaxin’ with a cup of hot chocolate and feet up.

Yeap, you have guessed it, still no phone or broadband at EIOT Towers – but more of that later, you have been warned! Take the opportunity now to go and put the kettle on, sit the kids in front of the TV, put the phone on silent and the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door – yeap the story has got even longer and disturbing. It will be quite a chapter.

Anyway, the blog has had a break and I have been contemplating it’s future.

On the one hand the phase of the EIOT fundraising campaign is done, at least for the moment. If I try to mug anybody again to run marathons, half marathons, swim like they were on the Titanic or heaven forbid Spin for 24hrs then I may well be lynched. There were of course all the peripheral activities such as Valentine’s cake stalls, social bashes, crazy hair days which raised an absolute stack of money as well and should not be forgotten. But likewise my general well being may be in jeopardy if I even murmur any more fundraising for Tommy’s in the near future.

That said, there will be more, just not sure when or how. A rather heart-warming update on that will be forthcoming later in today’s ramblings, but in the meantime….

On the other hand I really rather enjoy the blog, it is a vent for the frustrations of life and the general chaos that surrounds me and I have genuinely missed jotting down my random thoughts and happenings. I have often found myself ruminating on how to phrase events in writing over the last few weeks but have not got any further with it.

So, the decision is made. The blog stays and will stay with the same name and details. Tommy’s will be a regular feature but not as conspicuous. Posts will be very regular but you will know when I am at EIOT Towers without me telling you as it will all go quiet, very quiet, silent. In short I will be going undercover in an MI6 type fashion. Actually I will just be stranded again in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside with no mobile coverage and thanks to the inadequacies of BT and Openreach no phone or broadband.

Now let’s face it there are much worse places to be without any form of communication and quite frankly I have more than enough on my hands with EIOT Towers, water supplies, builders, plumbers, carpenters, farmers and escaped sheep. But the debacle that is EIOT/BT/Openreach is quite frankly now beyond ridiculous and is farcical.

I honestly keep expecting a major TV company to contact me anytime to dramatise the whole sordid affair and turn it into the new Downton Abbey or The Night Manager.

I am expecting my BAFTA invitation to pop through the letter box any day…..I hope to be sat near Idris Elba.

More of BT/Openreach a little later, when I have braced myself to regale you with all the gory details.

So, in my absence what of the gruesome twosome? Yeap, the small testosterone filled one and she who is also known as the strawberry blond hand grenade.

Well, despite my constant nagging, barking orders and general pain in the bottom mum nagging they are both continuing to grow at a ferocious rate and are now quite frankly challenging my position of vertical superiority in the family. Clothes are being despatched to charity outlets faster than Barack Obama legging it out of The White House to avoid any implication in the forthcoming adventures and shoes are causing wincing as huge plates of meat are being placed in them.

The one saving grace is that being in the land of sand for Christmas and New year means that minimal clothes are required and a couple of pairs of shorts, t-shirts, flip flops and swim kit is really all that is required.

Well, that would be the case if the washing machine hadn’t packed up unceremoniously. Now, regular readers, (well, historic regular readers as they are now), may recall the legend that is Apol mentioned in other posts, (to refresh your memory click read Mopping Up At
Midnight). Yeap, we are really lucky here on the compound as we have an army of maintenance guys who keep everything ship shape and bristol fashion.

Well, Apol is the chap from the Philippines who can fix any kitchen appliance with a whoosh of his spanners and jay cloth. His english may be a tad broken but gee that does not matter, he speaks more english than I do of whatever language they speak in The Philippines.

Anyway, Apol is a legend and arrives on his personally developed and modernised trike complete with sun roof, equipment cupboards, industrial vacuum cleaner and flags. In summer he even has one of those gucci umbrella hats that protect his bald patch from the sun.

Apol is approaching retirement age and is one of those guys who has seen it all, nothing surprises him – but he surprises us all constantly.

On his last visit he surprised me by knowing all the words to Gym Class Heroes by The Stereophonics.

Well, this time he appeared like Mr Ben in the kitchen, took a sharp intake of breath when he saw the washing machine, brandished a screw-driver and promptly worked his magic on the appliance.

Resistance on the part of the washer was futile. There was nothing that the washing machine could throw at Apol that would faze him.

After an hour of tuneful whistling it was fixed. Now, I cannot be sure but in view of the lack of Gym Class Heroes playing in the lounge, I think that between bursts of whistling Apol may well have filled the void with bursts of singing of ‘Party Like A Russian’.

Now don’t quote me on this, but I think that our lovely Apol may well be a bit of a disco diva in his spare time…..

Anyway, in chatting to Apol he divulged that he is leaving in April. He and his bike will never be seen patrolling between broken domestic appliances on the compound ever again.

That is a sad loss, we will miss you Apol – you are a dude!

So, it can be avoided no more, the BT/Openreach update.

Well, you know when things have got bad when you hang up after yet another telephone conversation with BT to find your husband staring at you open mouthed and uttering the words, “I have never heard you be rude to anybody before…..’ Good job he wasn’t with me in Waterstones that day……. – Banished From Waterstones.

So, latest summary.

We have now been promoted through the numerous levels of complaints teams at BT to the top level, ‘The Senior Executive Complaints Team’.

This in itself is a tad concerning that BT actually have enough complaints to justify several tiers of complaints teams and that actually you can work your way up through them – almost like a points system, like a Nectar Card, BA Executive Club or Tesco Clubcard.

Except there are no rewards…….

Well, anyway, we have made it up to the top tier and our own personal ‘Executive Level Complaints’ bod.

Now, in truth there is not very much difference between our new  ‘Executive Level Complaints’ bod than all the other bods that have been assigned to us. Quite frankly everything is on BT/Openreach’s terms and any power to the consumer has fallen between the BT fibre optic cables of easy connections and therefore easy billing.

They communicate when they want to communicate, they call when they want to call and they only answer the questions that they want to answer, when they want to answer them.

Our new  ‘Executive Level Complaints’ bod, lets call her Ms W, has a policy of not answering the phone. No, she does not answer it. Instead you have to leave her a message and she will, if you are lucky, get back to you sometime.

I am convinced that on the occasions she does call back she secretly has everything crossed that I will be at the cottage, out of coverage and she will be able to leave a message.

On the rare occasions that she does call when I am in coverage and I answer her call, you can hear the despondency in her voice that actually I am there and yes, she does have to speak to me….

I have asked her about this, something with the words ‘do you ever answer your phone?’ departed my mouth and was greeted with a very defensive answer about having 32 other cases to deal with and being very busy.

My heart bleeds and my cup doth not spilleth over with sympathy, that dried up about 4 months ago now.

Now, I am intrigued to know how many  ‘Executive Level Complaints’ bods there are. If ours has 32 cases and lets say there are 10  ‘Executive Level Complaints’ bods then that means there are around 320 cases at that level, you see BT I am not thick – I even know my 10 times table.

I have to say that I think I have been unjustifiably benevolent with that estimate – there must be more than 10.

This was a random letter in the Telegraph recently. If they can’t sort this chap out then God help us…

Now, with all the other levels of complaints teams then the number of complaints that BT are dealing with must be vast……..

Anyway, not one to shy away from calling in the big guns I am pleased to say we have the support of our MP – The Right Honourable Tim Farron MP, yes he of Liberal Democrat fame.

A few explanatory emails to Mr Farron and he is on side. He promptly wrote to the Chief Executive of BT and that of Openreach. In addition he made contact with the big wigs at EE who are about to put new masts up which will, in theory, bathe us in 4G in the near future.

That was the good news.

Now for the bad news, the letter to the Chief Exec of BT was immediately delegated down to, wait for it, the ‘Executive Level Complaints’ Team and yes, it landed on the desk of Ms W.

Because after all the Chief Exec is too busy to deal with customers….

Ms W promptly commented that she is used to speaking to ‘Tim’…..

Enough said.

Now, one of the questions that BT/Openreach have singularly failed to answer on numerous occasions is this:

‘We have an Openreach box in the lounge. We have a telephone wire leading into the side of the house to the Openreach box. The wire comes from a telegraph pole in a neighbours backyard which supplies their house and that of another house with active BT lines and broadband. The people we bought the house off had a telephone and board band service on the BT infrastructure. Why on earth can’t we be connected?’

Nobody has bothered to answer that.

Another question has been:

Could BT please send out an engineer or surveyor with plans and maps and explain what the heck is going on? We are not stupid people and if we don’t understand we will ask, but we would appreciate somebody taking the time to explain it to us’

No answer on that one either. Complete silence.

Now I know that I have light-heartedly joked on here about taking the BT man hostage – BT Man – but that was in the chaos of the mortgage debacle prior to buying the house. Yeap, those heady days when I was worried that if the completion date slipped then the pre-arranged connection date with BT would have to be reorganised and it may be 3 weeks before they could come out again……..oh, if only I knew then what I know now…

But to be honest I am actually considering stealing the keys for every Openreach van that I see in deepest Cumbria and see how inconvenient BT/Openreach finds that. They may then have an inkling of our inconvenience.

Failing that I may just leave the keys and take the engineers. We have a large barn for storage and if BT/Openreach are by any chance organised enough to notice some missing engineers then they can take a look in the barn. At least it will get them out to the house. Yes, the police would I am sure come as well, but at least BT/Openreach would be there.

So, what excuses have BT/Openreach been coming up with?

Well, they had to put out 2 ‘Wayleeves’ applications to be able to access land apparently. One was approved by a farmer immediately and the second was apparently ‘objected’ to.

Now, at first glance this was annoying, especially as this lingered on for weeks. I was being told they could not contact the lady in question, when they did she was uncooperative and the rest of the time she did not answer her phone or respond to messages.

Hmmmm……..something fishy here.

Under the Data Protection Act they could not give me any details and quite frankly were quite happy to do nothing.

Well I am sorry but this stubborn old rat bag was not taking that one.

I set off on a mission.

One of the many beauties of living where we live is that everybody knows everybody else, so off I went.

Emails to the Parish Council, a visit to the village store/post office and the pubs.

It was in one of the pubs that a voice said, ‘well that’s me, I am blocking it’……..

Now, it could be fair to say that silence fell across the bar but a very civilised and grown up conversation ensued.

It became very clear that the person in question had very valid reasons to objecting, but nothing that BT/Openreach couldn’t have sorted in the blink of an eye.

You see it rapidly transpired that Openreach had been blatantly lying to Ms W and when she investigated this herself it became even clearer that this was the case. The evidence was unequivocal.

This was sorted out, by me I hasten to add, and within a matter of a few days, (including the weekend), the completed Wayleeves form was back with BT.

Question for you here – am I justified in being completely p****d off that actually I have had to go out and do the job of BT? I think I am.

So, the next obstacle.

BT have now had to apply to The Environment Agency for permission to hang a wire over a river (!) and replace two telegraph poles that they know need replacing.

Now, my next question:

If they knew that two telegraph poles need replacing, then why did they not apply for permission to do this while they were completely messing up the Wayleeves application? Can they not multi-task? I think not.

So, that is the latest problem. No idea how long that is going to take to sort. Think I ought to plan a route to the right office of the Environment Agency in preparation for going to sort out this mess on behalf of BT/Openreach. It seems to be the way this is going.

Regular readers will be pleased to hear that the legend that is Tommo is on fine form and continuing to cause chaos where-ever he goes.

Last night was a practise New Years Eve as Sunday is a work day here and all the fellas will be tucked up with their horlicks by 2100.

So last night was a tad rowdy with Tommo at the centre of the mayhem.


So, onto the big announcement, the good news, the source of much joy and several tears.

Everybody knows that EIOT and the fundraising project came about when good friends lost their little sunflower, Gabriella, at 27 weeks gestation – Gabriella’s Story.

Well, the big news is that on Thursday 1 Dec 2016 Gabriella became a big sister to a little boy. Yeap, she is keeping an eye from afar on a healthy and thriving little brother.

Everybody is over the moon about this arrival, tears have been shed and cuddles have been had.

The news that this little person was on the way was kept very quiet for obvious reasons, but now everybody is shouting it from the rooftops!

My next small man cuddle is booked for tomorrow…..

Right, best I go. Father Christmas bought me a very nice pair of noise cancelling head phones which are particularly effective at drowning out the noise of the gruesome twosome fighting and killing each other. However, I am now slightly concerned about blood on the carpet so best I turn off Olly Murs and act as referee!


Happy New Year To All. May it bring peace, prosperity, telephone lines and broadband to all…….