August 27, 2009

So far, so good...

I'd just like to reassure everyone that swine 'flu has not hit us.

We came to the conclusion that the woman Roy interviewed must have been mis-diagnosed and didn't have swine 'flu at all, just your usual seasonal 'flu. Nasty enough but not as nasty as it could have been. See here for the background to this.

Roy has been off all this week with 'flu-like symptoms. He's been to the doctors twice and was prescribed some wideband antibiotics today to ward off a chest infection.

As far as I'm concerned, I've caught whatever it was now, as was to be expected. Headaches, a sore throat, aches and pains and tiredness are what I have right now. It's unpleasant but nothing too bad, I'll live. Give me hot, fruity drinks and a box of strepsils and I'll be fine.

August 24, 2009

What are these people thinking?

The person with whom I share this place, Roy, is diabetic and asthmatic among other things. This means not only that he is extremely susceptible to infections, but also that he cannot take many forms of medication that we wouldn't think twice about because they create havoc with what he has to take for his asthma. Something that would merely be a mild cold for you or me can end up as a full-blown chest infection for him with all the consequences of time off work.

Roy is a civil servant with a public-facing job, which certainly exacerbates the risk of infection seeing so many members of the public every day from all walks of life, often in poor health.

Last week, he saw a woman who spent the whole interview not only being dense but also coughing and spluttering all over him. She then boldly declared that she had been diagnosed with swine 'flu and whipped out a prescription to back the claim up. She also claimed that she'd phoned before coming for the interview and that she'd been told by Roy's coworkers to come in anyway despite her medical condition.

What is wrong with these people? If you've been diagnosed with swine 'flu, you stay at home. You don't go to a location through which many members of the public pass every day, thus potentially spreading your infection to half the population of the town. Not only that, but I'm sure she was lying about being told to come in anyway. I don't think anyone at the office would have been stupid enough to consent to that. Either she didn't call at all or she lied about the answer she was given.

The fact is that Roy is now at home off work with some kind of infection. He called the NHS helpline earlier and it would appear that he is not exhibiting some of the key symptoms associated with swine 'flu, so we're off the hook from that point of view.

There is, however, a good chance that I'm going to catch whatever Roy has caught. I'm also supposed to be travelling southwards to meet up with family in 2-3 weeks from now. If I'm knocked down with something then there's a good chance I'll have to scrap those travel plans. Some of us have a conscience. I have no intention of putting members of my family at risk.

On the other hand, if I'm fit at that time then all will be well.

August 22, 2009

O2's first cock-up with me

Well, that didn't take them very long...

I've only been with O2 for two months and I've experienced their first cock-up today.

O2 don't send out paper bills unless you specifically ask (and pay) for it. I have no problem with that, trying to save the rainforests and all that, but I do (try to) run a business and I want to write the mobile phone off as a business expense. For that I need a paper bill.

So, on July 22nd I enquired about the possibility of receiving real bills. The next day I received an e-mail from a certain Ankit Dhir in Customer Services informing me that this could be added to my account for an extra 97p per month including VAT. I replied giving my agreement to the extra charge (I can write that off as well...) and received confirmation less than 8 hours later from a certain Vivek Sharma, also in Customer Services, confirming that this was added to my account.

Over the next month I checked my account periodically to see if there was any mention of this. There was none. I didn't let it bother me too much and supposed that it would appear on August 22nd (ie. today), when the next bill was due to be sent out.

Fast-forward to today, and I receive the next bill by e-mail. There is no extra charge for the paper bill. So, that's another £20 I won't be able to write off as an expense. It's not much, okay, but it's the principle. I got on the horn to Customer Services at O2, which to their credit is apparently somewhere in the UK and not in India, and spoke to a helpful lady with a strong Birmingham accent. She confirmed that the request was recorded but hadn't made it to my account settings a far as she could see.

Anyway, she's going to give me a call on Wednesday to see if a paper bill does turn up. If it doesn't she'll have one sent out anyway. If it does, then I'll probably have to pay for that next month.

The problem will be solved and it's not that important in the grand scheme of things. It's just annoying that something so simple could go wrong like that.

August 21, 2009


Another quick blog entry today to mention something I've not had time to mention until now.

Earlier this month, Roy and I went on a day trip to York. The most convenient way to get almost from our doorstep to the city gates at York was via coach, so we set off at about 9am on the 8th, 2 weeks ago tomorrow. The coach took about 2½-3 hours to get there. Being the tech addict that I am I had to go with a heavy-duty battery in the phone so that I could listen to music most of the way while following our progress on its GPS without the battery running low before we even got there. I wanted to be able to take plenty of photos once there too.

Anyway, the first port of call when arriving at York was obviously York Minster. It's a truly impressive building. Construction of it as we know it today commenced around 1080 when Thomas of Bayeux became Archbishop. It was built on the site of the Minster originally built in haste out of wood for the baptism of the Saxon King, Edward of Northumbria, on Easter Sunday 627. So, while the building that we can see today has "only" been around for about 900 years, the site itself has been a Minster for nearly 14 centuries. More information about York Minster on the official website.

Unfortunately, they charge £6 to get into the Minster itself, or £8 should you want to look at the basement or the tower as well. While I understand the need to fund the upkeep of the building, I do think that they're asking quite a bit.

Food was next on the agenda. We didn't have our obbligato fish and chips the day before because Roy knows a place in York where you can get very good stuff. So, here's a tip: if you're in York, make a point of ducking into the Petergate Fisheries. It'll cost you about £7 per head but you get a soft drink and a round of bread and butter thrown in. It's not bad value for money in a place where nothing comes cheap. To be honest, York is a bit of a tourist trap.

After lunch we had a wander round the city and a friend of mine who's been before recommended we pay "Shambles" a visit. Shambles is certainly the oldest street in York and one of the oldest in the country. It is sort of contemporary with the Minster since it's mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Nothing's straight in that street. The buildings often lean outwards and almost touch at the top in some cases. More information about Shambles is available here.

From there we went to the other main attraction that I wanted to see. The National Railway Museum. Given the size of the exhibits, there was much walking involved in order to cover the 300 years of railway history ranging from the Rocket to the Bullet via the Mallard and the Eurostar. I took plenty of photos while there, this one of yours truly propping up the Duchess of Hamilton is far from the only one.

Come late afternoon we walked back to the city centre, ate a vastly overpriced sandwich (2 slices of bread with a slice of cooked beef and some red onion between them for £4.25? Get real!) and made our way back to the coach park just outside the city walls.

We left just before 6pm and got home about 8pm. The return trip was quicker because there was much less traffic on the roads. Needless to say we were both shattered after 6 hours of traipsing around York and 5 hours spent on a coach.

The sum total of photos I took are available on my page.

August 19, 2009

Twittering away...

Just to see what it's all about I decided to sign up for a twitter account today.

So, here I am following the tweets of a couple of friends in Paris who are currently on holiday in the States, a wine-related contact in Glasgow, and someone whose wit I appreciate, Stephen Fry.

It was also a bit of an exercise to see what software was available to access twitter from my mobile phone. I ended up settling with TweetS60.

Anyway, if anyone is remotely interested in following my tweets, you can do so from

UPDATE: As of 22/10/2009 I'm using a different piece of software called Gravity.