Hitting the Radio Waves and Dealing with Bureaucracy

The last few weeks have seen me wrangling with officialdom on a not infrequent basis. First there was that sinking feeling when I checked my bank account to find that I had allegedly purchased a very expensive bathroom from an outlet in Hull. Credit to the bank who had the money back in my account by the same afternoon but I did find it more than a little odd that I was asked if I was sure that I hadn’t forgotten about this purchase. Like I spend a fortune on a bathroom every day of the week. Whoever hacked my account must have lacked forethought as this was an online purchase and they presumably had to give their address for delivery!

I now have a lovely new-to-me car that is ridiculously smart and I hardly dare use it. In fact I nearly couldn’t use it as it proved almost impossible to tax and insure. Firstly, transferring my old insurance to the new car. The first person I spoke to claimed that she couldn’t identify the new car and requested more specification details than I could provide. Having ascertained that there were no more specification details, I tried again and this time got the holder of the insurance office brain cell. They could identify the car with no problem but then there was the usual hiatus because none of my occupations appear on their magic list. As I do several jobs I was asked how many hours I spent on each one – do I have any idea?! I am now down as an interpreter – my skill at languages is barely above zero. Hurrah though, there is nothing additional to pay for the remaining insurance period. Imagine my horror when the two days later I get a bill for £194 as the excess required for two months insurance – you must be joking was the polite version of my reaction. Another phone call to the insurance company. I should explain that each of these calls necessitates the caller in listening to how important their call is for a full fifteen minutes. “Our call lines are open 24/7” – no, they so aren’t. It, fortunately, transpired that the bill was a mistake but what a performance.

Then car tax. As a new owner I needed a vital part of the log book in order to tax the car online. This would be the vital part that the garage had inadvertently lost. The necessary twelve digit number was a mystery. Allegedly, it would cost £25 and take five weeks to replace the missing piece of paper. I am standing in the garage trying to collect a car that I am unable to tax and therefore, dear overseas readers, unable to drive legally. The garage receptionist sifts through the paperwork. She finds an eleven digit number. Using the mobile phone of a random fellow customer (my emergency phone is ten years old – it make phone calls – period) we go online and try the eleven digit number prefixed by a zero – eureka I have a taxed car. It still seems far too posh. It has a radio that changes colour as you drive along. Actually this is highly irritating and despite pushing, pulling and twisting every available knob and button, it does not seem to turn off but I am learning to ignore it as it blends from pink to yellow to blue.

We also had a car park incident – we really aren’t fit to be let out. We’d collected our ticket on entry to a multi-story car park and were queuing to pay on exit when the car two in front of us caused chaos by apparently losing their ticket. I’ll not lie, during the ten minute wait my driver was more than scathing. It is our turn to exit, we can‘t seem to see the slot for putting our money in. It turns out that we should have paid and validated our ticket at a machine two floors away before joining the queue. Guess who was dispatched at a run to accomplish this task. The fifteen people in the queue behind us barely hooted their horns.

My success at naming the Mutant Hero Ninja Turtles during my last outing to a local quiz went before me and I was asked to make up a team again. Did my alleged prowess at history stand me in good stead this time? No. My claim to fame on this occasion was to provide the name of a member of Take That!

Last week I had an invitation to be interviewed about my books on Radio Wolverhampton. Did I want to come into the studio, I was asked, or be interviewed on the telephone? No brainer that one. So tonight at 8.10pm I will be interviewed by Philip Solomon. His email told me that past interviewees include Noddy Holder, Chas & Dave, P J Proby, Alvin Stardust, Uri Geller, Neil Morrisey, Ken Dodd, Leo Sayer and errrr now me. I expect it will be a blink and you miss it occasion but if you are really short of things to do tonight you can it seems listen online if you have downloaded the appropriate thingy.


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