Week 545

Sunday, 2nd June, 2019

Yesterday we reached 25C/77F and today was just 22C/70F. Even so, it’s been a lovely weekend. An annoying string of events on the timeline, however, was the series of problems with four items of apparatus. My bean-to-cup coffee maker sprang a leak. It is 3 years old and out of warranty. My pressure washer has started playing up with problems connecting and disengaging the lances. It is still in warranty. My iPad has suddenly started closing down without reason. It cost me about £1000.00 about 3 years ago and is out of warranty. Our condenser/tumble dryer, sited in the Laundry, has suddenly started leaking from the water container which collects the condensation. It is 9 months old.

It’s amazing how these things happen. Built in obsolescence is definitely a problem in our increasingly technological age but the tumble dryer was bought from Hoover via Currys has a 1 yr parts & labour warranty plus another 9 years parts warranty. Confidently, we phoned the Helpline only to be told that the slot-in container which collects condensation is not covered by even a 12 month warranty. They offered three solutions. We could buy a new one ourselves. We could go back to Currys and demand a whole new machine. Their final solution was we could immediately buy from them an extended warranty which would mean the water container would be replaced  for free.

I wonder how many people fall for that. They must think we are barmy. When we pointed out that we were sold the machine with a 12 months parts & labour + 9 extra years parts only warranty and that, under the Consumer Rights Act (2015), they were obliged to honour that agreement, the operative went away to consult his Manager and came back to tell us that the decision was to send a replacement part ‘free of charge’ as a ‘goodwill gesture’. By this stage, I had my own goodwill gesture for him. What the ‘helpful’ warranty/service department don’t realise is that these are the sorts of dodgy dealings that I relish addressing ….. but they will.

Monday, 3rd June, 2019

This morning opened on the 5th item to break down as I cleaned the Juicer after my morning orange juice. Separating the base of the jug from the blades of our Bosch, a locking lug snapped off rendering it useless. we’re on such a losing run that I’m keeping tight hold of all my body parts in case something falls off this week.

My tirade via Twitter and email against Hoover has already brought a jittery response. My contact with Karcher likewise. My coffee maker seems to have cleared its own leak at the moment and my iPad will have to be replaced shortly after 3 years of almost constant use.

My wife and I receive a State Pension of about £1,100.00/€1,240.00 every 4 weeks or £14,300.00/€16,110.00 per year all after tax. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live on that pittance. Fortunately, we can treat it as an extra bonus that goes into a savings investment but many have just that to live on. The European Union want the UK to bring State Pensions increasingly into line with the more generous (realistic) member nations. This is how they treat their citizens:

Imagine being a widow pensioner with no occupational pension having to survive on £550.00/€620.00 over 4 weeks or £137.50/€155.00 per week particularly if you don’t own your own house. I know there are supplementary payments but few could really make life liveable at that subsistence level. When a your pension falls below that of Mexico and Chile, you know it is time to do something – and Brexit is not it.

Tuesday, 4th June, 2019

Time has always been an obsession of mine. I think it came from my inability to train my memory. I feel the need to reinforce facts about my life continually in case they disappear into the mists of time. I build a memory board to constantly refer to. These fragments I have shored against my ruins … My on-line calendar stores and repeats events back to me over the years. For example, I know already that a week on Monday – June 17th – will be the 39th anniversary of the most horrific event that has ever happened to Pauline & I. Known as The Great Car Crash, it reminds me that I could have been dead since 1980, at the age of 29, and missed so many wonderful experiences with, hopefully, many more to come.

I was prompted to write about this again by a news report this morning about the battle for Tiananmen Square which was 30 years ago today. I was just 38. Absolutely flabbergasting! I find myself falling into old man’s clichés like: I can see it as clearly as if it was yesterday.

Tank Man in Tiananmen Square – June 4th, 1989

The trouble is that I can and you only have to think about the events of your own life over the past 30 years to realise that distance with some shock. It is important for me to use events like this as a metric for my own existence and, quite fortuitously, I received an item in my newsfeed this morning which recorded the fact that the Beatles split as a group 50 years ago this summer.

End of the Beatles – Summer 1969

I was 18 and about to leave home, go to College and begin the great adventure of life. I was starting out on learning to be a person in my own right. Three years later, as we were leaving College, my girlfriend found herself pregnant and had an abortion. I reflect now, not with sadness but just as an understanding of the metric of time that I could now have a son aged 47. I am genuinely grateful that I don’t and that my life took a different turn

Wednesday, 5th June, 2019

It is only 10 years ago this week that we put our Yorkshire home up for sale. Only 10 years ago this week! We had just retired from teaching and were planning our future. We were back home from Easter in our Greek house on Sifnos and were intending to move south to Surrey.

We were scurrying round, smartening it up in readiness for valuation and marketing. As one does in this situation, we hoped the house would sell in a week and we would be moving out soon after. In the event, not a single buyer came to view the house for 12 months during the downturn and, when they did a year later, we were least expecting it.

Actually, we received a phone call from the Estate Agent as we drove through Italy between Parma and Modena to tell us that a viewing was going to taken place and all the negotiations were done via Skype from our island house. Not only did we agree a sale of the house but all the furniture as well which was a boon. For a few years, I rather missed the familiar backdrop of the Yorkshire / Lancashire moors but that has faded into the mists of time. I wouldn’t go back to live. Life is so much easier in Sussex.

Thursday, 6th June, 2019

Quarry Court Garden – June 2010

Just one year on from yesterday’s memory and 9 years ago this week, we had flown home temporarily from Greece to tie up the sale of our house in Quarry Court, Huddersfield. We left our Greek house to look after itself for a month with our car in the garage and the garden serviced by an automatic watering system.

We were in our final 4 weeks of our Yorkshire home. We had sold it with most of its furniture but, after 10 years living there, much was left to clear out. We had to hire a car to get around. We got that from Enterprise in Woking. I still receive emails from them 9 years on.

We had nowhere to live when we got home from Greece in October. The remainder of our goods and chattels were taken away to storage. The money from the house sale was arranged to be transferred into three, separate Banks for safety and we set off for Manchester airport. At that point, things started to go wrong. Our solicitor informed us that there had been a ‘technical hitch’ in our buyers’ solicitors office. We panicked. We had just cancelled all the house services including the insurance and would be in the air for about 4 hours.

The moment we got to Athens airport, Pauline had to phone the insurers to extend our house insurance for a couple of days until the buyers sorted out their problems. I can still feel the stress of that time. However, we did it and moved ahead. Only 9 years ago and so much water under the bridge. I really do wonder how many more exciting experiences we’ve got to have by 2018.

Friday, 7th June, 2019

Glorious start to the day – RAIN. We have forgotten what it looked like. The lawns are jumping with joy. It has come the day after our area was suggesting that water controls/hosepipe bans may well be necessary this summer because the Winter has been so dry.  

I started the week listing a number of relatively young machines which were already breaking down. I have spent quite a lot of time addressing these problems. Particularly, our Hoover Condenser Tumble Dryer is only 9 months old and the company was trying to wriggle out of its responsibility. When we phoned the ‘Warranty Department’ in Bolton they tried to say that the company had designated the ‘water container cassette’ as a consumable item and not as a machine part covered by the 1 year Parts & Labour Guarantee and that we would need to purchase a replacement or we could take out additional insurance from them which would cover the part. Lastly, they said we could go back to the retailer, Currys/PCWorld and demand a new machine.

As soon as we baulked at these suggestions and pointed out their illegality under the Consumer Rights Act (2015), the Warranty Department decided that we would be provided with a replacement part ‘as a gesture of good will’. That was like a red rag to a bull. I immediately wrote in very strong terms on Twitter and by email to the company’s management pointing out the weakness of their position. This morning a replacement part arrived by post from Milan. Hoover is owned by Candy which is based in Italy. What is important to note is that the company’s policy was to evade their commercial/legal responsibility and it is possible/probable that less articulate, determined, time-poor customers would have been browbeaten into coughing up extra money.

Contrast this with Karcher who received one, short email from me and informed me yesterday that they were despatching a complete replacement by return. It arrived this morning by Parcelforce. Warning to companies – Beware pensioners with half a brain and access to social media!

Saturday, 8th June, 2019

A busy day of strong winds and some rain although warm. We visited Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons which are all in our locality. Delighted to find that swordfish is back on sale after quite a long period without it. We love griddled swordfish steaks and bought a joint for future use.

Hoover/Candy have contacted me and offered us a chance to return our 9 month old Condenser-Tumble Dryer in exchange for a new one. It is something we may take up although it is hard to see that it will be much improved because the principle parts are the same.

I was reading my Blog from 5 years ago – the summer that we sold our Greek house. On this day, we finished clearing our garden of the Winter weeds which is a far bigger job than it sounds and we ate a meal of roast leg of pork. Pork was always my favourite meat and particularly crackling.

However, that really isn’t what struck me. It is that we haven’t eaten any meat apart from chicken and duck for such a long time – perhaps a couple of years or so – that pork appears as a weird concept. Unusually, as we walked through Sainsburys today, we talked about pork spare ribs. We even hovered over them in the meat aisle and then decided that it was a step too far.

After our daily gym & swim, our meal today was a timbale of crabmeat, some smoked mackerel and smoked salmon accompanied by a green salad and a tomato salad. Get behind me meat! I’m not a Tory cabinet minister feeling the need to confess to drug taking – something which seems to be all the rage.

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