Saturday, 4 September 2010

There must have been over a thousand people pouring off our ship into the Customs area, and at first the queue seemed to be moving fairly fast. We didn't realise then that this was because the half mile long corridor leading to the zigzag 'hide the queue' area, was slowly filling up. There were signs along the way saying things like, 'have your passport ready' and 'be prepared to be searched', but the funniest of all was the one that said, 'Due to increased security, it may take a little longer to enter the UK'. What the poster really meant was, 'You are now entering the UK and are going to  be in this queue for a very long time as we only have 3 people checking passports'. Nothing to do with increased security, because nobody was searched or questioned in any way, just a simple exercise to save on wages. To be fair, maybe a good idea, because for people not used to being in the UK, it would give them some practice before they visit our shops, restaurants and banks. I worked for Whitbread until a few years ago so I am well versed in the philosophy. Having the 'right people, in the right place at the right time', what a joke! The ultimate aim of Whitbread Plc through Premier Inns is to have hotels, bars and restaurants with no staff at all in them. If you have visited recently you could argue that they have almost achieved this!

Have you ever phoned a call centre (of course you have!) and an automated message says, "due to the high volume of calls, all our operators are busy right now". What they mean by this is, "sorry, we only have one operator, so you are going to have a very long wait". Another call centre kept giving me options from 1 to 4 which, after 5 minutes brought me back to the original option! I think the one I liked best was the Halifax call centre, which said, "Please hold the line, your call is very important to us. You are currently 37th in the queue". I have to say there is one place in the UK, and you probably know some also, where service is so good and so fast that you can't fault it. The 'Friary', a Fish & Chip shop in Carlisle centre on Scotch Street is just amazing for service and quality. They greet you at the door, find you a table instantly, the waitress takes your order and the food comes out within minutes. The staff our so pleasant and say goodbye as you leave. No, I have no financial interest in this place, but try it!

I have my Consultant Radiotherapy appointment this Tuesday at 9 a.m. It is part of the process where at the end of, I have to decide whether to let them 'nuek' the cancer inside me or have it 'cut out'. A big decision and the success rates are so similar, as are the advantages and disadvantages. So I will go along with my list of questions and for once, I don't expect to come out of that place any worse off in my head than when I went in.

Maria and Sofia, my two lovely youngest daughters are here this weekend, it was funny sitting with them last night while they listened to me talking on the radio. They seemed to like it and felt free to discuss it afterwards. It was the last of the broadcasts for this week and now I am on around 5.45pm every day next week, serialising the blog whilst I was on holiday in Cyprus during August.

If you miss it you can catch it again on the iplayer BBC.CO.UK/CUMBRIA then click on 'listen again', selecting the Ian Timm's show. You'll have to keep dipping in to find it.

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