Wednesday, October 31

Cap Comp

For my Halloween Wordless wednesday I present something truly scary.
Free links to anyone who can make this funnier or scarier!

Tuesday, October 30

The NaNoWriMo forfeits

During the month of November, I'm taking part in NaNoWriMo, the outrageous quest to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

This has 2 Fringe Effects
Firstly, this blog may remain largely dormant throughout November, but then you should all be used to that by now.

Secondly, all bets are on! In order to give me an extra kick up the backside I'm letting you play along at home.
Here's how it works. You pledge to do something should I get past the 50,000 word mark, e.g. If Simon finishes the novel I will...Write a praising blog entry, pay him some money or run naked down the high street. Make sure it's something that wouldn't haunt you for the rest of your life incase I actually reach 50,000 words.

However if I fail to reach 50,000 words then, and here's the bonus, I carry out the pledge instead! E.g I write you a praising blog entry, I increase your bank funds,and I scare small children In Bristol Town centre.

I will of course abide by the rules of NaNoWriMo completely, and will validate any success by decorating my blog with the NaNoWriMo winners badge.

And best of all, the odds are highly in your favour. Only 17% of people actually complete NaNoWriMo, and I've never finished anything in my life, except maybe second helpings at dinner.

So make a pledge today. We can play this game together.

Saturday, October 27

Eek-Mail or How the Internet almost got me fired

I always thought it was an urban legend. After all no one really did things like that, no one could really be that stupid.
Of course, I always pride myself on being the exception to any rule.

I had a client who couldn’t get to a phone so we were communicating exclusively by E-mail. This was a definite benefit as I had to turn her claim down and I wouldn’t have to listen to her yell at me.

So in a concise professional email I explained the reasons we were repudiating the claim.

An hour later she replied.

Subject: Ref Claim
Dear Simon (Hey! We're on first name terms now. )
i understood that the externals were covered but believed the internals to be covered under accidental damage. Please review and get back to me.
Review and get back to her? What, does she think I’m in customer service or something?

Dutily, I asked my senior to repeat what she had already said and emailed the client back, adding a couple of in-depth explanatory paragraphs and signing off with - ‘I trust this explains our position,’ the polite way office workers have of saying ‘Shut the f**k up.’

Twenty minutes later she replies, again.
Subject: Ref Claim
Simon (not Dear Simon any more I see)
I am well aware that my externals are not covered but believed the internals to be so. Please review and get back to me.
Have a nice weekend.
As you can imagine, I was somewhat annoyed by now and my idea of a nice weekend was one that didn’t involve her. I clicked reply, and stared at the screen for 20 unproductive minutes while I worked out what there was left to say.

Finally, I gave up and emailed my senior instead.
‘I have explained this repudiation to the insured twice and she still keeps insisting we should be covering the internals.

Maybe you can explain this better than me?

She works week days so we can only contact her by e-mail.’
I clicked send and watched as my e-mail disappeared into the bounds of cyberspace. There was just one problem. I hadn't changed the address. I’d just sent it sent straight to the insured.

Naturally, I did what any internet savvy person would do in this situation. I panicked. For a brief, horrific, moment I longed for a simpler time before technology when I could have got my hand stuck in a postbox whilst trying to get the letter back

I was overcome with nerves, I'd screwed up. I'd made a classic stupid mistake and sent a mildly insulting e-mail straight to the person I was mildly insulting.

I had a desperate and inexplicable craving for dark chocolate.

A moment later she replied,
Subject: Ref Claim
I think you meant to send that to your supervisor.
I'm working from home on Monday if you'd prefer to talk on the phone.
I jumped up, stabbing for the off button as if my monitor contained a naked picture of John Goodman, ridding my screen of her cyber-terrorism. Gingerly, I rang my senior and reported the mistake, checking the number twice before I dialed. And then I left the office.

But as I walked home, the last words of her reply stuck in my mind like a record suffering from an ugly scratch.

'Do have a nice weekend.'

Roll on Monday

Wednesday, October 24

Taking note

'Pens Galore at Tokyu Hands' by GOD - FlickrI have a stationery fetish. More than that even. I'd call it an Obsession but I think Calvin Klein has that copyrighted.

After the book store, the library, and the private club down the road, the Stationery store is my favourite place in the world. You can drop me off in a stationery store and happily pick me up 5 weeks later, and I'll still have a tantrum and refuse to leave.

I love stationary. I love ink flowing from a pen for the first time, I love the smoothness of unsharpened pen and I love the perfect white of a blank sheet of paper.

And most of all I love notepads.

Notebooks, spiral bound and not. Rfin. FlickrThere is something magical about a new pad. You've felt it no doubt, that thrill page that runs up the arms and into the brain like a pair of athletic earwigs, when you open to the first clean page. Every new pad has the potential for greatness. By the time it has run out of pages it could contain a best selling novel, world changing philosophy, or the recipe for Kentucky fried chicken. It could be the pad that changes the world.

It never is though. A few pages in my writing stumbles into an messy four word pile-up, marring the beauty of the canvas. Leaves are torn out, floating to the ground as if ripped from a tree by a frustrated October Wind. Over the pages my handwriting decays until it reads like a intoxicated man declaring his love of underwear. The bindings bend and clog with the fragments of torn pages, the corners crease, the ink runs, and before long my dream pad has become a collection of half finished to-do lists and stick men doodles. In short, the notebook is no longer any good for anything except… well... notes.

Every single pad I’ve ever brought has gone this way, and I've brought a lot of pads in my life. Every new idea is too precious to live on the same pages of as a failed endeavour, so I buy a new pad to nurture it in, and put up fences so it won’t be disturbed by the neighbours. Then, like always, the idea falters and gets left on shelf to ferment, the pad once a infinite canvas of possibility now reduced to emergency toilet paper.

I've never made it to the last page of a pad. In fact I'm pretty sure I've never made it to the tenth page of a pad. My Bookcase has a whole shelf devoted to unfinished notepad, crammed in side by side. I get through more pads than a pre-menstrual woman, and have less to show for it. I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover I’m single handily responsible for Global Warming and...

Wait! That's a great idea! What if there was one person who wrote so much rubbish and wasted so much paper that he caused the ice-caps to melt, and whole nations to be flood, and became public enemy number 1. Living as an outcast on the edge of society, fighting for every scrap of paper, writing to keep himself alive for another day...

Quick, somebody get me a new notepad....

Sunday, October 21

The 3 sides of James Blunt - James Blunt Does Sesame Street

If you ever wanted proof that Children's TV is getting worse then look no further.

They've shown our children horrific explosions, Japanese Animation and hardcore animated violence.

And now, with the shock value dying out, they've gone for the most horrific, most shocking thing left in the Universe - James Blunt.

Saturday, October 20

Claims, Stains and Octogenarians

On my first day in my new job, I handled this claim.

'My husband was in the bathroom when he fell and banged his head on the cistern, which cracked, pouring water over the floor. I rushed to help him, and stepped on some cracked porcelain. I did not notice this until I had walked into the bedroom, and my foot had bled on the hall and bedroom carpet. '

Now despite what this blog may make you believe, with its sparkling, acerbic wit and Oscar Winning mood swings, I’m actually quite sensitive. Really! Try tickling me!

When I read the claim I felt like I was in that bathroom. It was my boyfriend on the floor, me in shock, trying to stop the water, trying to help him, running to the bedroom for the phone, my heart racing, the blood spurting from my foot unnoticed as a hero ignores his mortal wound until his damsel is saved.

And besides, they were old, sweet people. They needed my help. They wouldn’t lie to me.

My senior looked over my shoulder. 'Yeah right.' he said, 'like you wouldn't notice you had a bloody big piece of porcelain in your foot.'

Now you may think the odds of someone faking this are somewhat slim.

'Forsooth Roger, I find myself rather tired of one's bedroom carpet.'
'Tis true Maria. I believe, also, that the lavatory be naff.’
‘Rather naff indeed.'
‘You know, one believes we can purge of the twain with one stone.'
'Mercy, no?'
'Verily, with naught but a head-shaped hammer and a vile of blood. Hurry now, bring me forth a knife and one's Home Policy Booklet.'
But the more claims I've handled the more I can imagine it. In the last month I’ve had people claim their stolen 18 year old Television was HD ready, their burnt down council flat was full of priceless artworks, and their defrosted freezer was stocked with Caviar and Salmon. Every day someone is trying to screw the company out of money. And my job isn’t to help people as you may expect. My job is to work out who is lying.

After all, who knows how many people sit at home every night, plotting to commit insurance fraud.
'Geeze Brian, what we going to do tonight then?'
'The same thing we do every night Peaches, try to defraud our Insurance.'
But maybe you think that I'm being too cynical about this. Maybe you think that deep down Human Beings are honest, kind people.

Well my naive friends (who I must come 'visit' one day) let me give you one more example.

A few days ago I was called up by a lovely, old Gentleman, the kind who hands out sweets in the bus queue. With a wonderful chortle he told me that his wife had been saving up £2 coins. But the purse she was saving them in had 'gone missing.' This sounded perfectly reasonable. Old people often save up change at home, it keeps the queues in the bank short, and the glass jars market afloat. They are also famous for losing things: normally their memory.

Then I asked how much money was in the purse.
‘About £800,’ he said.

For those who don't know, a £2 coin is roughly the size of a quarter, 1 1/8" in diameter and 1/8" in height. It is the largest coin in the English currency. Yet his wife apparently had 400 of them in her purse. Call me cynical if you must (in fact I rather enjoy it) but I find that hard to believe.

To give some idea of scale, a pile of 300 £2 coins would reach up past my waist. Any purse containing them would have a volume of over 40 cubic inches and weigh over 8lb. It’s not the kind of thing you take with you when you go go to Waitrose to buy a new glass jar. Losing something like that would take a highly concentrated effort, detailed planning and, at their age, a forklift truck.

And so he's cheating us, claiming for more than he lost just like everyone else who ever made an insurance claim, including me.

And yet, knowing that he has cheated us, I’ll pay him the money. I'll sign the cheque and move onto the next liar, cheater or master criminal.

Because that, after all, is my job.

This blog has re-incarnated as
The Freelance Guru!

Click to be Redirected.