Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Disposal, Acquisition, the Kindness of Family and Humbuggery

My son’s 4monthly visit was due after Easter and being the dutiful man he is he came, staying for one full day and two halves either side, an improvement on his plan of driving up one day and leaving the next. I wonder if he and his wife remind each other that it's  'that time of year' again , time to go and see the old dear, see how she’s doing and if she needs any kind of assistance. I persuaded him that two half days just didn’t get anything done, particularly as I wanted to spend the middle day in the nearby county town for some much needed shopping and a number of errands which had been queuing up for a good six months.

Once upon a time I’d have been looking forward to an exciting family visit, with meals in restaurants and all sorts of walks and outings. Last week we did what we always now do on these occasions, we filled a carboot with bags of junk and garden waste for the municipal dump.  Nowadays excitement comes from chucking large and small items into huge containers and mountains of general waste through a giant window. There was a time when pleasure came not from disposing of things but acquiring them; how times change.

Still, on the in-between-day I did some acquiring too, mainly smalls. (Underwear for those of you who don’t know the term) Once a year I go to a particular, well-respected and straight-laced old ladies’ store to replace knickers, camisoles, pyjamas, socks, etc., everybody goes there for their underwear, even young ladies. In days gone by replacing ordinary smalls was a boring chore, now it’s the highlight of a shopping trip. I was in need of a fairly extensive order, there hadn’t been a chance to go to Shrewsbury for a good year, so I filled a few bags. A strong man to accompany me was a really good investment, he carried all the bags and trooped from shop to shop with me like the patient and kind soul he is. By the end of the day my back was pretty sore and I was leaning forward quite painfully. My son also drove me, another wonderful circumstance, I was in pain and so tired at the end of the outing that I was enormously glad not to have to concentrate on driving for an hour. When I am well I can manage to drive myself to Shrewsbury for a shopping trip with no problem but not when I am as crook as I’ve been for a good year now.

I have seen a physiotherapist who has given me a list of exercises to do. She examined my back and exclaimed :”nothing moves at all, everything is locked in.” The exercises are fairly light for now, mustn’t cause a new spasm in the lower back, and I sincerely hope they’ll help loosen me up and get me fully upright again. Apparently these things take time, older people do not recover as easily as young ones. I think there is a small improvement already after a week. I also went back to the gym for the first time in weeks today.

I experienced a couple of cons recently, one of them during the shopping trip. Sometimes I wear Beloved’s watch, which needed a new battery. A smooth, be-suited, highly groomed and politely spoken salesman said :”Yes, Madam, we can do that. What we do is charge you £20 for which you get a ten year guarantee, for ten years we replace the battery free of charge.” On the face of it a reasonable deal, you might say. But it’s an average watch, nothing fancy, will it last another 10 years? Will the shop still be there - so many shops disappear from High Streets all over the country almost overnight. And will I remember about the guarantee from year to year? Up to now a battery replacement cost no more than £10 and less in some jewellers. But I was tired and although I recognised the con and even said “I might not live for another ten years”, I went along with it. I sincerely hope that for them it turns out to be a bad deal and that I will indeed go back once a year or so to have them replace the battery.

The other con was really much worse because it was almost fraudulent. Drivers need to renew their licences on reaching 70 years of age. I had a letter from the relevant government department telling me to do so and emphasising that it could be done quickly and easily via the internet. “Just fill in the questionnaire and we’ll send your new licence.” said the government website. Keen to save time and effort - letters need to be carried to the post office - I had duly filled in the questionnaire when I came to an abrupt stop. In enhanced capital letters across the middle of the page it read “PAY NOW” £70.”

Underneath this demand there was a very small paragraph saying that the government department has nothing whatsoever to do with the people making the demand, but that these people check over the answers and expedite the application process. UTTER RUBBISH. Applying for a new licence is free, the applicant will receive it within 2 weeks and, in any case, can continue to drive until then. A prime example of outsourcing that beats all. And it’s not even necessary! I wonder how many people fall for it, after all, it is a government department which deals with driving licences  and one should trust them, shouldn’t one?


  1. It is very very wrong for a government department to allow a private company to ambush its clients like that. I am frankly quite astonished.

  2. Echoing Andrew.
    Sigh on the pain/back issues. I am as flexible as a brick, which is a severe restriction. I do hope you get some relief.

  3. That is a hefty fee! We've the option of online renewal as well and I almost went for it, but decided to go the old-fashioned route & send in the info. by post. I wonder if at the end of all the online prompts I would have had to fork over a tidy sum of money for my efforts, too? Glad I didn't stick around long enough to find out!

    May your back be feeling better after your shopping expedition!

  4. I empathize with you on the back spasms and hope that you will find some relief as time goes by. So glad your son was able to come and help you out and that he was responsive to your wish for a full day visit with halves on either side.

    Fraudsters make me plain angry, as they prey upon those who are fragile.

    1. Lovely to see your son and have him :carry the bags: for you. Horrible fraud condoned by the government? Do they get a cut? Never seen one like that. We have to be alert for sure.

      I like what you said about subtraction, it used to be addition, right?


  5. I like getting rid of stuff, but I haven't gone the Marie Kondo route quite yet. I never heard underwear referred to as "smalls," which is true for most of us, but not all. >-)

  6. I hate third party vendors and that fee is ridiculous! I do hope your back improves quickly.

  7. Hi Friko - well glad you were able to get some things sorted out and had a reasonable shopping trip ... even with the 'watch scam' - I expect you've benefited the salesman. Driver's Licence renewal ... well I'm glad you caught on in time ... I try and keep my wits about me as I do things on line, or either don't do them, or go in person.

    Good luck with the flexibility ... keeping one's skeleton in play is so essential ... take care and enjoy the warming weather ... cheers Hilary

  8. I am just becoming acquainted with back spasms. Not very friendly to say the least.

    What a terrible scam! But they should remove it from their website!!

    Sounds like it was a pretty good, if exhausting, visit. :)

  9. We have to pay for our licenses -- in the office or online. You were so smart to figure that one out before you sent it in!

    I, too, am dealing with some back pain and just last night looked up some exercises on the internet for strengthening the core and lower back. Much as I hate to do that type of thing, the time is now or I shall be in a world of hurt. I feel for you, being on your excursion and having it kick in so. I'm just glad you were in the company of your son and didn't have to drive through all that. And nice that he could visit and add that middle day - more time to be together, get things done and in a way a little less tiring because of it.

    I hope you long outlive the battery warranty!

  10. Make sure you outlive that warranty!
    Britsh people living in France whio now have to assemble paperwork to prove their right to stay there have been saying that there is a con on sending for birth certificates too....

  11. Hope your back loosens up soon! I am always wary of anything that sounds too good! I like that term "smalls".

  12. We were stung applying for the ETSA 'visa' to enter the USA. The site looked exactly the same as the government one we'd used previously - prominent 'seal' and all. They did refund part of the cost after we contacted them to point out 'the error of their ways' but they did what they advertised 'obtain the online authority'. Not illegal just a costly mistake on our part.
    I also hope your mobility returns to normal - my smalll are becoming larger these days!

  13. I've done some acquiring of my own today -- I acquired a very young dove. It's almost a fledgling, but I think it might have been blown out of its nest today. The nest itself may have blown down in our terrific winds. In any event, I found it at noon in the middle of our parking lot. I tucked it into a bit of nearby shrubbery, thinking the parents would surely find it, but again tonight it was back in the middle of the parking lot. I moved it one more time, and it hopped back out into the open. Its crop feels empty, so I don't think it was being fed.

    In any event, it's now in a nice, safe box on my sofa, apparently sleeping on a tee shirt. Given the number of hawks and cats around here, it would have been easy pickings out there in the middle of the parking area. Tomorrow, I'll take it in to Houston to the rehabbers, who will help it grow up, and then release it back into the wild. Honestly, I couldn't stand the thought of just leaving it out there in the wind and rain tonight. It's a bit of a hassle to drive into Houston -- one hour each way -- but it's nothing compared to having to deal with the various bureaucracies and scammers that you've met, and at the end of the day I'll have accomplished something satisfying. You've reminded me how glad I am that I still can drive, else the birdie might not have made it to the wildlife people.

  14. healthy backs take maintenance in the way of stretching and exercise daily especially as we age. both back muscles and abdominals need to be strong so keep at it. at 69, I'm glad I can still drive.

  15. I have had a full year of allowing pain docs to try and help me with my pain. 3 shots, pain creme and one ablation later, I am in triple the agony I was in to start with. I was sent on to PT where I discovered mind over matter, which is what I call it. The McKenzie method of stretching is fantastic and I do the stretches daily. This holds theh pain at bay, but I am no longer me. I was nodding my head all the way through your post today...maybe not feeling exactly how you have felt, but seeing my world through the same lens. Thanks for sharing, and blessings to you.

  16. People prey on women, especially older women. Mechanics, salespeople, you name it. Makes my blood boil.

    But I'm glad your son was there to do some heavy lifting.

  17. It's hard not to sieze up at the best of times but, when it's raining every day, just staying inside with a good book is very tempting … however stiff one becomes.

  18. 70 pounds?? That's crazy!

  19. I think that the website is probably a scam, not a government department at all. Sharks put them up there for people with all kinds of form filling jobs to do ranging from applications for passports to TV licenses, and usually they're at the top of the page. Look at the email address supplied and see if it has a gov.uk suffix and if it isn't then it's a scammer.


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