Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Is anyone listening?

WHAT is going on with major public service telephone numbers?

Dial the number for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and you get a 45 second advert extolling the delights of the Dorset For You website which you’re told can do just about everything but cure Athlete’s Foot.

So you stand there fuming until the plug ends, but you still have to wait for another 45 seconds to sift through a mind-numbing list of option numbers and that’s before you face another wait if you want to speak to a member of staff assuming one is available.

Then we come to the delights – and I use the word advisedly – of a relatively new animal on the telephone block, the nattily named medical Choose and Book system which, when I used it, didn’t allow me to book!

I dialled the number provided and then had to endure a different plug and a warning that times were “busy”, something I know from power company calls is included on messages to the caller even when they are shut.

So I waited and waited… and waited and eventually got through to a very helpful woman who immediately matched me up with my choice of surgery… only to tell me the surgery had not provided this phone call booking company with any current appointments!

It got better. Having waited two and a half weeks to get a medical letter urging me to use the phone booking system to arrange my appointment, I was then told that the surgery would now have to be contacted about me so it could write back to start arranging an appointment.

How long, I asked. Oh, you should receive a letter in the next two weeks, I was told.
So, to sum up, having waited two and a half weeks to get a letter and facing another fortnight wait to get a possible appointment date – which may or may not match an available gap in my life – I face the prospect of a five-week wait to be offered an appointment.

This in turn may not meet my needs… despite the plug for the booking system saying: “You can choose a time and hospital to suit you.” This may be true, but by the time you can actually arrange a time and hospital to suit, you have probably recovered or you’re dead!

It all makes me pine wistfully for the days of talking to human beings, days when you were quickly dealt with at the council’s front desk counter, days when you saw your doctor and, if he or she felt you needed a hospital appointment, they just picked up a phone and rang and made the appointment there and then.

But modern phone systems are now so packed with plugs, adverts, options and delays that the caller almost loses the will to live to get even close to what they made the call for in the first place before numerous sidelines set in.

Oh, and just one more thing. I’m still waiting!

Will fuel run out?

FINALLY, finally it has happened and, of course, the Government and fuel experts have immediately rubbished the findings.

Their scorn was directed at a recent report claiming that all this country’s fossil fuels will run out in not much more than five years time.

Now maybe the report is wrong and maybe it isn’t, but the concept of fossil fuels being finite is indisputably correct. The only question is when sites such as Dorset oil and shale deposits will run out.

What I found amusing – if such a scenario can ever be amusing – is that the Government hatchet job on the report also included a “Yah! Boo! Sucks!” comment that, in any case, Britain didn’t need to be totally self-sufficient on energy.
Is that right?! Surely creating most if not all our own energy through solar, wind and wave measures has to be critically important if we are not to find ourselves buying in energy from those countries which did take energy needs seriously.

It all smacks of that famous scenario so beloved of politicians, namely rubbishing warnings that something bad is going to happen and, when it does, accusing everyone else of not paying heed to those warnings.

Dorset is better off than most counties to do its bit for alternative energy with well above average sunshine levels and a coastline capable of being harnessed for wind and wave power. The question is not whether it will happen but whether it will happen too late.

Chilli assault

IN time honoured fashion I must warn my readers that those of a sensitive disposition should read no further.

If you are, then at least I gave you advance warning about this tale related to me in Weymouth about a woman left in agony because she was… cooking herself a meal.

She was busying about, chopping this and stirring that, wiping her face in the hot and humid conditions.

But she suddenly became aware of a stinging sensation in her eyes and realised it might have something to do with the chillies she was chopping.

By now the pain was quite bad but, because of the chilli juice on her hands, she couldn’t rub her eyes.

Worse she wore contact lenses and the microscopic flecks of chilli juice were getting trapped and distributed behind them!

She was eventually able to flush her vicious attacker away, but it underlines that you don’t have to be on the front line in Afghanistan to suddenly – and unexpectedly – find yourself being assaulted.

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