When the kids were younger we used to spend a couple of weeks of their summer holidays with Eurocamp in France. It was rustic and a bit basic but over 3-4 years we had some of our very best family breaks at sites in and around the Dordogne and not one drop of rain in all our trips! And we met some great friends with whom we’re still in touch 30 years later. There was a Dutch family who we befriended with 5 beautiful daughters and mum and dad Dini & Burt. They were great fun and we and another family of all girls headed up by lovely Dennis and Julie were as pally as can be. Burt, Dennis and I used to keep an eye on the kids in and around the pool area whilst playing boules and drinking the odd beer or trois. And whenever Dennis or I had an unlucky bounce of the ball on the gravelly strip we’d turn to Burt and ask ‘Why me Burt?’. It became something of a catchphrase amongst us and I’ve often thought it’s a line that could easily be chiselled onto my gravestone, given the drama that always seems to dog my simple existence.
And the latest episode of my soap opera life concerns my iphone. We were recently over in NYC visiting our lovely daughter S and son-in-law E and our fab grandsons. We went for my birthday and had a super time. We left v early one morning to get to JFK for the flight home and I realised in the cab that I’d left my iphone at the apartment. Carol sent a message to my daughter and I was quite relaxed about it as S was due to head out to the UK within a couple of weeks, in readiness for Xmas, and could bring the phone with her at the least. We arrived back home and got a message from S to say a contact of hers was flying back to the UK imminently and could bring the phone with her and post it to me in the UK. Hurrah! You know what it’s like without your phone; you feel bloody lost so this was great news. Now she arrived back over the weekend of 29/30th Nov and took it into the Post Office on Monday 2nd Dec and posted it to us via guaranteed next day delivery with tracking. It cost her nearly £8 which was v decent of her. She sent S the tracking details who forwarded them on to Carol. So we were naturally expecting the phone to arrive last Tuesday. Hurrah.
By Wednesday it still hadn’t been delivered and the tracking was showing it as still housed in the London parcel centre. So I found a tel number to contact the RM to find out what the problem was and solution hopefully. Lots of apologies and a pledge given to me that the RM’s dogs of war – the ‘urgent resolution’ team (or something similar) – had been let loose on the problem and would be doggedly resolving the issue and keeping us informed on progress (via Carol’s mobile or my email). Well that sounded hopeful.
Two days later we still hadn’t received the package so my little Doberman Pinscher called them up and read them the riot act. More apologies. It was being dealt we were assured but no news on what progress the pack had reached. It looked a bit like the phone had been lost or stolen. We called our airtime provider to inform them of the situation and put a temporary halt on the phone/sim contract. Two days later we still hadn’t received the package so it was beginning to look a little unlikely that I’d see the phone again any time soon. There was a slim hope it was just lost in the pile of Xmas parcels etc but we just had no information/status update from the RM team about where they were at or likely prospects etc. I called the RM last Sunday for the third time to see if they had any news, and as they hadn’t I asked for the email address for the Chairman’s office. At BT I knew that this was the best way to get any problem addressed/resolved quickly. The guy gave me the address. I’d now been without my phone for nearly two weeks (not all down to the RM to be fair) and was starting to get a bit Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.
A little reluctantly but sensibly I agreed with Carol that as a number of people needed to reach me, our best action would be to purchase a new phone (a refurbished one rather than something brand new and hugely expensive) and order a new Sim from our airtime provider. That was last Monday. I did the latter and Carol did the former. That was £150 we hadn’t reckoned on spending before Xmas. On Tuesday morning a Royal Mail van turned up and there was my new phone, wow (ironic cheers) and inside two minutes my new SIm turned up too. It was raining technology. Woo hoo. I actually needed to contact the airtime provider to get the new phone and card hooked up satisfactorily and as Carol was out I needed to wait for her to enable me to do this. I knew she’d be back inside an hour or so, so no biggie. A little bit excitedly I eagerly unwrapped the new phone from its wrapping. I must have had 50+ phones over the mobile years (and I was there almost from the start) but I still get a frisson getting hold of a new bit of mobile kit. It looked very sharp. Coolio.
I threw the packaging in the recycling bin and was about to open the envelope with the new SIm card inside when there was another knock on the door. I estimated that around 40 seconds had elapsed since I opened the packaging on the new phone. It was another RM guy who rather gruffly announced, ‘package mate’. Now at this time of year we do get a lot of deliveries but even I could tell this wasn’t a package for a new pair of shoes; it was slim with a sender’s address from London on the back – my daughter S’s colleague. Oh FFS it’s my bloody old phone. You’d think I’d be delighted and in several ways I was, to get back my photos of the kids and contact data etc. But I was just so fucking twatted off at the bloody timing and the fact there was no apology nor recognition of the stress, problems and costs we’d been caused. I even think the delivery guy might have been waiting for a tip. Well fuck you. You’ve just delivered my phone exactly 7 days late. Without any forewarning, explanation nor regret.
I now had two phones, and two Sims – one inactive but installed and one active but in its packaging. Neither phone was working till I could speak to O2. And we’d just blown £150 unnecessarily. Bloody fucking useless Royal Mail. How can you be so utterly crap and yet effective whilst utterly late at the same time? Have the Gods of Fun returned to have some pleasure at my expense yet again?
Carol returned and she could hardly believe the turn of events. What do you say to each other when shit happens like this? Not a lot. I got hold of O2 and they were really great at getting me activated again. Then I composed an angrily written but quietly sober yet very stern email to the Chairman’s office with a reasonably argued case for some appropriate compensation both for S’s friend and myself. I heard nothing yesterday but this afternoon I got a very decent response apologising for the problems and the stress caused and agreeing to my suggested recompense. And saying that lessons will be learned and new procedures applied. I have to say that was a very welcome reaction. And I said so.
So there we go, another chunk of unexpected, unwelcome, temporarily unsparing but ultimately unhurtful drama in the life of Pasta Paulie. Unbelievable. You can’t make this stuff up.
Why me Burt?
ps my good friend SI called last night. He’d been trying for days to get through for a chat. I explained his was the first call to my newly-reactivated old phone and a signal that my life had been restored to the 21st c. He enjoyed the story. As my former boss he was well-used to dealing with the odd Leonard drama; forgotten airline tickets, Board members calling for my head, sleeping in during must-not-miss conferences, agreeing a hospitality box contract at a major London cricket ground without any budget, ‘borrowing’ budget from his team members to pay for newly-agreed contracts, embarrassing expenses claims, falling out with the commercial head of a leading Rugby Union etc etc. I sense I might have been his sorest headache. Hey we still talk regularly.