This past summer I have spent some time crafting words and paragraphs into letters to send to various organisations. Some were complaining, some were suggestions. This is a run down of what I’ve done.
The year started and also might end with me writing letters of complaint to British Gas Services. I pay, what I think is quite a bit of money, to British Gas Services to have my boiler maintained and fixed whenever it breaks. I had booked a repair session earlier in the year which kept getting cancelled by BGS. This was rather annoying as every booking pretty much required me to ask for time off work. When this was cancelled I looked a right tit. I think it took about four months for an engineer [actually a technician] to come and fix the boiler. I had, by then, written three letters of complaint and posted them to BGS. The first was quite polite. The second was more angry and “firmly worded” and for the third I just swore. How to you get anger and annoyance across once you’ve done the whole passive aggressive polite thing.
A sample of the writing from letter three:
“I waited for some form of message, a text, an email, something but I heard nothing. So, out of curiosity I looked at the British Gas app and was quite surprised to see that an appointment was booked for 13th May. I had no direct contact about this. When I got to work after seeing this I saw my boss, booked the day off and organised my Friday around this appointment. A couple of days before the 13th I thought I would check the British Gas app on my phone just to make sure things hadn’t changed given the history we now have together. Fuck me if the date on my phone had now moved to the 21 May. I had no direct message to tell me this and it is sheer good luck that I found out. Once again, I had to go to work and tell them what had happened and spend MORE time rearranging a day off and musing about what a pissing waste of time all of this has been.”
Apart from the piss poor service from BGS and discussions with a complaints person over the phone, they did come through and offer me some money. I refused their first offer and their committee of “higher ups” agreed I deserved more. They are still on my shit-list as recent communications with them have been . . . . . . fraught.
Private Eye magazine has a column called Dumb Britain and in it they highlight the answers that people give to questions on TV and sometimes radio quizzes. I used to think this section of the paper was quite funny but as time has moved on I’ve realised that if you don’t know something, then you don’t know. I felt a connection to those poor souls being placed in the spotlight as if I didn’t know the answer then sometimes I thought I would probably give the same response as them. I could see how they got to that particular answer and it didn’t seem so dumb.
“As a fan and long time reader of your magnificent organ I felt it was time to defend the poor souls featured in the Dumb Britain section. General knowledge is just that, general and if you don’t know a thing, you can’t figure it out. It has very little to do with intelligence levels. Given the pressure of television or radio show recordings along with associated brain freeze most of the answers seem quite reasonable and not a cause for general concern that quiz contestants are proving how stupid Britain has become. My subscription remains intact,”
I did get a response from the editor of Private Eye but my letter wasn’t included in print which was a shame. It would have been my second such occasion.
“Thanks for your letter. Point noted.” Ed.
I’d like a new car. Who wouldn’t? I would also like an electric car. Not just because as I write this the UK has run out of petrol but more because electric cars are the way forward, a way to the future, as long as we can generate the electricity in a green manner. There’s no point everyone having electric cars if all the carbon production is shifted to some arsehole end of the country where we have coal or gas fired electricity plants.
But, where I live is a tiny Victorian terrace street built as housing for the local brickworks and not built for any modern utilities. Running water, electricity. internet and gas supplies were not in the minds of those who built this housing. Very rarely can I actually park outside my house. If I return home to the street anytime after about 1500 I can be assured of having to park about a minute’s walk away from my house. This doesn’t really bother me that much. I’ve lived here long enough that it’s just the way it is. But, I’d like to be able to have an electric car and charge it. So, I wrote to the local council and asked them if they could fit some charging points in communal areas.
I had a lovely response explaining the rules of charging points and how the funding is allocated. I doubt very much that my village will be getting one and if I’m honest, I don’t think I can afford a new car anyway. Maybe I should get a fuck-off-big hybrid 4×4 and just drive it over the fields out that back of my house, fields that will soon be not-fields.
Over the summer break I went to Bluewater shopping centre. I can’t remember what for, maybe I just went there by mistake, I probably mention it somewhere in this communication. Bluewater are quite clever with the hoardings they place over empty shops. They put pictures and adverts on them so if you aren’t looking too close the whole place still looks occupied. If you want to know how your economy is doing then have a look around the town centre or shopping centres. If there are empty spaces then your economy is fucked. Anyway, one of the closed shops was covered with an advert for Calvin Klein [I think] it had a man and woman about twenty foot tall both in their underwear. The man’s pose was full frontal, proper man-spreading. My immediate thought was “ooh, interesting choice” but it got me thinking.
Humans have such an obsession with nudity and the human form. The obsession is that we don’t want to see it. We think it’s rude to talk about penises and vaginas. We giggle at breasts. We talk about private parts. I suspect that a lot of this is historically a religious thing as sexual body parts are for procreation and sex. Sex is a private thing and so body parts must be private. Personally I don’t give a shit. All this guilt around sex and talking about body parts means many many people find it really hard to talk about problems they are having or even seeing the doctor about medical issues we have.
Isn’t it such a crazy world where extreme violence can be shown at lower age ratings in the cinema or on TV but sex, a completely natural and everyday part of life, gets a higher rating. We can’t show people loving each other but it’s easy to see images of people being murdered or killed in a spray of bullets. There’s an embarrassment about totally normal bodily functions that, I think, is really fucking stupid. These things need to be normalised. People need to feel comfortable with issues of their body. We need to change society to make these things acceptable to talk about and stop the shame people feel when discussing these things.
So, I wrote to Bluewater:
“While walking around Bluewater and looking at the empty shop hoardings that you have I wondered whether you, as an organisation, should be adding to either social justice or general humankind with images instead of the ones you have. I understand that social justice might feel a little “political” and so maybe you could have some images that normalise the human body as a campaign to try and make people feel more comfortable about their bodies and talking about them.
It is a big issue for many people to talk about parts of their bodies either in public should they be so inclined or to the doctor. There is a lot of shame and embarrassment incorrectly associated with various “private” parts of the body. This causes issues when talking about them or even downright mental stress for some people.
Perhaps you could have some shop hoardings which attempt to normalise the naked body? Perhaps with images of parts of the body like those in science books? You already have massive posters of people in underwear but I think the next step is to show there’s no shame in openly talking about our bodies – especially to health workers.
No doubt there would be some press attention for a shopping centre to have pictures of naked people, but I doubt it would be a negative thing for footfall.
I’m not a social scientist or an advertising specialist. I thought I’d pass on my idea.”
The reply was a lovely, thanks, but no thanks, passed on to management etc. But I felt I had done my bit.
Comms#1964. What happened in that year?
- US Surgeon General declares that smoking might be dangerous to health.
- 100 deaths in Calcutta because – religious riots.
- Protests against de facto racial segregation in New York.
- The last death penalty sentences carried out in UK.
- The XB-70 makes its first flight.