Friday, September 28, 2007


"To be the Carrier of Choice through operational excellence and customer focus - delivering success through our people."

"City Link strive to deliver consistent performance, to constantly innovate customer solutions and through our partnering approach to business ensure the customer is our main focus."

On Friday, because I am very poor, I did some temporary work for City Link in Ashford. City Link is a nationwide private parcel service, the very kind of thing that has been set up in competition with Royal Mail Parcel Force. You may well be familiar with their vile yellow and green vans and articulated lorries scudding about your locality. I was working in their dispatch department. The above quotes are from their website and I can vouch from personal experience that it is all lies. Absolute total bollocks, the lot of it.

Let's examine a couple of these claims in a little more detail:

"...delivering success through our people."

I'm not sure that employing young English males is a total guarantee of success in any field unless there's some kind of kudos to be gained from your staff arseing about and calling everything that moves "gay". At 46, I was the oldest in the place . I made a joke with the kid who was "supervising" me that I possibly went to school with his father. On reflection, that was probably a rash assumption, I'd probably left when he started and my school attempted to instill in its pupils a certain range of values that would probably stick with any ex-pupil of my generation and be passed down to the next. I bet he went to The South. The only two people in the place who actually bothered to ask me my name and introduce themselves were the two Asian lads, who I think were probably ex-Gurkhas (there are quite a few in the area, Shorncliffe Barracks in Folkestone is the base of 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles and they can only claim full pension if they stay in the country once demobbed). The shift supervisor did bugger all except look mean and complain - not to anyone he was annoyed with but about them to other workers. Great man management skills. He certainly never introduced himself or informed me of what my task was. Basically, only one or two of them in the place could actually be bothered to give a toss. For the benefit of the search engines, the place was City Link, Ashford. Got that?

"operational excellence" and "constantly innovate customer solutions"

The depot collects parcels and letters in vans, unloads them and sorts them into wheeled cages that are then loaded onto an articulated lorry and driven to other locations. It really couldn't be simpler. There is nothing like the volume the Royal Mail have to deal with so they can exercise rather more diligence and care when handling goods. The diligent and careful procedure is this: A City Link van reverses into the warehouse. The driver then turns up the Prodigy album on his CD player to ear splitting volume and unloads the items onto the roller belt. These are then scanned by someone in a hoody and baseball cap who bounces everywhere swearing and whose method of coaxing the hand-held scanner into service after a malfunction is to clout it hard on the conveyor. Each label bears a large number denoting the route and each cage is for one or several routes. I was responsible for putting items into 12 cages covering approximately 20 routes. Instead of running to the conveyor and back to a cage all the time, somebody takes each item off the conveyor and places them on the floor for the sorter to collect. No, what he actually does is pick each item off the conveyor and fling it across the floor to each sorter, even the items marked "Fragile" and sealed with lots of tape with "fragile" written on it. Even the item which was quite obviously a flat screen computer monitor was unceremoniously dropped on the floor in front of me. Oversized items were placed next to the door for loading onto the truck separately. Brandishing a 6' tube which I guessed had probably come from the fishing tackle shop up the road, the young lad doing the dropping and throwing told me "This is what I usually do with these" and attempted to slide it the length of the warehouse under the cages. Naturally it didn't work as sliding cardboard tubes lengthways across a concrete floor is not an exact science, so he tried it several more times before giving up. The tube stayed stuck under a cage for the next hour or so until I spotted it and removed it, the ferrule of one of the rod sections it contained protruding through the broken cap. I effected a quick repair and carefully placed it by the door. Most of these activities were undertaken while a leather football was being kicked the length of the warehouse. At no time did the supervisor attempt to curtail any of this nonsense. The final act of the night was to retrieve a damaged and leaking parcel from beneath the conveyor. When it was opened it was found to contain 4 bottles, 2 still intact, of a new kind of alcopop. The 2 intact bottles appeared to get recycled.

These are indeed innovative customer solutions that City Link have developed. "It doesn't matter what your packet is, we'll treat everything the same - we'll attempt to deliberately break, damage or steal everything we handle - It can't get fairer than that."

I have a certain ethic that I abide by while working and since I have been doing agency work it's one that I find is continually being challenged. Everything I do, be it the most mundane, tiresome or mind-numbingly tedious, I do to the best of my abilities and with the intention of satisfying my employer. I want to leave knowing that they have been pleased with the work I've done and so far I have been asked back to every place that has taken me on or at the very least, been told that they would ask for me next time. City Link can go hang if they want me back; I couldn't possibly take money they've earned by being so cavalier with their clients' goods. I wouldn't give a toss if they went out of business tomorrow and the whole lot of them had to sign on. Apart from the Gurkha lads - they were helpful and hardworking and spoke better English. One also sensed they had the same reservations as I. I had to laugh at one point when fat English boy in excess of 6' greeted one of the ex-soldiers with some mock martial arts posing. Despite the fact that neither of the two Gurkhas was much taller than my 5'2" Mum and probably weighed around 8 stone, lardboy would have looked like roadkill within 10 seconds if it had got a bit moody.

What really upsets me is that people think I have a downer on a certain section of today's (largely male) youth (and by youth I mean under 25s). The last year really has been an eye-opener for me and to a very large extent I've been proven right in my suspicions that they're a bunch of lazy, witless bastards, incapable of doing anything with any degree of pride or intelligence. They are in the main unable to converse effectively with anyone other than their peers (whose only talent seems to be the ability to translate the constant swearing and other unintelligible noises into meaningful conversation) and even the one yesterday who did actually come across as vaguely intelligent manage to spoil the impression by uttering a sentence of such crass racism I thought that maybe he was being ironic. No, he wasn't.

This is my home town and I'm not proud.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I once made the mistake of linking to a certain picture. And another certain picture. Between them they have funneled several hundred visitors this way over the past 17 months or so but today it has, by the standards of recent visitor activity at least, been uncommonly busy hereabouts. Double hits! BOGOF! The subject of those pictures was laid off today and that has no doubt prompted an unfamiliar burst of frantic googling and duff lead following across teh Interwebs. The duff leads presumably ultimately resulting in a lot of confusion and single syllable mutterings once the searcher finds the usual load of bollocks on here.

So, hello and welcome to all you lovely people currently visiting these pages under the mistaken impression that there is something worth reading here about the one they call "Special". I would like to reassure you that there isn't and there's unlikely to be either as I think he's a twat. More than any manager in recent years he's been responsible for importing into the English game a bunch of lying, cheating and diving journeymen posing as professional footballers and who between them have managed to make a total mockery of our second national sport. What's more, other club owners and managers (refuse point-blank to call them coaches) seem to have been fooled into thinking that anyone with an exotic name has an abundance of footballing talent and will be the club's certain protection against demotion. Palpable crap of course, Sierra Leone, Iceland, Chad and especially China and Japan are just as liable to produce shite footballers as we are.

I would advise, if it is at all possible, that all Chelski followers obtain a copy of the England v Russia game from last week. Not a single dive nor one overpaid fcukwit rolling around clutching his knee after getting a slight knock on his arse and then miraculously getting up once he'd conned the referee into blowing for a free kick during the entire game. Players went down for a foul because they'd been fouled. They stayed down because they were hurt. There was one booking and even that was debatable. The football on both sides was allowed to flow and I can't remember watching a game where this has been the case for ages. Even the Chelsea players, completely unfettered, played inspiring football.

I hate cheats, see. Really can't abide them and Mourinho signed more of them than any other manager. Good riddance.

Monday, September 17, 2007


...and it's over to Phil Space with news from the stats. What's new Phil?

Well, the boy continues to underperform but he has in the last few days managed to trawl a varied bunch assorted mentalists wallowing around the murkier depths of teh Interpipes. We've tipped out the net and put this lot on ice:

No 1 in the Irish Republic's very own google for the following:

length without last food spider food OR appetite

(Just what length?)

Way down the list at 14th for:

"plastic trombone" -miniature -mouthpiece -case -mute

A Malaysian wanted confirmation that "electrical appliances cause laziness". Glad to be of help where 279,000 others were found wanting.

To the reader from California who complained "richard is driving me crazy" I apologise. In what sense exactly? You're not specific enough I'm afraid. If it's with lust I'm sorry, I'm saving myself.

Finally, 23rd in the world for "wild fings". Fanks. However go down the page here and see how litigous folk can get. It's the first time I've seen a search result pulled because google happens to be the inadvertent conduit towards misappropriated images.

Thursday, September 13, 2007



I'd be oathing too. I mean, pallet of Timothy Taylor's Landlord at least.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


A Totla Cnut

Yes, I promised a whinge.

See that smug git? He's called Adam Crozier. Since 2003 he has been running what used to be the world's best mail service. Last year he was paid around £1 million, including a bonus of around 15 times what the average worker takes home in this country. Before he took over it was pretty much a given that one could put a first class stamp on a letter or card, put it in a pillar box before last collection and it would get to the addressee first post next morning, virtually anywhere in the 100,000 sq miles or so of these islands. It was almost certainly the cheapest and most efficient mail service in the world. Inevitably it had problems and the odd strike but I can't ever remember a time when it actually let me down (even if I have occasionally lied said it has).

Yesterday it was a special person's birthday. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't have needed the services of the Royal Mail to deliver a card to her but things have been different this year. On Tuesday, I posted two letters in the same letter box at exactly the same time. Both with first class stamps on. One was a card to Sharon, the other was a note to her daughter so, both were sent to the same address. I missed the last post so I assumed they would arrive on Thursday. I was right, in part. The note did, the card didn't. As I write this the card still hasn't arrived. Sharon's birthday has been and gone.

Why hasn't it arrived? I can only assume it was too big. Nobody knows yet, as far as we know it's been lost as there's been nothing to suggest otherwise. About a year ago, in their infinite wisdom the Royal Mail decided to introduce two different letter sizes for first class, large and small. There is also a thickness limit. Common sense? Well, yes. In theory. In practice, it stinks. The sizes are ridiculous, they're not easy to remember and anyway, the prices only differ by a few pence. The inconvenience is pathetic. It's short-sighted and also grossly environmentally unfriendly. It's totally counter to everything espoused in this, their Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

A couple of weeks ago I received a "slip" from the postman telling me I had £1.26 to pay on something. I would also have to collect it from the sorting office in town, fully four miles away. It turned out to be my son Dan's school report, sent by my ex-wife. She'd put it in an A4 envelope and put a first class stamp on it, probably without thinking. When I told her she told me that the same £1.26 charge had happened to her when my Mum sent Dan a birthday card containing a badge. It was too thick by a couple of millimetres. The envelope had also been ripped open by the sorting machinery but luckily the tenners hadn't fallen out. It was also two weeks late. How many of you, my massive readership, actually take the trouble to measure the size of your letters? How many of you realise that a large letter isn't actually that big? How many of you have a large letter stamp on you? Did you realise that some card companies (Carlton particularly) print a symbol on the back of the card denoting its postage rate? You can't actually buy single large letter stamps where I bought the card in Tescos and I don't want to spend a fortune buying half a dozen when I know I'm going to lose 5 before I need another one. I don't mind buying a book of standard 1st class stamps because I know I'll use them all. What really irks me is that I have to get these single stamps at the post office and that's miles away in a pedestrianised area of town so not only do I have to drive, I've got to pay an extortionate rate for parking. There used to be two Post Offices near here within walking distance. Not now. OK, that's a bit disingenuous because they were closed down by the time I was in my mid-teens but with 2500 post office closures in the pipeline I'm sure you get my point. Sharon will have now to drive to the sorting office to pick up her card as it's right across the other side of Crewe and it would take her a couple of hours by bus and as she has a few mobility issues, the journey would exhaust her. As she would say, it's a take-on.

There are actually two stupid ironies in this. Earlier today I found the cellophane sleeve wrap from the card and compared it to the size chart that my mum has bothered to keep. The card was too long by less than three-quarters of an inch. But it was far narrower than the width limit.I could argue that that's just as much a pass as a fail. Also yesterday I posted a parcel off to Sharon. It was quite large, about the size of half a dozen DVD cases and wrapped in a Jiffy bag. Weighed about a pound. It went first class LETTER post even though it was quite obviously a parcel. The Royal Mail introduced the size thing for first class letters because they thought "customers" were taking the piss. Oh, come on.

Crozier's idea of an efficient company is one that makes a profit and he doesn't give a shit how he makes that profit hence the closures. He'll strip out the bits that don't produce a profit (the Post Offices (yes, the are still owned by Royal Mail) ) even though their worth cannot be measured in financial terms. He came to the Royal Mail from the Football Association. Unbelievably, people say he turned that organisation around. He actually turned it into a vast money-making industry but has ripped the guts out of the game. His actions helped to produce anodyne and soulless teams with interchangeable players whining every time they stub their toes. Football is boring. But it makes loads of money. Before that he was with Saatchi and Saatchi. Advertising. Enough said. He was brought in to make the Royal Mail more competitive in the face of privately owned competition (the same kind of competition that delivers one concert ticket to one house in a street using a van). The government has allowed private companies to compete with a state owned monopoly that actually worked well even though it may not have always turned a profit. If the Royal Mail can't then it stands to reason that the competitors won't be able to either (competitors that bizarrely sub contract to the Royal Mail to deliver some of their post. Work that one out). It's state owned, its value is in customer satisfaction, not profit. We all still need mail delivered, it's not hard. I'm a tax-payer so, Crozier, you work for me. I'm a "stakeholder" because I use your services and I want satisfaction, not profit.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Today I went into Ashford. Nothing remarkable there except that I thought I'd take the bus. It was a another beautiful day so after last week's precedent, I thought I'd enjoy some beer another leisurely lunch without worrying about driving home. Besides, it had been almost 29 years since I last travelled into town using public transport. I was due. I went to the library, the post office and the pub. I read a local history book and watched cricket on the telly with my "Whitby Seafood Platter" and pints of IPA. Very civilised.

The lunch at least made up for the incident on the bus on the way in. When it arrived it was full; not surprising as it had already done the best part of 20 miles before it reached my stop. As I got on, a young girl of about 15 got up and offered me her seat. The combined sound of my ego and self-esteem crashing to the floor would have been deafening were it not for the laughter my polite decline evoked. At 46, I was probably the second youngest on the bus and almost certainly the only one who had paid the full fare. And I suppose, like everyone else on the bus I could probably also have passed for one of her grandparents.

Like all old people, tomorrow I am going have a whinge. The effwits at the Royal Mail took the gloss off my day even more than being mistaken for Methuselah.