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The Annexe

The Annexe

The Annexe
The complete (all fourteen chapters) story in the 'Lower Methil Annexe' series!
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Still Hanging Out to Dry

I recently posted my experiences dealing with the Whirlpool corporation, and their inept handling of the ‘Dangerous Tumble Dryer Farce’.
When will they come and fix it?
In May, they said June.
In June, the said [blank]
On the phone, they insisted that it would be June. The manager confirmed it. Right up to the end of June, when they suddenly said July!
Half-way through July, they suddenly changed to Overdue (?) and claimed that they were ‘working tirelessly’ (that seems to mean ‘making no effort’, hence not getting tired) ‘to shorten the length of time it will take [them] to complete the modification programme’.

What a load of inept, lying, incompetent morons. Any excuse, any date, any words that come into their tiny little brains. Never a straight answer. Only Whirlpool and their defective and dangerous tumble dryers, and no solution in sight. If ever a company deserved to go bust, this is it.

If the rest of the world was run as well as the whirlpool corporation (they don’t deserve a Capital Letter in their name), then the world would be in a truly dreadful state.

Ooooooh …

Hey nonny no!

Went and visited Ely, once again. I like the place. You can keep Newmarket, and Cambridge is a dead-loss – full of buses, cyclists and hypodermic needles.

Ely has a very impressive Cathedral, a regular street market on a Saturday, and is popular with people from a lot of different places. It rivals Doncaster in its ability to accept all manner of people, from all kinds of persuasions, without ever looking askance at the bizarre and the contrary.

I am not a fan of Morris Dancers, but they were all up in Ely last Saturday, performing their routines all over the town. Quite enjoyable. No-one found cause to mutter about one group who were dressed up in Black-a-moor outfits. These days, ‘blacking-up’ is frowned upon by the raging forces of ‘equality and anti-racism’, but the Morris traditions pre-date all the modern trendy prejudices. If anyone was offended, I never noticed it.

The Street Café comes highly recommended. Plain food, lots of variety, swift service and clean tables. That suits me. We sat there, eating happily. Across the street, we could see a shop that was originally founded in 1787. That must surely amaze the visiting Americans, whose nation is only 11 years older.

Car parking can be a bit difficult (popular place!) but it is free. Well worth a visit.

It’s 2 in the morning … yet again!

There are lots of people working hard, trying to preserve garden wildlife: feed the birds, build a ‘bug hotel’, make a gateway for hedgehogs. All very commendable.
“If you see a hedgehog ,” they say “let us know all about it! Hedgehogs are becoming a rarity!”
Not in my garden.
With the warm, summer nights, we tend to leave the back door open. Keeps the house cool, and allows the dog to wander in and out as he pleases. Our dog considers himself to be the guardian of our garden. Throw out some old, stale bread for the birds, and he will lie there for hours, making sure that no thieving bird can come down and steal it.
If any creature invades his domain, then he will challenge it with growls and a threatening posture. Several times, we have been called out into the night, to remove snakes and spiny mammals – just the thing you want to do before you can retire to your bed. Last night, it was another hedgehog. Growl, growl, grab hedgehog in jaw, and try to carry it around.
We have it down to a fine art. Get the gardening gloves, pull dog away from hedgehog, then drop a basin over the offending spiny intruder. Tell dog to ‘Leave!’ Sometimes, that actually works …
Grab hedgehog (after putting on gloves) and remove it from scene in aforementioned basin. A five minute walk into the countryside, then release hedgehog. Go back home, and shamelessly lie to dog, telling him what a ‘good dog he is!’

If hedgehogs are becoming rarer, it is because they are turning up in our garden with relentless regularity. Same with snakes. I am beginning to worry about the decreasing numbers of tigers, rhinos and orang-outan. Who knows where they may decide to congregate?

Into the Fire.

You all had your chance to vote. You voted to leave the European Union. You will have to live with the consequences. I shall inform you that I voted to ‘Remain’. The EU is flawed, but the ideal is still something to be desired.

You believed the claim that £650,000,000 a week would be available for the NHS. A shabby statistic that Nigel Farage said, within hours of the result, was a ‘mistake’.
You rejected the Establishment run by the ‘Old Boy Network’ and believed Boris – with his flat cap, whippet, and hob-nailed working-man’s boots.
You started a petition (2,000,000 signatures and climbing) to say that you want another shot, in case people might want to change their minds. Stupidity multiplied by insanity.
You believed in ‘Independence Day’. (It’s a fictional film about aliens from outer-space. Starring Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith – neither of whom will feature on any ‘desirable immigrant list’. It is fiction.

What you will probably achieve is independence from Scotland, so the English can run their own country. Good luck with that.

The ‘Leave Campaign’ ran a photograph of a group of people from varied ethnic origins, with the words “These are the kind of people who will vote ‘Remain’.”

Donald Trump is in favour of Britain leaving the European Union. That, in itself, is a good reason to stay.

If Trump becomes US President, and Boris becomes Prime Minister of England, please do remember the words …

“These kind of people.”

What kind of Final Solution will the politicians come up with, this time, to deal with ‘these kind of people’?

[A couple of corrections]
The above figure of £650,000,000 a week, is wrong. But then, the actual figure claimed was a load of utter waffle, so it matters not a lot!
And, apparently, according to Boris, the subject of immigration had no effect on the outcome. So it is now claimed …
In fact, there seems to a lot of re-interpretation going on in the Leave camp. At least one fact is certain – you can still use English gold to buy votes. Unless you happen to be playing Iceland!

Hung Out to Dry

You may have noticed that there has been a bit of a kerfuffle (fun word!) about tumble driers. In particular, ones from the Whirlpool group – Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit etc. Some of them appear to have a tendency to gather fluff and catch fire, possibly burning your house down to the ground in the process …
You can check on-line to see if you have one of the (several million) dodgy driers, register the item, and Whirlpool will arrange for someone to fix it. Eventually. We registered in January. They made a guess at sometime in September. Maybe! Some people will have to wait till next year.
Or, they will sell you a new one at a discount. Some people have some very negative things to say about that particular offer.

We waited patiently. Things do go wrong in life, and a lot of dodgy driers take a long time to fix. We understand that.

In May, they emailed us, saying that they would be fixing ours in June (and would we like to buy a new one? We declined the offer to buy.)
In June, they emailed us, saying that they would be fixing ours in [blank], and would we like to buy a new one? Again, we declined the offer to buy.
Being a little concerned, we phoned them. The first try found an idiot who could not hear us, complained when we spoke louder, and couldn’t figure a post-code. I hung up, and tried again. This time, I got a better line, and a more intelligent agent. We were assured that [blank] was not a new month, invented by the Whirlpool group, but meant that they would arrange a fix this month (June).

Being a trifle cynical, and June having only a week left to go, I contacted Whirlpool via their Live Chat facility. I got a chap by the name of Kieran. It may even have been his actual name! I asked when they would be fixing my dodgy (potentially lethal) tumble drier. He fiddled around a bit, and told me that he had arranged an appointment for the 28th of August 2016. Not June. Not [blank]. August!

I complained that I had been told June. By email, by phone. He stated that email dates were ‘estimates’, but offered to put me on the ‘cancellation list’ in case an earlier opportunity came up in our area.

I told him that Whirlpool were throwing out dates ‘like confetti’, and were basically telling lies ‘in a potentially life-threatening situation’.

I told him that I could not accept his 28th of August appointment, and signed out of the live chat. So, of course, he emailed me a confirmation of that date. What an idiot. Kieran with a ‘K’.

So I phoned Whirlpool again. Got a lady who would not disclose her name. She found no trace of Kieran with a ‘K’. Said it would be June. She checked with her manager (hopefully not Kieran with a ‘K’), and again confirmed that it would be June.

I asked “What would be in June?”. She had difficulty in answering my question. She could not what would be happening to who and where, but it would be ‘in June’. I asked her again and again, like some recalcitrant witness in a court case.
“Would a repair be happening in June?”
“Would they be contacting us in June?”
“Would they be arranging an appointment in June?”
“Would that be June 2016, in the Christian Calendar?”

I eventually got her to agree to “Whirlpool would be contacting us in June, 2016, to arrange a date for the repair of our defective Indesit tumble dryer.”
To be frank, I do not believe that she understood anything that she was agreeing to. I did emphasise to her (and Kieran with a ‘K’) that all these communications would feature in any court case that arose, in consequence of their actions.

Whirlpool has slightly less than one week to go. I predict that I will NOT hear from them in the next week. Then I will contact them again, and see what utter nonsense they come up with.

This is a situation where several tumble dryer fires occur each and every week. And the remedy is being conducted by people who lie, get confused, and are hopelessly incompetent.

I find myself trapped between Scylla and Charybdis. (it’s a classical situation. Do a Google, and look it up!)

Whirpool. Indesit. Hotpoint. Creda. (and a few other home-brands). Remember the names. Remember how they deal with their own mistakes. Look elsewhere before buying. Your home may depend on it!

Hanging on

Been a fairly miserable month. Not been good for the wife and myself; doctors, dentists, and other ‘professionals’. Lots of running to and fro – not a lot of getting things fixed. Costing lots of money, though …

Have been through the latest batch of submissions.
One acknowledged receipt (no human intervention required) but said if you don’t get a reply within 3 weeks, assume that they are not interested. I guess that, after 6 weeks, they will not be getting back to me.
Others proclaimed that they would ‘reply within 4 weeks’ or ‘a month’ or ‘always reply within 6 weeks’. Been 6 weeks. Nobody bothered their arses. (No apology for crudity!)

I have to ask myself …
“Is my story worth the effort?”
and
“Would I ever want anything to do with an agent whose word is not worth the (electronic) paper that it is printed on?”

To answer first question. It was worth the effort to write it. Others can judge if it is worth the effort to read it. Perhaps, if I let it slip that my real name is J. K. Rowling …

As for the second question. One of my previous would-be agents stated that “if you don’t hear anything after 6 weeks, give me a prod!”. I do NOT have a cattle prod! If I did, then I might have been tempted.

Marlon James, the 2015 Man Booker International winner, had his first book rejected 70 times before it was finally published. I will never win that prize because I do not write ‘literature’, I simply write stories. But it encourages me to keep hanging on.

The Honest Soldier

The Honest Soldier

Brave knight, come near
And I will give you gold
A ring around your finger
Of cost untold,
And craftsmanship beyond your knowing
Just pledge to me
In battle, bold
That you will crush my enemies
And lay them low
No mercy spared
Or die in battle glorious
Victorious in my cause.

An honest soldier thanks you, my queen
But I am merely mortal
And if in battle, I should fall
The enemy triumphant
A ring of gold
Would further not your cause
Instead serve only as a prize
For those who rob the dead
If I should chose to flee
Not lie awaiting plunder
Would you still give me your gold?

Away! You coward
Thinking only of yourself
I will move on
and seek a braver man!
Begone!

Bold knight, come near
and I will give you silver
A ring around your finger
For service paid,
And service yet to come
Just pledge to me
In future times
That you will come when I shall call
A sturdy staff
A mirror held
Reflecting me
In my vanity.

An honest soldier thanks you, my lady
But I am merely mortal
And after battle, chose to stand
The enemy triumphant
A ring of silver
Would further not your cause
Instead would pay for ale and cheer
Remember those no longer here
If I should chose to flee
Not lie awaiting plunder
Would you still give me your silver?

Away! You wastrel
Thinking only of yourself
I will move on
and find a better man!
Begone!

Gentle knight, come near
And I will give you flowers
No ring around your finger
No gold or silver,
Only memories
Just pledge to me
When battle done
That you will remember me
And come the day, come home
To tell a tale
Not die in battle glorious
Forgotten in my cause.

An honest soldier thanks you, my love
But I am merely mortal
And if in battle, fall
The enemy triumphant
A wreath of flowers
Would adorn my grave
No prizes there
For those who rob the dead
If I should chose to return
Unburdened with the weight of plunder
Would you still give me your flowers?

Come here, my love
That I might kiss your hand
And wish you safe
When others wish you harm!
Go safely!

Why?

It is now May. I am certain that, for the past few months, it has rained more days than not. Spring is here, the temperature is gradually rising, flowers are beginning to bloom. The grass everywhere, is green, and growing rapidly. My mower can barely keep up.
So I find it difficult to understand why one of the locals had a lawn sprinkler working away, saturating his lawn with tap-water. Why add more water, when the puddles from the last shower are still evident on the road?
I could understand if there had been a drought, but the desertification of the British Isles is still some way away, global-warming notwithstanding.
Perhaps they have been reading one of those ‘Expert’ books from the local garden centre. They have ‘scarified’ the lawn until it looks in desperate need of a ‘comb-over’, then buried it in ‘lawn sand’ until it resembles a desert. I trust that the book was not written in Mumbai, as the required elephant droppings for fertiliser, might be a trifle difficult to obtain.
My grass (‘lawn’ seems a bit overdone!) gets hacked down with a rotary mower when I get round to it, and is never likely to be done in ‘stripes’, but it is green, thriving, and only has a few dandelions and the occasional ant-hill.

It looks so much better than the lawn of Mr & Mrs Sitzsprinkel.

Found in Translation

When I first started writing, I wrote in the Methil dialect. Obviously, this made it somewhat difficult for most people to read.
Then, I had to contend with all the ‘experts’ who told me that Scots was not written that way. The ‘apologetic apostrophe’ was the main complaint. Sir Walter Scott may have used it, but ‘proper’ writers never would.
(Dear Mr Scott. Concerning your ‘improper’ use of punctuation …)

Well, to hell with them. The ‘proper’ way was decided by 3 literary types, who ‘decided’ what would be what. Sorry chaps, but I do not write in ‘Lallands’ (Lowlands Scots), Doric (bit further North), or Glaswegian.
Not even in Fife dialect (there are many!). I wrote in Methil. (which my blog spell-check does not recognise!).

Anyway, the readability was a problem. I tried many ways in the past: putting the story into 2 columns – one English, one Methil; putting a button on the page to swap between the Methil version and the English version; using the ‘title’ function in HTML. That works fine for spoken dialect in an English story …
see the ‘Glesca Patter’
… but isn’t so good when the whole story is in Methil.

A Fifer's Lament

At last, I think that I have cracked the problem! I have taken the ‘Fife stories, and done a simultaneous write, in English and Methil. If you simply look at a paragraph, it is in Methil, but if you place the cursor over the paragraph, it translates instantly in English.
On an iPad, you don’t have a cursor, but a quick tap of the finger does the job. That may also work in Android, but I have nothing to check it on.
Perhaps someone may care to let me know.

These are stories from my youth. That was a long time ago.

Click on the book, and let me know what you think.

Cara

Count the days
   and make them precious
Live the hours
   as though they were your last
Spare a minute
   to ease the fears of others
In a moment
   all of this will pass.