Category Archives: Opinion

Be my Valentine

Light Hearted

The cynic in me would love to hate valentines day, the over commercialised sales pitch for love, but the romantic in me loves to love it, flowers and romance and chocolates and smiles, what’s there not to like…

…but if all the people in my facebook feed, the strangers on twitter, the friends I’ve seen today in person, or those who I can fully predict are sitting at home bemoaning the significant others in your life expecting something nice on Valentines day. To all of you who have said “I don’t need someone to tell me what day of the year to say I love you” here’s a thought, Maybe if we produced just one romantic gesture unprompted on any one of the remaining 364 days of the year your lovely partners wouldn’t put so much onus on this one day, This one day when it seems most of the nation need reminding it’s ok to do something nice for the one you love!

It doesn’t have to cost, an unasked for cup of tea in bed, a love letter pinned to the bathroom mirror, a walk in the park on blustery afternoon or having the forethought to cook the dinner for when your other half gets home from what you know is a particularly stressful day.

Maybe if we all tried to be a, little more romantic throughout the year come February 14th florists and card companies wouldn’t be laughing all the way to the bank!

Today I am just Mom!

Being a parent is sometimes quite hard, balancing your own wants and needs as an individual with that of a this small thing who wants independence but relies of you for so much. I’m lucky – I absolutely love being a Mom and TBK makes it easy. We have bumps in the road which we have to deal with, sometimes emotional sometimes physical but I always know we can get through it because long term there are no issues and these are only bumps, but what happens when that bump turns into a mountain?

I’ve been thinking a lot this last week about how hard some other parents have it,  hard because life jumped up and smacked them in the mouth at the same time as hitting their child over the head with a sledge hammer. I am a fairly prolific twitter user and stay in touch with friends (both real and virtual) via that medium and I’ve been quite humbled this week by the journeys some of the parents I follow are having to take.

I’ve only met one of these parents I’m going to outline below  in real life but if hasn’t stopped me from empathising with any of them, because as a parent I just don’t know how I’d be able to cope if I was faced with the same.

The one follower keeps her twitter stream private so I wont out her here but after having a daughter who was  born with Downs Syndrome, a subsequent diagnoses of Cerebral Palsy and in the last week a further diagnosis of severe arthritis all over her body she’s a lot going on but with 2 more children at home and a charity to run which she set up to support other parents in understanding Downs and going it alone as a single parent I just don’t know sometimes how she carries on.

There is @beast76uk (Phillip) whose son Harry recently lost an eye to Retinoblastoma, whose tweets “”Ok #cancer, this war is WON! Fuck you. Yes, you took his eye, small price to pay in the long run. but we’ve stopped you. You’re fuckin GONE!” and “Got Harry’s #histology results back 2day. No spread of the cancer. absolutely #chuffedtobits ! Left eye is in remission. #couldntbehappier” made me ridiculously happy for a man I’d never met and left me in awe of his resilience as a parent, I don’t know, and I hope I never have to find out how I would react  if faced with the same.

Now there is @junction10 (Jason) someone I have never met but started following a while back because his sense of humour and sarcastic updates made me laugh (and he’s  a bloody fine photographer to boot), Another twitter user who is currently going through hell as a parent. Just as I was reading that @beast76uk son was winning their battle with the dreaded C word,  Jason’s son Joel was just starting his own, a diagnosis of a brain tumour, subsequent surgery and the prospect of 12 months of radio and chemotherapy is a terrible way to start the year.

I don’t know why but Jason and Joel’s story seems to have affected me more than the others (and maybe more than it should for someone I don’t know), maybe it’s because the sarcastic, humorous tone of his stream as been overtaken with heart wrenching updates of his son’s progress where the others didn’t change in such a dramatic way, and that it has laid bare the fundamental fear as parent that when something is going on with your child that is completely out of your control and with the stakes so high just how hard it can be but whatever the reason it has upset me.

Last night I read Jason’s blog “A Sense of Tumour” documenting the journey of diagnosis and tests and surgery (and hospital parking) and then went to bed. At 1:30 I was woken by TBK and his 2 friends who were here for a sleepover. They were banging around and making such a racket I’m surprised the neighbours hadn’t been to knock the door,  I was just about to get out of bed to read them the riot act when an image from the blog came to mind and I remembered how lucky I was to be at home with my son safe, healthy and happy waking me up. A quiet word with the boys and peace resumed and returned to bed with the lasting impression of how lucky I really am!

Today the snow came

A splash of Colour

Everyone has been speculating for week over when the snow would come, Finally it did I woke up this morning and it was white over and it’s snowed on and off all day!

It is most amusing following peoples reactions on Facebook and Twitter – anyone would think the end was nigh! Personally I think it’s silly worrying too much about it  if it comes it comes, if it doesn’t it doesn’t there’s not much you can do to change it, but if/when it does PHOTO OPPORTUNITY!

A Complaint to Virgin

UPDATE 09:30 12th October:

15 hours after sending this email and I’ve just received a call from Virgin Media’s Chief Executive Office apologising for their appalling service! – Sometimes firing an email off to the right person does yield results!



An email sent to the complaints address I was provided and cc’d to the CEO of Virgin Media

I have been provided with this email address from the people who run your twitter profile as a way of directing my complaint to you.

In the last week I have NEVER received such diabolical service from a company as I have yourselves!

I have been a customer with Virgin for 5 years and have consistently upgraded my account to include more and better services and would have considered myself a loyal customer. However if something is not done to rectify the experience I have had in the last 7 days I will not only be taking my business elsewhere but I will be shouting from the roof tops to anyone who will listen as why they should never use Virgin Media either!

Last Monday (4th October) I called your service centre from my fairly newly installed land line to enquire about upgrading my TV service to a HD service. I wanted some clarification on prices as on your website there are two options, one for a standard HD box and one for V+ HD – which I understood – I was however intrigued as to why on the Standard HD price the installation fee is listed as optional.

I spoke to a lady called Sarah who I explained this to and she said the option was for a “HD or V+HD” – I again explained I knew the difference in options for the services but wanted to know why the installation price on the option for the standard HD was listed as optional and V+ HD it wasn’t – Her response….

You’re not listening to me” – to which I responded “How rude are you being?” to which she responded ” WELL YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO ME” – I asked to be put through to cancellations immediately to which she responded “Fine” and I was put on hold. I was furious and ready to leave you company there and then and it was only through speaking to a lovely lady in your cancellations department, who’s name I unfortunately can’t remember, who apologised profusely and agreed that her colleagues behaviour was unacceptable that I decided to stay.

She opened up the website I was looking at (screen print attached) and agreed that there is confusion as she couldn’t understand why the installation fee was listed as optional either.

She apologised again and again and offered to waive the fees on, and supply a V+HD box free of charge. I explained this was unnecessary as I unlikely to have any real use of the V+ package at this time and instead accepted to take delivery of a standard HD box as way of an apology as well as requesting that a formal complaint be made.

Delivery was due Thursday 7th. My partner took the day off work and waited in all day….at 17:30 when I returned from work and there had still been no delivery I again called your customer service team where I was informed that delivery could be anywhere up until 18:00 and to call back then if there had still been no delivery

18:00 came and went and still no delivery, so I called back a second time, this time a different member of staff informs me that delivery could be any time up until 20:00 but as they have no tracking number on my account they can’t say for sure and supply me with a number to the home delivery service to call myself to track the order YOU had placed with them.

I called the 0871 number supplied to be greeted with a recorded message telling me delivery could be any time up until 19:00 (the third different time I had been given) and if I wanted specific details on a parcel to enter the 8 digit tracking number – which of course I don’t have!

Luckily having had some experience with automated services I repeatedly keyed in 8 zeros until it overrode the computer and put me through to one of their advisers.

I explained who I was and why I was calling and they took my address details and looked into it for me…..They had NO record of a delivery being made to my address on their system. The Gentleman was very apologetic and explained that some of their drivers were still out and maybe I should call back after 21:15 in case there was a fault with there system and my parcel was still with one of them…

21:15 Still no delivery so I call HDN on the 0871 number again, once again working my way through thier automated system to speak to the same man as earlier who confirmed they have no delivery due to my address!

I subsequently call your customer services again where the individual I spoke to was less than helpful! “there’s and order on your account” – yes I know there is an order on my account but why haven’t I received it? “hmmmm”

I don’t know where your advisers were trained but I’m sure “HMM” is never an acceptable answer to a customers question. I had to push and push and push to get her to make another order for a box – none of my questions as to why as YOUR customer I was having to call home delivery network to chase YOUR order with them – I am your customer, you are theirs – I should have never have had to call them myself in the first place and finally when I convinced to do her job and actually help me I wanted to know if I placed another order what guarantees I would have it would turn up as it meant either my partner or I staying home from work again to wait for it.

I was told the earliest delivery date that was available was today (Monday 11th) but I would be able to choose my delivery slot – I wasn’t impressed that after an administration error with yourselves or with the courier YOU had tasked with delivering my box I hadn’t received it on the due date and was going to have to wait longer still but I accepted this as being my only option and chose the 09:30 to 14:30 delivery slot…..

My partner again opted to stay home and wait….

9:30 the post man arrives with a letter from yourselves with our new “contract” in it that started on 7th October ( the original delivery date) and includes a £49 charge for set up – which I had been told would waived as an apology for the behaviour and attitude of your staff in my initial dealing with yourself back on the 4th October- A subsequant phone call to “Kimberly” has at least confirmed to me for the time being that I will not be charged this.

14:30 comes and goes and still nothing!, 15:30 nothing. 16:30 nothing FINALLY at 17:00 a delivery driver knocks our door and we take delivery of our now LONG overdue HD box! – My partner questioned the driver as to why it was late only to be informed he’d only been given the package at 14:00 and there was nothing in his notes pertaining to the bar code about a timed delivery despite there being a clearly visable sticker which reads “Avoid school runs deliver between 09:30 and 14:29” on the box – the driver has supplied us with a number to call Home Delivery Network to complain about this but quite frankly I don’t see why I should after all I am YOUR customer and YOU are THEIRS.

After being a customer for years and having defended you business to others citing my own experiences with yourself as a case to allay their complaints I find it absolutely outrageous that I was completely unfounded in my belief that virgin media knew how to deliver customer satisfaction.

My partner has had to take 2 days off work, I have had to make countless telephone calls not only to yourselves but to YOUR service providers to try and rectify what should have been a pretty simple upgrade and I would like to know what exactly can now be done to compensate me and make up for all of this as this was supposed to be an apology for the original poor service and attitude I received.
A copy of this email has also been posted on my blog which which can be viewed here:

I trust I will be hearing from you soon.

Miss Stephenie.Jennings
Account number: *********

WV11 – One Year On!

Last year I helped set up a hyperlocal website to cover the area I live in  and we’ve just passed the first year anniversary – To celebrate we had a stall at Wednesfield Community Fayre trying to make more people aware of the site and invite community input -What do you think we should be writing about? Would you like to write for us? and so on…

While I was there I got into conversation with a teacher of one of the local high schools about and what we – the individuals that run the site get out of it.

He couldn’t believe that we did all this for free – That we volunteered our time for no financial reward or recognition  and it made me sad that he struggled so much to see why we were doing this – that he was so surprised at the idea of someone doing something for perceivably nothing that he actually implied that he didn’t believe we didn’t get some financial gain!

So I thought it about time I shared my story about why came into existence and why it’s about a lot more than money for me!

I have pretty much always lived in the area and as I grew older I moved briefly to Lichfield and when I moved back I could really appreciate the community vibe of the my estate,  I was surprised at the negative attitude from some of residents – It’s not something you get everywhere and I think people who have always lived and worked in the area sometimes take for granted.

Then they proposed the closure of  Danesmore Park Primary School, the school my son attended. We fought long and hard to save the school  (and we all know how that ended) and in doing so we quickly realised that there was nowhere online that communicated the sense of community I felt on the streets and in the playground, and I now know to be evident at all the schools in the area – Conversation and coordination was hard because there was no where already established online unbiased enough to let the conversation unfold – the ONLY forum we could (and did) use that was relevant locally and that was available at that time was heavily moderated by an extremely biased hand or the then local councillor!

So the idea for a local site was born -  we wanted somewhere unbiased we could try and highlight the positives of our area and hopefully over time encourage community engagement and conversation. It started as an idea for a forum, or  chat room where local people could talk to each other about local issues but quite quickly evolved into something else.

I was one day trying to find some information out on the council website – I can’t even remember what it was now something to do with my bin collection I think  but whatever it was I became increasingly frustrated with how hard it was – The city is a HUGE place so trying to pinpoint specific information for my area was hard – and I’m fairly Internet savvy – so how would my Mom  for instance found *it*, if she was looking for the same information?

So we decided the local site should also be of good use to people looking for information not just for discussion – a lot of time was spent before the launch building the resource page – listing local amenities and hopefully other useful information relevant to our area, and other handy tools such as houses to let and for sale, jobs and traffic updates have been added since – and it went from there, a news feed was included and came into fruition

We launched the site at 11pm one night by inviting a few friends that I knew were local to become a fan of our facebook page, within a couple of months we had 600 fans and a nearly 2000 visits to the actual site.

Now, 12 months on, the site is going from strength to strength,  The visitor numbers are still going up, any one so inclined can see a break down of our visitor figures here but as an overview 16,000 unique visitors in the first 12 months – that’s nearly half the population of Wednesfield – and the conversation between the community is starting to take place around  what we hope are considered non-biased articles  (which can be hard when we’re talking about things we care about or things we’re directly affected by!). Users will comment on articles – some people are by nature negative and some are positive but what’s good is both sides get a chance to voice their opinion and these things are getting discussed – we’ve had discussions based on graffiti and anti social behaviour to home improvements talk about local bands and GOOD news stories from our area – we don’t pretend bad news doesn’t happen but we do try and be balanced.

We never moderate comments unless they are libellous or abusive and then we inform the individual involved why we’ve removed the post and so far we’ve received no complaints  – The only thing  we are guilty of is playing devils advocate if a discussion or sometimes arguments become too negative, – don’t tell us there’s nothing good happening, nothing interesting to do or no way you can fix a problem for yourselves because we’ll give you the information to prove you are wrong.

For me this is why the WV11 site is so valuable  and rewarding I don’t have to get paid to do it because this is my opportunity to put something back into the community- Be it an easy way for someone to find out what time the local library is open, or the chance to combat some of the negativity by showing people what’s on their doorstep !

The site and associated facebook page are used by all ages, with people asking questions which the community can answer.  For instance – what’s happening this weekend I can take my kids to? or does anyone know the opening time of x,y or z? or where can I find a window cleaner?

Passive aggressive getting it wrong!

As I’ve written about before, I am a member of two of my local Freeclye groups and while I love the premise of it all,  it never fails to amuse me how many rules and regulations the  moderators like to impose and how heavy handed they are in their issuing of “sanctions” when there has been a perceived breaking of these rules.  Give someone  a bit of power and it goes straight to their heads – However in saying that there are a few rules in whic I agree the main one being you’re not allowed to offer animals –

As an animal lover I agree because I feel animals should only be dealt with through reputable sources – guaranteeing the welfare of the animal along the way – but if one were to be offered in a group I am a member of I wouldn’t feel it my place to say anything as that’s what the moderators ARE there for, which is why when this following post appeared today it amused me so much – why anyone would want to take it up on themselves to have issue with another member is beyond me but to get it so very wrong along the way is just absurd – I saw the initial offered posting so I know this is accurate:

I have just had the most rambling email of a J**** S****** about my treatment of animals, as follows:

Sorry, but I have to say what so many others are thinking. You should be ashamed of yourself, rehoming a living creature, on a site like this, to what I presume was a stranger! You know the rules, along with everyone else on Freegle, and they are there for a reason! You obviously didn’t care about the dog, otherwise you would of rehomed it in one of the appropriate, and more caring, ways!”

Which was in reply to my offer as follows:

“I have a large dog teddy, its real cute bout 4 ft long, cost £60.00 Would look great in nursery/kids bedroom. Needs a wipe as some coke was accidentally dropped on it, collection asap or off down the tip.”

Please if your going to complain and make a fool of yourself J**** then read it first.

Thanks M****

My email to the BBC

Dear BBC

Can you please remind your presenters and guests on all of your programmes, but specifically the breakfast and news presenters, that we don’t elect a Prime Minister, we elect the party,and they appoint a leader, who if is still the leader at the time of the election, becomes our PM.

It’s so annoying to hear repeated claims that we (the electorate) have elected a PM!!!

There is enough confusion and apathy without the BBC making it worse by misrepresenting our electoral system.

Of all the news outlets the BBC should be the one leading the way to encourage people to look at and vote for policies, not personalities!

Thank you.