South Bank-by-Sea

As I walked across Hungerford Bridge, I was greeted by the unusual sight of a row of beach huts extending alongside the Thames on South Bank. It all looked very summery with miles of bunting and hordes of people taking advantage of the weather. As I returned via Waterloo Bridge, I noticed an improvised beach continuing on from where the beach huts ended.

Beach huts outside the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London

I’m sure there’ll be people who say this is just copying the French with their beachifying the sides of the Seine but I don’t care. I think it looks fabulous and I’m certain the people enjoying it would agree.

Of course, being a normal Wednesday, I was in London to have lunch with Mirinda. I had left home at 9 (an hour early) so that I could logon in Starbucks seeing as our Broadband connection hadn’t miraculously returned while I slept. Anyone who read the previous entry would realise that I had been assured BT would ring before 9. Naturally this didn’t happen and I left.

I was standing in the queue at Starbucks, waiting to be served when my phone rang, making everyone turn around, wondering why the theme tune for Curb Your Enthusiasm was blaring out of my bag.

I quickly unzipped the front compartment and extracted the phone, answering it within three rings.

Hello?” I asked, knowing from the display that it was BT.

Nothing was the stern reply. They’d already gone. After three rings. What an amazing effort for a valued customer.

As I put my phone away I noticed it was exactly 9:20. It occurred to me that this could indicate two things. Either BT had fixed the problem and was letting me know or BT had forgotten to call me and was anxious to let me know they hadn’t fixed it. Call me cynical but I favoured the latter.

I think what annoyed me most (after all I’m getting used to the inept service) was the fact that they only held on for three rings. Do they think everyone holds their phone, just in case some service company might ring? Or that everyone has those stupid Borg devices welded to their head?

I’m beginning to wonder why we pay them so much money every month. OK, generally everything is fine but whenever I’ve had a problem, it’s been a bigger problem getting it sorted. It’s not like they have a monopoly. There are other companies we could use. Given the tough competition, should I assume that they’re all as bad? I mean there was the Optus Incident in Australia in December to bear in mind.

So I went to lunch with Mirinda, having no idea what sort of response I had coming from BT. I figured that I’d just have to spend another couple of hours on the phone when I returned home.

We met at Embankment Gardens as usual (although my cloak of invisibility was working very well and she didn’t see me for a while…well until I started jumping up and down and waving my hat at her) and wandered down to a lovely sandwich place near Heaven (where I was thrown out of – that just never gets dull) run by a rather jolly chap who seems to like everyone to indulge in a bit of butter. He tried valiantly to convince Mirinda that her toasted sandwich would be much better infused with it but to no avail.

With or without butter, the sandwiches were lovely and cost about a third as much as they would have in Venice. In the heart of London. I’m glad we don’t lunch in Venice every Wednesday.

After lunch we continued wandering around, enjoying the sights in tourist filled Convent Garden, before dropping Mirinda back to work. Given the fact that I’d probably wind up spending an extended amount of time on the phone, I decided to go straight home rather than finding a museum to visit.

The beach on South Bank

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I realise I haven’t reported on the most recent Nicktor Night. I shall, of course, rectify that immediately. However, there is a proviso; an injunction, if you will. Certain parts of the evening have been ‘zoned’. This means, in essence, that I am not allowed to discuss them. This has nothing to do with secret men’s business or private jokes or footballers having affairs with reality show contestants. Sadly it’s more to do with Nicktor’s choices in alternate viewing. But more (or not) about that later.

We have taken a bit of a fancy for revenge movies lately. To be fair, I LOVE revenge movies (it’s so Jacobean) but I think I’ve convinced Nicktor they’re jolly good fun. So our first film was Hard Candy.

An amazing film. It was filmed in the producer’s house and, basically, has a cast of two. It was filmed for under a million dollars. There’s no real action – it’s not an exciting movie – as it’s character and dialogue driven. There is no gore or ‘bloody violence’ as DVD sleeves love to say. But it is frightening and thrilling.

What excited me most about the movie were the performances of the two leads. Truly superb. If the Oscars were really about great acting then the 14 year old girl playing Hayley (Ellen Page) would have one. An extraordinary performance which I would liken to a young Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. She could be an amazing talent if she continues to grow as a performer although her skills now are already equal to much older actresses who have fallen into the habit of playing one dimensional characterisations of themselves.

The guy, Jeff (Patrick Wilson) was also excellent. You were never quite sure whether he was a bad guy or a good guy. There were times you believed him and times you didn’t. Nearly all the time you knew you shouldn’t like him at all but he was a sympathetic character in a lot of ways. A wonderfully crafted and nuanced performance.

The other stars of the movie are the script (Brian Nelson) and the direction (David Slade). They are both sharp and minimalist, giving the audience just enough while not descending into unnecessary repetition, violence or shock graphics. It should be noted that I liked this movie very much.

The second film we watched was the first major film by the Cohen brothers, Blood Simple. Half an hour into the film, Mirinda rang so we paused it while I chatted for a bit. Up to this point, the film had been slow and measured, creating the perfect platform for what comes in the last hour. Not that Nicktor is ever likely to know this. When I hung up the phone he wanted to stop watching it, claiming it was slow and dull (or similar). I watched the rest the next day over lunch.

In fact, upon my ejecting the disk he was up on his feet and racing upstairs to what he terms ‘his room’ saying he had just the thing to watch. It is at this point that I have to tread very, very carefully in order not to breach the aforementioned injunction.

He returned with the first season of a sitcom which, to put it bluntly, hasn’t been seen on television for quite a few years (decades). We enjoyed it thoroughly going so far as to watch two entire episodes before calling it a night and retiring happy.

One other thing I should mention about the Nicktor Night is the fact that we didn’t drink any whisky. Not a drop. Amazing as this seems, it is entirely true. We did, however, drink half a bottle of 50% proof schnapps that he’d very thoughtfully brought back from Germany.
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BT Update

As soon as I arrived home, I took the pesky poodles for a much needed run up the park, for which they were suitably grateful, if somewhat over exuberant and then I picked up the phone to call my arch nemesis.

Meanwhile in India some guy whose name I couldn’t hope to repeat informed me that he knew of my problem (which stunned me into silence) and that he had to run a few more tests and would ring me back. This he did 20 minutes later. He then informed me that in order for my problem to be ‘escalated to the next level’ he had to run one final test. Clearly I failed this final test because I was immediately escalated. Actually, thinking about it, maybe I passed.

One might think that being ‘escalated to the next level’ means some sort of urgent appeal to a higher power which would then swoop down and fix whatever the problem was (which would beg the question “why not go to this higher power in the first place then?”). One would, however, be completely wrong. Being ‘escalated to the next level’ means I will get a phone call tomorrow between 9 and 11. I don’t know what about because I couldn’t understand the guy on the phone.

A very interesting fact has just occurred to me. BT is a communications company. The acronym itself stands for British Telecommunications. The clue is in the name, after all. So why is it that when I talk to someone at their so called Help Desk, I can’t understand half of what they’re saying? If you ask me, their communications are failing them.

And another thing, while I’m at it. When you call them you have a few options to go through. I’m not moaning about that, it tends to make things easier if you can filter your calls to the right area so I’m in favour of it. However, one of the options is to select whether the problem is connected to your broadband, phone or Vision TV. Each time I’ve selected broadband and the very next thing they suggest is going onto their website and downloading their self help software.

Call me simple but I can’t think of a problem you’d be ringing them about that would allow you to access the Internet, let alone their website. It’s a bit weird. If I could go on to their website, I’d have a broadband connection and, therefore, not need to ring them. Even if you’re calling because your connection is slow, the last thing you’re going to do is try and download a piece of software because it would take forever. Though, by my reckoning, it sort of takes forever anyway.

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3 Responses to South Bank-by-Sea

  1. Audrey says:

    Love the pics of London’s Southbank. BT sounds an awful lot worse than Telstra and Optus put together. Your wit does make me smile. regards Audrey & Leo

  2. mum cook says:

    Yes BT does sound worse then ours AND the photos are great. Did not know you had a South Bank like we do in Brisbane. We don’t have the change sheds though. Oohh what’s the secret about Nicktor night? love mum

  3. Mirinda says:

    They actually call the beach they’ve made Bondi – most amusing.

    You are obsessed with BT!!!!!

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