Monday, April 28, 2014

Complaint: Half A Fucking Gram

Dear Sir

I just visited the M&S garage on Tilehurst Road in Reading, and saw an offer for 2 packs of Mentos for 90p.

I took them to the counter but was told that the offer did not apply to them.

We had a discussion for a while, I insisted that it said 'Mentos - All varieties 2 for 90p'. However after calling a manager over, he pointed out that it only applied to packs weighing 38g, and the ones I wanted (Rainbow Mentos) weighed 37.5g.

What the fuck?!

Seriously this is ridiculous, the product apparently wasn't included in the offer as it was half a gram less.

This is clearly a case of deceitful promoting, and I expect far better from Marks & Spencer. That is the kind of thing I would expect at Tesco, not supposedly a premium store.

If I do not receive a full apology for the embarrassment caused with suitable compensation, I shall write to the Office of Fair Trading and suggest that they investigate.

James Winfield



Dear Mr Winfield

Our Ref:- xxx

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about the offer you saw in our store in the BP garage in Reading. I'm sorry to hear you were unable to get the mentos you had wanted within the offer.

I understand your frustration as the offer may have seemed to have included the mentos you had been looking to buy. In the terms and conditions it states the weight of the packs included; meaning they are separate products. Promotions and offer such as this are often ran and in situations such as this, the offer only applies to specific size of package. Of course, I can see why it would be frustrating but our till system would not allow what is essentially a different product to be included in the offer.

I have forwarded your comments on to our Promotions and Marketing to ensure such offers are as clear as possible for our customers.

As you've been disappointed, on this occasion I would like to send a gift card to you as an apology for the disappointment this caused you. In order for me to do this, please provide your postal address via the 'Contact us' link on our website. Once you've done this, please allow between 5-7 days for this to arrive at the given address.

Thanks again for getting in touch and I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Kind regards


Get in!  I'm getting something for one of my complaints.  I think it had more bite to it than previous complaints.

Not only that, I had a response within 24 hours, which compares to Gregg's' 2 weeks, and Waitrose who still haven't bothered to elicit a response.

I also thought as I am getting a gift, I should offer you a gift (it was one of the images Google offered for "marks spencer mentos deal").

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Last Year's Books

Whilst I'm at it, I did actually read a few books last year.  I won't bang on long about them.

In no particular order...because I cannot remember what order I read them in.

The Last Party

This was all about Studio 54, the nightclub at the epicentre of the disco world in New York in the 1970's.  The story of how one of the most famous nightclubs in the world came about, from the moon with the coke spoon, to celebrities on white horses, sex, drugs, more sex, shitloads more drugs and crime.

The book starts off rather boring but I really grew into the story.  Then halfway through it seems to finish - all good nightclubs come to an end but the end of the story started with 200 pages to go.  My interest in it tailed off towards the end of the book but it was an excellent read to find out more about one of the most famous and important nightclubs ever.

Clubland Confidential

This books starts off by describing in some detail what a k-hole is, which was interesting to learn - yes it is a book about possibly the messiest group of clubbers in the world, again set in New York, the story of Michael Alig and the famous Club Kids.

It sheds a light on a fascinating world and made me truly want to be one of the freakish club kids whilst I was reading it, despite how fucked up they were clearly getting - it seemed a very glamorous life.

Then it all falls apart due to a famous murder and the FBI's dislike of New York nightlife.

It is a story full of criminals and drugs, and a fascinating education of a more recent period of New York nightlife (more recent than Studio 54 anyway).

But the last third is far too detailed in the nuances of court cases and I couldn't wait to finish the book.

Altered State

This is the story of Ecstasy culture and acid house.  I don't remember an awful lot about this book, it was a good read and detailed the history of the early acid house days very well, from the idealism of Shoom to the gangsterism of the warehouses, and the police/government war on raves.

Definitely worth a read, and yeah there is lots of drugs in it.

Into The Storm

One of my closest friends got me this for Christmas the other year - it is the story of Reed Timmer, one of the most famous storm-chasers in America.

He has written the book himself and you can tell.  It is very matter of fact - he is a scientist after all - the book would have been more enjoyable had it been written by a writer.

There is a fair amount of educative moments in between the chases, so the book is mixed between fun, danger and learning.

Also he visited little old Reading once.  Wasn't exactly overly impressed with our thunderstorms!

I did though become greatly in admiration of the adventurous, boyish Reed Timmer, to the point where I now subscribe to his tornado videos and follow him and his storm-chasing crew - which is now a very professional and impressive set-up - as much as I follow Sven or Ricardo.  Well, nearly.


So yeah, I read more books about clubbing than attended proper club nights.  Fuck I'm getting boring.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Come Back Sparkle

I seem to be missing my spark this week.

Normally I come back from Hull raring to go, delighted to be back in the comforts of the south, motivated to do well and work hard, happy and smiling as I see Thames Valley Business Park and shiny new blocks of flats in view from the train window, having escaped visions of rows of terraced houses with painted on adverts from the 1920’s, and a bread factory.

But this week I just been lethargic, tired, lacking enthusiasm, motivation and most noticeably not trying to be the centre of attention and trying to make people smile (or laugh at me) either at work with my ever so slightly inappropriate style of humour, and you may have noticed that my attempts at wit on Facebook have been very occasional as opposed to every 30 minutes.  Not that anyone goes on Facebook nowadays.  Are you all on Google Plus now?

I’m not unhappy.  Just fucking miserable.

That was a joke.  Did I make you laugh?

I shall have to analyse my lack of joviality in greater depth.  I guess I don’t really have to but there is nothing else I can be bothered to do during my lunch hour.  Working in Bracknell my lunch options are almost as limited as lunch options in Guantanamo Bay.

Clearly a major source of frustration is missing a cracking thunderstorm on Sunday.  4 days later and people were still banging on about it like…a thunderstorm bangs on.  I am no closer to saving up the £3,000.00 that I need to go storm chasing in America.  Though I can afford to buy myself a rolling pin.

Maybe I am just depressed from the ignominy of getting no matches on Tinder from the 5 minutes I used it at Doncaster station – Tinder certainly returns different results in East Yorkshire than Royal Berkshire.  It was only 5 minutes as 3G coverage is pretty rare in such backwaters.

It’s nearly 5 months since I went proper clubbing.  And no I don’t count 25 people in the garden of Zeus with banal deep house playing from each of the 25 different DJs as proper clubbing.  Cocoon, fabric, Secretsundaze, Fuse – nights with DJs that blow my mind.  5 fucking months.  Maybe I am back where I was 10 years ago where I need to find new clubbing buddies.  God that is a depressing thought.  Or maybe I will just have to go solo-clubbing.  Or am I too old for clubbing?

And how about the shock of Ricardo Villalobos leaving Cocoon?  Not playing for Cocoon any more.  I hope he is ok.  I guess the gossip will come out eventually.

Perhaps I am just missing the young lady that sits next to me at work who is on holiday at the moment.  She is scared of spiders, and clowns.  I have nobody to wind up with the thought of spider-clowns.  Yeah they exist.

It could just be possible that pissing people off for a living is no longer of great amusement.  Just fucking pay your bills...I wish I could say that.  I am getting bored of chasing the same people to sort out the same things week after week and getting ignored.

I definitely crave hugs.  And a mullet extension.  And more hugs.

I need a plan.  I need change.  Time for action.  Or just a plan.  And some action.

Therefore I have kicked myself up the arse.  I have bought a Euromillions ticket.  If I win the jackpot I will treat everyone I know to a weekend in Hull – even those on Facebook that I met once as I am sure that I would suddenly hear from you a lot more if I became a millionaire.  Not that I would actually tell anyone if I won, though I guess the invite to Hull would give it away.

I chose my numbers from an e-mail from a really annoying customer that I received this morning.

I have also bought some leopard-print trainers.

You know I am a style icon.

I have a ticket to the FA Cup Final.  Yes Hull City in the FA Cup final.  Only £88.33 to see history.  Hull City in the FA Cup final.  Karma for experiencing defeat to Hednesford back in 1997 (though where is my karma for my lack of recent sexlife?)  Silverware, we don’t care.  Hull City in the FA Cup final.  And all of the right-thinking footballing world will be supporting us, like one billion Hull City fans.  And no mention of the stupid name change, has it gone away forever?  Did I mention that Hull City are in the FA Cup final for the first time ever and I will be there?

I have paid for my holiday to Croatia.  Let’s hope I don’t have to wait until August to see the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, tINI, Bella Sarris, Loco Dice, Seth Troxler, Dixon, Alexandra, Apollonia, Marcel Dettmann, Yaya, Zip and a whole load more.

Most importantly though I need to concentrate on my future career.  I don’t want to be a credit controller forever.  I really must get an action plan together to get that changed.  I can feel a separate blog post coming on that subject.

Sadly I have run out of time to ramble on any more so I will leave my 3 dear readers with a spot of disco.

It being a Friday afternoon and people only pretend to work I might actually get 5 readers.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Complaint: Gregg's Sausage Rolls

Dear Greggs

You will likely not care to hear that I woke up too late this morning to make my own breakfast so I had to seek sustenance on my walk through Reading town centre towards the train station.

There are not a lot of options early in the morning though there are about 126 branches of Greggs.

I chose 2 sausage rolls, I did look at them with suspicion as to how warm they would be but purchased anyway.

When I bit into the first one I quickly checked my surroundings in case I had been transported to the mountain-side but alas I was still in Reading train station.

Had the sausage roll been heated? Probably. Today? Unlikely.

I then sat on the sausage rolls to try to generate some warmth but this didnt have too much effect.

I tried putting it on the train radiators but they had been switched off (South West Trains tend only to put the heating on when it is hot).

The sausage rolls were so cold that they were even colder than my girlfriend, Margaret who is a cardboard cut-out.

Annoyingly I can still vaguely taste themalthough maybe that is because I sat on them.


 Dear James

Thanks for telling us about your recent visit to our Reading shop. We appreciate all customer feedback as it gives us the opportunity to improve.

I'm not sure if you're aware, we don’t keep our savouries in a heated environment, or use heat retaining packaging, or advertise them as hot. We sell our savouries freshly baked from our shop ovens and we then place them on our shelves to cool naturally. They’re freshly baked throughout the day so that you get that great taste we all know and love. As bakers we believe that baking our savouries fresh each day gives our customers the best quality food.

I've passed your feedback onto our Area Manager of our Reading shops so that she can speak to all of our Team Members who bake our savouries to ensure that they're baking regularly throughout the day.

I'm sorry that you've been disappointed by our food James and hope you'll remain one of our valued customers.


Hi Richard

Can you please speak to teams in reading shops about below feedback received on 8 April and remind them about baking little and often? No response needed. Thanks

(Not sure why I was copied into this - and apparently Richard is a girl)


Boring response and not even a free sausage roll but at least they replied in just over two weeks - unlike Waitrose who haven't bothered (though I did e-mail them in Ali G style).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cultural Tour of Hull

A couple of good friends of mine went to Rome this weekend.  But Rome is so last millennium when it comes to culture, so I went to the true City of Culture this weekend, Hull.

Starting with the most obvious which was fish and chips.  The round thing is a pattie.  You won’t get fish like that down here you southern puffs.  Get to Hull.  Get fish.

If you want culture, the best stop is usually the tourist information office.  So we made this our first visit on Saturday.  I asked the lady what she could recommend – her response was the very helpful, “Well there isn’t much really going on”.  Though we did eventually wangle out of her that there was some kind of fete going on in the museum quarter.

Appropriately re-assured about the City of Culture title, we headed towards the Fruit Market area, supposedly Hull’s Shoreditch, to visit the Museum of Club Culture.

It was a small building with some random photos and posters with no particular theme and no sense of what particular clubbing scene they related to.  Hull has never really had a nightlife to write about, except in hooliganism books, and still doesn't.

We continued our walk through the clearly Shoreditch-influenced Fruit Market area, with it's thoughtful street art.

Then we stumbled across Hull's PREMIER dinosaur experience.  Upon paying £3 each, we wandered around an exhibition of plastic dinosaurs and random red buttons.

So we headed to the fete, which was ok and has some classic examples of how some people still dress in Hull.

We followed this up by a walk over the new £7million bridge to nowhere and had a quick look at Hull beach (apparently a young lady got stuck down there on Sunday morning around 1am).

A superb home-made burger and a pint of Yorkshire Cider later, in a very charming local pub and we were ready to go shopping.  I found some sweets and some Fairy liquid.

We tried to call home from the phone box but some vandals had cut off the phone.  Which reminds me I did that once too.

Last but not least, actually it is the least, we found England's smallest window - Hull's greatest claim to fame.

I was also most amused by the advice given by Hull Trains (yes we are that important that we have our own train company), as to what to do if you get thirsty.

I’m all Hulled out.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Diet Research: Hot Cross Bun Day

So in the name of scientific research and to help Jamie Oliver with research for his next cook-book, I undertook an experiment that I ingeniously name Hot Cross Bun Day.

For breakfast, I had 1.5 hot cross buns, all toasted, 2 halves with rhubarb and ginger jam, the remaining one with my remaining plum jam.

So far so good.

For my mid-morning snack, I had one hot cross bun with strawberry jam.

By lunch I was getting a bit fed up with a slight sickly feeling to the stomach, but one has to go on in the name of scientific research.

Two hot cross buns, one with strawberry jam, the other with blueberry jam.  I was so engrossed in watching porn on the work computer that I forgot to take a photo.  I am sure you can use your imagination.

I couldn't bear to have a mid-afternoon snack and I really wasn't looking forward to dinner.

But then I had a brainwave.  Or two.  Guess what I did?

Yes, first I tried cheese on hot cross buns for les entrees as they said in la Francais - one half with cheddar, one half with red leicester, the other with butter.  With some ketchup.

Actually quite decent.  Though not quite as good as a cheese sandwich.  Which I don't ever have.

So guess what I had for de piece de la resistance?

Yeah I'm going to do one of those things to keep you guessing...

Like the way I am building up the suspense?

Clever isn't it?

But not as clever as what I actually had for dinner...

Oh yeah.

It was pretty good.

But I would have preferred a pie.  Or some chicken.  Or just some bread with gravy.

I have learnt that man can survive on just hot cross buns for a day.
I am slightly more tired.
I do have a slight sickly feeling to the stomach, and have done most of the day.
I lost a 0.5kg in weight.  Though I also lost 0.5kg in weight yesterday with my normal diet.
My poo was normal.
I won't be having dessert.
I won't be doing another hot cross bun day.
I may never eat another hot cross bun.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Just Boris - Book Review

Welcome to my annual book review.

I was a huge fan of Boris, so I thought I should read a book to understand more about him, what drives him, what has made him the fascinating character that he is and find out more about this loveable genius.  Who doesn’t love Boris?  I have long had a desire to get to know more about him.

Disappointedly I think less of him now I have read the book than I did before...though I did have him down as total genius world saviour.

I don’t like infidelity.  I like to believe that I can trust people and I need to feel that I can trust my political leaders.  I accept that mistakes can happen, nobody is perfect and I try not to judge other’s personal lives because you don’t always know all of the details but repeated affairs whilst married (I had previously ignored the ‘rumours’) have tainted him in my eyes.

More importantly though, what does he actually stand for?  Apart from self-promotion and wanting to be ‘World King’?

It is difficult to see an over-riding ideology from a kind of liberal-Conservative, an anti-EU pro-European, a man of the people yet a friend of so few.

He didn't exactly contribute particularly as an MP for Henley.

What is his legacy in London?  Boris Bikes?  Shiny buses?  A cable car to nowhere?

And then a total abject failure when the riots kicked off – but upon his homecoming, the magic dust shone as he single-handedly stopped the riots instantaneously when he picked up that broom.

However I still love Boris.

Who cannot love a politician willing to go on a zipwire in full public view and get stuck – for any other politician that would have been career over – for Boris that was another notch up the popularity rating.

I wouldn’t want him running the NHS or education.  But being a leader is different.

Being a leader requires an ability to take the people with you – Boris can touch and inspire different parts of society and bring people together like most Tories cannot.

The book itself is well-written and very well researched, with so many interesting contributors.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book for a layman such as myself are the introductory chapters, particularly his schooling, and being able to compare a shockingly different schooling to the comprehensive that I experienced.

If you have no interest in politics then you are unlikely to enjoy this book.

But despite Mrs G on Amazon having to give up a quarter of the way through, finding it hard going and unable to understand most of it, "as it is based on his early life in Eton and has a lot of political jargon which is ok if you are Cambridge or Eton educated", I didn't actually find it hard going but maybe that was because of how well educated I woz in the worst school in Hull.

Sadly it does do the age-old “fair socialist” trick of being a balanced story, both praise-worthy and critical where required, except in the last couple of chapters where she goes all-out on the attack to leave the reader with a tainted view of the future-legend.

Even though I see through it, I have also seen through Boris.  I still love and greatly admire him, but I am now aware of his imperfections too.

Will I vote for him in the next Conservative Leader election?  2020 is a long way away.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Could You Change Football Club Allegiance?

Just in case you have been living under a rock, there is a delicate issue of an application to change my football club’s name from Hull City AFC to Hull Tigers which the FA are due to either approve or reject tomorrow.

You have no excuse not to know about it – football fans in France and Germany have both displayed “No To Hull Tigers” banners (independently – no influence from any Hull City fans that anyone is aware of), cricket fans in the West Indies have displayed such a flag and I have a badge on my coat.

So tomorrow the FA should reject the name change.  Not guaranteed as they are well-known for making stupid mistakes, and it is unlikely to be the end of it as the owner will probably launch a legal challenge.

But if they do reject it, the owner is going to walk out and put the club up for sale within 24 hours.  Apparently.  Just before our first FA Cup semi-final for 80 years and probably the highest ever finish in the league.  I believe him.

So the question is - can one change football club allegience during their life?

This isn't some kind of childhood changing my mind - like when I was 9 years old when I decided to relegate Liverpool as my main team in favour of glory-supporting a club more likely to win things, Hull City AFC.

This would be turning my back on my club after 25 or so years of emotional investment.

However if they were now called Hull Tigers - surely this is a total change of the club's identity?  It would be like your wife having a sex change - would you stay married or divorce her?

I like to think that I am exceptionally loyal but this name change would be disloyalty to me.  I didn't start this.

So could I support another team?  What happens if we qualify for Europe next season?

There is no way myself and other fans would take the change lying down.  We have hounded out owners before and it could be done again.  I quite fancy a vigilante campaign - West Hull was covered with "Sack Dolan" stickers circa 1996/97, and Martin Fish (an old chairman) had newly designed "Fish Out" posters through his accountancy firm's letterbox every Friday lunch during college terms - those Fridays where our alcoholic IT teacher turned up anyway.

I didn't send cod's heads to any football league chairman though.

Hull City AFC stickers would be very easy to print and distribute.

Then there is the route that Man Utd and Wimbledon fans have gone down - with FC United and AFC Wimbledon - opening another club as Hull City FYA (Fuck You Allam (our current owner)) - and starting at the bottom of the pyramid - this would be very appealing as I miss shit football.  There really are not enough hoofs in the Premiership.  Too many whores, not enough hoofs.

Hopefully come Wednesday I can change the badge on my coat to the one I got on my birthday a couple of years ago that says "I'm horny".

I would be interested in your thoughts and in the meantime I leave you with a song from the good old days of Division 3 football.

To the tune of Common People by Pulp,

He came from Rochdale with a lack of knowledge
He studied management at Bradford College
That's where I, caught his eye
He told me that he was a manager
I said: `In that case you'd better come and manage us'
He said: `Fine'
And then, in three seasons' time
He said: `I want to take you to the Vauxhall Conference
I want to do whatever Halifax do
I want to sign lots of crap old players
I want to watch this club slide out of view
And hoof, and hoof and hoof
Because there's nothing left to do