Archive for the 'Rants' Category

Brexit Shambles

Goodness me, it is nearly the end of 2016 and I have not updated my blog a single time this year. 2016 started off with some celebrity deaths, David Bowie being the most notable one, and it seems to have been a dark year in many respects. The darkest event being for me, Brexit.

No one in Britain can miss the disaster that has been Brexit. I remember it clearly, it was the morning of the 24th June, I was in Copenhagen Denmark and I was with a friend at a rock festival those days. We had been out the night before at the festival, and stayed up until 3am Danish time watching BBC. My friend who worked for a bank had already been called to work at 6am local time weeks before the result was going to be out to handle the uncertainty of the result. At 3am it was already looking perilously close and I could not seriously believe what I was seeing. I went to bed and woke up at 7am, I swiped the news section of my iPhone, and I was aghast at what I saw. We had actually decided to leave the European Union. This seemed like a scene from a horror movie, but this was for real!

I honestly still can’t believe that Brexit has happened. London and Scotland were the only regions in the UK that overwhelmingly voted remain. It was an issue that divided families, cities, regions, age brackets and more. My borough in London, Hackney voted around 80% in favour of remain. I was living in a bubble.

When I got my British citizenship back in 2011, I was so incredibly happy to be able to freely travel in Europe. Before that I had to get a visa for every country I visited. But not only that, Europe had a lot of meaning to me, my first girlfriend was Spanish. I visited Denmark when I was at school, I had French room-mates in my first year, I had a Swedish bandmate, and later two Polish bandmates in DonkeyBox. Europe has been intimately linked with life for me, and to lose it like this feels like a massive loss, with a sense of emptiness I can’t put in words.

I regret that I was living in a bubble, and wish somehow I could have convinced more people to have voted remain. I barely knew 2 or 3 people who were going to vote leave anyway. I saw a tweet the next day, which to me perhaps at best explains what might have happend, it simply said “The British are bl**dy minded, and won’t be told what to do”. Well, it seems enough of us were exactly that. I am so disappointed with the 52%. The only way I can express my frustration is through one of my band songs called “Out of Power“.

How do I know you don’t get it?

Look it is Monday today I am still hangover and tired from yesterday, please don’t make this difficult for me…and most of you guys are in the wrong class anyway, why don’t you *tell* me when you don’t get something so I am not wasting my time…

..are pretty much the words I heard from the salsa dance instructor at my class. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Really, I mean we were paying *him* to get his hangover and then he was having a go at all of us for being bad students!

As he ranted on, we all quietly knew what the problem was.

About half an hour ago before the dance class I was taking a class myself…albeit in Maths. I had a one to one tuition session with a child. Children often can’t, don’t know, or don’t want to tell the teacher when they don’t get something. But hey, adults are no different when it comes to this!

The skilled teacher already knows this and has much better ways of gauging who “gets” what…and that’s where so much of the skill in teaching lies, figuring out what is going in and what is not.

Not by slamming students in front of everyone!

In a group situation it is pretty hard to be the first one to stand up and say “yup, I am the fool here”. But often that is the most important thing to do…for everyone’s sake. But most times that is just not going to happen and the teacher has to develop other measurement tactics.

Skilled teachers are rare, we all know that by now. So if it hard to find really great teachers for school stuff then with salsa teaching and dancing a totally underground and unregulated scene it is even harder to find great teachers for that too.

And that is the lesson I learnt in my class….that being… not to go back to that class again. Time to move on and try out a few more classes until I find at least a teacher who is teaching it as a passion. And yes, this was a rant. What can I say….as a tutor I have become rather critical 🙂

Can I help you? Well the answer is not really.

I popped into my local library on the way back from work. As you would expect it is a council run library in London. It offers quite a few good services, including free internet and a great collection of fairly up to date books.

I went looking for a CSS book to help me with webdesign and instead found Seth Godin’s “All Marketers are Liars”. I was well chuffed 🙂

So I went to check that in and it turned out I had an overdue fine, do’h! Fair enough…so I paid my £2.52 of debt. On the way out I started looking at some notices on the board and read one that said something along the lines of…

“Book amnesty, encouraging you to use the library, forgiving all fines if you return your books on 5th/6th/7th March”

I checked the date and….hey!, wait a minute, I just paid a fine here. This ain’t right. So I mentioned to a staff member that I just paid a fine and the board said I shouldn’t. I asked for a refund but they were hesitant on providing one. It was clear that providing a refund messed with the system.

They had no reason to say yes to the customer. Exactly the thing Seth mentioned in his Looking for Yes blog article. They were looking for an easy no (I can help you but it will be difficult for me) rather than a yes (I will help you even if it is difficult because I care for you the customer).

And I wasn’t even asking for anything big, just for them to be consistent with themselves.

Luton Airport Blunder – A Crap Day

Nostalgia

Friday 12th December 2008 was quite something and I was depressed for a while because of it. Maybe it was the nostalgia of going back to Budapest, a city I had long said goodbye to and would have found difficult to connect to again after 3 years, nonetheless it was important to go back as it was important for the family to pay homage to the place where I lost my father so suddenly exactly 3 years ago.

My last trip flight to Budapest was full of anxiety wondering what state my dad was in and fearing the worst…which happened for real. So I certainly wasn’t looking to re-create that emergency trip I made. But I guess we all have to face our ghosts..

Blunder No. 1

..The real bummer was the double blunder that happened even before me and the family were to board the plane this time. First we missed our 8.10am flight to Budapest. We were always going to struggle a bit since we live in Leytonstone, a fair way east. We missed the tube to Kings X, the train from Kings X to Luton had taken 50 mins instead of our planned 20 mins and the station-airport coach waited for ages. By the time we made it to the airport we were late by 10 mins and the check-in was shut. I was gob smacked and really had no way to react! I’ve travelled all over the world since I was 6 months old and this was the first time we missed a flight……ever. I could hardly believe we messed this one up…but these things happen. So we spent another £50 per person for the next flight due out at 8.00pm. This gave us about 12 hours to kill at Luton airport. I had taken the Friday off work which I was now spending at Luton airport.

Blunder No. 2

airport-security1After our long wait that included Luton airport breakfast, lunch and dinner we were finally on our way. We got through to security check and got to the point where we had to put our worldly belongings on to the x-ray machine and take our shoes/belts off. I had just got a phone call from Tina and hurriedly ended the call as I explained to her I was going to be frisked any second! I had put everything including my jacket, rucksack and keys etc in that little box that went into the x-ray machine. But I still had my phone in my pocket..

…As I got frisked my frisker asked for my phone and gave it to someone else as far as I gathered. I got checked and then joined the rest of my family and picked up my jacket + rucksack and little things in the box. I had no idea where my phone was though? The guy surely put in the mini box or just on the conveyor, I had no idea! I looked around for it…looked back and saw everyone putting on their shoes, jackets and picking up their own phones, one after another..but my phone was not in there.

sonyphone

They don’t care (they don’t have to)

I asked my checker what he did with my phone? He didn’t seem the least bit concerned, and was even a bit annoyed that I was hassling him! Wtf???? He lost my phone ffs! I asked him again after 5 mins and he told me to ask the people at both security conveyor belts either side of me to check if they have anything reported. I waited and asked…no phone. I had a really bad feeling about this and I was right…that phone was not going to be found.

In the meantime I kept calling my phone from my brother’s phone…but it was on silent and it kept ringing and ringing. If someone had stolen it they would have been pretty p*ssed off and would have shut the phone. So clearly it wasn’t stolen per se..Luckily the staff at the side were a little bit more helpful, they told me to wait a bit more. One guy even called my phone from his personal mobile and someone picked the phone up, wohooooooooo! But guess what…it was a little kid’s sound on the phone….the kid didn’t even know how to hang up the phone and as the guy shouted on the phone to get its attention nothing happened. So we had to hang up. Tactic now was to wait another  30 mins before the kids parents would realise and return the phone to lost property.

30mins pass…Luton airport has no procedure or reporting process to record lost property..they have a number I can dial on working days (It’s Friday night so that’s out). Instead they advised me to phone the police and report it lost so at least I can make an insurance claim. The police is having none of it, it doesn’t recognise a phone to be lost until I have lost it for at least 2 days. I have no choice but to call 3 my phone network and get the SIM card and phone disabled.

So let’s see how Luton Airport messed it up….they treat all passengers as suspects, get baggage x-rayed, get people thoroughly checked and when it comes to our property they treat it like dirt. Clearly the guy placed the phone on its own on the conveyor belt. A lone phone is far more tempting to a little child to pick up than a phone inside one of those plastic boxes. Not only did they not take responsibility for my phone loss but the guy checking me had no sympathy or offered much help for me to trace it.

But why am I picking on Luton Airport? Aren’t all airport security experiences like that then? Actually Budapest airport were a hell of a lot more professional! I mean they had a strike there which meant that they were heavily understaffed and flights were well late…but their security were tops, they had someone making sure all the right things are placed on the tray and were very courteous towards the belongings of every passenger.  Luton airport on the other hand probably had 10 times as much staff…it’s when I passed back through Budapest I realised what a bobo Luton had made.

Poor show Luton airport security staff…very poor show. I will be writing to you, let’s see what you do about it.