David David for today is the day, Nineteen years ago my parents did say, Jonathan we have someone else to join us from now on, A little boy, a brother, a son. For today is your birthday – nineteen years ago, So I have written a little poem – I thought you should know. Over six feet tall you are bigger than me, With feet over size 12 – they should belong to a yeti. For this very reason your birthday present would not fit, However do not fret as I have you another little gift. I take my virtual hat off to you as you have not turned sad, By remaining at home for another year with your parents, and not yet gone mad! So from this little boy that followed me around, You have grown into this big brother whom speaks his mind aloud. That is not a bad thing as you have a heart of pure gold, Something that you will have until you are 120 years old. This is the fifth stanza whereas others have only had four, But don’t tell our darling sister as she will want more. Your poem is longer because you are older and comic timing is candid I understand you more – apart from your obsession with Manchester United. Ive run out of things to say and you want to sit on the sofa, Is it to watch the lamp that is made out of lava? So with that I shall write this the penultimate line, Of your nineteenth birthday rhyme.
Normally my film reviews are balanced, or at least give an in-depth reason as to why I either like or dislike a film; in this case its going to be brief, mainly because after 30 minutes I had resided to tweeting on my phone. Well that was until 25 minutes prior to the end when my iPhone battery had died. What was wrong with it? Well firstly Robert Downey Jr, cards on the table, im not his biggest fan, in-fact I wouldn’t even say I was a member of his fan club. He was good in Iron Man but that was about it. His monotone voice coupled with a botox-esk acting face was in my opinion something that was an insult to the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Whilst Robert was good in Iron Man playing a wealthy American inventor, I don’t think his acting skills are best suited to that of playing an eccentric British detective. The acting wasn’t all terrible, Jude Law gave a very convincing portrayal of Dr. John Watson who is embarrassed at the actions of Holmes; I have yet to work out if this was genuine acting by Law, or whether he was genuinely embarrassed by Roberts performance. There was also a smattering of an appearance from Stephen Fry, however sadly he was only on screen for a few moments at a time, and so wasn’t able to distract me from the on screen personnel. The story also contained a certain level of action sequences, come to think of it the first 15 minutes or so gave way to fighting and chase sequences, with most stunts carried out I believe by the actors themselves. This would have been good if you could actually have seen what was happening. The camera movement was such that if you shook your head side to side quick enough and gave yourself a headache whilst looking at a wall – this is the effect that you were given. Was there anything which I like about it? Well to my surprise there was. As I was tweeting away on my phone, the soundtrack kept me entertained (even though it was ruined by Robert’s attempt of a British accent). Hanz Zimmer who has composed music for films such as The Da Vinci Code, The Rock, Pearl Harbour and Gladiator has done it again. His work is simply breathtaking on its own, and even though the film was not the strongest, the soundtrack was first class. So to sum it up. Yes I did only watch the first 30 minutes, and the last 25 minutes however from a 128 minute film, the 43% of what I did watch wasn’t my cup of tea at all. The lead actor was awful. The action was unfocusable thanks to camera movements that resembled an first person shooter PS3 game, and the humour was scarce and unfunny. Would I watch it again, no, would I download the soundtrack, maybe.
Following on from my post about Play.com’s customer service from couple of weeks ago. I thought that I would firstly update you on the progress of that complaint, and then inform you of a new issue that had arisen. Problem One Update: Firstly let me update you with the first problem I had with Play.com – me having to spend a small fortune to authorise a credit card to be used to purchase an item. It was apparent that the email I had sent wasn’t going to have the desired effect, as neither the CEO or one of his representatives emailed me back so instead decided to leave it rest for a few days then give them a ring. Two days later (the 8/12/11) was the day where I would pick up the phone and refuse to lose. To my surprise the phone was answered within five minutes by a representative (whom we shall call Kim). She took the details of the complaint and asked what I wanted, I referred to the email which I had sent in, and explained the cost of the call (£10.20), the cost for me to remain on hold for 50 minutes (£20.83). It was clear by her tone of voice that she was ‘first line’ support and so had no authority to authorise anything, and so promptly put me on hold (for a further 4 minutes) whilst she spoke to her supervisor. Let us call representative two Lynne; she was in my opinion the body guard for the decision makers, as she understood my complaint and stated that due to the fact that it was a very busy time of year waiting time was to be longer. I then put to her what she would consider to be an excessive wait on the phone and she declined to answer that, probably as it would have been significantly less than the amount of time I had to endure. Realising that whilst Lynne understood my complaint however was unwilling to help was in fact getting me nowhere bar bringing on a small nosebleed I decided to ask to speak to someone else. I was put on hold for a further ten minutes waiting for supervisor three to come on, we shall call him Tim. Tim came on the phone, and was a breath of fresh air; he had a positive tone of voice, and asked me to give him the details of the case as he wanted to be sure that he had the story ‘from the horses mouth’. Something which would have normally wound me up, however as Tim did have the basic facts this did not take long. Tim then asked for my number for him to call me back on so that I would avoid any further charges from O2. Within a few moments of me hanging up my phone rang with Tim being on the other end, he asked me what I wanted and so referred him to my previous email. He agreed to refund me £20.40 for the cost of the phone calls, and give me a £30 credit voucher. Its true that I didn’t ask for a credit voucher in my original complaint, however the total sum of compensation was significantly higher than I asked for so on this occasion I would let it go. Tim promptly followed this up with a confirmation email with his direct dial, informing me that rather than wait in future if there is a cue, to give him a call, something that hoped I wouldn’t have to do, but after yesterdays performance realised I would. So problem one has been resolved. Problem Two: Yesterday I began to wrap my brothers present for the festive season. It was an item of clothing and whilst I ordered the correct size, the wrong size has been dispatched, and all sizes of said clothing had been removed from the website. ‘Oh great’ I thought, only a few days till the big day and a present that won’t fit, not to mention that even if I did order something it probably wouldn’t arrive – what on earth would I do? I decided to give Play.com customer support a ring, hopefully the amount of time for them to answer the phone wouldn’t be this long this time; well it would have been if I had let it. After the first 30 minutes I gave up and decided to ring Tim, as I rang after 6 he was out of the office and so left a voicemail, and continued for a further 15 minutes trying to get through to customer support, after which I had enough. Rather than spend my life savings on phone calls to Play.com I sent off an email to Tim, in hope that he would receive it and give me a phone call in an attempt to put this right. If I haven’t heard from him by 12 today, I will give him a ring and see what he suggests. As far as things go I have managed to find a present from Amazon and paid for next day delivery so it should (please g0d) arrive before the big day. For the time being I have given up on Play.com, I will be sure to update you on what the outcome was, but for now, I am not impressed to say the least!
My darling sister it is now the time, Where I put key to keyboard and write you a rhyme. Why am I doing this, I really don’t know, Perhaps its because you’re my favourite little sister and I love you so. Fifteen years old, where has the time gone? It seems like yesterday you were only one! A voice and opinion are assets you have – as well as many others, Believe me its one of your strongest – but not to be used on your brothers! Very tall, long hair and with a wardrobe full of clothes, You always keep your emotions in check and never lets them blow. The truth is I am very proud of you – I hope you can see, Even though you probably won’t want to admit it, you are just like me. Strong willed, loud voice, never wrong are qualities we both share, Qualities that we won’t admit are that we always care. I have run out of ‘permissible’ things that I can put on this post. You are my favourite sister, and I love you the most.
For several years now, clay pigeon shooting has always been something that I have wanted to do; and thanks to my loving mother giving my brother, father and myself (AKA the men of the household) a 50 shot experience for Chanukah, yesterday was the day where we got to play with some guns. The shooting range wasn’t too far from our home, and so after a short 15 minute drive (it would have only been 10 minutes if it were property signposted) we arrived to the noise of guns being fired. As we arrived in plenty of time, this gave David, the perfect opportunity to talk to a dog with an Irish accent as we waited patiently for our turn. The first thing you notice about holding a shotgun is that it is rather heavy. We were told that these guns weigh just over 4kg (9 Pounds in old money), which in itself isn’t a lot, but when you consider your arm is outstretched, and this weight is pushing down on the tip of your fingers, you start to appreciate how heavy 4kg really is. Very brief safety talk over, and David was the first to take aim and fire, (as you can see by the pictures below) his face was quite a picture when he first pulled the trigger, not knowing what to expect. He managed to hit a few clays before it was dads turn. Naturally dad knew what to do (thanks to target practice in our back garden several years earlier) and so wasn’t quite as nervous as David and I were, and he to managed to hit some clays. Then it was my turn, being the only right handed member of the party, I felt I had something to prove; however from watching both David’s and Dad’s attempts a few moments prior to taking up my stance, it was clear that it was not as easy as the professionals make it look. With the gun loaded in my hand, and not knowing what level of kick back was to be expected I held on to dear life and said the all important words ‘pull’ (a cue for the trap boy to fire the clay). Ill be honest, I didn’t hit the first clay, or indeed the second, but I did manage to fire the gun, which I suppose now qualifies me to be a bank robber. After the time went by the three of us managed to hit a few clays each, which out of fifty each was bound to happen. The main thing was that we enjoyed ourselves and had fun. Yes we didn’t master the skill of shooting, but what do you expect, we were complete beginners, and so hitting any target hundreds of meters away, the size of an ash tray, travelling at over 25mph (whether or not it was down to pure luck) was quite an achievement. As I write this blog post a day later, with my arm only aching a small amount and contemplating would I do it again; yes I probably would. It is an expensive hobby, however many years from now I can see it being one that I will enjoy, provided that I am good at it. If I don’t improve, then I suppose I will have to find another hobby for me to enjoy into retirement!
And so the eighth series of The X Factor comes to an end, the question on everyones mind is will it return again next year? Personally I think that The X Factor aired one more series than was necessary, and that it should have quit whilst it was ahead last year and that changing of all the judges (bar Louis) was perhaps the final nail in the coffin of controversy that shrouded Simon Cowells creation of a talent show. As with many viewers of this program I begun to watch The X Factor with some hesitance when it was first aired back in 2004, however by the time the second series aired the following year we had already forgotten who the winner, Steve Brookstein was, and instead tuned in to watch the never ending list of no-hopers parade themselves across the stage, closely followed by witty and humorous comments from the judges. Come to think whilst each year there has been a winner, who has usually won the Christmas number one, a few weeks later they have disappeared into the pages of history. It is usually the case that those who have come second or third do better than those who win. For example JLS have had more records released than Alexandra Burke, and I challenge anyone to state that the winner of series 7, Matt Cardle has done better than boy band One Direction. I can’t but help wonder why do those who come second or third do better than the winners? Surely the if the public were to vote for those they wanted to win, than their songs would do better than their competition? That aside, whilst my viewing of last years X Factor was lower than previous years, I did still watch it; however I boycotted the Xtra Factor with the terrible host Konnie Huq; the only presenter/act who caused me to feel sorry for the producers for what was being broadcast. This year I boycott the whole thing. When thinking as to why I honestly think that it was due to Simon’s absence; even tho he was usually rude and almost always blunt – he was the only judge that spoke the truth. The others defended indefensible acts (Wagner as an example), and his one liners were something that occasional was worth a channel hop over to see. With the public last year trying desperately to prevent an X Factor hit becoming a Christmas number one, it is my opinion that Simon knew this format was beginning to lose its appeal, and perhaps this was his reason for trying his luck on the American market. Viewing figures are down considerably from previous years, and perhaps this year no action will be required to rid the winners single from the Christmas charts. The question remains as to whether The X Factor will return for another series? We don’t know if Simon has signed a ‘Golden Handcuffs Deal’ with ITV and so they will be obliged to produce the program for further years to come – however with growing controversy over the new judging panel, standard of the acts, and increasing popularity of other programs; I think there is a serious chance that this year of The X Factor will be the last time they face the music.
Studying EU Law at university as one of my modules, it is quite exciting that we are in the middle of such developments with regards to the Euro Zone. It is true that I can’t help but think all this work (and indeed pain) that comes with studying EU Law will be for nothing if the European Union begins to collapse. Personally I am not a huge fan of the EU, the very fact that it costs the UK taxpayer over £50m each day is perhaps one of the biggest reasons. Whilst we do get free trade as being part of the EU, some countries are prevued to this agreement however have not signed away their powers to the EU and costing the this amount in the process. The Euro was the first single currency that aimed to unite and bring those member states of the EU closer, encouraging international trade further by abolishing currency conversation rates and further limiting trade restrictions – however this has since been called into question. With several of the Eurozone countries in serious economic difficulty, the cost of all EU member states to keep this single currency has increased from hundreds of millions to billions. The EU in my opinion has always been a charity project, taking money from the richer states, and giving it in the form of CAP and other benefits to less economically stable. Whilst philanthropical activities are encouraged, it is my view that this should be determined on an individual basis, and not burdened on the tax payer as a whole under the vial of it being a treaty. Gordon Brown, quite rightly decided to keep Britain out of the Euro, and over the past several hours David Cameron has stated that he will not back any Euro bailout plan that does not protect the UK; and whilst I fully support the action taken by David Cameron, this lack of willingness to support the Euro, which is in affect the EU’s baby – has cast doubt on the strength of the EU as a whole. The EU was created in the time of war, in an attempt to bring countries closer together; however the economic crisis has had the opposite affect. Countries who have taken risks financially are having to depend on those who have not in order to bale them out – which has caused outrage for those countries footing the bill for other members recklessness. It is the case that in most cases, those who are bailing others out are also in financial trouble, so bailing others is likely to put them in difficulty. If the Euro is to collapse either entirely, or reformed but with fewer more stable countries this will be the first part of dismantling the EU, after all, if states have had enough of supporting the currency, what hope does the Commission have to implement further changes? The controversy that the Euro bailout has caused, does cast doubt on the effectiveness of the EU as a whole, as it has proven that unity may good upto a point, however expecting others to consistently pay for the risks you have taken is a liberty that takes generosity too far.
The wealth of consumer complaints programs both on TV and Radio, coupled with recent life experiences have perhaps made clear to me the lack of willingness for members of the public, in what ever walk in life to take a stand in what they truly believe in. Yes I am aware that industrial action over the past few months and years has increased, however with the last display of public strikes (whom the majority were teachers) only ¼ of those eligible to strike actually took part, with the remainder choosing to cross the picket line. Whether you agree with the method of striking politically, the very fact that it has become accepted that when ever the ‘ordinary’ person is to enter into a battle, in order for them to proceed they have to be 100% certain that they are going to win. Personally I think this is wrong. No matter what situation you come up against in life you can never be 100% certain of the outcome, and with the case of political debates, there will almost certainly be an expert who knows more on a given topic than yourself; so why bother? The reason why you should bother is because large companies, bosses, teachers, politicians all expect you to back down; they know that you either don’t have the time and energy to continue fighting your corner, and so will eventually back down. If this is the case, you may as well firstly not have taken up the complaint in the first place, and secondly just put the welcome mat on the floor and ask them to walk all over you. It is true, that in todays world that we do have less time, energy (and in some cases funding) to continue to fight what we believe is right – so we turn to unions for support. The aim of unions is that one voice is quiet, where as a union of hundreds of voices carries a lot more oomph, and the threat of any action carries a lot more weight behind it. However unions can not do the work for you. Unions are there to assist you in getting your point across, not to do all the work for you. In the case of trade unions – the threat of striking is useless of no-one acts upon it; in the case of student union the threat of taking something further is pointless if people don’t stand behind it; and in the case of the work place, the threat of going above your line managers head and taking it to the MD is pointless unless the support is behind you to do so. So where am I going with this? Firstly society as a whole needs to start standing up for what they rightfully believe in, accept that you may not win all the battles you choose to fight; the person you are standing up against depends on your self doubt for you to back down. Secondly refuse to give up at the first hurdle; in the case of making a complaint to a company don’t give up when the first person you speak to says no. Ask to speak to someone else who is more senior, and if required call back on a different occasion. Thirdly don’t expect unions to do all the work for you. Yes they are there to help you, but they are not there to do all the work for you. Why should a union put their money/public image at risk, if you are not happy to assist them in fighting your corner? If you’re not happy to get your hands dirty, you will never end up winning.
Following ordering a product from Play.com I received an email asking me to phone in to verify my account for security reasons; not a problem as it is for my benefit. What is not for my benefit is being on hold for 50+ min on an 0845 number (costing me 20.4p) a min to sort this out. The full phone call cost over a third of what the product cost me! This means war! The saga continues…