Tag Archives: traffic

Tha’ll be maunderin’ an’ maulin’ ’bout

I’ve got a couple of the bits and pieces coming through now to sort stuff out – namely, the motorbike and Jake’s school. I’d sent letters (it’s much easier to write in French than it is to come up with the right words when talking. I might pretend I’m mute) to the CCM importers in France, and to the Mairie, expecting bureaucracy, but not getting any. Harry, the guy from CCM Europa, doesn’t even work with CCM any more, but still faxed on my letter back to (ironiquement!) Bolton where they’re made, to ask for the Certificat de Conformit√©… moments later, I had an email from both; Harry said my French was very good – of which I was proud! – and Rachel from CCM asked if I could tell her in English what I wanted. If anyone tells me about French bureaucracy, I shall shoot them, especially in light of what happened later…

I also sent a letter asking what we had to do to get Jake into school – I’ve received the appropriate forms this morning, and had a little worry that his feeble ‘short’ birth certificate wouldn’t be enough. It was back within 7 days, all sorted, all clear, as well as the details we need to get him into school.

Not so Bolton Council, who umm and ahhh about everything, don’t send you stuff, lie about what they have sent, send you the wrong stuff, shout at immigrants and old people and entitled people and anyone who’ll stop a moment. They have bizarre protocol for some things, and then none for other, more important things. Then we had Aviva, continuing to charge Steve for a van he’s not had since October 2008 – and (in my very quiet opinion) his own fault for not checking his bank statements, but they’d also been charging him breakdown cover on a car he’s not owned for over a year, and not really bothered, as long as the money comes to them.

I duly went out in search of a form Aviva said we needed to send to the DVLA. The DVLA agreed: the V888 was the form in question (nicely titled, to avoid confusion with other V documents!) and you could get it from any post office that sells car tax. Not so, it transpires. I went to Deane Road post office (yes, I’m naming and shaming you, because you’ve been rude to me twice, and the women at St Helen’s Road Spar post office and the lovely Asian man in Daubhill post office are much nicer than you!) and was met by this:

Me: I need a V888 form.

BW: we don’t have any

Me: but the DVLA said you do

BW: but we don’t

Me: what is a V888 form? Do you even know?

BW: I know we don’t have any.

Me: well, could you at least look??

BW: but we don’t have any

Me: but the DVLA said you are supposed to

BW: Well, we don’t.

Me: Do you know where I can get one from?

BW: maybe from Bolton Central post office.

Me: Bah. I curse you and your offspring, you bureaucratic weasel of the highest order. May the stamps you lick give you tongue cancer and may your tongue grow sores and cankers and fall out, thus rendering you speechless, which, surely to God is better than now.

* BW = bureaucratic Weasel. It’s a name I give to jobsworths who rely on paperwork to get out of stuff. Mainly, they use the Data Protection Act as their main shield from doing work, but there are others.

So…. to anyone who tries to tell me that French bureaucracy is bad, I shall point them in the direction of Deane Road post office and tell them to go in there. What a waste of oxygen that woman was.

Things I shan’t miss:

21. Bureaucratic weasels and the rudeness from them.

22. Unhelpfulness (though I’m sure that exists everywhere in the world!)

23. The drivers that block the roads when there’s a lot of traffic

24. Drivers who pull out into the road when there’s traffic and make everyone brake. Has the point of the single white solid line or the double dashed white line been forgotten????! It means STOP if it’s the former or GIVE WAY if it’s the latter. Why isn’t this common knowledge any more? Has someone shifted the meaning to be that people on the main road should stop or give way???!

25. Overcrowded supermarkets

26. People who stop in doorways. Likewise, I know they will exist in France, but population density dictates these will be fewer and further between. I would, at this point, like to tell a little tale about a fight Steve and I witnessed in a car park in E Leclerc in La Rochefoucauld…. the man had obviously nicked her spot – which was ridiculous because there were about 200 spaces and only 20 cars… so she had got out of her car, where it was, where she had stopped in a moment of righteous indignation, and she was following him into the supermarket, barracking him and threatening to take his hat. It was hilarious. I think this should happen more often in England, let alone in France.

27. Those huge headphones. Anti-iPod headphones. As big as satellite dishes. What’s the point? You aren’t djing in the middle of the day, and the sound quality of an mp3 is pants anyway, compared with ‘older’ technology. You look like a knob if you’re wearing them.

so… what is it that annoys me?

I was thinking I could do with a list of all the things with this bit of the world that hack me off (to be followed by a list of things I love and I’ll miss!)

  1. Potholes. Why are there so many??! Particularly the ones on Adelaide Street and the really, really deep one on Bury Road
  2. Drivers. Slow ones. Fast ones. Ones that cut you up
  3. People who stop too close behind me. What difference does 12 inches make if you stop that much further away from me? It MAKES me want to stall on purpose
  4. The learner driver route that clogs up Bridgeman St
  5. Traffic lights that aren’t in sync. England has too many of them, and too many of them where you have to stop at EVERY SINGLE set, wasting time and petrol!
  6. The grey sky
  7. The fact it’s nearly March and there are no signs of improving weather
  8. The fact the council spends a ridiculous amount on stupid things, and then not enough on important things
  9. Buses that don’t give you long enough to overtake when they pull in
  10. Tax. Fuel tax. I’ve paid income tax on my salary – any other tax is just stealth tax. I reckon actual costs are so minimal now and tax accounts for about 80% of the products we buy
  11. The way council operatives talk to you
  12. The extortionate amount credit card companies charge, without anyone stopping them and saying they’re being ridiculous
  13. Newspapers that feel forced to spin every single story and then can’t see the irony of accusing politicians of spin
  14. Miserable faces
  15. The dirty shades of clothing Britain feels like it should dress itself in
  16. Why all new building projects are in shades of brown and grey. I realise it would be ridiculous to build everything in white or colours, but it would make it a little less miserable if there was a smidgen of a pleasant colour about
  17. The nastiness of my yellowing grass
  18. Moss in my grass
  19. Poor timekeeping
  20. Cold calls, especially for anything you aren’t at all interested in…

I’m sure more things will appear on my list as time goes on.

And the things I shall miss?

  1. The hills around Manchester, especially when they’re snow-capped
  2. The Hark to Towler, a combination of pub, music venue and pirate ship
  3. Rock Radio – nothing like Steve Berry’s banter of a morning, and some rousing rock tunes to spice up the rush hour!
  4. Manchester-friendly people, who’ll chat with you just to pass the time
  5. Northern curry houses – our best import! Trishna’s fantastic house specials, and the lovely guy who brings them
  6. Home delivery and takeaway – not that we indulge regularly, but I’m sure I’ll miss it
  7. Burger King and all its delightful burgers
  8. Hot Dog vans and the smell of fried onions outside the town hall
  9. Bolton library – France just doesn’t do libraries like we do!
  10. Manchester and city living – Affleck’s Palace, Ancoats, King St South, Kendals, Selfridge’s, Heals and all the shops, Kurt Geiger and Mac makeup. Paris is still a long way away!

I’m wondering if you can take the girl out of Manchester, but not Manchester out of the girl? It’s made me gritty and hard-working and industrious; it’s made me ironic and sharp, sarcastic and sardonic; it’s made me ‘mad fer it’ and it’s made me know how to celebrate. It’s all Buzzcocks and The Smiths, Joy Division and New Order, Happy Mondays, the Inspiral Carpets, The Stone Roses and Oasis. It’s made me all ‘fuck you’, but all full of self-swagger and insecurity. It’s my history, my roots. Dark nights at the International watching punk bands and pretty-boy metal, goth bands and thrash; cold winter nights on the locks, sitting outside, laughing and drinking in zero degrees without a coat; fantastic chinese, thai, greek, indian, bangladeshi and british food, and more too numerous to mention. It’s the Ritz on Monday night, and Dambusters. It’s Jilly’s and the Banshee, Band on the Wall and the Roadhouse. It’s the Hacienda and the Boardwalk, Sankey’s Soap and the Free Trade Hall. And Manchester has made me outspoken, concerned with social welfare; it’s the city of Marx and Engels, of suffrage and Peterloo, of trade unions and political radicalism. It’s a city of workers, lacking charm and sophistication. And it is me.

Can I reform sufficiently to leave this behind?

Il pluit chameaux et chevres

It’s November. It’s still pissing down. Flood warnings. Wind warnings. There’s not been a bright day for what feels like weeks. Misery and torment!

It’s not just the weather that’s pissed on my parade, England-wise; it’s a collection of everything else. Politics, taxes, education, housing, traffic, law…. In short, nothing there’s not a Cabinet position for.

It doesn’t seem long ago that British people were renowned for courtesy and politeness. Now, most people walk around looking at you as if they’d like to do nothing more than spit on you. The traffic is horrendous, and it gets worse, daily. I sit in traffic from 8:50, noticing how people cut out, cut lanes, don’t look. It’s as if cars are protective bubbles in which nothing else matters and utter selfishness is tantamount to good practice. Hence, you don’t stop at a double white-dashed line at a junction, unless the other person (me) on the main carriageway threatens not to slam on and let you in. Then you should let the nose of your car protrude a good foot over the line so as to make your indignation noticed, to make it impossible for any drivers to get past without swerving into oncoming traffic, and thus ensure you get your wish anyway. The white lines are all in the wrong places these days.

And to make it worse, none of the traffic lights seem to be synchronised sensibly. So…. let the flow of traffic stop at lights, to let a minor junction seep three or four cars into the road, then stop everyone at the next set, and so on. I can understand why I get stopped at the KFC junction, to hold us all together, but why, then, as the main ‘flow’ of traffic, do we then end up stopping at Tesco and then the turn-off to Bury? And when I get stopped at the main set on the A666, why, then, do I have to stop again moments after??? Do traffic planners not actually drive or do surveys of where traffic comes from???

So, what with the pulling out, the slow traffic lights, the people who double park, the people who park on double yellows…. the endless pelican crossings and stopping, starting, stopping, starting, the volume of traffic on the roads, the inconsiderate bus drivers who launch out after having stopped for two seconds, the lorry drivers who couldn’t care less about anything smaller than a tank, it pisses me off. Most right royally.

And then I get home to bills – extortionate bills – council tax reminders, gas and electric bills, super-inflated insurance, because nothing’s safe – only to settle down to read a paper, realise we’re being robbed blind by benefit fraud and politicians, that the sentences passed out to criminals are vastly disproportionate to the crime, that the country is plagued by hoodies and mini-terrorists who rule the suburbs, that the banks are frivolous, wasteful, over-paid wide-boys, that the politicians are so out of touch with reality that policy no longer reflects anything useful or relevant, that education is stuck in a rut to improve that it’s been in for at least the last 20 years, that public servants hear the same messages over and over again, and never change…. this is a selfish, selfish country and no mistake.

I don’t think most people are like that. I tend to think that most people are genuine and caring. That they would do as I did when a man had a vet bill for his cat’s euthanasia and pay it for him, that they’d let the knocked-over dog take their place in the queue for the vet, no matter how long it took, that they’d rescue a cat or lend their neighbour a hand. But they don’t. Maybe they’d like to, but they never do. This is the country of the onlooker, where only when it’s too late does someone offer to help. Houses get burgled, cars get stolen, and people watch on. So, if they’re not selfish, they’re petrified.

Yesterday, many hundreds of things pissed me off: the extortionate dentistry costs Р£85.00 for a five minute extraction??! Рthe terrible driving, the double parking, the selfishness of the general populace outside.

People live in a bubble. And I know I’m not the only one to think so. From the supermarket-wanderers who wander aimlessly with trolleys, blocking the aisles with trolleys and aimless, meandering surplus family members, to the people who pull out expecting the world to stop for them, people are blithely unaware of everyone around them. I don’t know how there aren’t more acts of street violence when people just wander so aimlessly and so self-absorbed. Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps I expect too much out of politeness and civil behaviour. All I know is that with the country so heavily overcrowded, it’s ten times worse, and it’s time to break free, as Freddie would say!

So… doom, gloom, selfishness, overcrowding…. can I scrape together the money for the house??!