And So It Continues!

I’m stressed today, so-o-o stressed. I wasn’t stressed, well, no more than normal life levels of stress. I got up reasonably chipper, I’d slept okay for me, the sun was shining, and I had a fairly light day chore wise. Then an email dropped into my inbox from Green, my old energy supplier.

Regular readers will know all the problems I have been having with them. The ridiculously high bills, the lies, the falsification of information on my account, the ludicrous claims to be taking readings from mythical smart meters… Anyway, I thought it was all sorted. I had changed to Octopus Energy who seemed more honest and transparent in their dealings. I had given my final meter readings to both Green and Octopus and they had both agreed to use them. I had even had an email from Green stating that once the final bill had been collected of £88 my direct debit would be cancelled.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle when I ended up paying both for the same four-week period. Now, I expected Green to take the £88 direct debit and even though I didn’t think I had used that amount of energy during four weeks of hot weather when neither my heating nor my tumble drier went on, so would probably be in credit to them, I didn’t hold out much hope of getting a refund from them. You all know what they’ve been like – very good at taking money that doesn’t belong to them, not so good at paying it back – but I was prepared to just let it go because, to be honest, it wasn’t worth the stress and the angst trying to recover it.

I was surprised that Octopus had taken £91.50 on the same date, because that was the day I changed to them, so they hadn’t supplied me with any energy at all and I was confused as to what this was payment for? Anyway, I dashed off a quick email to Octopus asking what was going on and checked my account on Green. Octopus eventually answered ten days later – so much for their promises to answer emails within one day – and told me that the money taken was to put some credit in my account, but that if I wanted, I didn’t have to pay in July but could use that credit instead.

My account on Green showed what I expected – that I was in credit by £62. But, as I said, I didn’t expect to get that refunded anytime soon. I mean, I would ask for it, but given their history, I wasn’t going to hold my breath.

Energy-wise, things seemed to have at last got back onto an even keel. Until this morning. This morning I received an email from Green stating that I owed them another £60!

Here we go again, I thought, even though I’ve left them they are still trying it on. So, according to Green, during the period from the 18th of May to the 14th of June – which were mostly hot and sunny days so no heating and washing being dried outside – they are claiming that I chewed my way through the £62 credit on my account, the £88 they took from my account, plus this extra £60 they are demanding! £210 in energy consumed in a tiny, terraced house occupied by two people in the summer. I don’t think so!

I can’t understand how they keep coming up with these ridiculous claims, and when I looked on my account on their website guess what … all my meter readings have been removed again and the fabricated readings from this mythical smart meter have been added. All together now … I DO NOT HAVE A SMART METER!

I was fuming. Is this never going to end? Did I make a habit of kicking puppies in my previous life that I deserve all this crap in this one? Off went a scorching email to Green telling them they are not getting another penny from me and demanding to know how 125 units of gas and 1231 units of electricity used can equate to £210 worth of energy! It can’t. There is no way they can justify this. Looking back at my meter readings and previous bills, this usage is one-third of that used in December but is three times the price I was charged for that month.

How are they allowed to operate like this? I’m so fed up with it and I told them so, threatening that unless they go away and leave me alone, I will be contacting Offgem on my next day off – Wednesday – and will be contacting Martin Lewis. Hopefully, this will make them back down but if not, I am fully prepared to go through with my promise.

I also emailed Octopus and gave them the meter readings and usage for the period and asked them how much this amount of energy consumed should cost?

I don’t expect to hear anything until next week because, of course, it’s Saturday, and none of these companies operates on a Saturday – which is another bugbear. I’m expected to work weekends, so are millions of other people in the UK, so why can’t they? After all, it’s the weekends when all those people who work Monday to Friday will be trying to get hold of them.

I then had a sudden thought and contacted my bank. The direct debit to Green that they claimed was now cancelled, was it? No, my bank told me, it was still very much alive so that meant they could take a payment for ANY AMOUNT THEY CHOSE from my bank account at any time! I told the bank the situation and they immediately cancelled the direct debit and put a block on Green being able to take any more money from my account without my express permission – which I am never going to give. But this shows that yet again they lied to me. They sent me an email claiming the direct debit was now inactive when it was very much alive.

So, that’s my stomach all churny and upset with stress and yet more of my precious time off eaten into because people simply can’t do their jobs properly.

What else has happened this week? Well, work, of course, Monday and Tuesday, but again they were very quiet days and I know my pay packet at the end of July is going to be slim. Wednesday was a busy day with lots of running around. It’s my dad’s birthday today, Happy Birthday Dad, so I rushed uptown to get his birthday presents. I had been reliably informed by my mother that he needed more jeans – so, of course, Marks & Spencer was the only place to go to get them.

And that’s another thing that always mildly annoys me, the fact that men can buy trousers specifically tailored to their waist and leg measurements. If you are male and have a 29” leg, then you can buy waist measurements in that leg length ranging from 28” all the way up to 42” and sometimes beyond. Same if you have a 32” leg or a 36” and so on. This is blatantly unfair to us girls because we only get clothes in small, medium, or large, or generic “fit all” sizes such as 10, 12, 14, 16 etc. So, if you need a size 16 to fit around your womanly hips – you only have one choice of leg length – and usually, manufacturers make them to fit women of 5’6” and taller. It’s only the smaller sizes like tens that are tailored for short girls, so if you’re a tall size ten around the hips you’ll find that most jeans are way too short for you.

This is so stupid. Why don’t trouser and jean manufacturers make them in differing hip and leg sizes? And don’t tell us you can’t because you already do it for men! As I would say women proportionately buy more clothes than men it seems bizarre that we are so restricted on the sizes we can buy. I wonder how men would feel if they were faced with the choice of buying trousers that were several inches too short for them or had to buy them and then try to turn them up themselves at home! We’re not all ace at dressmaking, you know, despite being women, and sometimes depending on the cut of the trousers it can ruin the look if you must hack five inches off the bottom and turn them up. And besides, why should we have to? If I’ve paid a lot of money for a pair of trousers then I’ll be buggered if I’m going to whip out my needle and thread and start altering them. I shouldn’t have to.

Of course, one or two places do try. Marks & Spencer at least offer short, regular, and long lengths in their trousers and jeans, but there’s never enough of the short and long on the racks and even when there is, I have found that I often fall between those categories – the short is slightly too short and the medium is slightly too long. Next offer the same but it’s rare you find them in store but instead have to go through the whole rigmarole of ordering them and then going back to the store to collect them, and now you can’t even try them on in-store to see if they fit, instead, you have to buy them, take them home, try them on, look in the mirror, cry, take them off and trudge despondently back to the shop to get a refund and start the whole process again. So much wasted time simply to find a pair of trousers that fit!

Town was crowded and it still makes me very uneasy having that amount of people around me. I wonder if I’ll ever get back into the mindset of being happy in crowds. I needed to buy a few essentials at Waitrose and Wilks, then carried on decoupaging until Miss F telephoned me to go and collect her and her friend from lunch.

A couple of weeks ago her best friend, Miss T, treated Miss F to lunch at the pub where Miss T works part-time and Miss F wanted to return the favour, so had booked them a table for lunch on Wednesday at the restaurant where Miss F works. They caught the bus out, but I’d offered to go and collect them, so pulled on my shoes when the call came at 1:45 and drove the twenty minutes to the restaurant. The route is along country lanes and passes through several small villages and usually, other than the odd car, I don’t see any sign of life. I was taken aback, therefore, when I turned a corner to find people all over the road with cars pulled up onto the verges. Slowing, I watched as several people crossed the road to a nearby fenced-in field where there were many others all with cameras set up on tripods and binoculars hanging about their necks.

Twitchers, I thought! A rare bird of some kind must have been spotted in that field. Driving carefully, because seriously, these gormless idiots were all over the road and I didn’t want to hit one, I still only just avoided a large, red-faced man, who was panting and sweating his way along the roadside.

I reached the restaurant where the girls were waiting, they got in and we drove back. I told them to look out for the twitchers and then to my great amusement, I saw the same red-faced individual hurrying back the way he’d come because a police car had pulled up behind his car which was abandoned at a crazy angle in a driveway, and the officer was busy issuing him a ticket. I felt sorry for the poor bird, I mean, here he was, trying to live his life and raise a family, and suddenly all these idiots are taking pictures of him. I’d have flown away if I were the bird!

Back home, the girls switched to sleepover mode and PJs, snacks, drinks, and Netflix was the main criteria for the rest of their day, so I went back down into the basement and continued decoupaging until I ran out of glue. By that time, it was almost 6pm, I realised I was famished and that I’m too old for kneeling for long periods of time anymore, so I called it a day and cooked myself some dinner.

Thursday was taken up with buying more glue, finishing the decoupaging, wrapping my dad’s presents, ironing, and general pootling about.

Friday I was supposed to be visiting a friend for lunch, but sadly she had a very bad reaction from her second Corona jab so had to raincheck. So, instead, I began the varnishing on the decoupaged items. And I know you’re all dying to see how I’m doing so below are some photos. Bear in mind, they’re not finished yet, I still have many coats of varnish to apply, but it gives you a general idea of how it’s going. I’m quite pleased with how they’ve turned out so far.

Take one desk
One table
And one tray and lightly sand them down
start layering them with scraps of wallpaper
legs are fiddly
The tray is the hardest thing to do
When it’s covered start varnishing

I will post pictures of the finished items next week – if I get all the layers of varnish on.

As I wasn’t going to my friend’s, we were able to go to my parents in the morning, instead of when I got back, which was the original plan. Dad liked his presents from me. As well as the jeans I had also bought him a new, dark blue baseball cap to play golf in, and a bottle of artisan mild beer. Miss F had bought him a hamper with his bodyweight of dark chocolate in. I kid you not, this box was full of dark, delicious goodies all designed to give any dark chocolate lover chronic diabetes.

Whilst we were there, dad looked at the levels in my car. The oil was fine, the water needed a bit of a top-up, as did the screen wash, then he looked at my tyres and sucked in his breath. The front two are very worn, he told me. We looked at the spare tyre in the boot. It was brand new so could replace one of the front tyres and the best of them could become the spare, but that still left a new tyre to be purchased and put on before the 7th of July when we have a 300-mile round trip to visit Miss F’s university.

Bugger, I thought, but it is what it is. We came home and Miss F had some lunch before rushing off to catch the bus to work as she was on the 5pm to 10pm shift. I got another coat of varnish on, did some tidying up, and then cooked and ate my dinner. I decided to call around the next day to get quotes from the various tyre places in town and see what the best deal was. It shouldn’t be too bad, I thought, maybe £40. BUT later that evening when I went to collect Miss F from work, I noticed a mysterious loud rattling coming from the general direction of the engine. I turned the radio down and listened. Yep, a scary rattle. It wasn’t all the time but seemed to be when I cornered.

When I got to the restaurant and Miss F came out, I asked her to listen as I turned around in the car park. It’s a loud rattle, she said, clambering into the car, what do you think it is? Answer, I have no bloody idea, but knowing my luck and how this year has been going so far, it’s bound to be something expensive.

So now rather than simply take the car into a tyre replacement shop, I need to contact my mechanic and ask them to look at the car and they might as well do the tyres as well, but OF COURSE, they’re not open at the weekends so it will have to wait until Monday morning now.

Why is it all the major crises in my life happen on a Saturday when no bugger is open?!

Anyway, nowt I can do about it over the weekend but put it out of my head and pray it’s not too serious and not too expensive to fix.

This evening, Miss F and I are going to see a live performance put on by a fellow local author, actress and playwright. It’s table seating so we have a table for two booked and it starts at 7:30. I’ve read the book, which was adapted from the play, so I’ll be interested to see how the play compares. It’s called The Seventh Train and is based in train stations around East Anglia. I have very mixed feelings about being around strangers after so long in isolation, but it sounds like it’s been very well organised so it should be fine.

So, I need to go and apply another coat of varnish and make something for us to have for dinner before we go. Take care of yourselves, wherever you are, and I look forward to chatting with you again next week.

Julia Blake

2 thoughts on “And So It Continues!

  1. Glad you thought to call your bank and put a stop to Green being able to access your account! So wrong. And so utterly failing in their responsibility to their customers. Some clients might be taken advantage of and not realize it’s happening. Your charge was so blazingly ridiculous and you don’t even have a smart meter. I hope Octopus works better for you. And I hope your car repairs won’t be expensive .

    The decoupage is coming out nicely! I love the papers you chose and how you designed it all on the pieces shown. It should be very beautiful when it’s done. You can share some pictures of it all set up.

    Sorry your lunch date was cancelled, but it gave you more time to see your parents for your dad’s birthday without being as rushed. I’m sure he was pleased with all those gifts. Your shopping did seem a bit stressful a d I see your point on sizes available.

    And I’m glad you got to enjoy a live show. Can’t wait to do that again. I love theater.

    Your trip with Ms. F to her university is coming up fast. I hope you both have a wonderful time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, we are both really looking forward to going away even if it is just for a day or so. I will of course take pictures and next week’s blog will be all about our road trip. The decoupaging is almost finished now. A couple more coats of varnish and it will be complete – pictures will be taken.


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