29 June 2012

Lloyds Are the Winners

I have banked with four different places over the years and have left for various reasons with each of them.  For one reason or another, each bank had a fault which didn't work with the way I wanted to do things, so I always found myself looking for pastures new.  My latest change, 2 years ago now, was to the Lloyds TSB.

I have been one of thousands that have been affected by the almighty screw up with the RBS and the NatWest.  My firm bank with the RBS (I feel for not much longer) so hence my wages are directed from an RBS account.

I was due to be paid on the 22nd of this month and to my horror, not having since the news before I left the house, I arrived at the cash point to find a balance of £1.84.  My wage didn't turn up in my account until Tuesday 26th June, by which time I had missed two direct debits and three standing orders. 

I rang Lloyds to see how many charges I had incurred and what could be done.  To be honest, as with experience from banking institutions I was expecting heavy and multiple charges, applied with the line of "You'll have to take it up with the RBS".

I was however pleasantly surprised, on my first call to them (ever) I was greeted by a warm and friendly representative who practically bent over backwards to help me out and laid out my options for me.

After sorting my banking charges, without asking out he then proceeded to let me know how my account could be run better and therefore easier for me to manage and proceeded to arrange it all for me.

I came away from the phone call a lot happier than when I started it, with a better, more flexible account and any worries I had with regard to bank charges sorted out.  After dealing with either rude or unhelpful people for years with other banks, it is nice change to actually have a bank that helps!

26 June 2012

Bus Journeys

Up until 4 years ago I was your typical car driving commuter.  Blasting up and down the motorway every day was not a chore, it was something I loved doing.

Due to a combination of being moved to an office much closer to home, the lack of parking and an incident with my car, I made the transition of going to work on the bus.  I wasn’t happy about it in the least but was the best solution.

It wasn't a solution I was happy with, but the main reason was that my car or more worryingly myself, had been targeted by local thieves.  My car was broken into 10 times over the course of 2 months and by the end, combined with the move in work, the bus became the most viable option.

I have shared some of my tales of my bus journeys on Twitter before, but someone suggested that I share them on the blog.  So here's life on a bus journey.

You tend to get two types of drivers on the buses.  The first type are nice, friendly and safe.  The other type use the bus as an extension of their penis and think that they are the only thing on the road.  The type that drives too fast and brakes too hard.  Standing on a bus trying to balance is not fun when the bus driver slams on and you nearly go through the windscreen.

Then there is the devil child.  EVERY BUS HAS ONE.  He has been on my bus every morning.  I am not sure of the age, around 7 I think and, apologies to the “all children are wonderful” bunch, but he is the devil's spawn.  His mother has no control over him and the bus driver has had to bring control on more than one occasion.

He shouts at the top of his voice, climbs all over, sometimes over you, runs up and down the aisle, knocking over bags and running over people’s feet.  The latter being me one day, the day after I had a foot tattoo.  Considering he took half my skin off I feel practically saintly for the fact I only screamed blue murder.

Then you get the tea time drunks.  You see them getting on the bus, you smell the booze on them and pray that they don’t sit next to you.  Some can be funny, giving you a little story or having a joke with you.  Others are the ones who carry an open bottle in their pocket which upturns over your expensive work coat.

There are also the “HELLO I’M ON THE PHONE” types.  Everyone will occasionally get a phone call whilst on the bus but I try my best to keep my voice down and be unobtrusive.  Plus of course I don’t want to advertise my business to a packed bus of strangers.  Some seemingly delight however in talking loudly on the phone.  What they are doing that night, how many girls they are going to screw over the weekend, how much they deserve a pay rise all the while disclosing confidential work details....   


They say the bus users are helping to save the planet by using public transport and not a car.  In this particular case I say screw the planet, and give me a goddamn car!  I miss my car.....

19 June 2012

No Regrets

People sometimes ask me if I regret not going down the university degree route.  The honest answer is no.  I made my decision at that time, and if I could go back, change my mind and do things differently, I wouldn't.

After leaving school I ended up working at a local firm of solicitors as an "office junior".  For those unfamilar with the title, read coffee making, filing, running errands etc.  Whilst this general dogsbody job wasn't my ideal, it paid a wage and was something to tide me over until I decided on what I wanted to do.

The debate of whether to go to college was settled with the lure of regular money that, however little, was a temptation that my 16 year old self did not resist. 

Over the years I, thankfully, progressed from making the coffee up the scale, until I reached where I am today.  I am a legal secretary/PA for a senior partner in a large law firm.  Whilst my job isn't going to change the world or make me a lot of money, I'm happy.

I've put the time in over the years and whilst some may look at me and say "She's only a secretary", I don't mind what I am.  I have worked steadily and full time since the age of 16.  I've stayed with the same firm since 18 and have been with my boss from the time he qualified as a solicitor to now, a senior partner.

Do I wish I was in his shoes?  No.  He puts in long hours, has large responsibilities, and sees less of his family than he would like.  Me, I earn a decent (ish haha) amount, I work 40 hours but most importantly, I'm happy in my life.

I see people all the time, both strangers and people I know personally who have done the education route and are nowhere or not in their studied for career. 

In these days of unemployment and the scarcity of jobs in all sectors, being employed in a job that you have chosen and enjoy is a good thing, degree or not. 

18 June 2012

No Smoke Signals

Today is an anniversary for me.  It is exactly two months since I stopped smoking.

The journey has been much different to what I expected, both easy in parts as well as hard.  For the most part, determination has seen me through the weeks, along with much support from family, friends and Twitter.

Strangely, this past week has been one of the hardest I have had in terms of cravings.  My friend, who used to run smoking cessation classes, told me that this is the time when it can be the hardest.  When complacency creeps in and you believe that you have beaten the cravings.

That much is definately true.  After passing the six/seven week mark with hardly any cravings at all, I let my guard down and as such, the cravings have slipped back to a level that makes it hard once again.

But, now I have realised this, my determination is back in full force and I think it is time to read "The Easy Way to Quit" again, which helped me so much in the first place.  Never surrender!!

12 June 2012

A Bad Business Plan

Let’s say you had a product to sell.   You could sell this product, if advertised correctly to potentially 60 million people in your local area.

You are aware that around 70% of the public are known to be interested in your product.  You have had massive sales for a long period of time, but these days, people aren’t buying and your numbers have dropped dramatically.

Your regular buyers are now down to approximately 1 million per week.  A massive advertising campaign is needed to engage with the public again, bring them back to you, and your product.

The trouble is, you still remember the glory days when sales were great, the public hung on your every word and you had influence in every corner. You make a wrong decision,  sales plummet even further and the end may be near.

Sound familiar?  Try the Church of England who have today said that gay marriage is the one of worst threats in 500 years and will “redefine marriage” .  This is the Church of England which was created in order to allow King Henry VIII to be able to divorce one woman and marry another.  Redefining marriage is what they were created for.

England has evolved, as have it’s people.  There are now many races, cultures, religions and beliefs living and co-existing in England.  We have atheists, Christians, Muslims, Jews. We have straight people, gay people, transgender people, bisexuals……The list goes on and on.  We each have our own beliefs and opinions. 

I am a straight Atheist woman.  What the Church of England is saying quite frankly sickens me.  Archaic bigoted thinking has no place in the 21st century.  When members of your own religion, of which I have seen many today, are questioning and disputing what you say, it is time to re-evaluate and change, or suffer the consequences.