Young mover: Where are you moving to then?
Young mover: Why are you moving there?
Me: Because I like it there and it's easier for my work
YM: Where do you work then?
Me: For the EU
YM What's that then?
Me The European Union
YM: Never heard of it.
Well you can bemoan the state of British civic education. Or you can be thankful that he can't hate what he isn't aware of. Otherwise he would probably be voting for the British National Party.
Sorry about the slowdown in posting. In England I suffered from the weather (raining, thundering and hailstoning all the time) and dentistry (one extraction and one filling with another booked). As a result I spent quite a bit of time hibernating and reading novels, which makes a change.
Although previously I was not too impressed with Georgian dentistry (the one filling I had left me with a swollen jaw for a week, from the anaesthetic) after British dentistry I had the same swelling and pain not to mention the pain of a bill 4 times as big. No wonder I put off going to the dentist for 4 years in England.
Otherwise I can report on new restaurants in Cowley Road. The Santorini, a Greek restaurant recycled from a previously "lebanese-turkish" restaurant, where we had reasonable Greek food at 5pm (when most restaurants aren't usually open in Britain) and sat for a long and comfortable time as if we were in a Greek cafe, instead of being hassled out into the rain.
Bee and I decided to have a girlie cocktail on Saturday night as she was bored doing revision for A levels and I was bored with work. So we went to the recycled Cafe Tarifa which used to be the rather expensive and pointless Organic Burger Cafe. Cafe Tarifa doesn't really know what sort of a place it is, but it has sort of Moroccan decor. No cafe is allowed to have seating on the pavement (which is a bit narrow anyway), so we sat in the window, as the next best thing, as the it was one of those sliding folding jobs. This was one of the few dry days, but even that was spoilt when at 10pm or some really early hour, the cafe management were forced to close the windows to prevent noise escaping onto the pavement. Hello, this is the Cowley Road, people make noise on the pavement all the time.
So we retired to the garden which was tiny, completely full and making just as much noise for the people living in houses overlooking the garden. Still it was warm and outdoors, we could just about pretend we were still in Morocco. Some more cocktails later, we ended up in fits of giggles as she told me about her current boyfriend (a new topic of conversation for us). This discussion caused much hilarity as he was revealed as having the opposite politics, ambitions and values from us, though he apparently had a single mum slogging away in the city, so we decided he might be OK.
As we staggered back along the Cowley Road, a voice called hello, as he rushed past. Though I missed the sight of "the boyfriend", it was enough to send us into another fit of giggles at the thought of the introduction that might have been.
While rushing round doing last minute shopping I spotted the distinctive Oxford pubstops map done in the style of the London underground. So I brought that back to Tbilisi to add a bit of culture to our office.
You can see the map here.No prizes for guessing the "line" with the most pubs.
They say that travel broadens the mind, but going home also gives you a fresh eye for what is normal at home.
A recent trip to a supermarket in Oxford made me wonder about this lot.
Are antipasties a new sort of Cornish pasty or some medical remedy against them?
We were miffed not to find a sign for the unhealthy cheese, after living on a choice of "yellow" cheese and "white" cheese.
And the connection between the brand name and the contents is??
We know the Brits prefer their animals to their children, but "roasted baby"??? At least it was slow roasted.
I suppose special cat milk is inevitable. However, it seems cat preferences for low fat milk haven't been fully researched yet. Luckily our cat doesn't like milk.
For the unfortunate people with stains in front of their eyes.
And that was just a quick visit.
The government is compiling a database to track and store the international travel records of millions of Britons.
Computerised records of all 250 million journeys made by individuals in and out of the UK each year will be kept for up to 10 years.
The government says the database is essential in the fight against crime, illegal immigration and terrorism.
The intelligence centre will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details of travellers.
I don't think I gave permission to the airlines to give my credit card details etc to the government. If it wants my data then it will have to ask me for it first, I hope.
Would this be the same government that still doesn't have a database of our health records in the NHS? Given its current level of success at implementing big databases I think we are safe for a bit longer.
But it seems we should read the payment conditions set by airlines more carefully when we book online, and complain.
Today's BBC news headlines are: Big freeze expected to hit the UK
More freezing temperatures and snow flurries are predicted for February.
Icy winds heading for the UK will make temperatures feel "sub zero" as the coldest winter in 13 years continues.
Snowstorms from Russia are expected to hit the eastern part of England on Sunday night.
Night-time temperatures are set to drop to -2C (28F) as a blast of cold air sweeps in from the North Sea.
Bitterly cold easterly winds will cause snow to drift, with forecasters predicting that 5cm to 10cm will fall over many parts of England and Wales.
If the snow came from Russia, it must have warmed up a bit getting here if the worst it could do in the UK was -2C. But then we all know the Brits are wimps about cold weather: feel "sub-zero"? what the hell does that mean? What about when it is really -10?
Well it had to come sooner or later, I guess. My mother had it but survived from her 60s to her 70s before it finally got her.
The NHS kindly offers women over 50 mammograms every three years. This is often enough apparently (I checked the research) to give the NHS acceptable statistics in preventing women from dying from it. Personally I am rather more interested in knowing I haven't got it than giving the NHS a performance statistic. So I try to have one every year somewhere or other on my travels.
I was planning to have one this summer in Vilnius, as it's cheap and quick (results the same day) and they give you the mammogram to take away as a souvenir. I have quite a collection to show next time now.
But when I got home in June an appointment was waiting for me. Of course it was after I was going back but I managed to change it and get it done during the week I was actually home. You can't get the results at the same time as the NHS prefers to lose them for you or give you someone else's results instead.
I asked whether it was possible to check whether they were OK, so they didn't have to call me back to redo them as I wasn't planning to come back till September. The receptionist then told me I might not be able to have it done at all. Before I began to talk about patient rights as a taxpayer etc, she backed down. In fact the radiographer did do one plate again just in case.
I don't know what other women find about having mammograms but you would think that someone would have found a better way by now to find lumps than squashing your tits flat between two X ray plates. Apparently young breasts are too dense (read unsquashable) to Xray so they only have to be done with ultrasound. In Eastern Europe there is none of the delicacy of the British NHS: be so kind as to stand here with your head and arm here, no that's not quite right, can we try again? In Vilnius, they just push you into place on the machine and get on with squashing you. It gets it over with quicker in the end.
So when I was called back again I didn't know what to expect. They had found "something" in the right breast. They had already X-rayed this twice, so it couldn't be a dud x-ray. So Sloph took the afternoon off, for education and moral support, and came with me. She wasn't allowed into the X-ray room to see the repeat performance with special device to squash the tit even thinner in the particular spot where the "something" was. But she was allowed to watch the ultrasound.
It was nice to have the consultant radiographer point out where the "something" was on the X-ray but neither of us could see it anyway, so we were glad when she didn't think it was anything. Then we were shown where it was on the ultrasound, and neither of us was any the wiser either. Sloph had a fit of giggles when the consultant said she was finding it difficult to get a good contact round the nipple.
So I live to enjoy more mammograms in future and nothing to worry about for another year.
Sloph Bee and I invented a new ritual: the post breast cancer scare celebration dinner and went off to the Kasbar, a tapas bar on Cowley Road which I wrote about here.
As Bee was off on her interrailing soon, we also found the need to go for a post breast cancer scare celebration brunch at the Grand Cafe next day.
Technorati Tags: breast cancer, mammogram
In February school holidays Bee planned a trip to Italy with a friend on Easyjet. But Easyjet cancelled the flight meaning that they had to stay another day. After some haggling Easyjet agreed on the phone to pay for the extra night, so Bee booked the hotel.
Afterwards she tried to get the money off them but with the usual battle going through the call centres. After God knows how many angry phone calls, they even agreed to refund the flight. Eventually they even put it in an email saying they would pay within 5 days. More angry phone calls and more emails and no money.
Eventually I decided that Bee needed the advanced course in complaining, as she has already passed the beginners (of course you have a right to complain) and the intermediate (it's OK to get angry and make a scene, but sometimes it's better to negotiate afterwards). The advanced course involves giving up the telephone and proceeding with the letter or fax to the legal department, giving them 7 days to pay up or we'll see them in the (named) County Court. This usually produces the money, even if not within the seven days.
Occasionally you do actually have to go to court which costs £25 but you can claim it back. The procedure is very simple and provided you have lots of documents and proof it's quite interesting.
Bee discovered that you can now do Small Claims in the County Court online, (here) which made it even easier to do from Georgia. So I filled in the form online. Bee isn't 18 so I had to sue, and the tickets had been paid for by her friend, so by the time I had explained all that, there wasn't very much room to explain what the claim was for. Nevertheless I made the claim, registered it and waited for it to be served to Easyjet. After a fortnight the website showed they hadn't answered, so I asked for a judgement against them, which was granted.
Nothing happened. More emails from Easyjet offering to pay in 5 days but no money and no response to the court case.
Bee was devastated to find that the court has no power to actually make Easyjet pay. Of course we could have paid another £55 to send the bailiffs round, but for £270 it didn't seem worth it. I couldn't see the bailiffs impounding a plane, to pay back £270. So faith in the British justice system descended to an all time low.
Finally at the beginning of July when we had completely given up, a grovelling letter arrived from Easyjet Legal Department, with a cheque and an apology. Since then my bank has managed to lose the cheque but I assume we will eventually get the money.
The rules for compensation for flight cancellations etc within the EU are rather fixed by law and rather generous (on another occasion I expected to get 50 Euros but actually got 250 Euros). You can see the rates here.
Apparently if they don't pay up within 7 days, airlines face fines of up to £5,000 a passenger for failing to comply with the regulations. If they do not you have a right of appeal to the Air Transport Users' Council.
But it seems easier rather than battle with another organisation to just go straight to the county court on line and get it settled quickly.
I recommend that suing in the County Court for small claims should be part of citizenship lessons for teenagers.
Technorati Tags: budget airlines, compensation, cancellation, county court