My letter to BT’s head bandit Gavin Patterson, CEO: Stop dancing round the pole and get the bloody thing fixed

13 1 2017

Gavin Patterson

CEO BT Group plc BT Centre 81 Newgate Street London EC1A 7AJ

Notice of intent: Legal Action & media initiative


BT job number VOL013173774938400 | Police incident number 0682251216

Phone number 0151 526 2130


Dear Mr Patterson,


I would advise you to have someone investigate this. My media & communications business has now been without a telephone connection since the evening of December 25th when a traffic accident knocked down a telegraph pole, bringing with it the telephone line. I am losing time and money.


What makes this doubly concerning – and is something you may actually want to look at – is that your BT account handlers lied to us. It is galling enough to be told the pole will be restored – variously by Dec 30th, Jan 11th and now Jan 18th – but lying is no way to handle customer relations. Here are those lies:


  1. We were told that BT requires planning permission (from the council, obviously) to reinstate a telegraph pole.       We both know that is nonsense. However, in the spirit of nailing the lie, yes we checked with the council, yes they confirmed it was, indeed, nonsense.
  2. We were told by your call centre that the telegraph pole would be fixed by Dec 30th the first time around.       The job wasn’t logged with Openreach until January 4th.


Interestingly we were also informed that loss of broadband would be an issue for our broadband supplier, not for BT. How does that work then, alternative pixie dust rival to BT’s monopoly copper-to-the-home and FTTC?


So, we are now taking legal action to recover costs, lost business and damages in the hope that this will encourage your engineers to site a new pole. Otherwise, we are unhappy to undertake this work ourselves, supply and fit the pole, for your engineers to work to. We will, of course, be inviting national TV to join us should that be the case and billing you for the work. A response would be a bonus.





Mrs Denise France


Birthday Girl’s Panoramic Hissy-fit


I have been married for a while now, so realise that hints about birthday presents are useless.  Hints don’t have any husband Velcro.  They just don’t stick.

A better outcome is achieved by telling one’s husband that 1. your birthday is coming up and 2. this is what you would like and (possibly) 3. this is what you’ll be ordering for yourself from your husband.

November the 19th came around.  I had asked for an ice cream maker.  He likes to eat ice cream, I like to tit about making stuff, he knew where to get the ice cream maker from.  All good.

I’d lashed out on cider making equipment for his birthday so was looking forward to a Christmas of appley wooziness while operating not very heavy machinery.

Not to be.  Not even a card (frowny face).

I got up all birthday-ish: nothing. (He’d been busy – true – we had made an abortive arrangement to go and shop for the ice-cream maker – true too).

He then suggested we go to A PUB for a birthday dinner. Er no.

Where can you buy a bludgeon, I thought, a thing for bludgeoning people….

The day wore on.  He bought himself some presents – cycle helmet, light and tyre pump for his bike he’d got for his birthday with money from his mum, while I waited in the car.

I asked if he was enjoying all his PRESENTS to be told he needed them for his bike.  Of course.

Then I stood by the trolley in the supermarket while he selected a card for me.  #notsospecialnowareyouyouoldbaggage.

We got home and, like the good man he is, the rusted penny clunked down the chute of shame.  He said: “I need to book a restaurant”.  No argument from me.

JF likes to eat, he has a good appetite and he is fit and active.  ‘Mucked about food’ – as he calls it -isn’t his thing.   This is the man who suggested, for our wedding, that his construction canteen concession people catered our wedding ‘Pies like yer Mam used to make’ he said, eyes moist. FYI that didn’t happen.

Bless him he booked one of the most expensive and standout restaurants in the city and agreed, grudgingly, that we’d also go in a taxi.  I was almost faint with gratitude.

The call was made.  They couldn’t do a table till 9.30pm ‘and that would be too late wouldn’t it?’ he asked.

‘No that would be perfect’ I said.

‘OK, yes we’ll book that.’  he said in a rich and confident baritone.

‘They do a tasting menu for £65 a head’ he frowns.

‘That would be lovely’ I add.

Off the phone, all booked and tail wagging he adds, ‘let’s go into town early and have a couple of drinks in a bar.’

Wow, yeah!!

FYI the man eats like a bear and drinks like a fruit fly.  This was going to be interesting.

In the bar I bump into an old paparazzi acquaintance.  The beers flow.  We’ve consumed scrambled egg on toast at 10.30am that morning and stuff all else.  I have 2 large glasses of Sav Blanc, husband has two pints.  Somehow the pap pal elicits 3 pints from us.

We leave the bar and get to the 23 storey building that houses the restaurant.  We’re pointed toward the lift.  We’re giggling and we keep pushing the call button.  There are clearly cameras in the lobby, someone comes in and turns us toward the actual lift.  We’re pressing the buttons on the service elevator, not the glossy mirrored thing that we should be poking at.

We get into the lift and faux-pounce on each other hoping to cause a CCTV outrage.

We get to the top of the world and are seated at a table, spectacular view.  It’s everything I love.  Beautiful view, linen, nice glasses, interesting food that doesn’t over-face and isn’t delivered in slices shaved from a rotating triangular mass under a 2 bar electric fire.

The attentive hostess suggests the seven-course tasting menu is served with matched wine, for just £95 a head.  JF agrees and smiles his 2 pints smile.  We’re chatting to the manager, a spoon with an abused mush (as it’s known in Liverpool) is brought.  Johnny looks a question.  I drink mine and he follows suit.  Well ‘swallow’ would be a better description.  We drink the glass of wine that comes with it, a fizzy affair, very lovely.

Next course comes out.  It’s roughly the size of  half a sprout with 3 blobs of something of ladybird proportion, accompanied by a different glass of wine.

There are no bread rolls.  Johnny is getting louder and his stomach is rumbling.

We plough on through another five courses – and their accompanying wine.  It is delightful I think as I concentrate on tuning out the moaning; and the rumbling.

At one point I donate half my (quarter of a KitKat-finger-sized) pudding to JF and give up with the pudding wine.  JF eats the pudding and drinks the dessert wine, his and mine.  Oh dear.

We have a row.  John wants fish and ‘bloody’ chips on the way home.  We think he may be sick in the cab.  By now we have spent £300.  This figure will be bandied about for a further 3 days (keeping step with his receding hangover) until I finally snap.

‘Look, date per date for 2016 – if we ever went on dates – £300 is a bloody bargain,’ I yell unnecessarily loudly into his face, enjoying the wince.

Two days later I receive a Kitchen Aid hand held blender and my bike has been restored and fixed up.  The card had a fox on it.

PS that picture of the Happy Birthday thing at The Panoramic didn’t happen, just found it on Google, and that’s a very generous portion compared with what we were served.  However – Panoramic – I loved it, just perfect, thank you, do you do a table for one?





Squid and Cake. All food groups covered – why’s he moaning?


My husband is the poster boy for ‘frugal’ – but fortunately better looking than Gordon Brown (who?)

So when I produced a delicious, though unlikely, meal of squid (seasoned and lightly battered, but with nothing else) followed by a piece of homemade apple and almond cake (from a batch in the freezer) it was received with the usual gusto and compliments.  Apart, of course, from asking: ‘is this it?’ on the squid front.

I challenged the comment.  ‘I’m being frugal, and I haven’t been shopping.’  All true.  Was being lazy too if truth be known.  He raised an eyebrow.

‘Look you’re just fortunate I didn’t make squid cake,’ was the crisp rejoinder.  Hmmm.

Now I’m thinking…


Romains original spitfire_gin

Women used to fly Spitfires.  Oh yeah.  They flew them around Britain’s air bases to make sure planes were where they should be for various sorties.  They flew them unarmed and unescorted.  If they encountered enemy aircraft, they simply had to outfly them.  And they did.

These young ladies carried a snifter of gin as part of their kit.  They applied their courage like lipstick, got in and flew.  Those women, the 80th anniversary of The Spitfire, and a quest for an authentic 1930s botanical gin came together in Spitfire Heritage Gin launched in May this year.  Made by world champion gin maker, John Walters, with an aviation pin up on the label from world number one aviation chick artist, Frenchman Romain Hugault, what’s not to love.

I mention all of this because it’s a great gin, it’s a great brand (and I’m one of the owners).  Other gins are available (!)  Available nationally through Wine Rack and from

Posted with no apologies for gin-bombing the blog. x


When you make an honest mistake with a willy-wipe

sheath cleaner.jpg

One of JF’s colleagues, we’ll call him Fred, has been working on the farm at home here on some joinery projects.

We returned to find him enjoying a fag having done a beautiful job on the joinery, but were puzzled as to why he had a bottle of ‘sheath cleanser’ next to him and the remains of his sandwich lunch.

‘What have you been using that for Fred,’ asked JF, a huge smirk developing (me, a little distance away, mouthing ‘WTF’?)

‘Oh, yeah, I needed something round to draw round, and this was in the tack room.’

‘Do you know what that is Fred?’

‘No, why?’

‘It’s for cleaning the sheath male horses pull their willies back up into after they’ve had a wee, sex or just a little rest with it blowin in the wind mate.  Oh and it was used yesterday.’

If Fred’s face could have been described as a picture, it would have been ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch.

Meanwhile JF is emitting pant-wetting barks of laughter, uncontrollable and alarming.  He’s very red in the face.

Then the killer from JF.  ‘Did you wash your hands before you ate your lunch?’


When old ladies become wildly emboldened…


At 84 the spirit of adventure seems to be limited to fighting with your daughter and proving her wrong at every turn.  Including, apparently, bigging up your ability to find the local hospital when you know full well you can only find three places in the car – your GP (handily next to Morrisons), Tesco (fancies the pensioner who collects the trolleys, goes every day, despite being able to find Morrisons, which is nearer) and my house.

Recently my mother was told by her GP that she needed to have her driving skills assessed.  She was duly, and angrily, taken out on the road by a former police officer and member of the advanced institute of motorists.  I spoke to him later, he pronounced her ‘competent.’  In my mother’s version she had been told she was ‘superb’.  Either way, lovely for her, she can carry on driving.

However it seems to have massively boosted her confidence.  Not sure that’s a good thing.  She announced that ‘as you can’t come with me…. to the hospital appointment, I’ll just go myself.’

I asked how she’d get there – in a cab?  The reply was, she’d drive.  I asked about five times if she was sure she could find it before giving up.  My plan had been to order her a cab, and pay for it.  I’d planned my work day around her memory clinic appointment at 3.30pm which was then cancelled, and the ‘falls clinic’ materialised as a 1.30 appointment on the same day.  Either way I was stuffed, couldn’t go.

The night before her appointment I got a distressed call from my mother.  She’d decided to do a dry run the day before, so she’d know where she was going.

‘I’ve got one of those books, you know, with places in it.’

‘You mean a map,’ I said.

‘Yes, one of those.’

The call came at 9pm by the way.

‘I’ve just got in, oh it’s been dreadful, that motorway goes on for ever.’

‘What motorway?  What were you doing?’

‘I tried to get to the hospital.  I’d written it all down but I just had to keep coming back to the house and setting off again.’

‘What time did you leave the house?’


Ahhhh.  So she’d been driving for five hours trying to find a hospital that is approx. 20 minutes from her front door.

‘So I’ll give you some money for a cab then, for tomorrow?  And why didn’t you just ring on your mobile if you were lost.’

‘I haven’t got a mobile’

‘Yes you have’

‘I’ve NEVER had a mobile’

‘Well how come I’ve got your phone number then?’