Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cat Stops Play

Adding insult to injury, the Turkish club Besiktas has not only been knocked out of the Champions League football tournament by Bayern Munich, but they've also been charged by UEFA for allowing a cat on the pitch. According to the BBC, the exact charge is "insufficient organisation". As if anyone has ever been able to herd a cat!

Meanwhile, on Twitter, the cat was voted MoTM:

That reminds me of a previous MoTM winner at Loftus Road vs Leicester City a couple of years ago:

Monday, March 05, 2018

Obstreperous with E-on

Long Google search for pic expressing my current feelings. Found this. Feeling itself well expressed. Just wishing the model wasn't so blonde, so Caucasian, so young.
E-on is my current electricity company. My use of the word current is not meant as a pun (though it did raise a smirk), but rather to suggest that it may well not be my company of choice in the future. The other day there was a power cut. My meter went blank, and I couldn't tell if I had enough electricity to last through the snow. I could not get through on the phone, so I followed the advice on the website, and sent an e-mail.

Today E-on called me back. I've already lost an hour of my life dealing with their rigid protocols, ear-wormingly repetitive music on hold (for over 30 of those 60 minutes), and inefficient complaints procedure, so why should you also suffer? Suffice it to say that it might not have been so bad if, when the representative concluded with the question, "has your complaint been resolved?", I'd just said, "Yes. Thank you. Goodbye." However, being me, I had to be literal. "No," I said. Del was a bit surprised.  Apparently, if the customer says no, the protocol is to refer her/him to the Complaints Department. All I meant was that the meter hadn't been fixed yet. And, being me, I couldn't let it go. Sigh. One hour later I'm no wiser, but perhaps less inclined to be obstreperous in the future.

What has me steaming, though, is that once again I do not understand why customer service training does not seem to include this simple tool:  when you receive a call from a dissatisfied customer, the very first thing to do is to state kindly and compassionately some version of:  I'm sorry that you are unhappy. The customer hears "sorry" immediately, and in most cases this completely diffuses the situation. By saying sorry you are not laying yourself or the company open to litigation. You are not taking personal responsibility for what has happened. You ARE acknowledging that this customer has arrived at your desk because they are upset, and you ARE showing them that you would like to help them. Why is this so difficult? (Especially if you are a man in your early 20's)

Meanwhile, maybe I need to work on being a little less difficult myself. I don't know what got into me!

UPDATE: today was the day that they came to fix the meter. I was given a slot from 8 am to noon. At a quarter past noon, the chap showed up. He couldn't find the fuse, and the building manager had to come over. The fuses weren't marked, so an E-on guy with a machine had to come over. He was in Bedford. He had to go somewhere else to get the machine. When he arrived, he needed batteries for his machine as "guys keep nicking mine".  He changed the meter and the job was completed just before 5 pm.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Sir Roger Bannister R.I.P.

Rabbi Dr Albert H Friedlander & Sir Roger Bannister
This afternoon we heard the news that Sir Roger Bannister has died at the age of 88. Although he is best known for being the first runner to break the barrier of 4 minutes for running the mile, as I read through the obituaries and testimonials, it is clear that running was more his avocation, and medicine his vocation. Perhaps, therefore, it was all the more so thrilling for Albert to meet him and have a good conversation together.

bottom left: "Friedlander, miler"
It is a gene that lies most dormant in me, but my father both loved running and had some ability. I understand that he turned down an athletic scholarship to LSU in order to attend the University of Chicago. He could run the mile in about 4 & 1/2 minutes in the early 1940's, and his coach thought he might have a chance in the 1948 Olympics. However, his mother would have none of that (he needed to concentrate on his studies) and over the summer managed to fatten him up enough to thwart this plan!

But today is about Sir Roger, so I will conclude by stating how much Albert admired him as an athlete, and as a mensch. With condolences to his loved ones, may he rest in peace.

running with his children in the park

Appreciation from the BBC website including video of the record-breaking run, and an archival interview.
NY Times obit (behind a paywall but a few free articles available)
Daily Mirror (including several tributes & tweets)
Runners World obit (annoying pop-up ads)
Bath Chronicle (former Bath schoolboy)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Sheldon Moment

"The Reform Rabbi", R B Kitaj
Listening to the Robert Elms show this morning, there was a discussion of an upcoming exhibition at the Tate Britain:  All Too Human:  Bacon, Freud and a century of painting life. They mentioned R B Kitaj, and Robert spoke about Jewish painters and how he lives near Frank Auerbach. I felt compelled to shoot off an e-mail about Kitaj also being Jewish and how he painted my dad, and Robert read it (   starting at 52:18 - can be listened to until the end of March). 

It was kind of cool to hear Robert Elms say I am a friend of his, although I did immediately remember in TBBT when Sheldon meets Professor Proton (c. 1:15 in):

"a friend would've told me about the elevator!"

Monday, February 26, 2018

If At First You Don't Succeed ...

My old AWFC favourite Jordan Nobbs sends in a header near the end of the recent FA Cup game vs Millwall Lionesses. The first photo shows the looks of anticipation on the faces of the attacking team, and the looks of trepidation on the defenders' faces. The second photo shows Jordan's disappointment as the ball misses the goal, and the release of tension for the defence.

This past weekend my beloved QPR had a terrible time vs Nottingham Forest. I was all the more dismayed as it was the first match ever attended by my beloved LL. We lost 2-5 in possibly the worst performance of the season. After the game, as LL consoled me, I reminded myself that this was only one game, and there would be another, and thus another chance. It's one of the best things about a sporting competition - that there will be another encounter, another opportunity.

Sometimes it doesn't work out. That's no reason to quit. The old adage is, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Once Jordan is back from her current injury, there will be many more headers and shots on goal. QPR play again away to Aston Villa on Saturday. And I need to pull up my socks and tackle some tasks that currently feel impossible!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Rainbow Pilgrims Online Exhibition

It is LGBTQI+ History month & I've just returned from the launch of the Rainbow Pilgrims online exhibition at the Wiener Library. Am proud to have taken part in the Roundhouse Radio workshop and to have been photographed by the talented Susanne Hakuba for the project.

Please check out the links to learn more (the workshop link takes you to my bit :-)  ) and, if you are in London next week, come to the pop-up exhibition launch!

More details may be found here.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Carter Cool

It was a lovely afternoon - a crisp chill in the air, intermittent sunshine, and a charming attempt at some hail that melted as soon as it landed on our puffa jackets. It's been a while since I've had a chance to take some football photos, and Arsenal Women, once they'd overcome the initial resistance of Yeovil Town Ladies FC, attacked in numbers that gave me a gentle refresher course in timing and focus. Danielle Carter kindly scored the first goal at a great angle for my little camera (see above). However, although her team-mates were rather pleased about this, she made nary a gesture of celebration (see below).

I have previous photographic evidence that Dan Carter will at least point to the sky with one finger in the traditional celebratory pose, but today she did not. It was disappointing from a camera point of view. Nevertheless, I set off home at the end of a 4-0 victory for AWFC in excellent spirits and looking forward to seeing what I'd got in my camera.

On the way back, I was checking social media, and read the sad news that an inspirational colleague has entered hospice care. Some years ago, she had survived a terrible car crash, and defied all prognoses, fighting her way back to life and work. She is someone who has changed the world in which she lives, and we celebrate her leadership and achievements. It is hard to accept that this time she probably will not defy her doctors' predictions. Now when I look again at Dan Carter after scoring her goal, I'm not quite sure why, but I'm glad she's not jumping for joy.