Sunday 16 December 2012

How Did We Ever Manage ...

Before we had the Internet?
But first:-
 Advent Alphabetical Almanac 

P is for Pretty Picture
The trouble with our sentimental sanitised seasonal scenes is that they give the impression that the Christmas story is just a child's fairy tale. Neither Matthew or Luke paints a pretty picture. Shepherds, the down-and-outs, unclean and rejected by society, are scared witless by some supernatural event. They go out of plain curiosity to a smelly animal shed round the back of a pub to meet an exhausted and confused teenage unmarried mum and her embarrassed fiancé huddled together to keep out the cold.

Much later, maybe up to two years later, a group of weird astrologers turn up at their home, tired and smelly after a long trek, and give out some utterly inappropriate gifts for a toddler; then encourage the family to flee for their lives as refugees way down south to Egypt.
It is most definitely NOT a pretty story. Neither is this:-

It is the end of the world, but Before God could be qualified to judge humanity, say His critics, he must endure some of the appalling sufferings that mankind has endured. The decision was that God should be sentenced to experience some mankind's worst troubles! 

Let him be born into abject poverty, spending his first few days of life in a smelly animal house devoid of warmth. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted. Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a corrupt judge. Let him be tortured. At the last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let him die. Let him die in appalling drawn-out agony so that there can be no doubt he is dead. Let there be a crowd
of witnesses to verify it. 
When the critics finished their demands ...

... there was a long, long silence ...
... no one moved and no one spoke ...

... for suddenly, they all knew ...

... that God had already served his sentence.
abbreviated from "The Long Silence", author unknown.
Yes, how did we manage?

We had to look up a number in a book, or ask "directory enquiries" for help. We had to go through all that tedium of talking to a real person who, boringly, was based in the office that did the work. That was why we could usually get an answer straight away. How un-adventurous! Now ...

As result of his poor service on a National Express trip to London (read again here and here) fbb could "ask a (pre-set) question" ...
... none of which was relevant. Or he could fill in a complaint form ...
... and simply click "send." The result of that "simple click":-
What a good way of cutting down on complaints!

Never mind eh? A couple of days later "Sophie" sent fbb an email asking him to fill in a simple survey. So he did! The implication of the survey was that it would disappear into the ether, never to be seen again. But if fbb wanted a reply (gosh what a treat!) he could copy a long and incomprehensible URL into his browser and seek a real person.
fbb awaits sophie's reply

And it's not just the bus and coach industry.

On the very same day, fbb whizzed off three emails. First to "The Bear" seeking accommodation.
No reply after nearly a week!

Then to "Four Pillars" Abingdon to check on special offers.
No reply after nearly a week!

Then to the firm from which fbb is buying some model buses.
No reply after nearly a week!

fbb must bring this blog to an end because he wants to book rail tickets for a trips in January and February. That's a couple f half-days' work, then.

How did we ever manage ...
... before we had the internet?

P.S. Eventually fbb rang "The Bear" who answered promptly and responded to fbb's question immediately. Booked at the Four Pillars via whereby the hotel will get less money that they would if they had answered the email (£150 LESS's fees, instead of the whole of £168 if booked direct)! No reply yet from Sophie and her electronic chums at National Express. Still no e-mail reply from Atlas Editions about the model buses.

  Next Bus Blog : Monday 17th December 


  1. "because he wants to book rail tickets for a trips in January and February. "

    Not 2013 then?! ;)

  2. As you are no doubt aware, the ticket office at Ryde Esplanade sells a full range of rail tickets and is open until 1900 weekdays, 1715 Saturdays and 1745 Sundays. (Don't ask me how I know this ! ). I'm surprised you think it will take them a couple of half days to meet your needs.

  3. True, but it doesn't sell tickets with company specific discounts; useful for we elderly pensioners stuggling on fixed incomes (?). So not a full range.

  4. I see what you mean - though I had rather thought that most such offers could be bought either on-line or at stations.

    Speaking personally, one reason I buy tickets on-line is that it enables me to work out the best 'split' on longer journeys (e.g. Stafford - Leamington/Leamington - Banbury/Banbury - Oxford). I don't have the nerve to book these at a ticket office, still less ask at which stations I should split the journey ! Having said that, train conductors seem quite relaxed if you present all three tickets at one time.

  5. On the other hand, I ordered 2 items from a certain Internet conglomerat and only one arrived this morning - a quick e-mail was fired off and a reply received within the hour apologising and promising a replacement item would be delivered tomorrow.