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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Daddy Clanger's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, December 8th, 2011
7:00 pm
Why bother having a contact form if you can't answer?
I used the "contact us" form on the web site of a well-known financial institution. I said something of the form:
Subject: Web site technical fault

I cannot find the correct page to log in to my account. When I click on Login it takes me to a page that says "Sorry, we are reorganising our web site and you may have an out-of-date link stored in your favourites. Please navigate to [this page] and click the Login link there". However, clicking on the link provided just sends me round in circles. Could you please fix this? Thanks.

They replied:
Thank you for your email.

We want to help answer your query but as your query is regarding your account we can not help you further via this channel. In order to rectify this problem you must call the Internet helpdesk on 0844 (etc)


As it happens the web site is now working — perhaps it was just down for maintenance and they put up the wrong error message. But still.

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
12:13 pm
This is what they're teaching the kids these days

Yesterday, smallclanger brought home a word search on the theme of electrical items.

He's filled a bit of it in, and discovered an extra word "rice" which he's helpfully written in at the bottom, even though I don't think I've heard of electric rice.

But wait, what do we see towards the bottom left of the grid?

Surely no one would find that amusing. Snerk. Electric kites, what are they on about?…

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
3:58 pm
Glorious car in excelsis Deo
OK, let's get the advert out of the way first.

7 for 7.30pm on Saturday, featuring Vivaldi's Gloria and shorter items by Purcell, Bach and Mozart. Viewers within range of BBC Oxford may possibly see a glimpse of me on Friday's 6.30pm news on BBC1 in the background during a report about this event, because it's of local interest, this being [the descendant of] the choir that Ivor Setterfield picked out of a "deprived" East Oxford estate to go and sing at the Albert Hall.


Read more...Collapse )

Good points: seems to drive well (so far) and promises decent fuel efficiency. Is shiny and a good colour. Spare key. Air conditioning. Looks like a decent stereo (or "infotainment system", as the manual calls it) which will no longer have alien symbols instead of the numbers on the display like my last one. Heated mirrors, apparently (but still nothing for the front windscreen when starting from cold). The interior is actually pretty similar to that of the hire car I had over Christmas.

Minor disappointments: smallclanger has got used to having a light in the back so he can read during night drives, but this car doesn't have one. (He also wanted a sunroof, for no particular reason, but none of the cars I was looking at had one.) The car radio is FM/AM, not DAB, and it has long since been known that the Government intends to turn off analogue transmissions. The glovebox is only just big enough to hold the wheelnut kit and the car documentation and nothing else (although when you open it, as well as a space for a cup it has "card holder in cheque card format; pen holder; pocket torch holder". And there's a small retractable tray under the passenger seat). The back seat doesn't split for flexible luggage conveyance. It will probably be quite hard to get smallclanger's bike in and nearly impossible to get my bike in, but that's what you get for buying a small car. :-)

Current Mood: vroom

Thursday, January 13th, 2011
10:11 pm
If you don't want to know the result, look away now
Odd. My last post attracted two spam comments (you can't see them — they're screened and will probably get deleted soon) and neither of them was Japanese. The first one said "Great Post. I add this Post to my bookmarks." and the second one said "Прочитал этот пост. Сильно паригленулся. Добавил этот сайт в закладки! Администратор, продолжай в том же стиле!" which appears to be more or less the same in Russian. What's the point?

I rang up the car hire company at about 9am on Monday to find out if they wanted the car back. It went something like…

9am: You've got until the 14th, but if your claim is settled then the hire will end two days after that. The insurance company hasn't informed us yet. We'll let you know.

9.45am: The insurance company has informed us they issued a payment on Thursday, so I'm afraid we have to terminate your hire from midnight tonight and you won't be insured to drive the car after that. (When do you want the car back then?) They'll probably call you tomorrow.

10.30am: What's the postcode where the car is located? (When are you intending to come?) Some time between 12 and 3 today. (Er, that's not really possible I'm at work.) OK, will you be in between 8 and 12 tomorrow?


Anyway, at 5am the next morning smallclanger was sick, so I had to keep him off school (although he was perfectly well the rest of the day) and worked at home. At 12:05 I was about to ring them to ask where they were when the doorbell rang and the car was duly taken away. smallclanger says "Can we get an i20?" It turns out the reason is while I was messing about looking at new i20s on a Hyundai web site he noticed that it said "USB and Aux connections" in the specs. He seems to be obsessed with USB at the moment, because I stuck a USB memory stick (freebie from an IT exhibition) in his Christmas stocking.

And the other thing that happened on Tuesday was two cheques arrived. They were both dated 10/1/2011, had been posted first class, and had consecutive numbers. So they were clearly printed and posted on Monday. Something a bit fishy going on there (I suspect it's that when they say "a cheque has been posted" they mean "the computer has been instructed to post a cheque" and they have no idea when it will actually come out of the system). So much for "payment issued on Thursday". But anyway, what's the point of having an insurance policy that offers a hire car if they are going to take it away again as soon as they think the claim is resolved? Since cheques take a day to arrive in the post and three days to clear, there is no way you'd have got a replacement car if you are relying on the insurance money to buy it.


I think the Autocar review is right. You buy the i20 because logic tells you it makes most sense, not because you always wanted to drive a Hyundai. However, you won't get more car for your money than the one I saw at the weekend (in fact it looks underpriced) and it comes with various kinds of gadgets that you won't get on a Corsa. And on balance it would be better not to spend the extra 1.5K.

Sadly, they sold that particular car on Monday. (Even though they added a photo to the listing on Tuesday.) So it's back to the hunt.
Sunday, January 9th, 2011
9:52 pm
Bored of cars yet?
I've been in Lancashire for the last week, seeing in the new year with my parents and a brother, and staying until a cousin from the US came for a visit, and other brother with his wife and child appeared also.

Sis-in-law asked me what I was thinking of doing about the car, so I said I was thinking of a Corsa. "Oh, they're great cars — I used to drive one."

After a very cold visit to a park (with added animals, which smallclanger decided he didn't want to see) and lunch at a pub-restaurant, we came back home yesterday.

So today I have been car-hunting.

Skip the details, but...Collapse )

Hyundai i20 1.2 Comfort, 59-reg with 8500 miles for £6,495

There must be something wrong with this car, surely? But The Independent and Honest John say not, while Autocar says it's good value for money even if it has some faults. The CO2 number doesn't quite beat the tax target, but at 124g does come in significantly lower than the petrol Corsa. And if that car goes, there's a similar one just round the corner with a few more miles on it.

So, um. Diesel Corsa with park assist and low tax band, or newer Hyundai with less miles for less money, but next tax band up. Still can't decide…
Thursday, January 6th, 2011
7:41 pm
I am getting an extra £450 off the insurer. Hoorah.

But they will now record that I've accepted the proposed settlement, which will cause a notification to be sent to the company supplying the hire car, and they will most likely ring me up in the morning to tell me when they want the car back, which according to the small print is within 48 hours of my claim being settled. Let's hope they're not open on Saturdays and will settle for Monday morning.

So. If it comes to a choice between a Corsa and a Micra (which it may not — it's still very much up in the air), does anyone have a strong opinion that I should avoid one (or both) of those?
2:18 pm
Still can't decide
An informant sez: "you could get a brand new petrol car for the price of that Corsa."

Which appears to be more or less true. Some more links:

Nissan Micra 1.2 Spirita (2007, 7K8 miles, £4,995)
Nissan Pixo 1.0i (2010, 6K4 miles, £5,995)
Renault Clio 1.2 TCE Dynamique (2007, 3K4 miles, £6,592)
Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 Life (2009, 4K6 miles, £7,495)
Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 Life (2009, 5K miles, £7,795)

The top one is walking distance from my house.

So, questions for the good people in LJ-land: what is a Nissan Pixo? Will I feel cramped in a Micra? What are these 1.0 and 1.2 litre cars like to drive? These all claim 48 to 50 mpg which is a bit lower than the claimed mpg of the Xsara diesel (claimed: 53; actual: 48 — mind you, info I can find on the Saxo 1.4 says its mpg is 41, and I got 46 out of it).
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
11:12 pm
Of cars
Today smallclanger and I texted "film" to 241 on my Mum's Orange phone and went to see Megamind, an interesting and funny animated flick with slightly more than the usual amount of philosophy about the nature of good and evil.

I turned my phone back on on the way out, and within a couple of minutes was rung by the insurance company. Phone battery was nearly empty and I was chasing SC out into the car park so I said it wasn't convenient at that time.

Rang back in the evening to discover that my file handler has valued the car at £1,200 and already posted a cheque for £890 (which is after deducting the policy excess). I'll be disputing this, of course, but apparently I can cash the cheque without prejudice — or could, if I were not still Up North. I'm not quite sure what consequence this has on them wanting the hire car back.

Similar cars to mine on sale at Autotrader at the moment: £1,195 £1,279 £1,595 £1,695 £1,750 £2,499 £2,649 £2,695 £2,795. The more expensive ones have fewer miles, of course, but not by that much (mileage of my car was 83,670 and it was 02-reg).

(Link for £1,750 doesn't work but was copied directly off the search results; I guess either it'll come back or it's been sold)

What Car says I should expect to pay £1,720 £1,675 for this car at a dealer or £1,455 £1,420 in a private sale (darn, it's the new year and figures have gone down since I requested them, which I swear was only yesterday), and the insurance company is basically offering me the part-exchange value of the car. But my car had a fair amount of new parts that you wouldn't necessarily get by buying a car of this age at a dealership.

On the previous post there were two recommendations for Corsas and two for Nissans (or anything Japanese). So far in the car hunt, we have:

Nissan Micra 1.5dCi Visia (2009, 29K miles, £5,495).
Peugeot 407 SE 2.0 HDI (2005, 58K miles, £5,399).
Vauxhall Corsa 1.3CDTi ecoFlex Active (2009, 11K miles, £7,990).

The Nissan looks good but is a basic model (lacks air conditioning, which I may well miss after having it in the Xsara). The 407 is very local, but probably too high-end for my needs. The Corsa is very very tempting (and comes with a Network Q warranty) but would require quite a bit of shuffling to get the cash together (and when I say cash, I really mean debt, since I have very little liquid cash to speak of).
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
12:10 am
New year, new model
I am Up North with smallclanger, who is having some quality time with his grandparents. His ambition seems to be to go through the shelf of games in the back room and try out each one once, and so far we've played Ratrace, Mhing and In One Word in addition to Game of Life which he's seen before, Fluxx which by now is an old favourite, and Escape From Atlantis, which is one of his Christmas presents from me (after I mentioned to him that I had played it elsewhere and he asked me to look for it on eBay).

He's also completed three construction projects with varying degrees of help: TechnoRobot (a robot with moving arms and wheels, based on a plastic motorised mechanism with an outer cardboard body and head), a crane lorry in not-quite-Lego, and a gingerbread house.

Meanwhile, we have a temporary 60-reg Astra 1.8 Club in silver with not much more than 1K miles on the clock. I managed to post a refund form with my tax disc (11 months left to run) on the 29th, then rang the insurance company to read them some numbers and sort out what documents to post. Just then, a letter arrived confirming my hire of the temporary car and pointing out that I have to return it within 48 hours when the insurance company pays me a settlement of my claim (or in any case within 21 days). So it seems to be in my interest to stall just now, and — oh, darn it, I missed the post office on Dec 31st and now I bet they are all closed till Jan 4th.

So now I have to look for a car. Recommendations?Collapse )

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
11:59 pm
Le repas
As an aside, why do people write the menu in French at posh meals? To show off? To make sure you've no idea what you are eating?

Saumon teinté à la betterave rouge
sauce gravadlax

Poitrine de faisan mitonnée aux poireaux grillés et champignons marinés

Gelée aux canneberges, oranges et Porto, et biscuit à la mandarine.

La hure de sanglier à la sauce Robert

Le dessert

4:08 pm
A smashing time
  • The Good: I went to the Boar's Head Gaudy on Saturday, and the one person I most wanted to see was there.
  • The Bad: a flash snowstorm earlier in the day had caused a couple of dozen cancellations, and the eventual 70-odd attendees did not include any of my former classmates.
  • The Ugly: I was caught out in said snowstorm because I'd gone to Tesco early while everything was clear, and on the final bend in the road before arriving at my street the car lost all traction and went straight on into a parked car. News just in is that the estimated cost of repairs is roughly double what the car was worth.

The DetailsCollapse )

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
9:17 pm
Fight night
Not sure if they are all going to survive this task!
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
10:05 pm
smallclanger has learnt a new card game at Granny's, which he calls "Battle". It's rather simple: the pack is divided equally between two players who hold their stacks face down. Each player plays one card face up, and whoever played the card of higher rank takes the two cards and adds them to the bottom of their stack. If the cards have equal rank this is called a battle and the players play a further card each; whoever plays the higher card takes all four cards plus an additional two paid by the loser. (If those are equal it becomes a double battle and when the next pair of cards is played the loser must pay four. And, in theory at least, so on.) This carries on until one player has managed to collect all the cards off the other.

He has played this game with me twice, and both times got bored and gave up before there was any sign of a conclusion. Which raises the question: is there any guarantee this won't go on forever? Click for boring combinatoricsCollapse )

And now for something completely different. Earlier this month YouGov sent me a poll (on I forget what subject) which randomly and irrelevantly ended on the following question, so now I'm doing the same.

Poll #1651430 Heroes

Which, if any, of the following super powers would you MOST like to have?

Super strength
Being able to fly
X-ray vision
Super speed
Super hearing
Mind reading
Not applicable, I would not want to have a super power
Dont know
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
9:00 pm
Is there a party today, or is everyone out?

(Possible spoilers within)
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
10:06 pm
OK, the top genius answers to the poll were: "cake!" and "A TARDIS. Ok, it might take us several years to save up for, but you can STILL get it next week." :-)

The second question (influenced by ewx's annual Christmas poll) scared most people off, unsurprisingly, but two people filled it in. One said "Hah hah! What a wildly inappropriate question!" and the other had the exact answer I was thinking of when I made the poll: Victoria Coren.
Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
7:42 pm
The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything
In a week, it'll be my birthday. Fear not, this is not a blatant fishing expedition for material possessions, but I thought I'd post a silly poll. Feel free to be truthful or silly, practical or outrageous. Your secret is safe with me, but I might post some general highlights (if of course there are any).

Poll #1627992 In yer dreams!

What do you think imc might want for his birthday?

Who do you think imc might want for his birthday?


I have no idea, but I wanted to tick something
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
11:06 am
Oh, and…
While we were driving West on the M4 coming back from Legoland we saw a prominent sun dog. Its partner on the other side of the sun was also present, but not so bright. But I didn't have a camera with me, and anyway I was driving.
Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
11:54 pm
A week away
So what did I do last week?

On Friday (27th) after work I braved the M6 which was apparently made of queue during the day, but fortunately the hour or so getting ready had made it late enough to avoid most of the traffic — and smallclanger and I stayed the night with my parents.

Mid-morning the next day I set out for Edinburgh, leaving him to play with Lego (the same Lego that I and my brothers used to play with back in the day, including train tracks and a motor). He actually preferred that to coming to Edinburgh, which was just as well as there was only one single bed in my accommodation. I took a bus into town, grabbed some food at Princes Mall and then walked down Dalry Road to find the venue for the first Eggplants gig.

I hung around for a bit after the performance and told Kenny that bopeepsheep was sorry she was unable to come this year. He suggested that she should text in a request and they should play it to her down the phone or some such communication device at the next concert. It was a silly idea, so we agreed to do it.

Next day I got a day ticket on the bus, pottered around a bit, booked a random 5-quid show in the afternoon (Alexis Dubus as it happens), went into Subway to find that they were out of half the ingredients, and bussed back to the St Brides Centre for the last night of Eggplants. They did not disappoint, and they duly cued in the mobile phone, which I just about managed to hold in a position where it didn't interfere with the audio equipment too much.

At some suitable time after the gig I made an escape to catch a bus back into the city centre for Showstopper! The improvised musical. Spent a long time queueing, but it was worth it. If you only go to one show at the Fringe (and for some reason have ruled out the Eggplants) then go and see this.

I then walked all the way back from Teviot Row to Leith and got back at about 1am. And after breakfast the next day, drove back to be reunited with smallclanger for an afternoon of… well, Lego.

We came back to Oxford on Tuesday, via Bicester Village where we bought some new school shoes, and (somewhat more unexpectedly) some trainers in a sort of burgundy colour which smallclanger would not be separated from once he had seen them.

On Wednesday we set out (via a doctor's appointment) for Cardiff and spent a while at the Doctor Who Exhibition.

We stayed overnight at a hotel whose management company is coincidentally called "Oxford Hotels and Inns" and then spent as much of the next day as was reasonably possible (after pausing to post some pictures on Facebook) at Techniquest science discovery centre.

When that closed we had a quick explore of the surrounding area until our parking ticket expired, then we made our way back to the M4, which was mostly reasonable though a little congested at times. We stopped at a service station for a burger (and a caramel fudge Fusion). Some time later there was an almighty bump as I ran over something unseen in the road. Or did I? I hoped it wasn't that something had fallen off the car, but it still seemed to be driving OK, so. Or was it? I pulled over and discovered the nearside rear tyre completely flat and with a big hole in the side (and stinking of burnt rubber). I successfully changed it, but it was irritating because that was the newest tyre on the car, only a year old because last year the tyre that it replaced had had a nail buried in the side wall (and in turn I seem to remember having the rear tyres changed only a year before that because they had been required for the MOT). So it was something after 10pm when we got back to Oxford.

Not content with that, we set out on Friday morning for Legoland Windsor. It was quite crowded and we didn't get there at opening time, so the first thing we did was queue 40 minutes for Boating School. We followed that with Driving School and Boating School, and then a late lunch. Smallclanger had decided to complete the set with Fire Academy, but after lunch spent half an hour being awkward about going to the toilet, so after that he changed his mind and decided to play on the taxi and police car that are there in Lego City instead. After which he decided to go back to the Beginning on the Hill Train and go on Rocket Racers. I'm never quite sure why he wants to do that since he insists he's not good enough to drive and so he deliberately declines to touch any of the controls in order to let the computer do all the driving for him. It came fourth (out of eight) on his behalf. He then spent half an hour or so playing in the model 747 which they have there, before doing Rocket Racers again (which surprised me as it was by then after the official closing time of the park). Then it was time to come home. I tossed a coin and came back the A34 way rather than the M40 way, which seemed to be working until we got to Abingdon and ended up in stationary traffic. But we arrived eventually, just in time for smallclanger to have quiche for tea with his Mum.

And that's what we did on our week away. (Unfortunately, what the garden did on our week away is drown three of my pot plants and drop all the peaches off the peach tree. But you can't have everything…)
Friday, August 20th, 2010
9:27 am
This morning smallclanger told me he knows what "booby" means.

It is of course a sea bird whose propensity for flying into the hands of its human captors may have given rise to the phrase "booby trap".
Monday, August 16th, 2010
10:18 pm
Road Trip
Episode n in the series Let LiveJournal Run My Life…

So the vague idea has occurred to me of doing a short visit to Edinburgh on the Bank Holiday weekend to see the Eggplants who are playing the 26th to 29th (although Thursday and Friday are out because of being at work). This probably involves trying to get there at a reasonable time in the afternoon Saturday (via dropping a Clanger off with my parents) and coming back Monday.

Poll #1606504 Kenny I go?

What do you think?

You're mad
Good idea — do it
Why, I think I might be seeing them also!
I may be going to some other Fringe event
I'd like a lift :-)

Of course, if they don't have tickets left, all this is moot.
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