CURIOUS INCIDENT NO 1
So even before the accommodation debacle (this is a future post due to the debacle not being over yet! – watch this space) a few other things happened which I was NOT expecting in this first world country we call England.
Do you remember my concern when I went to the bank and was told the card would be posted to me??? Well, I’m not sure if the Universe decided to have some fun with me but after waiting patiently for a week (I was told it would take a few days), I left Hammersmith to start my new life in Richmond and asked Cait to keep an eye out for when it arrived (pin letter and card letter to arrive separately as is the custom in these here parts). Archaic if you ask me! But I think I already said that.
Anyway, while freelancing in Paddington I get an automated call from the bank to say they suspect fraud on my account and if this is indeed the case, then I need to call this number etc etc. That was a surprise considering I didn’t even have a card and a pin yet so yes, fraud indeed suspected!
After answering a million automated questions I was finally put through to a human who then asked me another 101 questions, half of which I couldn’t answer as I hadn’t yet received the card!!! ‘Where were you when you suspect your card was taken? ‘ Well, I have no idea, somewhere between the bank posting it and it never getting to my post box! And ‘dear customer, you really need to be vigilant and keep your card safe at all times’. ‘Yes, I will, if I ever get it!’ Anyway, the reason why they suspected fraud and kindly alerted this fact to me was because the maximum amount had been drawn out of the account 2 days in a row – £600 in total – and apparently that’s an alerter because no-one draws money anymore – they just swipe. Anyway, they very kindly put the money back into my account. I, however, had to go into the bank to cancel the card and then they wanted to post it to me again!!! So, I had a word. And a week later I was able to pick up my contactless (another stupid, stupid idea I think) card and that problem was sorted.
CURIOUS INCIDENT NO 2
While still staying with Cait in Hammersmith they needed to have their bed replaced as it was broken. So the landlady had ordered a new bed from John Lewis (who I later found out is meant to be the best furniture place in all of London in terms of quality and I assume service, delivery and all of that). Cait had told me that the landlady would make arrangements for someone to be there when the bed arrived and assembled but the date kept changing.
I was alone at home the day the John Lewis guys arrived. This rang some alarm bells, firstly because I was pretty sure someone besides me should be there and secondly, when he was leaving I told him that I was pretty sure he needed to assemble the bed as the landlady had paid for this service. He said no, it was not stated on his delivery sheet that assembly was part of the service and so he would not be doing that. During this time I had called Cait to make sure and she assured me that they did indeed need to assemble the bed. So there I went running down the road trying to find out if there was anything I could do to make him come back and assemble the bed! By this time the landlady had found out and was screaming down the phone to the delivery man who was very stoic in the face of such verbal abuse. It wasn’t on the delivery sheet to assemble the bed so that was that in his mind.
Five minutes later the landlady came tearing down the road, on her bicycle, looking like Angela Lansbury in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She implored me to help her assemble the bed as she wanted it done before Cait and Reece got home. So I said sure. It was at this time that I found out about John Lewis’ apparent good reputation and also how in this instance there service had been appalling. It was highly entertaining but also interesting to see that South Africa is not the only place where this can happen and that it does indeed happen elsewhere. It’s probably good to note here too, that I did not leave South Africa because I was unhappy with customer service and believed it would be better in the UK – if that was the case, I would have had a serious case of the ‘WTF did I get myself into’s’.
Said assembly of said bed, coupled with Angela flying around the room, getting me to follow instructions was hilarious to say the least. I’d like to say otherwise but we sadly did not manage to finish the assembly in its entirety before Cait and Reece got home and they ended up helping. What was meant to take 40 minutes and 2 people according to the assembly sheet took us 90 minutes and 4 people (in the end). As a parting gift before flying off on her bicycle, Angela gave me £30 which is what she had paid John Lewis for the assembly of the bed (she had vowed to get it back from them as she had already paid and I am damn sure she did!). So the next day we spent it wisely – more on that in a subsequent post. I found it very amusing that the first money I earned in England was for doing manual labour! 😉
CURIOUS INCIDENT NO 3
So I will admit that I came to England with a sense that things would be far safer here. Even though I am very vigilant still and probably always will be (thanks Lloyds bank for alerting me to that as well). And apparently Richmond is one of the safest areas in London etc. However, on my very first amble down Sheen Road, with Mnandi about to show off the town to me in all its glory, we stumbled across a crime scene. Yes, a real one like you see in the British movies. The police tape was cordoning off an area and in that area were a whole lot of things that were marked (presumably Exhibit A, B etc) and the guy standing over the items was in a white jumpsuit that said Forensics on the back. And there was blood EVERYwhere!!!! Someone had been moving as it spanned quite a vast area and was splattery! Anyway, I wanted to take photos (obviously!!!) and then I could have posted it here now but Mnandi was horrified and said absolutely no way. I still have no idea why! She was visibly shaken and said that nothing like that EVER happens in Richmond. Well, it very clearly did. I tried to find a report on it on the internet and really looked hard but could not find anything so maybe it was brushed under the carpet like so many things are in British culture … nothing to see here kind of thing. 😉
Anyway, the rest of that day was magnificent and Richmond is truly an awesome place to live. We walked along the river and picnicked and drank and soon all my curious incidents were long forgotten, put into the back of my mind until I could write about it!