By Aislinn De'Ath

By Aislinn De'Ath
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Friday, 9 December 2011


Reader, this has been a very long, very busy week. I have been up every day at about 5.30am and most days have not got home till around 10pm. I have been juggling acting work (that's the nice bit, one advert gig and two radio recordings, hurrah!), call centre work, promotions work, hospital appointments and getting ready for Christmas. Now I keep dozing off every few minutes (despite having had a nap earlier today...bliss) and my skin is suffering (I currently look like something in the woods parents warn their kids about) along with my stress levels (ever found yourself swearing at a fork? I have.).

Luckily, this weekend should be a surefire cure, I'm off to pick my Christmas trees with the dad on Saturday, going for my office Christmas party that night (during which I plan to get fabulously tipsy with my work friends in my new eighties style dress), decorating my trees Sunday, watching the muppets Christmas. Bliss. But first I have to get through an aerobics class tomorrow morning. Oh dear. Apart from that it should be pretty perfect though!

This week I've noticed signs that I am ageing quite scarily fast. How do I know this is happening? Well, I've become frequently aware of the commercialisation of Christmas (I had a tantrum because my Advent calender had a door in it that said 'Merry Cadbury Christmas' don't need to bloody promote yourselves I'M ALREADY EATING YOUR CHOCOLATE!!! It made me want to stamp on it, but I didn't because that would be a waste of delicious delicious chocolate.) If I had a choice, my Christmases would be Dickensian affairs with candles everywhere and real trees (none of this fake pine crap), there would be carol concerts every night and Christmas films on every channel. To be fair, this is remarkably close to what my family Christmases are like. Bloody marvellous. Although I'm increasingly finding I can't venture to the local shops because I get hulk stylee angry at cartoon character Christmas decorations. There are some things I am willing to overlook. Yes, we all know santa's real clothes are green, and it was his deal with Coca Cola that made them red, but given that not every santa costume has coca cola advertised on the bum, I'm ok with that. Ben Ten tree decorations are just plain wrong, and I'm sorry, but whoever came up with the idea of a Christmas Justin Beiber range needs a good kicking. Ok. That's THAT rant over.

The second reason for knowing I'm getting old is that I've become increasingly aware of customer service. I do work in the service industry, so that probably doesn't help (especially because I'm a stickler for making sure customers get what they asked for), but I get driven mad by bad phone advisers or sales people. I've stopped going to Patisserie Valerie altogether because the service is always so bad, and I've become one of those biddies who complains if she's not altogether delighted with the service and sends a letter of congratulations (with glitter) if people are friendly and quick. Two organisations in particular keep cropping up for me. One is Amazon, for good reasons. Every time I've dealt with Amazon, they've been polite, well meaning and fast. Just today I called them because of a package that hasn't arrived (which turned out to be the fault of Royal Mail) and they were sensational, instantly apologising and arranging for a solution, reducing my irritation by about 250% and leaving me with warm fuzzlies. Then you've got completely the other side, the NHS. You do get the rare gems in there (I have two local GPs who I adore and feel very comfortable with and would go to every time if I could) but for the most part, there is far too much lack of customer care, because yes, we ARE customers, even though we pay through our taxes rather than direct to them. Today was a prime example. I had an appointment at 8.30 in the morning, I turned up at 8.20 (early as ever) then had to wait half an hour to be seen (the nurse didn't even show up till 8.45 and I didn't receive an apology for her lateness, which isn't really even a customer service thing, just a politeness thing). There were cracks in the ceiling, strange Frankenstein style stains down the walls and the waiting area was freezing. Now, don't get me wrong, I am pro-NHS. I think we are very very lucky to live in a country that has a health system through which you don't have to pay for an ambulance or a heart transplant. But it needs improvement. I've been to NHS hospitals that are gorgeous, clean and spacious and full of lovely friendly workers. But there does seem to be a trend with the London ones where standards are slipping, and it isn't good enough. Maybe I should send a letter to someone. Is it too much to ask that the hospital shop sells nice food? Or that there are a couple of magazines for people to read? I don't think so!

Rant over, back to christmas joy and jingle!

1 comment:

  1. Ash I feel particularly compelled to respond to this rant, specifically the part where you mention the trouble with the NHS. I agree the system needs improving. However there are so many complex financial issues tied up with hospitals you cannot believe, having recently learned about the PFI scheme's set up by the previous labour government(personal finance incentives) I was left quite shocked about what hospitals have to deal with finance wise, which affects the way they are run in this country. Its all down to the ridiculously extortionate rent charged by the private investors who put up the lovely shiney new hospital, which actually they are having to pay humongous interest rates on. And before any doctors or nurses can get paid this huge pile of rent has to be paid, its also getting progressively bigger.So yes it looked great for Blair and Brown who were able to open lots of fresh new hospitals when they were in government, but now several years later we are are dealing with the crap they have left us in. Thanks labour.