Categories
Israel Jewish Religion

What the hell is going on?

I shouldn’t have to, but I wanted to explain myself. For my sake and for no one else.

If you follow me on Twitter normally you’d find a very random mix of Tech, Jewishness, Music, Football, and general crap that somehow falls out my mind, into my fingers and onto twitter. Yet, for the last two days, I’ve barely tweeted anything apart from retweeting reports of things going on in Israel.

I’m anxious. Last night I barely slept. Today I couldn’t concentrate. This afternoon, as rockets rained down on Israel, I scrambled to text friends, telling them I was thinking of them, checking they were safe. Some friends in shelters, some without shelters. One friend told me how her grandfather of over 90, a holocaust survivor, wasn’t fast enough to move the the shelter and she had to help him.

But that’s all thousands of miles away. Why am I REALLY anxious?

Because every time there is an escalation in Israel, Anti-Semitism outside of Israel increases.
Living my life as a Jew thousands of miles from Israel gets more complex and scarier.

Complex because I feel I want to hide my identity. I’m proudly Jewish (and it just so happens, also proudly a Zionist.) Yet the moment there’s an escalation in Israel, I usually shut down that part of my personality among people I don’t know well. Why? Because the moment I declare my religious affinity, I get barraged with questions and queries, and accusations that I have done X Y or Z.

Scarier because you just don’t know how folk will react. Anti-semitism has already been on the increase in the last few years, and with tensions high in the Middle East, tensions get high elsewhere too. I know, and I am ever thankful to know, that quietly in the background while all this is going on, organisations like the CST are on high alert making plans to protect the UK Jewish community from whatever fall-out might occur here in the UK.

The media coverage of the events in Israel, and Gaza right now is poor. The bias is skewed, and the reasoning provided for actions often incorrect. A number of tweets yesterday showed Jews dancing at the Kotel (The holiest site in the Jewish world) while on top of temple mount, there was a fire. The tweets suggested the Jewish people were dancing with joy at the fire. Yesterday was Yom Yerushalayim – the day of the Unification of Jerusalem. The Jews were dancing because they could dance and pray there, as could their Christian, Armenian and Arab brothers, thanks to unification. (Before the 1967 war Jews were not allowed to visit the holiest site in the Jewish faith)… oh and the fire? The fire was a tree that caught light when struck by a firework fired from atop Temple Mount in the Al-Aqsa complex.

This is just one example of many, but equally is nothing new. Truth does not make for good news. The media doesn’t enjoy spreading balanced views and thrives on pitting one group against the other, fuelling the hate and enflaming the situation.

But really?… What do I think to what’s going on? I think THE WORLD can and should do better.
How?
ACTUALLY. DO. YOUR. RESEARCH.

Does Israel have an upper hand? It’s hard to argue against it… but why do they have the upper hand?
Because the Palestinian people are failed time and time again by their terrorist dictatorship governments who have absolutely no intentions around the sanctity of the life of their people and focuses ONLY on the killing of Jews.

Did I say Jews and not Israelis? Yes. Why? Take a read of the Hamas Charter: https://fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/880818.htm (Wiki on the “Hamas Charter”) Press Ctrl + F and type “Jews”….
Hamas is the organisation that governs Gaza.

Imagine if this was the UK government cabinet, and the word “Jew” was replaced with “French”! The UN wouldn’t stand for it. Peace and human rights activists worldwide would be up in arms. Other countries would send troops in to overthrow militant power and ensure order was ensued.

The world can do better because the Palestinian people in Gaza deserve better than a government that doesn’t care about them. A government that doesn’t believe in peace, doesn’t want peace yet only wants and thrives on war.

The Palestinian people both in Gaza and the West Bank deserve a government that spends money on infrastructure, on healthcare, on development, on education and on growth. On a government that promotes co-existence, peace and love. A government that doesn’t waste money on rockets and terror tunnels. Doesn’t fire rockets from schools and hospitals, and doesn’t brainwash it’s people into extremist ideologies.

I strongly believe in rights for our Palestinian brothers and sisters. (an Arab friend and I often joke we are far more similar than we like to admit). BUT, I believe the best and most sustainable path to rights and peace, is to ensure those leading way and leading the people are doing it with the correct intent.

To ‘Free Palestine’ is not “from the river to the sea” (a call for the destruction of Israel), is to free the Palestinians from their maligned government, and it will take the world to speak out, in order to do so.

Oseh shalom bimromav
Hu ya’aseh shalom aleynu
Ve’al kol yisrael
Ve’imru Amen

He who makes peace in his high places
He shall make peace upon us
And upon all of Israel
And say Amen

Categories
Personal Tech

I got a bit nostalgic about a desk…

This week has been strange for me. Uncharacteristically for “Pandemic Steven”, I’ve taken the week off work. I like my holidays and going away, and the idea of a week where I had to stay home felt a bit odd, however the time was right to take a lil break.

Among the many tasks and outdoor social events of the week, I found myself finishing off some of the last bits of clearing up Grandma’s old flat ahead of the next chapter of it’s life… (More on that soon!). The big job that needed doing, was the removal of “the desk”.

I started the dismantling without thought as to what the desk meant, yet as I undid the many screws, bolts, brackets, braces and beams that held it together, I started to get a little nostalgic.

It might not be the exact desk, but this amazing portrait is a pretty accurate representation of the original proprietor of the desk!
(Portrait by Louise Soloway Chan)

The desk in question was huge. About 1.5 meters in length and easily over 50cm deep. A set of drawers was attached underneath at each end. All finished in a sort of Oak Veneer. (Naturally, I would hope that “Oak” was ‘Veneer of the week’ this week, however I suspect “oak” to be far too simple!) Sadly, having asked around and even taking it to one, the charity shops didn’t want it. It was a product of its time – 1988 said the label underneath – built for a large CRT monitor and large PC, it was a nightmare to transport and alas, its time to meet its maker had come.

30 years is a good innings for a desk!

Amid the grass, screws, pieces of wood and metal in the garden behind the flat, where dismantling was taking place, I started to think a bit about the desk. For years (13 to be precise), that desk had been the place that my grandfather z’l wrote his articles for the various publications he wrote in, surfed the internet (I’m led to believe the internet was still only in black and white when he was online!) and wrote silly stories to keep Adam and myself amused as kids. (If you haven’t heard of the tales of “Dashy Docklands and Uriah Underground”… you probably aren’t missing much!).

As a child, I remember most visits to 54 Redbridge Lane started with a visit to that desk. Zaida was always in his office. He’d be writing an article, or playing a game at the sanctuary of his desk. I’d go up and find out what he was doing. Often, work would be stopped, one of the many floppy disks would be placed in the disk drive and he’d show me how to play what are now classic DOS games such as Micemen or JezzBall. (I got sidetracked writing this, just played Micemen, and I’m still useless!) I’m pretty sure that it was some of those early encounters with the computer that lead me to the love of technology I have today and to a job in the industry I’ve been lucky to work in for the last 10 years.

When Zaida passed away, and subsequently Grandma moved to Barnet, the desk came with. It fitted perfectly into the alcove in the dining room, and while Grandma’s enthusiasm for computing was not the same as Zaida’s the desk still saw use through the occasional email, game of Free Cell or Solitaire, attempts to download and print various articles and/or recipies and the short lived…. foray…. Grandma once undertook into the world of Facebook.

As time went on, I’d find myself spending more and more time at the desk again. Now, however undoing whatever mess grandma had managed to unwittingly get herself into in her internet crusades, or attempting to fix the printer. (which usually meant just putting new cartridges in, as they had been that seldom used they had dried up!).

Taking the desk apart piece by piece was strangely therapeutic. It gave me a good chance to think of all the great memories over the years;

My first memory of printing something happened at that desk – a sign that read “Tea, Coffee or Brandy?” and contained a perfectly 90s clip art image of a cup which was affixed to the dining room door at 54 Redbridge Lane in homage to the game Adam and I used to play where we’d offer you “Tea, Coffee or Brandy” from an old Tea Set Grandma saved for us…

I also thought back to awe I felt the first time we saw a digital camera – Uncle Leslie had returned from one of his many trips to China, asked for a floppy disk and took some photos of us. We all went up to the office and watched as the floppy disk was popped into the drive and we appeared on the screen! Copies were emailed to us at home, and a few moments later, by the magic of “BubbleJet” the photo was also printed out!

As I took the drawers apart, I removed the “magic” trays in the tops of the drawers. They would contain many dried up pens, blunt and broken pencils, and bits and pieces. I remember being mystified at the drawer within the drawer as a kid!

Suddenly, I realised that the dismantling was complete and all I was left with was a pile of pieces that I’d have to work out disposing of.
An era was over. I was sad, but also felt a strange sort of closure and completeness.

As I sat looking at the pile of pieces, I realised that this wasn’t the only era to end this week… Today (Friday) is the last working day I’ll officially have the job title “IT Support Engineer”. For the last (very almost) 10 years, I’ve held a variety of similar titles and been blessed to work for 3 very different companies, supporting internal staff and infrastructure, being “The IT Guy”.

From next week, I’m trying something new – I’ll be a Technical Program Manager. I’ll have new responsibilities, new things to do, different people to meet and different goals to achieve. I’m excited as I am scared but am looking forward to the challenge.

It’s going to be seriously strange after 10 years not to be “the IT Guy” and I’m not sure quite how I’m going to get my head round that… but like the desk, sometimes good things come to the end of their era, to make space for even better things in the future.

Categories
Uncategorized

Hesped for Grandma

Eulogy read at the Shiva of Grandma Jackie (Jacqueline Phillips) on 17th December 2020.

It’s been far more of a challenge than I could ever have imagined, to pick a few stories and memories to share. Listening to Aunty Carol, Dad and Rabbi Livingstone this afternoon, as well as looking at how many people are here in Zoom this evening, really made me realise just how many people Grandma had an impact upon. 

As a child, I always looked forward to spending time with Grandma, and Zaida before he passed. Every Sunday night, Grandma and Zaida would come and babysit for us. Zaida would be in charge, as ever of the TV Controls and Fish and Chips, while Grandma focussed on looking after Adam and myself. 

We particularly loved bath time, which always concluded with grandma wrapping us up in towels “like a parcel” and calling for “Postman Pat” to post us to bed. 

No Yom Tov went by without the afternoon walk to Clay Hall park or the rec behind Grandma’s house, where we would spend what felt like hours on the swings, or trying to find grandma as she wandered off to admire at the roses. 

Redbridge Lane held a lot of happy memories for me growing up. In the front room, was a small tea trolley which contained a collection of coloured coasters and strange metal tea pots. These tea pots became legendary when grandma taught us to go around the house asking anyone if they wanted “Tea or Coffee”. Zaida was not content was just two options available and much to grandma’s dislike added brandy to the menu. Adam and I can promise that tea and coffee were never the popular options. 

During the school holidays I always looked forward to sleepovers at Grandmas. Grandma would go all out in what she would openly admit was “spoiling us rotten”. From steak and home made chips for dinner to sweets and popcorn – Adam an I were always well fed! 

On one of my earlier sleepovers, I was promptly promoted to the kitchen stool while grandma cooked dinner, after grandma came into the living room to find that Zaida had me mixing his pipe tobacco. She was not impressed. 

The highlight of a sleepover at grandma’s. Was ALWAYS the day trip. We’d set out early and visited all sorts of different places. We drove out to Maldon to the beach and spent many a day out in London. We’d walk down to Redbridge tube, I would point to a place on the tube map, and off we went. I quickly learnt that pointing to somewhere on the DLR meant we could ride round  all day driving the train, and was lucky enough on one of the trips that she convinced the guard to let me press the buttons!

On a trip to Duxford War Museum, Zaida gave grandma strict instructions to take me on a flight. When we arrived at Duxford, in keeping with family traditions, we were too late and all flights had sold out that day. Not wanting to upset Zaida or let me down, Grandma thought she had found a solution. We shuffled into the simulator, and had just got comfortable when the safety barrier was secured tightly. Grandma thought she’d arranged a leisure flight simulator, however on the contrary. We took part in a 15 minute airshow with the red arrows. We both stumbled off the simulator with grandma making it clear this would… never…. happen…. again. 

No matter the circumstances, Grandma was always able to find the something funny in the situation. A trait I have discovered that I also have. While in Stanmore Orthopaedic hospital following an operation to remove cancer from her leg, she gathered us all and insisted we got chairs. We all sat round her in the large open ward where she’d held court for the last few days and with a very serious face she told us “Ive spoken with the Drs and nurses. It’s been a very hard decision for me… it’s not good news… but we’ve decided… it’s probably best… that I give up pole dancing!” The whole ward erupted laughing. 

This sense of humour stayed with her throughout her illness. When visiting grandma at the care home, we’d ask her “Grandma, how are you feeling?” She’d stop for a second, think, look back at you and say “still mainly with my hands”. 

We’re so grateful for the care Jewish Care provided to grandma while she was a resident and to Grandma’s friend Shiela Lawrence who volunteered at the home every week. She visited grandma and took her down to shul every Saturday for the shobbos services which I know she would have appreciated. 

I’m glad that we got to say goodbye to grandma and that she’s no longer suffering – I’m sure she’s already put on her dancing shoes and has already been appointed as secretary on a large number of committees organising everyone in her own inimitable way.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet – May her memory be a blessing.

Categories
Uncategorized

A drive through London

Categories
Travel

Montserrat & It’s Cog/Funicular Railways

Following conversation in a work IM group… Here’s some photos form my trip to Montserrat, Spain in 2019…

I hope to add some more photos from trips soon!

Montserrat Rack Railway https://www.cremallerademontserrat.cat/en/rack-railway/the-rack-railway/
CabView
View of the Valley
Funicular machinery
Funicular car
The Furnicular
Bottom to top….
Top to bottom!

A bonus…

“Funicular Aeri De Montserrat
Categories
Jewish

Holocaust Memorial Day 2019

Today is Holocaust Memorial day, a day worldwide where we think of the atrocities of the holocaust and say “Never again”… Thinking back over the events of the last two weeks, and to the funeral of the 6 victims of the holocaust I was honoured to volunteer at, I realise how lucky I am. The majority of my family that I know of, have no direct links to the holocaust. I know of some cousins who perished in Majdanek (Thanks to the power of facebook!) but unlike many of my friends, I have no real direct link.

While we say “never again” we also note that anti-Semitism is on the rise. Where I don’t have a direct link to holocaust, I do carry with me a reminder of anti-semitism everywhere I go. You see, my grandfather, was “Philip Phillips”, an odd name if you ask me.  We knew the family name was Smolleransky, (I think that’s how it’s spelt) but I’d always assumed the family name had been changed when the family had come to England and my Great Grandparents were somehow clinging on.

It wasn’t until I made a flippant comment about this to grandma about a year ago, that she explained;

My Grandfather was born Philip Smolleransky. During the war, his Dad (My great grandfather) decided to fight for the British army… but was scared to use the name Smolleransky – Grandma’s words were “It wasn’t a good idea to go to the British army with a name like Smolleransky… you wouldn’t be accepted”…. People in England struggled to pronounce Smolleransky and used to refer to my Great Great Grandparents (are you keeping up?) as “Mr & Mrs Phillip” as my Great Great Granddad’s name was Philip….

… so through fear of anti-Semitism, the family name was changed to Phillips… My grandfather’s birth and wedding certificates say “Changed by deed poll”, and the course of our family history changed forever.

It scares me, that in 2019, with the world more advanced that it ever has been… where each race knows more about each other than ever before we’ve not learnt the lessons of our recent history of 1941-1945 and anti-Semitism is back up on the rise.

I don’t for one moment plan to change my name back… mainly because as a child I struggled to spell Phillips and wouldn’t want to pain my children with Smolleranksy… but I do often wonder what the world would have been like, if my Great Grandparents weren’t fearful all those years ago, and I’d been Steven Smolleransky.

Categories
TalkTalk

Dear Tristia & Clive (pt.4)

To quote the words of Pop Sensation Alanis Morrisette – I’m here to remind you of the mess you left when you went away. This should be the words sent to the Openreach “engineer” whom was working on our phone-lines yet again today.

Clive, Tristia, Your Respective Press Teams, Esteemed Friends, Frenemies and Enemies watching on Facebook & Twitter. I’m writing to you again. Not for my love of poorly crafting random song lyrics into letters but simply because, as The Average White Band perfectly sang – “Let’s go round again”. You have succeeded in turning back the hands of time as the next line suggests – back to the middle of January WHEN WE HAD NO PHONE LINE OR INTERNET WITH NO WARNING.

Tristia, we’ve been in vague contact with your whimsy barely effective apologiser, Alick, with regards to our internet. He told us it had been returned to full service… yet in the same letter admitted there was still a fault on our line…. Back to Alanis again; Isn’t it Ironic, don’t you think?

He’s (apparently) been on holiday, or so he told us today during one of his brief calls of no substance. He hasn’t responded to the questions on our emails, or the phone calls/messages which we’ve left him asking what is going on.

This would all be well and good if our internet was working – It’s been about 80% working… Strangely similar to the internet we had when we first reported this issue back on the 6th of January……

Anyway, I digress. Even though Talktalk believe there was no fault on our line (but also a fault on our line?!) it would appear someone from our beloved friends at OpenReach have been performing some works on our line this morning…

How do we know I hear you cry? In what can only be described as engineering excellence from an engineer who believes 50 volts should be plugged straight into a bath full of water, our phone line now is dead again. Our internet, is dead again… although, that might not be quite all it seems.

While, unlike last time you haven’t gone full out Blondie and left us “hanging on the telephone”….. should you “Call Me, (call me) on the line, you can call me, call me anytime” You’ll actually ring our lovely neighbours across the road… (perhaps this is when they become, good friends?)

Our dear neighbour across Ramsey Street… I mean Stanhope Road, is actually a Doctor whom is often on call. I would hate to think you’d have to send some “Supermarket Flowers” (as sung by Ed Sheeran) when he misses a call and a patient doesn’t quite make it.

Back to Alanis, but Ironically their internet isn’t working, and phoning their number doesn’t ring our house… Lord knows where it goes…. A little too ironic, now I really do think.

I don’t want to Raaaaaaain on your wedding day… because I assume that you two, Tristia and Clive, are in some sort of messed up matrimony over this… but I think the good advice that you just should take, would be to sort out this telephony roulette once and for all.

We know what’s going to happen. Clive, you will send lovely Mark down. Lovely Mark will find us “Hanging on the telephone” (Thanks again, Debbie!), will plug us back into the right socket and then… It’s just a jump to the left, a step to the right and the TimeWarp has gone back to the 6th of January YET AGAIN…. Except we can’t play our “Late night double feature picture show” as the YouView box has no internet to connect to.

Clive – Get the networking side of this shocker sorted please. Tristia, we’ve heard from Clive himself… When I see your face, well…I’ll be a believer – I’ve offered to come and meet you a number of times, but I’m not sure you actually even exist.

As it happens, I enjoy writing these emails, my friends enjoy reading them and sharing them, however I’d really rather that we had our internet back up and working properly without all this additional aggravation. To quote my dear friend Shania Twain on your response to this whole debacle, Tristia… “That don’t impress me much”.

I’m no longer sure if I look forward to hearing from you, or if I will ever hear from you? (Tristia, do you even exist?!)

Please contact me either via email, or via my mobile… Alternatively call our neighbours on our landline number… I’m off to eat a couple of yogurts and tie the pots together with string.

Kind regards,

A rather “hung up” (Thanks Madge),

Steven

Categories
TalkTalk

Dear Tristia & Clive (Pt.3)

Hello,

It’s me, I was wondering if after all these weeks you’d like to meet…. Okay, it’s not quite how Adele wrote it, but as my internet still isn’t fixed, I’m cordially inviting you both round to my house to come and witness it first-hand. I’ll provide the Cakes and the Coffee, you guys provide the poor connection and we can struggle to stream cat videos from Youtube together.

Tristia, Clive, you might have noticed I’ve been quiet the last few weeks. The reason is, quite frankly I’ve had other priorities in my life than doing the unpaid work of your combined teams. I’ve been running diagnostics, chasing engineers, trying to find a solution… I shouldn’t be doing any of it. Tristia, your Fault management team & CEOs team have been as useful as filling up a Fire Engine with Petrol instead of water.

Clive, you’re on a slightly better footing – you’ve sent us the lovely Mark. Mark has gone above and beyond to try and make sure our copper cabling isn’t at fault. But we knew it wasn’t. We were told that in January.  I can’t help but feel you’re just fobbing us off until June when the new cabinet goes live? Do me a favour, send me the fibre equivalent of Mark… Maybe as the fibre side is owned by Talktalk, it’s you Tristia that needs to be doing the sending.

The thing is, the facts here are fairly simple; I’ve run a series of tests where I ping a server on the internet. All over night, with no real load on our line. While most of the time I got a reply within 8-10 milliseconds, a number of times it took up to 3 seconds to get a reply. Something is STILL not right. Those three second (and on some tests I ran nearly 5 second) responses are the reason our internet just “Stops” randomly while we use it. We could be streaming Youtube, FireStick, checking Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and things just stop. Not ‘in the name of love’, but more ‘Right now, thank you very much’…. Except I’m not thanking anyone as there is no reason it should stop.

Getting technical, I imagine it’s because the sites we are using are using the TCP protocol. It’s like handshake –

*Connection open*

> “Hello are you there?”

< “Yes, I’m here”

>”Data Please”

<”Okay! DATA….”

>”Thanks, bye!”

*Connection Closed*

When our internet drops out, I imagine it goes a bit more like this:

*Connection Open*

> ”Hello, are you there?”

< ”Yes, I’m here”

> “Data Please”

> “Data Please

> “HELLO?! ARE YOU STILL THERE

< *Mumbles to himself* Oh, they’ve gone, shut down the connection.

*Connection closed*

> “Data Please!!!!!”

< The person you are calling is currently unavailable, and their mailbox is full. Please try again.

 

Seriously now, slightly dumbed down technicalities over, Please, come and visit… see for yourselves, it’s infuriating and makes using the internet often impossible – Things stop downloading or streaming, messages don’t send and photos in webpages download like its 1998 dialup again! (Line by line!)

Strangely, this all sounds very similar to the fault I reported to TalkTalk back in January.  Temperamental internet. Great work all teams, over 4 months and you’ve made no difference.

Now, Tristia, one of your well trained apologisers was supposed to be refunding some of our Direct Debits while circus show was ongoing. That never happened. So, hear it here first…. You broke your SLA, I’m going to break ours – I’ll be instructing Dad to cancel the Direct Debit he pays you. Simple as that. We’ll also be compiling a bill over the next few days. Not only of the mobile data have we had to buy and the 4G WiFi equipment for home, but also, of the time we’ve spent doing the job of your teams. Chasing OpenReach, Pretending to be TalkTalk, running tests, and writing these letters in order to get stuff done.

I’ll end with some good news – while this charade has been going on, Vodafone have been digging closer and closer to my house. Yes, Clive that’s right, in the time you’ve been fobbing us off, Vodafone and Cityfibre have been busy at work, laying fibre to the premises.  Looks like they’ve nearly met your 70 day lead time for our whole area! Following the sensational service you two have provided, I think I’d be a damn fool not to already be in contact with Vodafone about getting their service fitted. (For the record, it’s been all the WRONG sensations.)

Anyway, enough of this tomfoolery – I must get back to work… (I’m sure you’ll love my newly self-appointed title in my signature!)

I look forward to hearing from you – Let me know when to put the kettle on.

Kind regards,

Steven

Newly appointed Senior Case Manager, Barnet Area, TalkTalk PLC & BT OpenReach PLC.

Categories
TalkTalk

Dear Tristia & Clive (Pt 2)

Dear Tristia and Clive,

CC: Press.Office@Talktalk.co.uk, newsroom@bt.com, Social Media & Any interested newspaper

 

I address this letter to you both. Like partners in a dysfunctional marriage…. Because frankly this charade has been like observing a dysfunctional marriage.

Tristia, I wrote to you back on the 6th of March, regarding our lack of internet and phone…. It’s now the 23rd of March and guess what? I’m sure you guessed it…. Still nothing. Frankly two yoghurt pots and some string are more useful than the service you currently don’t provide to us!

I didn’t hear back from you Tristia. You’re like the pen friend who doesn’t reply to my messages… we’ve all been there… or maybe you also don’t have any internet. You did however place one of your highly skilled team on our case. When I say highly skilled, I mean highly skilled in being generally clueless and issuing multiple empty apologies.

Never mind… I digress. We’ve now been 62 days without internet…. But I’ve realised Tristia that the lack of pressure from TalkTalk is your issue, but the lack of action from OpenReach is actually Clive’s Fault.

So, Clive…. We turn our attention to you.

You’ll find below in this mail trail, a copy of the previous email I sent to your partner in crime, Tristia. I suggest you read it… It’s quite amusing actually…. Until you realise it’s 100% true and is not a fiction novel.

You see Clive, the thing is (TL:DR), over 62 days ago, one of your employees told us that we’d go from temperamental internet to perfect internet within a few days. Those few days later, we were completely disconnected…. Since those “Few days” we’ve had no formal acknowledgement of when it will be fixed…. Or even IF it will be fixed. Who knows? This could be the end of the internet for us! But who doesn’t love being told we’ll get an UPDATE in a month, a week, a few days’ time. Not a resolution, just an update. The update is “Still no clue”.

I’m quite excited to read that Vodafone have signed a deal with CityFibre to provide fibre direct to the premises, as hopefully one day I’ll be able to get home internet without having to use your cack-handed infrastructure monopoly. If they were in my area now I’d have signed up already and left you and your sorry coppers for dust. (Same with Virgin Media….)

Now Clive, I’d like to let you into a little secret. In fact, not such a little secret…. You see the thing is, I work in IT. So I know lead-times for lines. In fact I have personally managed the installation of large corporate circuits. I also know, that according to the BT Website (Let’s be frank, you pretend to be impartial but aren’t.) I could have a Leased Line of a 1GB or 10GB bearer installed to my premises within 70 working days.  https://btbusiness.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/14172/~/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-btnet-up-and-running%3F/c/5091/

Another week, and you know what that means Clive? It means that had I ordered a leased line as our line went down, you’d have arranged planning permission, local council permission, closed off the road, dug up the road, laid fibre, filled in the road, connected the line up to my house and I’d have 10Gb guaranteed upload inside my front door.

I’m actually fairly impressed that you can’t even get a 30ish (On a good day with the wind blowing in the right direction…) fibre to the cabinet line fixed, NOT INSTALLED, just fixed in the time it could take you to provide fibre directly to our house. GOOD WORK.

So Clive, please tell me… because I’m stumped. If you can dig up roads and lay delicate fibre cables to buildings within 70 working days…. How is it possible you can’t fix up a dodgy port on a glorified patch panel in our local cabinet? Have all your engineers mysteriously gone AWOL? Have they taken my internet AWOL with them?

To Paraquote Sinead O’Connor; Tell me Clive, where did I go wrong? Because Nothing Connects. Nothing Connects 2U.

I doubt I’ll hear from you Clive… (or from you Tristia if you’re still reading – You’re probably playing Candy Crush or watching Cat Videos on Youtube)  but if you see this email… send me a sign. Hopefully a sign of an actual date of when this will be fixed.

I extend the same wish to you Clive as I did to Tristia – Tell me when and I’ll come and meet you, I your nice shiny office… probably with this mystical service they tell me about called phone lines and internet. Because, I’d love for you to be able to restore my faith in your service… but right now, I wouldn’t trust BT OpenReach… SORRY, JUST OPENREACH to look after a jar of dead flies.

As I’m sure you’ll understand – Slightly frosty regards,

Steven Phillips

@steveeypips

Categories
TalkTalk

Dear Tristia, CEO of Talk Talk (Pt.1)

Dear Tristia,

CC: Press.Office@Talktalk.co.uk & Social Media

I hope this open letter/email finds you well. In fact, I hope this email finds you at all. I highly doubt it will and based on the customer service I have received from your company so far, I’ll be surprised if it even gets delivered. Even sending this email to you has been a challenge – I’ve had to tether my laptop to my phone in order to send it to you, as for the last 45 days, we’ve been without internet and telephone line in our house.

Yes Tristia, you read it correctly, we’ve been without service for 45 days. For nearly the entirety of this year, we’ve been without services (Which I hasten to add we’ve continued to pay for) which are supposed to be provided by TalkTalk.

On the 6th of January, we reported to your technical team that we were having an intermittent internet connection over our FTTC line. Initially your technical teams denied such issues, and suggested we had a faulty router which was “hearing a faulty signal”. This absolute unfounded rubbish provided to us by a man over 6 and a half thousand miles away might wash with the majority of your customers, however I work in IT. I had therefore already tried a number of different, known, “Not Faulty” routers and was certain that our connection was at fault.

Eventually, after a number of calls to a large number of offshore call centres, I convinced one of your agents that an Open Reach engineer needed to visit our home and take a proper look. A few days later, I stayed in for the engineer and a lovely man turned up who confirmed that while our copper to the cabinet was absolutely faultless, the Fibre Operations team at Open Reach could see our line disconnecting regularly and suggested that we’d need to be moved to a new fibre port. He told us not to sweat and that although we had no available ports on our cabinet, a high priority ticket would be raised and we would be swapped within a few days, at worst a week.

We were overjoyed to see an engineer working on our cabinet a few days later, but with no further communication from TalkTalk I pulled my car over and spoke to him. He informed me that although it would be a few months before the new cabinet he was installing would be live, there would be no impact on our connection. While not ideal, we thought we’d be able to cope with a few more months of intermittency.

What happened instead is that were plunged into digital darkness. On the 20th January we went dark. We had absolutely nothing. No Phone, No Internet and no communication or real idea as to what was going on from anyone at TalkTalk. The well-known phrase about inability to host a raucous party in a brewery could be used as an adjective to describe things here….

We called… and called… and called and were eventually told that service would be resumed on the 1st March. Unhappy but having made a number of calls to your call centres, including a call where we were told we had been escalated to the CEOs office and we’d get a call back from a member of your team, (we didn’t ) we gave up and decided to sit tight until the 1st March. Meanwhile, we have run up huge bills on our mobile phones for calls and additional data.

The first of March rolled round, and I had to check we hadn’t jumped a whole month to the month of April. Sure enough, when the 2nd of March came, it was no April fool… we were still without anything. Another call to another of your exotic call centres told us that “We should have an update within 3 to 28 days”. THREE TO TWENTY EIGHT DAYS.

As you can imagine Tristia, we are now getting to the end of our tether with this entire charade. We were given a selection of numbers for Open Reach who refused to talk to us, and were even given a case number and engineer update line number so that we could pretend to be TalkTalk in order to try and gain updates and APPLY PRESSURE OURSELVES when it should have been your customer service team doing this. I’m not sure I’d trust your customer service team to service a dead cat, let alone my broadband line.

Further contact with your social media teams with a request for a member of your team to simply call me and explain what the wait is about has failed, with them only yesterday informing me we even had a case manager, and today promising me today a call “within three days”. Have any of your “CEOs Office” even seen my tweets, DMs, Facebook messages and general discontent? I doubt it!

But Tristia, let me tell you the biggest irony in all of this. When the line first went down, we had incoming calls forwarded to the account holder’s mobile. While the line has been down, we’ve had calls from scammers trying to tell us there are problems with our internet. You know, the scammers who have our details from your huge data leak a few years ago – even though you deny leaking our details… Ironic really… for once, the Scamsters are actually correct!

Tristia, The account holder, my dad, has been unable to work for two and a half years. During this time, he’s been using your service to stay sane. From watching TV to browsing the internet, and talking to friends, without the internet and Telephone service you are supposed to be providing, he’s at his lowest he’s been. Adding to this, we’ve noticed his moods have gotten snappy as he’s spending endless amounts of time saying the same thing over and over again to your exceptionally incompetent call centres.

This evening we had a call from an office in Manchester, (Even though the Philippines promised us there wasn’t one!) with more shallow apologies and loose promises of updates in a range of timeframes. Initially updates tonight were going to be in 28 days but when we explained that we were only able to actually hear the calls on our mobile phones by hanging out the kitchen window, it has been suggested that there will be a call tomorrow. I shan’t be holding my breath.

So, Tristia, as you can imagine I’d really like to get this shambles resolved. In fact I’d like to take a day off work to come and visit you at your shiny “NoTalkNoTalk” West London office, where I’m sure you have excellent connectivity. (If you’re sensible, it will be provided by Virgin Media!) Please let me know when would be a convenient date for you to meet with me, and I will ensure to arrange appropriate leave time from work.

Honestly, I’m not sure how you can get something so simple, so wrong. In 45 days, all we’ve had is shallow, half-hearted apologies – no one has even told us the reason that the line has gone completely dead. We know there was nothing wrong with it – the Open Reach engineer told me that when he was in our home.

I really look forward to hearing from you, (although doubt that I will.)

Kind regards,

A very disgruntled Steven Phillips.

(@steveeypips)