Smoke-screen

The National Assembly for Wales have once again managed to find the most expensive building contractors in Wales to undertake their latest project.

A £6,000 smoking shelter? Plus VAT?

I managed to have my old kitchen extension levelled, rebuilt and a brand new kitchen fitted for less than this. What type of shelter are they planning to build exactly? Even a bus shelter does not cost this kind of money and that type of design is what is frequently used in the private sector to accommodate their employees who desire to smoke.

Surely with the Assembly set to ban smoking in public places by next year, a high profile government building like this should be setting an example and giving limited to no smoking facilities?

As an ex-smoker I can sympathise with workers who require somewhere to go for their cigarette breaks, but surely at the same time they also need to be seen to be leading the way to a smoke-free Wales.

Life is not such a pigsty

Well, 15-05-06 is now in the past, but it certainly will not be forgotten.

Arrived at St Davids Hall in Cardiff at 2pm, I thought there would be a large crowd already, but, it was not to be. Only three people had gotten there before me.

Chris, Rachel and..her friend who I didn’t catch the name of.
Chris has been following the tour since Killarney in Ireland, April 13th. Very dedicated man.
Very nice people, great to chat to and pass the time with.

Decided to take the queue to the escalators at about 6:45.
Went up them..fourth person up.
Got to the doors of the auditorium..waited there for 10 minutes.

Got in..got my place at the barrier..stage centre. Could not have got a better position at all.
‘Twas very quiet, I was expecting it to fill up quickly. It didn’t.

After the support act, the crowd left the bar (which is outside the auditorium) and joined us.
The place was clearly a sell-out.
Very good crowd.

Had butterflys in my stomach before he came out.
“Hey hey, it’s Tiger Bay” was his opening comment..then went straight into First of the gang.
Very good to get the crowd going.

I held Morrissey’s hand. Twice. During Still Ill and The youngest was the most loved.
I held his hand twice.
He has very soft hands.

Here’s the setlist..

1. First of the gang to die
2. Still ill
3. The youngest was the most loved
4. In the future when all’s well
5. To me you are a work of art
6. Girlfriend in a coma
7. You have killed me
8. I will see you in far off places
9. At last I am born
10. The father who must be killed
11. Ganglords
12. Let me kiss you
13. Life is a pigsty
14. Trouble loves me
15. I just want to see the boy happy
16. How soon is now?

Encore:

Irish blood, english heart

Best song hands down was Life is a pigsty.
Rain effects, Boz playing the water glasses..
During, I think it was Let me Kiss You is where he got rid of his blue shirt and threw it directly at me.
I grabbed it. Had it. But then a gang grabbed at it too from my hands..
I held on to the arm of it for dear life.
Morrissey’s personal security, the big scary guy, cut the arm off for me and I now have it.
Enshrined forever.
Whoever I showed it to after the gig asked if I was going to auction it on eBay.
No chance. It’s worth far more than money.
My plan is to frame it frame it, with my ticket stub.

I took my camera in with me.
Security didn’t say a thing. I had been talking to some of them beforehand, however, and they said they would look the other way as long as I didn’t take the piss.
I took a few photos. Not too many as to be inconsiderate, but just enough to give me fond memories of that night.
From the amazing vantage point I had, I managed to get some really, really good shots.
You can see just how close I was to him.

He looked me in the eye numerous times.
When he and the band came out to do the encore, they all linked arms and walked towards the crowd, into a bow, as he was bowing, his eyes caught mine, for more than a split second.
I was dazed.

Overall, amazing show. Not a bad thing to say at all.
Morrissey was very gratuitous with the crowd, gave quite a few hand touches during the show and seemed to enjoy salsa dancing in his cuban heels which, I must say, were very striking.

 

The rest of the photos are here.

A short video is here on Youtube.
I’ve had this camera for a year now, and I did not know how good the video function on it actually was. What a dumbass. Else I would have made more/longer videos.
Nevermind.

See you all tomorrow

In the future when all’s well

Tomorrow is the day. THE day.
We’ve been waiting since January, at least, if not, for years, for him to come back to our fair city.

It seems like a decade since I was online at 8:30am frantically clicking at Ticketmaster to get the tickets.

Friday night’s setlist at Liverpool went as follows…

You Have Killed Me / How Soon Is Now? / First Of The Gang To Die / I Will See You In Far-off Places / On The Streets I Ran / To Me You Are A Work Of Art / Girlfriend In A Coma / The Youngest Was The Most Loved / The Father Who Must Be Killed / Let Me Kiss You / Life Is A Pigsty / At Last I Am Born / In The Future When All’s Well / Still Ill / Ganglord / I Just Want To See The Boy Happy // Irish Blood, English Heart

So, expect more of the same, apparently.

I’ve been ill all weekend, so a lot of the pent-up excitment has dissapeared with that, but, I have the whole day off work tomorrow to build it all back up. Wish me luck..

Pennies turn into pounds

I was thinking about something to post the whole journey into work this morning, but could come up with nothing.

However, reading a BBC News report has given me some inspiration.

BBC News | Business | Your Reporter: Unauthorised overdraft fees

A very good and fair report on a subject that can sometimes be very close to home.

I have a very small overdraft, purposely, because I don’t want to be always living within it, as I’m sure you can all appreciate.

However, there have been ocassions when, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, I’ve slightly miscalculated a direct debit or card payment and it has taken my account, albeit ever so slightly, over my agreed overdraft limit.

I bank with an internet bank that is part of the HSBC group.
Being internet and telephone only, historically their interest rates have been good (high for savings, low for borrowing), however, they recoup their money in other, more covert ways.

Unauthorised overdraft penalties are higher than average highstreet banks, £30 for going over and then an additional £35 if you are still over when your monthly statement is generated.

I have, as I’m sure a lot of other people have too, been hit by these charges, for exceeding my overdraft, even just for 24 hours by the smallest, most trivial amounts.
One example that jumps to mind is the 98p that I went over by, around about a year ago.

For there trouble, of letting me have an extra 98p for a day I was charged £30.
(For American readers to appreciate the level of extortion, thats $1.81 dollars over my limit and charged a fee of $55)

Now, we come to the purpose of this post.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has commented on the matter, claiming that,

Charges, “should only reflect the administrative costs of dealing with the default”

In January of this year, a consumer group, named The Bank Action Group (BAG) was formed “as a self-help organisation showing consumers how they can go about legally claiming back bank charges.”

According to them, if the bank in question is challeneged, rather than going through the courts, where the judgement would most likely be in the claimants favour, the banks and building societies will simply pay back the charges.

Dave Smith of BAG gives this advice on how a consumer should go about attempting to reclaim excess overdraft fees;

“First they ask their bank or building society to detail all bank charges going back six years,” he says. “They have to provide this information under the terms of the Data Protection Act.

“The consumer then writes stating their intention to sue in the county court for return of the charges.

“Under breach of contract law, penalty charges – such as those imposed for exceeding an overdraft limit – are unlawful. The banks know this.”

So, as a test case, this is what I shall attempt to do.
I want to find out how many of my charges I can recoup from my bank.

More to follow…

Update 05/05/06
I have requested, under the Data Protection Act 1998 that the bank send me a statement of all my charges since I have been with them. They have complied and will be with me in a few days.