Typical! Part 1: Having spent all that time and effort being sarcastic to that waster Purnell, what does he do? He resigns! Now I'll have to deal with a different Muppet! (Yvette Cooper who, along with her husband, another politician called Ed Balls, seems to be even more corrupt than her predecessor when it comes to parliamentary expenses, if that's possible!) He hasn't gone quietly, either, suggesting that Chairman Brown should step down for the good of everybody.
What did make me laugh was that the day after he resigned, a news reporter was camped outside Purnell's house in his constituency and reported that people kept stopping and telling him that he was wasting his time as Purnell had only been seen in his constituency once in the last ten years!
However, on the day that he resigned, I did get a letter from Greg Clarke, informing me that he had received my letter and that he had written to the chief executive of the CSA (now called the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission), Stephen Geraghty. This caused me some confusion, as when I had written to Mary Quinn, both the CSA website and the idiot that I spoke to stated that Mary Quinn was the chief executive, although I now notice that the website has been changed, and the Mary Quinn page, although still claiming that she is chief executive of the CSA, appears in the Department for Social Development website.
I didn't think that involving my MP would have much effect other than to get the morons at the CSA to actually do their jobs. But I was wrong, as I found out when Kevin Maguire phoned me on Friday to inform me that he was no longer dealing with my case, as it had been passed over to the Earl Luton (I still think that this could be an alias!) in the parliamentary team.
Whilst I had him on the phone, I also asked Kevin Maguire who his chief executive was. Just as well it wasn't a life or death question as he told me both Stephen Geraghty and Mary Quinn before putting me on hold and finding out before informing me that Mary Quinn is the head of the CSA and Stephen Geraghty is the chief executive. I'm still none the wiser.
I also had the rather bizarre experience of answering my phone yesterday to an Irish voice saying 'Hello, my name is Earl.....' However, that is where the humour ended as this idiot, obviously the Earl Luton that I'd been told about, informed me that he had taken over my case and had fifteen days (another CSA three weeks) to respond. More delays, meaning that by the time that I get this sorted it will be about eight weeks or more since my initial letter. Not exactly efficient when it states on their website
"It can seem difficult to make a complaint, but we want to make it as easy as possible so we can get things right".
Maybe they should let me design a more truthful website for them, perhaps
"Do you know an unemployable village idiot? If so, we have vacancies, especially management positions, just for them here at the Child Support Agency. Experience is a definite disadvantage although very low IQ and inability to perform the most simple of tasks will ensure rapid promotion. If they are exceptionally 'special' they will be assigned to our complaints resolution team in an effort to make it as difficult as possible for our incompetence to be exposed".
Earl Luton seemed quite surprised when I informed him that I expected things to move much faster than he was telling me as it had already been some time since my original complaint. His plea of it not being his fault that this process was taking so long was greeted by my informing him that I didn't care whose fault their inability to actually carry out their job was and that the whole business provided further evidence of the incompetence of the entire agency and all of its employees.
Typical! Part 2: When I received the phone call on Friday, I was on a minibus on my way to the Brecon Beacons having taken the day off to attend the Army Medical Services TA Patrolling Competition which was taking place in the Sennybridge training area, although purely in my role as Sqn 2ic, rather than as a competitor (far too old and unfit for that!)
All week, the weather had been very pleasant, even when we left the Unit for the six hour drive to Wales, it was still sunny, although it was getting a bit nippier the further west we went.
We arrived at 8pm and after a briefing, made our way to the main admin area, where we were eaten alive by midges before the guys headed off and I headed back to a room in the main camp. After that, it all went downhill.
When I got up on Saturday morning, although the sun wasn't visible, it was just overcast and colder than the day before. Stupidly, I left my waterproof in the room in my Bergen. I say stupidly, because no sooner had I got to the training area and had a briefing than the skies opened. And it continued to rain for the next 30 hours!
I managed to get round and see the team and met up with one of my colleagues at lunchtime and we were able to meet up with the team again during the rest of the day. We were lucky. We were moving from point to point in a vehicle, with heating and protected from the rain, whereas the teams were moving on foot.
Inevitably, there were several casualties, quite a few due to the cold and rain, so the decision was taken by the brass that the teams would be returned to the main camp, rather than stay out as they were supposed to. Myself and my colleague waited for the team to return and travelled with them to Sennybridge Camp before making our way to Brecon to the hotel where we were staying, The Castle.
The hotel was very nice and fortunately had working radiators, which meant that I was able to place my completely soaking wet uniform on them to dry out. With all the fresh Welsh air of the day and after a couple of pints in the bar, I slept really well. However, when I woke up, because I'd put the radiators on full to dry out my uniform, I was drenched!
After breakfast, it was back to the training area for the last of the events and we left the area at 2pm. And, typically, as we pulled on to the main road, the cloud cleared, revealing blue sky and sunshine, to the extent that we had to put the air con on in the car!
The team had done very well, considering that in the main competitors were from the various Field Hospitals, who have 7-8 times more personnel than the Squadrons to choose from, and finished higher than many of the other Squadrons.
So, sixty hours after leaving home, I was back and the process of sorting out my kit began, ready for the next exercise.
Typical! Part 3: When Alec, my eldest, was thrown out by his mother and moved in with me, I applied for child benefit. An application went in and then I received a letter asking for more information and proof that he is still at school. All this information was sent back to them three weeks ago.
However, last Tuesday there was another letter, identical to the first, with the words 'Duplicate-please reply' written across the top. Curious as to why this was sent, I called the number on the letter.
Unfortunately, when I got through and heard the Irish accent my heart immediately sank. I have nothing against the Irish, but I suspected that this may indicate that this agency was co-located with the morons of the CSA. And the woman I spoke to didn't allay my concerns, as every time I asked her a question or tried to explain to her that I had already sent in the information, she just kept repeating "You need to complete the form with the requested information and send it back". I decided to change tack and asked to speak to the section that was named on the letter.
I was refused access to this section and the woman also refused to tell me whether or not my previous information had been received, just repeating "You need to complete the form with the requested information and send it back".
Eventually, she agreed to inform the relevant section that I had telephoned and assured me that I would receive a call-back within three working days, which was Friday.
On Monday, having heard nothing, I telephoned again and spoke to someone who was much more helpful. What she told me was that it appeared that the section had indeed received the information that they had requested, but that it had been 'misplaced'.
When I asked the woman why it was that her colleague hadn't told me that the information had been lost, she was unable to tell me. She also pointed out that the information hadn't been lost, it had been 'misplaced'. When I asked her where it was and she told me that she didn't know, I suggested that she consult the dictionary and look up the definition of 'lost'.