In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Never Surrender.”
There were a few prompts on the suggestion page for this latest exercise on the blogging101 course, but this was the only one that got a reaction from me.
I have a strong sense of “justice”, I hate unfairness and I hate authoritarian incompetence – and sometimes – I get my campaigning hat on, as you may have noticed, if you’ve read any of the posts in my “how ridiculous” category!
My Dad was a solicitor (lawyer for you yanks), and he was fond of the saying – a quote from Dickens I hasten to add –“The law is an ass!”
He had a practise in Kensal Green, a predominantly mixed race area of London, from about 1955 – 1977, when he passed away.
I’d occasionally go with him ‘to the office’ on Saturday’s, when I was a teenager. He was that old fashioned kind of law man, that you never encounter these days. He had an enormous old desk, in a very cluttered office, with a couple of clerks, and a long term bossy secretary who ran his office for him, and whose name escapes me just now, but I got to know her quite well.
I was supposedly there to “do some filing”, and I think I even got paid for it, tho’ I never did very much, and had no idea of what office work and the law entailed. (Boring, was what I though at the time!) Actually, I was probably there because my mother wanted me out of the way for some reason.
Spending time alone, with my Dad, was a very rare occurence, and we both enjoyed chatting on the drive there and back, and cautiously got to know each other. I never understood at the time, that he wanted to get to know me, and he wanted me to get to know him, and this was his way of doing it.
One of the things written on the brass plaque outside the office, apart from his name and his proud boast that he’d got a degree from Oxford – BA(Oxon) – a real achievement for a poor valley boy, together with LLB, legal qualifications, – was
“Commissioner for Oaths” – its a strange ‘legal term’, and I can’t tell you exactly what it means, even now. But its something about having papers witnessed and stamped. Maybe immigration papers, as there were plenty of immigrants in London even in those days, and other official forms, I don’t know.
But what I remember very clearly was that, one Saturday morning, I happened to barge into my Dad’s office whilst he had a client there – a ‘no no’ in anyone’s book – and found him chatting with a down at heel Jamaican man, who’d come in to have some papers sworn. He’d spent about an hour with him, explaining the law about something, and I hadn’t realised he was still there.
What I barged in on was a scene I will never forget. The man asking what he owed, and my dad said,
“put a couple of pennies in the charity box for me will you, and we’ll call it quits.”
And then they shook hands.
The man could never have paid the legal fees, but this way he kept his dignity and his self-respect. He’d paid his way, and helped someone else too. My dad showed his compassion, his wisdom, and his humanity in that small act of kindness – a side of him I’d never glimpsed in the hurly burly of family life.
It didn’t stop me arguing with him during my teenage years, but these days, I can’t remember what the arguments were about, but I can remember his actions that day!
So, rather than say, as I thought I was going to say when I started this piece – something banal like
“Never Surrender Your Fight For Justice”
What I’d prefer to say, in the name of my Dad is ….….
NEVER SURRENDER –
YOUR HUMANITY, AND YOUR COMPASSION FOR OTHERS!
His name was (a version of) Solomon, and I am proud to be Solomon’s daughter.
Readers of this blog may have noticed I have a campaigning streak – I’m not sure what you think about it, but its in my genes! When I was doing blogging101 in January, we were asked to pick a prompt, and write a post around it.
I chose “Never Surrender“, and I wrote about my Dad. You are welcome to click on the link and read it. At the time I was feeling a little awkward about publishing a series of posts about the “cock ups” the Royal Mail were, and still are, making – and wasn’t sure whether I should keep them up. Writing that post convinced me I should, however silly it made me look – smile.
I thought I would use this last week of the A-Z Challenge to write an update of the results – or not – of my little personal campaigns.
I am vehemently against the privatisation of Royal Mail – as are may other people who rely on it. Shares were offered at the end of 2013 and the price was far too low, which resulted in the ‘company’ ending up in the hand of the money men, who are simply interested in reselling them for a quick profit, and not interested in providing a good service for their customers!
The public service had served us well since 1840, when the first postage stamps were issued – costing just one penny. They are worth a lot more now!
Privatisation and the need to make a profit, has resulted in the loss of previously stable jobs, and a very unhappy staff. Worse, the people now running it, have never worked within the system, but have been drafted in from other industries, so they know nothing about its traditions and how to make workable changes. They have messed around with the pricing structure for the last couple of years, and made major mistakes.
It was a silly thing that got me started on this complaint!
I went to my nearest post box, to post some small orders, one Saturday morning at around 8 am, only to find that, without prior warning, there was a notice saying that the only collection on Saturdays would be at 7 am – ie I’d missed it! Saturday collections have been at noon for EVER!
Worse, as I was on my way to Asda, and passed another post box, I stopped to look at the notice there, and it still said 12 noon, and the post box at Asda said 9.15am! Even the guy who runs the local Post Office knew nothing about the change when I asked him!
There followed a series of encounters with Head Office, who were as obfuscating as they could be, and with the local Sorting Office, where I got laughed at.
Even sillier, I finally found out that the notices had been put up but the changes hadn’t happened yet!
You can follow the series of posts I wrote HERE if you can be bothered to – its a long read – smile. (You will have to scroll down to the bottom to see the first one, and then scroll upwards for the next instalment!
Although nothing specific came out of the fuss I made, a new sticker is to be seen on all the local post boxes, giving the phone number for any queries the public would like to make about collections etc. I was very heartened to hear a whole section on complaints from all around the country about the change in collection times from rural postboxes, on Radio 4’s programme, You & Yours, this week. Whether much will happen after that exposure remains to be seen.
I still don’t know for sure when the collections are, and whether the changes have yet been put into effect- I wonder if they’d tell me if I phoned up the number on the sticker!
In January, I also wrote a post about the new VAT MOSS scheme, which seems to have been introduced to force large companies, like Amazon, to pay their fair share of tax, but is instead making it more difficult for small businesses, and especially craftspeople, to trade. There have been various petitions, to the European Union, whose legislation this is, and to member country parliaments, but as far as I can tell, no one has done anything to change the scheme. My plan to open a separate shop on etsy selling digital downloads of my old photographs is still on hold.
In February, the local council came and changed our large wheelie bins for small ones, apparently in an effort to get us to recycle more.
I was curious as to how much the new bins had cost and whether the old bins had been usefully recycled, so I asked them.
I did eventually get some answers, but did not pursue the issue to the bitter end – it was enough to be able to show that people all over the world had read my blogs about this.
The Council Officials were prepared for some criticism on this policy, but they do not yet have a culture of recognising that freedom of information means transparency and accountability. It would be nice if they got into the habit or publishing information like this without having to be cajoled into doing so!
Still they have come a long way from the petty officialdom that WAS once the prevailing culture – and unfortunately still is in many parts of the world. If I lived in India, China or Russia, to name but a few of the countries that abound with petty corruption – I might have found myself in prison just for asking those questions, or at the very least, would think nothing of having to pay a bribe to a local official to get my rubbish collected at all!
You can read the sequence of posts here.
My most recent campaign has stalled.
Ironically, its about WordPress and the changes they have made, and they seem to be the least open to discussion – or, if you like, on a par with the Royal Mail!
It would seem that Matt, who is a co-founder of WordPress thought it would be nice to be able to post short blogs from his mobile, so he wrote a program for it.
He thinks we all should use it – whether we are posting from our computers, i-pads or phones – but it doesn’t work! I call it Edit Lite. See my post “Test on Chrome“.
I spend a great deal of time formatting my posts, so that they are readable, and was finding that when I went back to edit them, the formatting got screwed up.
I was most upset to find this had happened to the last post of the Big Bin Swap series – see above – just at the time I had sent out invitations to the ‘Big Wigs’ from all the Local Councils to read it!
I have fixed it now, so the only thing wrong with it is that a paragraph in the middle has been squashed up. I purposely haven’t been back to do that on the ‘Test on Chrome’.
I have tried contacting Matt – but he’s unreachable. I put up a couple of posts, trying to get his attention – see “Message to Matt – 1 & 2“, but answer was there none, not even thro’ the very helpful Happiness Engineer – still makes me laugh, that title!
What she has told me is that they haven’t been able to fix it yet! Edit Lite is the culprit, and we are being steered towards using it, whether we have up-to-date mobile phones or not! I’m one of those who doesn’t!
The Classic Editor is now almost impossible to find. However, I have followed the advice the ‘HE’ gave me, and returned to the Blog Post Page every time, religiously, where Classic Editor can be found by clicking “Add New” at the top of the page, and if I want to edit a post, I do it in that page – and have not had any real problems since!
I am steering well clear of any contact with Edit Lite – it has caused me too much grief!
I am not the only one who has had problems with this, and there are various forums and groups out there that I found when I was trying to get answers, who are extremely angry about the changes that are being made.
AND – it occurs to me that WordPress, of all organisations, should be listening to their customers, and be concerned about how the platform they provide performs.
The internets’ greatest strength is that it allows FREE SPEECH, and has been an important tool for the implementation of those ideals – its a shame to find WordPress, inadvertently perhaps, acting in a similar fashion to those old fashioned, all powerful dictators!