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Boo!  Boo!  Boo! to Horsecross.   

rotten tomatoes for Horsecross

Rotten Tomatoes for Horsecross

Horsecross which runs Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre has just introduced booking fees after being booking fee free since it opened – apart from touring shows which imposed their own booking fees.

Booking fees are a rip-off tax on the arts, and Horsecross is charging 50p a ticket.    So I have just bought 12 tickets in one transaction for several events which comes to around £180, and I now have to pay an extra £6 “arts tax”.    

It does not cost £6 to process £180.

The lunacy is that if I buy 12 tickets for the same event the booking fee is waived on tickets 11 and 12.    That’s real Alice in Wonderland logic for you, as is the waiving of the booking fee if you turn up in person and pay in cash.

If I go into a supermarket, I don’t have to pay extra for the shop to process my transaction.    Horsecross should be no different.   There are plenty of arts organisations that don’t charge booking fees, and Horsecross should be one of them.

Consider this post a generous dose of virtual rotten tomatoes.

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Now and again, I find myself on a delivery round for one cause or another.   I am just back from such a round with literally bloody knuckles from difficult letterboxes. 

letterboxNow I know, living in the Perthshire countryside, that letterboxes can be a reliable source of drafts, and I understand why people fit brushes or sprung flaps to the inside.    Sometimes both.    But some letter boxes this morning had an unnecessarily strong spring-loaded front flap, then lavatory brush strength bristles with a final strong spring loaded flap after that.     It is impossible to get stuff through without bending it, and posting material in is a two handed operation:   fingers lift the top flap, in through the brushes and push the back flap open – the other hand then posts in the letter.      But some letter boxes are designed well – they keep out the drafts, yet allow for easy posting.     These have flaps, but not too strongly springy, and if they have bristles, they are soft.    There ought to be a design standard which is acceptable to the Royal Mail.

doorAnd who thinks it is OK to put a letter box at ground level?     It really isn’t.    And if it is a Fort Knox type of letter box, it is nigh impossible.

And this morning is the first time that a dog had a go at me.   I stood still and adopted a non threatening position, yet the dog still came at me.   My thick jacket was good protection.    Dogs usually like me.  This one didn’t.

The very worst deliveries though are strong letter boxes with a fierce dog on the inside.    The knack is to stuff the post in just enough to do the job, but before the dog gets your fingers.

Why not take the test yourself – take a letter, stand outside your front door, and try to post it in.    See?   Stop laughing – it is not funny!       Posties have my sympathy.

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Bad Communication

The following really happened:

Bluedog:  Hi, I’m Bluedog and I am wondering if you could please let me have your Chief Exec’s e-mail so that my organisation can send him a newsletter.

Public Sector Organisation (PSO) with large responsibilities in 2009 in Scotland:  Can we do this by post?

BD:  Well, we like to communicate by e-mail when we can and when it is appropriate.

PSO:  I am sorry, but we don’t give out e-mails.

BD: Well, our organisation is over 30 years old, and in the same industry as your PSO.   We communicate directly with the heads of many organisations, as well as directly with the Government.    (BD gave examples).      I can’t actually believe that you are blocking me from communicating directly with your Chief Executive.   We are in the same industry and should be communicating.

PSO:  You are taking a very agressive stance.    I am sorry, but we still don’t give out e-mails.    I could put you in touch with the Chief’s PA, and if he is interested, he will look at your newsletter.

Bluedog:   No, I would like this to be a personal communication.    Let’s just leave it for now.

PSO:  OK.

Oh my goodness.    If this particular organisation decides to grow up and start communicating with the rest of the world  in a normal way, we might just have some events organised for the extra visitors Scotland is expecting in 2009 to attend.      With this sort of attitude, it is really not looking good.

Digging up weeds is a very theraputic way of cooling down.

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We have become used to CCTV cameras everywhere these days, even although we may not be too happy about them.    Our mobile phone logs into the nearest base station every so many minutes, effectively tracking its location.    As we drive along roads, number plate recognition is used to monitor traffic flows, but increasingly to track criminals.    Our supermarket knows exactly what we buy.    How we choose to live our lives is becoming more and more in the public domain.

But now the government in its Communications Data Bill is proposing that ISPs have available all of our e-mails for the past 12 months as well as how much time we spend online and a record of where we go when online.   

This is really a step too far.    It is exactly equivalent to the government asking the Royal Mail to open, photograph and have available for examination, every piece of mail we receive (or send too).    There should be a massive fuss about this.

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Edinburgh Inspires 

The logo and brand for Edinburgh called “Edinburgh Inspires” which is basically three curvy lines is being “quietly dropped”.     It cost £800,000 to create and the project has had a further £120,000 spent on it.

While I realise that a brand is much more than the logo we see, to scrap it so early looks a hideous waste of scarce public funds at somewhere over £300,000 per wavy line.

There is probably an element of the “New Council” inheriting the brand from the “Old Council”.    General Elections have more cost implications than are immediately apparent.   And remember too that since May “The Scottish Executive” has become “The Scottish Government”.

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Terrible Buildings

You would think, wouldn’t you, that a brand new Country Club and leisure facility might offer the chance to produce an interesting building.

Well, don’t go to the Deer Park Country Club at Livingston expecting to be inspired.    It looks like an agricultural shed, the bar has no windows at all, the public space is too tight, the staircase narrow and awkward, and the loos extremely cramped for space.    The meeting room I was in had only a few small windows.   The bar was so deep inside the building it had no mobile phone signal.    All the air was recycled, the ceilings were too low ….. the whole place was deeply depressing in a sort of missed opportunity way.

It is not surprising that their website doesn’t show one picture of their building, or interior of their restaurant or bar.    I’d be ashamed of it too.

Why does it have to be like this?

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Parent – Teacher evening

Total contact time (5 teachers) 23 minutes.  

Time waiting in queues to see 5 teachers 87 minutes

There really must be a more efficient way of doing this.    We watched one pupil and parent take over 20 minutes in discussion alone.

It can’t be that complicated – either the pupil is doing well, in which case there is little need for further discussion, or needs some pointers to improve, or a verbal kick up the arse if they need that too.    It should take 5 minutes max – probably less.

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Does anyone own a Hayter Harrier 48 with a blade brake clutch?    Mine is in its 5th cutting season and on its 4th clutch.    It is ridiculous.    (For those who don’t know, a blade bake clutch stops the blade immediately, allowing safe emptying of the grass container).

I got the first three under warranty, but have just had to pay £100 odd for a new one, which I fitted myself, despite the folk at Hayter telling me I couldn’t.   Bastards.  

I actually wrote to them about it, because if they designed the thing differently, you could simply replace the friction disc at a fraction of the cost of a ‘complete assembly’ which you have to buy.  

I did get a reply which was really totally useless, and denied that there was a design problem.    I was in at my local Hayter agent last week buying chain saw chain (as you do),  and there was a someone else’s Hatyer 48 on his workbench ……….  having its blade brake clutch replaced.     Case proven m’lud.

Hayter 48s are great mowers though.   They leave a really tidy job, can cope in the damp and can rescue ‘runaway’ lawns.   Shame about Hayter’s attitude.

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A village committee runs and organises a gala day every year to raise funds for our park, which is owned by the village.   But it is getting progressively harder to run what is a small and low key event.

To allow us to run a family dance in the evening, we had to apply for an entertainments licence from our Council.    We had to produce a Fire Risk Assessment, a Health and Safety Risk Assessment, and were contacted by the Noise police, the Food police, the Loo police and had to attend an interview with the real police.

When the 8 page licence finally arrived – in the post, on the day of the event (Saturday), there was a condition that we contacted the noise police again with a named contact in case of trouble.   Their office was closed.   Numpties.

Nobody wants an unsafe event, but this is complete overkill for a small village dance.

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Rome 1

This is the latest piece of total red tape nonsense to make things even more difficult for businesses who trade across european borders.

It turns consumer law on its head with a business contract applying in the consumer’s country, not the supplier’s.   What this means is that UK businesses will have to familiarise themselves with contract law in 27 European countries.     It is particularly hard on online web based transactions.

Which business sector deals with more overseas customers than any other?   Which business sector probably does more business than others by online booking?   Tourism, of course.   The tourism sector has many many microbusinesses who are simply not equipped to cope with this.

So say a self-catering business wants to take an overseas booking from Europe.   There will have to be 27 sets of Terms and Conditions available on its website.   For countries like France, all contracts have to be written in French.   Goodness knows how they all interpret things like cancellation insurance.

The thing is, consumers are already protected in law in their own countries.

It is complete and utter madness.   Thankfully the legislation is in draft form, but it still looks pretty advanced.    Also normally with new legislation, a cost impact assessment gets done.    Not this time.   We are getting this regardless of cost.

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