Minor Bloggywork Damage

A few weeks ago, I was involved in a minor road traffic incident on my commute to work, when a lobotomised ape in a van, decided to drive into the side of my car – destroying my wing mirror, and causing additional damage to the side of the car in the process.

At the time, he didn’t request any of my insurance details (because he was clearly at fault), and merely offered me his own, however he has evidently realised there were no witnesses, and is now trying to suggest we were equally to blame. I’m not one to get angry and hold a grudge, as you know, but let’s just say that if he were to now contract a flesh-eating disease on his scrotum, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I would, however, visit him in hospital, if only to rub salt into the wound.

When faced with such a situation, it’s always comforting to know that you have a competent insurer, accident management company, and repairing garage on your side. Unfortunately, I have no idea what that might feel like, because my insurers have been useless to non-existent; the accident management company have been utterly incompetent, and the repairing garage have made the other two look thoroughly professional.

Since the claim is ongoing, I probably shouldn’t mention who I am insured with (let’s just say there was a battle there in 1066).  I contacted them straight after the accident, because I didn’t think for one second ‘van scumbag’ was going to try and wriggle out of hitting me – he was, after all, in the middle of the road, and not looking where he was going at the time – so I naively thought there would be a prompt admission from his insurers (again, I won’t mention them by name, but it’s a city in Switzerland), and I’d have my car back swiftly.

I never expected there to be a fight on liability, with my no-claims discount compromised, and my premium likely to rocket next year as a result, but above all I didn’t think it would take more than two fucking weeks to fix one wing mirror.  I’m pretty sure I could have had a decent stab at taking the entire car apart, and then re-building it, faster.

To give you some idea of the incompetence I have been dealing with, let me summarise the chronology:

Monday 16th April – van wanker drives into me around 9:05am. Accident reported to insurers an hour later. Hire car delivered early afternoon. So far, so adequate.

Tuesday 17th April – my car is collected late afternoon, from Poynton, by a recovery company in Crewe, to take it to the repairer in Stoke. Genius.

Wednesday 18th April – bugger all happens.

Thursday 19th April – bugger all happens again. I contact my insurers, and the repairing garage, to find out why I haven’t received an estimate yet. The estimate arrives at nearly 6pm, but is only for the wing mirror, not the scratches down the side. They query whether I want the additional damage including. No, it’s fine, I’ll just stick some pretty pictures over that when I get the car back, dickhead.

Friday 20th April – I email back, to explain that, yes, I would like all the damage repairing (please), and to express my dissatisfaction at the delays – pointing out that, had I used my local repair centre, I would almost certainly have my own car back by now. I demand the updated estimate by the end of the day.

I also phone my insurers to complain, who inform me that once the estimate has been corrected, it could take the accident management company a week to authorise the repairs, then another week or so for the garage to order the parts and actually carry out the work. The reason for it taking a week to authorise the repair? They still had a backlog of work since The Beast from the East two months earlier.

Needless to say, I didn’t receive the updated estimate by the end of the day.

Saturday 21st April – or the next day.

Monday 23rd April – or the next.

Tuesday 24th April – still nothing. At this point, I was getting slightly pissed off, so I decided to contact my local repairer, in the hope they could provide a quick estimate my insurers might be satisfied with. They provide the quote very quickly, but it is higher than I expected, so I phone the repairer in Stoke to see if they have bothered to finalise their own quote.

Having got through to ‘Sally No-Stars’ on reception, she places me on hold to check the present position, following which the conversation goes thus:

‘Yes, the repairs have started, and your car will be ready for Friday.’

‘The repairs have started?! And who authorised that?’

‘Erm, hang on, I’ll have to put you on hold.’

[5 minutes later]

‘I’m going to have to get the manager to call you back.’

‘Yes, you do that.’

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Wednesday 25th April – having received no return call, but having had enough of the incompetent bullshit, I send a rather scathing e-mail to my insurers, the accident company, and the repairer, in the hope one of them might actually give me some answers.

My particular gripe, aside from the delays, is the fact the garage have gone ahead and begun repairing the car without my authority. When they finally e-mail back, rather than apologise, they have a go at me, stating that they don’t need my authority, as they get this from the insurers and accident management company, not the customer (typed in such a way as to imply the customer is a repugnant piece of shit). I know this, because that particular sentence begins ‘with all due respect’, which is a term I often use in my own e-mails, to mean ‘listen, scumbag…’

So, despite having no idea how much my repairs will cost (which I argue is important information, in the event my claim is settled 50/50 by the lazy insurers, because I need to know the extent of the claim on my policy), I was at least guaranteed my car would be ready for Friday 27th April.

Friday 27th April – the day doesn’t start well, when I realise the hire car has just under a quarter of a tank left, and since I am obliged to return it with ‘at least a quarter’, this means adding the most meagre of amounts to take the needle above that level.

Having pulled in to Tesco on my way to work, I top the car up with a miserly £5, and set off again. However, as I pull out of the car park, I notice the needle hasn’t moved, and is still below the quarter-mark. Bugger.

I therefore drive around the Tesco complex and back to the petrol station, where I pull up to the same pump and try again to add £5 of fuel, assuming it somehow hasn’t worked. This time, before leaving the forecourt, I start the ignition to check – the needle again hasn’t moved.

Amidst much (uncharacteristic) swearing, I vow to try one final time, and if the needle doesn’t go above a quarter this time, I will keep the receipt as proof, and argue the fuel gauge is knackered when they come to collect the car.

I put a third £5-worth of unleaded into the hire car, get back in, and start the ignition.

At which point the needle goes to a little over half a tank.

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And this:

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Loudly referring to the car as a ‘useless piece of shit’, much to the amusement of neighbouring customers, I drive off and complete my journey to work, reassured that I will at least be driving my own car home that evening.

You can see where this is going.

Having heard nothing by my lunch break, I phoned Useless Fucking Bodywork Repairs Ltd, to enquire about when, precisely, they would be dropping off my car.

‘Oh, the repairs are finished, but you’ll have to come and collect it, as we can’t drop off today.’

Now, in all likelihood, this situation wasn’t directly Julie on reception’s fault, so it was perhaps a little harsh of me to suggest she insert the nearest car part into her anus, but I was becoming more than a little frustrated by this point.

As a compromise (read: me backing down slightly when Julie started to cry), it was agreed that I would drive the hire car to their premises on Saturday morning, pick up my own car, and then the hire company could collect theirs back from Stoke – which, to my amazement, everyone seemed happy with.

All that remained, was for me to use up a quarter tank of unnecessary fuel (to make a point), so I drove the 25 miles home that evening entirely in second gear. With all the windows down. Via Bolton.

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That evening, I took up my usual residency on the porcelain throne,  and checked my e-mails, whereupon I discovered one from the garage. Assuming it was an apology for the terrible service and constant lies, I opened it with anticipation:

‘The wrong part has been delivered for your car, so it will not now be ready to collect in the morning.’

I nearly shit myself with rage (although, had I done so, I was at least in the right place). My response:

‘So, when you confirmed the repairs were already underway on Tuesday, that was clearly a lie, because even I know you can’t repair a broken wing mirror with the wrong fucking part. You’d better let the hire company know of your incompetence, because they think they’re collecting a car from you tomorrow, and it sure as hell won’t be there, will it?’

I did finally get my car back on Monday (30th April), more than two weeks post-accident, and the repairs have been done to a satisfactory standard – however, I still don’t have the first clue what they cost, where I stand in terms of liability, the damage to my no-claims discount; and whether the other driver has contracted scrotum-plague yet.

Fuck ‘em all.

Thanks for reading x

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Blognor Regis

Now, I’m afraid this entry has nothing to do with the town of Bognor Regis, so if you are from there and were looking forward to reading all about your home town, or you were planning on holidaying in Bognor this summer and keen to find out more about it, I am sorry to disappoint you.

The truth is, I have a long list of these terrible ‘blog’ based puns to get through, and since I do not intend to ever write about the seaside resorts of West Sussex, and have nothing better to adequately reflect what follows, this seemed as good a time as any to get this one out of the way.

So, to summarise what you have learned about me so far – I am a grumpy, unfit, unmanly, Stockport County-supporting solicitor, who dislikes most things and most people – especially drivers of white BMWs, and the majority of the Facebook-using population. Not you though, obviously. You’re lovely.

Next on the list, then, is my inherent clumsiness.

There is not a day goes by when I do not injure some part of my anatomy, usually in comedic circumstances. Well, comedic for everyone else, it seems, but bloody painful – and not funny in the slightest – for me. This often happens at work, where I have in the past (amongst other mishaps) fallen down the stairs, ripped a fingernail off whilst trying to photocopy something, flicked an elastic band into my own nipple, and hit my head more times than I could possibly care to remember. Oh, and I once opened a door into my own face.

Indeed, it has become so bad, that we now have two accident books in the office – one for me, and one for the rest of the firm. Were it not for the fact that our designated Health and Safety officer would always rather laugh at me hysterically than actually record the accident, I fear I might have filled the book by now.

My clumsiness is not restricted to the office though. Two weeks ago, I took Ollie swimming, and he always insists on getting changed in one of the ridiculously-tiny cubicles, despite the fact they aren’t big enough for one person, let alone one-and-a-half. Having struggled to get him dry and dressed first, I then started to attend to my own towelling needs, and – for reasons which still remain a mystery – I managed to slice my knee open on the door lock. Christ knows what bizarre drying technique I was attempting at the time, but there was such a disproportionate amount of blood, for what ultimately transpired to be quite a small cut, that I slightly panicked.

Backing Ollie as far into the corner as I could, I had no choice other than to use my semi-damp towel to try and stem the flow of blood. In other circumstances, I would have tried to obtain a plaster from reception, but I rather got the impression that the girls stationed there wouldn’t appreciate a dripping-wet naked man turning up, so I had to sort it out myself – while Ollie pestered me for a KitKat from the vending machine.

In my defence, I am 6’3” and approximately 93% limbs, so it should come as no surprise that bits of me fly out unexpectedly and damage themselves on nearby objects, furniture and other people. Yet, every time this happens, I curse the Heavens that I have been landed with such an ungainly and uncoordinated body (supremely well-endowed as it may be).

It was not until a couple of years ago, however, that I realised the source of my problem and, as suspected, it is indeed my height. Now, you might think this is self-explanatory, if not blindingly obvious, because clearly someone of my loftiness is more at risk of banging their head on an open cupboard door than, say, someone of wife’s stature (she’s 5’3”, so there is a clear foot between us and, as I always joke, it’s usually hers).

So you might think that my height is obviously the problem, but that still doesn’t explain why I continue to injure my ankles and feet – which were roughly the same distance off the ground as everyone else’s the last time I checked – at a disproportionate rate too.

Then, during a routine visit to the opticians a couple of years ago, I was given the answer.

If you read blog entry #16 – entitled “Ehh, What’s Up Blog?” (now, that was a clever title) – you might recall that this particular routine eye test did not exactly go according to plan, as I collapsed shortly after being given some eye drops and ended up being rushed to A&E in an ambulance. To cut a long story short, a small amount of the muscle-relaxant in the eye-drops had got into my blood stream, and slowed my heart rate down to such an extent, that there was no blood getting to my brain, and I fell to the ground faster than Ashley Young in a penalty area.

It was only then, having had this explained to me by a Consultant at the Hospital, that the relatively simple concept (which would explain my clumsiness) dawned on me: I’m too tall to be co-ordinated. The problem, you see, is that my brain is so much farther from my outer extremities, when compared to the vast majority of the population, that it takes that bit longer to get the message across.

Messages like: “Hey, feet, watch out for that corner of the sofa, it’ll fucking hurt if one of you catches a toe on that”, or “For God’s sake don’t stand up now, do you not remember opening that cupboard door thirty seconds ago, you dozy pillock?”, or even “You do realise, that if you continue dancing towards the kitchen at this speed, you’re most likely going to catch your dangly-bits on that open stair gate, right?….. Well it’s no good doubling up in the foetal position and crying now, I did try to warn you…”

Because I live my life at a fast pace, mostly due to my impatience and frustration with everything and everyone, my brain simply doesn’t have the time to co-ordinate the rest of me and avoid hazardous situations. For obvious reasons, it is my lower limbs that are injured far more than my upper ones, but they are still damaged disproportionately to everyone else I know as well.

The only upside to discovering the source of my ungainliness, is that I now have a valid excuse for being a terrible dancer. This is only generally called into question once a year at the office Christmas party, as my clubbing days are long-since over (indeed, there is a marginally greater chance of me going seal clubbing, than ever setting foot in 5th Avenue in Manchester ever again) but at least I can now gracefully (well, kind of gracefully) bow out of being called onto a dance floor. I shall simply sit the drunken idiot  who is dragging me in that direction down, and carefully explain to them that, by the time my now alcohol-soaked brain has told my feet how to respond to Come on Eileen, the DJ will have already moved on to Fairytale of New York and I’ll look a tit.

Get this though: despite my extreme clumsiness, I have never broken a single bone in my body. Not one. I can only assume, on that basis, that I am invincible/immortal, as Heaven knows I’ve had enough accidents over the years to break more or less every bone in my body. However, I do not wish to test this theory of my invincibility by doing something stupid like jumping out of a plane or bungee-jumping, because I am also an almighty coward.

Sadly, it looks as though my clumsiness is hereditary too. Ollie is forever running into, tripping over, or damn-near decapitating himself on inanimate objects, and already Isaac is showing signs of banging his head more than you would ordinarily expect from a one year old. Even the dog, with whom I share no genetic material whatsoever, is just about the clumsiest canine you will ever meet. I thought dogs were meant to pee up lampposts, not run headlong into them and bounce off towards an oncoming car. We are, in short, an accident-prone mess.

Usually, the cause of our accidents is embarrassingly avoidable too. Only last week, Ollie came running into the lounge in tears and, when we asked him why he was so upset, he explained that he had been “singing and dancing… and then fell over”.

Been there son, been there.

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