Closed shop

Listening to the World at One on R4 earlier today, there appeared to be great dismay amongst football enthusiasts about a new programme of mid-week matches that some clubs are organising amongst themselves, rather than going through normal channels.

There was much talk about how this new setup is some sort of “closed shop”, while at the same time floating suggestions that the clubs and players involved should be barred from existing competitions and international play. Which, um, sounds like restrictive practices enforcing the current closed shop.

It was also notable how incapable many of the enthusiasts were at explaining their unhappiness. Apparently this is all something to do with big money taking over the top of football. Unlike today, presumably, where an amateur ethos pervades the sport.

The new system sounded a little bit like Formula One. Ten teams involved, big money, a limited programme of events around a wider geography, and no concept of promotion or relegation.


Screaming at Deliveroo

Twice now Deliveroo have refused to refund me for items missing from an order. And have offered no explanation.

Since the middle of last year we’ve grown to depend on Deliveroo for our regular grocery deliveries. Most weeks I place an order with Aldi and an order with Morrisons, and between the two, we get much of what we need to feed us for the week.

Our Aldi orders occasionally have missing items, and our Morrisons orders often have missing items. We’ve learned to check everything when it arrives, and mark the missing items on the Deliveroo website for a refund. Which has worked well.

Until the beginning of this month.

The refund process changed on the Deliveroo site. Now one has to upload a photograph of a receipt when one makes a report of a missing item.

Morrisons do not provide a receipt.

A fortnight ago Deliveroo refused a refund for a missing item (an Easter egg at £4.20), and didn’t explain why. I was annoyed, but assumed it was a glitch, and couldn't be bothered to follow it up at the time.

Until it happened again, with today’s order. Deliveroo refused a refund for another missing item (Quorn Bacon at £2.10 for those keeping track at home). Again, they didn’t offer a reason for their refusal. This time I did follow it up.

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I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a Colin the Caterpillar cake, or any of his trade-mark-skirting brethren. I don’t feel as though I’ve missed out of one of life’s great experiences, but it feels odd that public discourse is filled with appreciation for a product that is beyond my ken.

When it comes to factory-made supermarket cakes, I reckon Battenberg has the edge. My truth is that marzipan trumps icing.


Thank you, Utilita. I think.

I received a cheque through the post today from Utilita for £1,076.94.

Which was nice. I didn’t expect it, and I like it when I receive an unexpected grand. But also worrying, ’cos I couldn’t remember having had an account with Utilita, and there was no explanation in the covering letter.

I sent Kate off into St A to pay the cheque into the bank. Into our old RBS account, as I have no idea how to pay a cheque into my Monzo account. This is the first cheque I’ve received in years.

Then I had a good search through my emails and scanned letters. I use a service called Flipper to automatically switch to the best energy deal, so I barely know who my actual supplier is at the best of times. Turned out that we’d been with a company called Eversmart when they went bust back in 2019, and my account had been automatically transferred to Utilita under Ofgem’s “Supplier of Last Resort” process. And then Flipper had moved me on to a new supplier. I’d paid attention to the new supplier, but not the intermediate one.

Utilita sent me a letter back in May 2020 confirming my final Eversmart bill, and noting that my account was £1,076.94 in credit. It took them eleven months to get a cheque to me.



At lunchtime I meandered along to Andrew’s house with some shopping we had for him.  With blue skies and sunshine, we sat out in his garden with a drink, enjoying the warmth. Until it started snowing and I came home. 



I find it quite eye-opening how many people are complaining about the television schedules having changed this weekend. In this world of online streaming and virtual box sets, do that many people actually watch broadcast television? And if so, why?

Of course, maybe they don’t actually watch live television, but just want to complain about it anyway.


Bank holiday

A bank holiday is a day to get things done at work. My English colleagues have their bank holidays off, but in Scotland we work through and have floating holidays instead.

While most of my immediate colleagues are also in Scotland, somehow the English bank holidays feel like some of my most productive working days. There are fewer interruptions, fewer meetings, and just a few fewer Slack messages.