It will perhaps come as no surprise that the manager that was due to call me back by Monday never did. I called Orange again this morning and by good fortune happened to speak to the person to whom my complaint was originally forwarded (and whose call back I missed). I expressed that I was unsure if I should now take this matter to Head Office in the hope that they will be able to persuade the appropriate personnel to deal with this matter once and for all. In addition, I pointed out that the issue with the 'Your Account' service had recurred and that I was unable to login. Attempting to reset my password initially took me back to the homepage, and when making a second attempt I received a now familiar error message that the website was undergoing maintenance and that I should try again later.
Neil agreed with me that the situation was unacceptable and asked me to allow him to sort out the issue, and said that he was determined to achieve a resolution by close of business today. He said that he was going to see two managers higher up in the chain and also speak to those responsible for the staff who should have originally resolved this issue at the outset. He said that he would call me back by 14:00, and to his credit, he did.
He called back and advised that he had spoken to his manager, the person to whom I originally sent my complaint, and his manager was keen to resolve the situation today. He stated that they had both looked at the complaint, and he thanked me for being an honest and transparent person and for submitting information as detailed as I did. He said that this had helped them to reach a decision, and that they have decided to settle on crediting me with the compensation requested. He said however that his manager wanted to speak to me in person to discuss this issue, and that he would call me back by 16:00.
The manager, Rory, called me back as promised and expressed his sincere apologies that the situation had run on for this long. He said that unfortunately the people responsible for the staff who should have sorted this out back in May were not taking responsibility for their actions. Nevertheless, he said that he would do so, as despite not being responsible he still works for Orange as a company, and it was the company that has let me down. He confirmed that they would credit me the full compensation amount I requested, and he also confirmed that the 'Your Account' service was now working. Neil had reset the password during my first call this morning and he himself expressed surprise as to why it took 104 days to complete a process which took him all of 30 seconds. I logged into my account and can confirm that this is now working as expected. I did however report that the audio option to bypass the visual security code for blind and partially sighted people is not working, and indeed has not worked since May when I last tried it. Neal said that he would pass this on to the appropriate personnel and seek a resolution. Rory said that he would ask Neil to send me an e-mail confirming our agreement, as well as providing both of their e-mail addresses so that I could contact them directly should a similar issue or any other problem arise in the future, rather than going through front-line support. He said that unfortunately, it would not be possible to credit the compensation to my bank account, as this was a limitation of their technical systems; however, given the progress which has been made today, I agreed to accept a credit to my Orange account instead. Whereas I cannot gain utility from this compensation, it does at least mean that my next five line rental payments have effectively been waived.
I received a final call from Neil a few moments later and he confirmed he would send me the e-mail, which I have now received. He also said that he would confirm the amount of the credit as just over £235, which has been done. I again received his sincere apologies, and in responding that I was only sorry that the whole issue had landed on their doorstep rather than for the parties actually responsible, was told that nevertheless this is something that they should have done seeing as this entire matter materialised through no fault of my own. I was thanked for being a reasonable customer, something that made me feel slightly embarrassed, as this is something I would have done in any case. Ranting and raving at front-line staff was hardly going to resolve the issue, would not go in my favour and would only make everybody concerned more upset and irritable.
It is now 190 days since this issue first occurred and the situation has finally been resolved. Whereas I am extremely disappointed that lines of communication between departments are so poor, and the matter had to be escalated to a formal complaint before anything was done to resolve it, I must offer my sincere thanks to both Neil and Rory for the progress that has been made to achieve a resolution today. I wanted to stay with Orange partly to avoid the disruption that would come with trying to leave the company and break contracts, and partly due to some features offered by Orange, which I actually want to use, such as the free monthly swappables, something I wanted to use months ago but which required online account access to activate. Nevertheless, this saga has now drawn to an end and I could not be happier, and it just goes to show that both patience and perseverance along with a logical and reasonable mind can win out in the end.
Today I decided to try out the new TSB bank talking cash machines, which went live on 27 November 2013. This is the second major bank to introduce user-friendly cash machines for blind and partially sighted people after Barclays earlier this year. For customers in Scotland, it was heartening to note that the recent separation of Lloyds and TSB did not set back the launch of this exciting development.
After gaining great utility and confidence from the Barclays talking ATM, I decided to brave the stiff wind and chill to try out the new machine at the Rosehill TSB branch in Aberdeen. Generally, the machine operates in a similar way to the Barclays one, with spoken instructions and menus presented to the user wants headphones are connected. For first-time users, a tutorial guides you through the available options and the keypad layout, although if you had used the machine before you can skip the tutorial by inserting your card as normal. The speeches given using a clear, female voice although as with the Barclays machine there was no guidance as to how to increase or decrease the volume, which may prove problematic to those with hearing loss especially in a noisy environment. The keypad used to enter your PIN and make selections from the spoken menu is laid out in a similar style to a typical telephone keypad, to the right of which lie four tactile-marked buttons in a vertical column featuring the 'clear', 'cancel', and 'enter' buttons respectively. The fourth, bottom button is not used when using the machine with speech output.
Using the machine with speech output allows you to perform basic banking functions including withdrawing cash, withdrawing cash with a receipt, checking balances, using PIN services and mobile top ups. I was able to both withdraw cash and check my balance without issue, although I did notice that unlike with the Barclays machine the TSB one does not announce the denominations of notes available, so it is potluck as to what you will receive when withdrawing larger amounts. This could prove an issue if, for example, a particular denomination of note is not available due to the machine running empty, which I found was the case when using a Barclays talking ATM on one occasion. Otherwise, following the spoken instructions to perform your desired transaction should pose no problems. I was not advised of any option to repeat the last spoken utterance should this be necessary (for example, to repeat your available balance), although I believe that the machine may repeat itself automatically if no user input is detected after a certain time.
The design of the machine did cause me some concern, and led me to wonder what considerations were taken into account during this stage of the development process. The keypad is located to the left-hand side of the machine facing upwards as you stand before it, with the high visibility LCD display located directly behind and above it. You can locate the screen by touch if you place your hand on the numeric keypad and then moving backwards following the contour of the machine. The headphone socket is located adjacent to the row of four buttons located to the right of the main numeric keypad, although there is no tactile marking to indicate that this is the headphone socket, and it is a little confusing as there are several other controls on that side of the machine, one of which look like an emergency panic button, possibly used to alert staff of a problem for machines located outside a branch. The card and cash dispensing slots are located to the far right of the machine, and it is these, which cause me concern, as it took me a while to locate them in the first place. The front of the slots are flush with the fascia of the machine, however it is bordered by a round raised ring making them look similar to old-fashioned oven knobs. There were no Braille or other tactile indications on the machine I used to indicate the purpose of the slots, and at this time I cannot exactly remember whether the order of the slots were mentioned during the audio tutorial played on connection of the headphones. The top slot is the card slot and the bottom dispenses cash. However, the location of the cash-dispensing slot means that it would be easy enough for someone to lean over and take any cash being dispensed before the person using the machine can do so, given that the slots are not covered by the body when standing in front of the machine. This is a potential major security concern for blind and partially sighted people using it, as by contrast on the Barclays machine, the cash dispensing slot is located directly below the LCD screen thus meaning that the person using the machine is standing right in front of it, blocking it from others standing around nearby. The card and cash dispensing slots on the TSB machine are also located quite far to the right, and I found that they were not in easy reach when positioning the hand naturally near the numeric keypad. I wonder if others would share my opinion, but it is something I noticed immediately and it rang alarm bells for me. A positive point about the design however is that when checking your balance, you are made aware that the balance is also displayed on-screen and are encouraged to stand close to it to avoid the screen being read over your shoulder. The screen is also extremely bright, and I was just about able to read it even in the presence of natural daylight.
Overall, and setting aside any security implications, I enjoyed using the machine and think it is a great step forward for giving financial independence to blind and partially sighted people. I will certainly make use of it, and this is made easier as I have verified that disabled access is one of the features of cash machines that are listed when using the cash machine locator on the TSB website. I look forward to the implementation of more talking cash machines by other banks in the months to come, however I would urge standardisation as a core principle to minimise the learning curve when using machines from different providers.
Have you used the new TSB talking cash machines yet? Would their introduction encourage you to use them over going into a branch to withdraw cash? Share your comments below, and feel free to ask any additional questions on the above as well.
- Tags:aberdeen, accessibility, bank, independence, lloyds, money, news, review, rnib, sight loss, talking atm, technology, tsb, visually impaired
I am returning from attending a reception at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh hosted by Dennis Robertson MSP and organised by RNIB Scotland. I received the invite to the event earlier this month but, given the relatively little information included with it, was not sure what to expect.
I travelled to Edinburgh with my friend Amanda and met up with Sandra, a fellow RNIB Scotland member representative, and we then took a taxi to the public entrance of the parliament building. After clearing airport-style security (although fortunately without the full baggage search), we were escorted to guides who accompanied us for the remainder of the evening. I was grouped in with fellow members from Haggeye (with whom I made up the three young people present, in addition to the RNIB Scotland Youth Engagement Officer and the recently appointed Education, Respect and Awareness project coordinator).
After some mingling, the speeches started beginning with an introduction from John Legg, (RNIB Scotland Director) followed by a song sung in half-English, half-Gallic by Sardinian-born singer Eleanor Piraz. The song was in the folk style, starting unaccompanied but with the main verses accompanied by Eleanor herself on the guitar. I thought that I might try to work out the backing myself on my own loaned guitar when I have a chance.
There followed speeches from Dennis Robertson MSP, Alex Salmond (First Minister), Ken Reid (RNIB Scotland Chair and RNIB Group Trustee) and Kevin Carey (RNIB Group Chair). The speeches followed a similar theme, highlighting the work that RNIB has done to benefit people with sight loss in Scotland, and in the case of the First Minister the work that the government can do in partnership with RNIB. I was half-concerned we might get a political rousing following the release this week of the SNP government's white paper on the future of an independent Scotland, but fortunately we were only encouraged to read the paper that is, as was quoted, available in all formats including electronic, although the latter is due out on 06 December unless I have misheard this. One wonders how many people will actually read the entire paper, but perhaps that is a debate best left for another day.
After this, there was time for more mingling, although I have always found this difficult. Despite having a guide, I have difficulty knowing who is around me in such a crowded and noisy place, and knowing when it is appropriate to talk so as not to interrupt people on other conversations. Once I know when and who to talk to, the rest is no problem. I have also noticed that I tend to get disorientated when in such a noisy place and suffer from increased headaches, as the sound level escalates to the point where I can’t hear myself speak and cannot focus on what others are saying to me in the din. I had fun talking with the singer who amazed us by explaining that she learned Gallic in just one year and passed an exam before starting to sing in the language. I also spoke with several RNIB personnel who travelled to the event (and an away day two days prior) from south of the border, including Lesley-Anne Alexander (RNIB Group Director) and some trustees.
Although unsure of whether this would be the case earlier, catering was provided and I was able to avail myself of some white wine and tropical juice, and a very nice salmon canapé. I just wish I could have had 10 more!
The event started at 18:00 and ended by 19:30. We returned to Waverley station but found that our booked train, the East Coast service from London King's Cross was delayed by nearly 90 minutes. Jackie from the East Coast office very kindly offered to escort us to Cafe Nero for some snacks and even stayed and chatted with us whilst we waited for our train, although we ended up catching the last ScotRail service which departed earlier, and would also allow me to alight at Portlethen, thus saving the taxi fare home. My sincere thanks to Jackie for her help and kindness, especially as she was due to finish at 21:00 and hence stayed over time.
The event was enjoyable although what benefit comes from it will only be seen by what tangible developments come from it from either RNIB, government or other organisations. Nevertheless, it felt good to represent those blind and partially sighted people who could not attend as well as young people. It was also good to connect with Haggeye again in some way after being unable to attend several commitments with them beforehand.
- Tags:accessibility, alex salmond, disability, haggeye, independence, reception, rnib, scotland, scottish parliament, sight loss, visually impaired
This saga continues to drag on and on. I learnt in kindergarten that the ancient Egyptians had a hieroglyphic, which looked like a serpent chewing on its own tail and positioned in a circular shape. This seems to exemplify the current situation exactly.
After submitting my formal written complaint to Orange on 11 November and receiving a call back on 13 November (which I unfortunately missed), I called back today to ask to speak to Neil, the person who had contacted me regarding my complaint. I was told that he was unavailable at that time, and was asked to detail my issue. On explaining that my call was in relation to a complaint, I was advised that someone would get back to me within 28 days. I explained that unfortunately this was unacceptable, especially given the length of time it took to resolve the original issue. The person at technical support I spoke with ask me for details of the complaint, however I stated that there were that many fine details over an extended period of time that in order to avoid confusion it would be better if she accessed the document I submitted previously. I also explained that I was considering filing a case with Trading Standards as poor communication was just one of the issues over which I am dissatisfied. Thereafter I was told that a manager would contact me on Monday, however as I was due to attend the consultation meeting on new operational signage and Waverly, we rescheduled the call back for Tuesday at 3 PM. I was assured that everything would be sorted out then, and when I expressed my wish that I could share this confidence I was actually told that the person I was speaking with was optimistic of a satisfactory resolution on Tuesday; optimism that was clearly misplaced.
Unsurprisingly by now, I received no such call and therefore called back this morning to query just what was going on. I spoke with someone else at Technical Support expressing my disappointment that the agreed call back had not been followed through. I explained that I had submitted my complaint to a specific individual originally, and it turned out that this person was the manager for the person with whom I was speaking. I was assured that he was a very good manager, and at a point would be made to ask him to call back later this week or by Monday at the very latest. In the interest of acting in a reasonable manner and keeping goodwill, I agreed to accept this and look forward to speaking with him then, although somehow I doubt this call back will actually materialise.
My thoughts are that I am reaching the point where I will have no option but to contact the Citizens Advice Service and possibly refer the matter to Trading Standards or the industry Ombudsman. Fortunately, unlike with Affordable Mobiles, Orange are a signatory to the agreement which would allow them to look into this matter, and hopefully this will avoid me having to use the Small Claims Court service for a second time. What disappoints me particularly is that as a business customer, dedicated customer service and technical support is apparently a feature that should be available to me, but clearly, this is something which has not been provided and which has not been accounted for by anyone I have spoken with to date. Whereas individual Customer Service and Technical Support personnel may have done their best to assist, the most that has happened is for the matter to be referred to more senior Technical Support personnel, but as stated in my original complaint the poor lines of communication clearly mean that any feedback is not being acted upon by the intended personnel.
Watch this space for the next episode in what is rapidly becoming a competitor to EastEnders in terms of ridiculousness and duration!
Yesterday I attended a consultation meeting on the new operational signage at Edinburgh Waverly station is my first major piece of work for the Mobility & Access Committee for Scotland, to which I was appointed in October THIS YEAR. The meeting was part of a project to ensure that the new signage is fit for purpose and meets the needs of all stakeholders, including disabled passengers. I attended to bring forth issues relevant to people with sight loss, even though the signage will probably be of no benefit to me personally given my reduced central vision and shortsightedness. Nevertheless I felt it was important that issues specific to people with sight loss, such as ensuring that there is adequate spacing on signage, the use of illuminated signage where possible and ensuring that signage is visible in all light conditions are aired.
The consultation was commissioned by Network Rail who appointed an external design and marketing firm to undertake research and implement the signage. The consultation convener was accompanied by two members of staff from Network Rail. A colleague from the Scottish Accessible Transport Alliance was also present both as an individual and to represent his organisation.
The meeting took the form of a presentation, which went through plans for the new signage, including photographs and maps. I was able to see some, but not all of the presentation however, the convener did a fantastic job in describing the slides, which gave me a frame of reference for what was discussed. I was therefore able to raise the issues I felt important, and certainly the convener seemed to appreciate some of my suggestions, such as using floor level lighting to distinguish different sections of the station, the use of strip lighting to outline important signage outside the station, increasing the spacing between lines of text on monitors and other displays, ensuring that there is graphical as well as textual signage and that this is meaningful etc. I felt that I was able to conduct myself well and submitted a report to the rail stream lead for MACS outlining my impressions of the meeting as well as important issues that were raised. The meeting lasted approximately 90 min, time I felt was definitely well spent.
The feedback collected from the consultation will be fed back into the design process and it is expected that implementation of the new signage will be complete between December 2013 and April 2014. Further consultation exercises will take place during the implementation process and it is therefore reasonable to assume that I may be asked to attend a further meeting. It is great to see tangible progress of the station development, which seems to have been an extremely long time in coming, and it is great to see that there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and that the new station will be unveiled in all its glory in the very near future.
- Tags:accessibility, consultation, development, edinburgh waverly, macs, meeting, rail, sight loss, signage, travel, visually impaired
Following the lack of any response from Affordable Mobiles and having contacted Citizens Advice last week, the case was forwarded to Trading Standards. I was unable to speak with the local representative when he called as I was travelling to London at the time, but I called back later to speak with him regarding the issue. He said he had looked at the company website and unfortunately, they were not part of the association, which would allow me to take the case to the ombudsman for the telecommunications industry. My only option is therefore to go through the Small Claims Court process, something I have looked at on the website and which seems rather complicated. Fortunately, the cost to do this is only £16 and apparently, the application can be completed and filed online. The court will look at the application for compensation and forward the relevant papers to the company, who then have the option to either settle or defend. If Affordable Mobiles choose to defend, they are required to travel to Aberdeen at their own expense to fight the case, as I apparently have the option of choosing where the case is heard. The representative from the local Trading Standards advised however that usually companies being chased for small amounts choose to settle out of court, as it can often cost more for them to send a representative to, and pay time for, hearing the case in court.
I will start completing the relevant forms for the court over the next few days, although why I need to fill in five separate forms, replicating the same information multiple times, I do not understand. Presumably, this is necessary to ensure that data is consistent and to weed out any anomalies that might cause problems later down the line. I ask the Trading Standards representative if, should the matter proceed to court and should I need to attend in person, assistance will be available given my sight loss. I was advised that a person who used to work for Citizens Advice now supports people with disabilities and other needs and therefore this avenue is covered.
Watch this space to keep up with developments as this matter escalates, although I really wish Affordable Mobiles had sorted this out months ago which would have avoided such a tedious complaint process, especially given the relatively low amount they owe in the general scheme of things.
- Tags:accessibility, affordable mobiles, application, citizen's advice, compensation, complaint, court, mobile phones, money, news, small claims court, trading standards
Today I spoke with Mary Marsh, head of the CLORE Social Leadership Fellowship Programme to which I applied earlier this year, for a feedback session following my recent interview. Unfortunately I was not selected to go through as a fellow, however the feedback session proved useful in giving me pointers for what to work on with respect to personal character development, but also to keep in mind should I be in a similar situation in the future.
Other than the work-life balance and my ability to commit time to the fellowship as required given my already busy schedule, the main issue that was of concern to the panel was my relative lack of experience in informal social situations. This was something I missed out on at University given the determination I had for academic success and the problems of keeping pace with the hectic social lifestyle of a student couple with my sight loss. Actually, this is one of the reasons for me getting involved in so many things now, in a drive to make up for the lost time earlier. Experience in information social situations and an ability to develop networks resulting from this is a core part of the CLORE ethos, and the panel thought that perhaps I needed to experience this further before taking on the fellowship.
The other point of concern was that apparently, I demonstrated some uncertainty as to whether I wanted to go through with the fellowship when it came to interview. I slightly disagree with this, as I thought the determination to take up the challenge was reflected strongly in what I said during the presentation and in the initial application (upon which they asked me to interview in the first place), but perhaps I did not quite hit the metaphorical notes the panel were listening for. Whereas it is true I feel somewhat unequipped when it comes to sector-specific knowledge, I do not feel this detracted from my determination to succeed and make the most of the opportunities presented.
Finally, the panel thought I attempted to embark on the fellowship process too early in life. They felt that I should build up to this by gaining more social experience and do so in smaller steps before tackling something this monumental. This has a ring of truth to it, but I can reassure myself I tried to do the right thing given that it was initially recommended as an option to me back in March. I also must have some qualities that enamoured the panel to me that caused them to consider me for interview.
There are several lessons I can take away from this process and therefore I by no means consider this a failure or a setback. Whereas it would have been nice to be selected as a fellow and it would have been wonderful to represent the sight loss sector in such an undertaking, there will be many more opportunities for consideration in the future, and many of those will no doubt give me the social experience the panel recommended I pursue. It is also true that the sight loss issue does pose some constraints when it comes to networking given the lack of awareness of many of the visual signals used for communication, etc., but equally there are ways around this and I guess the important thing for me to acknowledge is having the confidence to use such workarounds regardless of whether or not they are the ‘usual’ way of doing things.
The tone of the feedback call was positive to neutral, and I definitely appreciate the time set aside to go through this with me. Mary was also appreciative of me taking the time to call in, so I guess it works out satisfactory from both sides. The experience to date has taught me a number of transferrable skills and about me as a person, things that I can now take on to challenges anew.
- Tags:clore social leadership fellowship progr, development, feedback, fellow, future, interview, news, opportunities, rant, sight loss, social
I found myself travelling through London for the second time in a week as I attended the RNIB Travel, Shopping & Control of Money Programme Board meeting at the Action for Blind People offices in Birmingham. The meeting was preceded by an open meeting where we heard presentations from Network Rail on the revamping of Birmingham New Street Railway Station, Centro on bus transport in the West Midlands and Barclays Bank on their accessibility drives which include Talking ATMs, improvements to the visibility on text on bank cards, improvements to the Barclays website to make it easier to use, including with screen readers, etc. RNIB member representatives from the West Midlands and some external parties attended the open meeting. This made a pleasant change to the usual format of Programme Board meeting days, and gave the opportunity to ask questions of the guest speakers. In particular, I was keen to ask the Network Rail speaker about pedestrian traffic management at Birmingham New Street, however she rather misunderstood me and thought I meant the vehicular traffic management situation, which features staggered drop-off points for taxis, private cars etc. as you move around the outside of the station. I did not have the opportunity to clarify my question, but will do so via e-mail later, as I feel this is an important issue. Even the most accessible station can quickly become unusable if other pedestrians using it are walking in a disorderly and unpredictable manner without clear traffic flow implementations.
In an interesting co-incidence, the volunteer assigned to help me from the station to the meeting venue and for any assistance until lunch was a PE teacher who also worked with children and young people with sight loss. He works with a blind football team in the West Midlands, and also has connections with other sports. I told him about our plans for Adventure Unlimited Scotland (formerly Outlook Adventure Scotland) and Paul was agreeable to the possibility of working together to provide activities and use resources cross-board. I’ll have to speak with Simon in Inverness about this the next time I see him, but this may also help us to branch out further afield (we are currently limited to Inverness and the surrounding idea), as well as spreading the word about the activities we offer and avenues for revenue generation.
We had a nice lunch with offerings of marinated chicken with onions and peppers, vegetarian bubble and squeak and a jacket potato with a choice of fillings. I of course chose the latter, how could I resist?
The Board meeting in the afternoon was informative and focussed on many of the projects currently being undertaken by RNIB as well as taking decisions on the focus points for future campaigning work. Topics included shared surface obstructions, travel buddy schemes and similar activities. The meeting started at 14:00 and ended two hours later, allowing me plenty of time to return to the station for some shopping to keep me going on the return journey, before catching the train to London Euston and transferring over to the ScotRail Caledonian Sleeper service to Aberdeen. The return journey was made more sociable by the company of my friend who just happened to be returning from a week’s holiday and travelling back on the same train. We ended up sharing a cabin, which gave me a pleasant change from work or reading, my usual time occupiers when not sleeping.
I arrived home before 09:00 on Wednesday, but must have been more tired than I thought as I ended up sleeping all day in into the evening. Either all the travelling has caught up with me or it was a side effect of the Tramadol I had to take the prior evening following a flare up in pains in my fingers.
The next meeting is not until early 2014 and may include a combined meeting with the Living With Sight Loss Programme Board, so watch this space for developments as they happen. Unless plans change, this was also my last trip outside Scotland until the new year, with all journeys only extending as far as Edinburgh and without any overnight stays.
- Tags:accessibility, barclays, birmingham, centro, mebership, money, network rail, programme board, rnib, shopping, sight los, travel, visually impaired
Starting to play the guitar recently has reignited my joy in writing my own song lyrics, and now I actually have the opportunity to put them to music. I came up with the following last night and it only took about 20 mins to get the lyrics and chords to fit. Enjoy. The song is sung to the tune of the first verse of "The Yellow Rose of Texas".
==== The Tale of the Jamboree ====
T'was a cold and frosty morning when I left old Dublin town,
The wheels on rails were rolling and the crossing gate was down,
I lay in first on the Jamboree, a steamer of renown,
On that cold and frosty morning when I left old Dublin town.
From the homes came fields, the fields came hills as we crossed those hundred miles,
I stared out of the window like an awed and wondrous child,
Who knew what would be coming as we passed through country wild,
I saw this from the Jamboree as we crossed these hundred miles.
The whistle blew, the smoke curled high as we passed through Waterloo,
The cheers rang loud, the men stood proud; I wondered what to do,
The women they were a singin' and a dancin' were they too,
I saw this from the Jamboree as we passed through Waterloo
"At this point, we could've gone either north to Galway or south to Cork. But well, singing about Cork would’ve just been too embarrassing. Listen on."
The sun curved round the mountain as we neared those Galway shores,
And after all I'd seen that day I wondered was there more,
The clock tower on the castle tor read twenty-five to four,
I saw this from the Jamboree as we neared those Galway shores.
So that's the tale of the Jamboree that left old Dublin town,
On that cold and frosty morning when the crossing gate was down,
So tell your mates a'plenty of this steamer so renowned,
To catch the tale of the Jamboree that left old Dublin town.
==== End ====
Yesterday I attended the final meeting of the RNIB Living With Sight Loss Programme Board at RNIB HQ in London. My travel on the overnight sleeper train went without incident as always despite a slight delay at Watford Junction owing to overhead wire problems. Nevertheless, I arrived in good time for the meeting, which was particularly interesting on this occasion, focusing on education in addition to other matters. A lively discussion was had, the result of which will influence the work, which RNIB does in this area over the upcoming strategy period from 2014 to 2019. This was pretty much the main topic of the agenda and there is little else that was discussed that I am able to disclose at this time.
Following the meeting I decided to have lunch at the RNIB cafe, seeing as the last two times I travelled back to Aberdeen via East Coast there was no catering on board, firstly due to the lack of any alternative not containing ham, pork or bacon and secondly as there was a 'limited supply' and the food ran out before I was even asked for my order. I enjoyed a wonderful jacket potato at the cafe, however fortunately my precautions were not required as I was able to partake of a nice steak pie and something which I think was meant to be salad (although many of the shoots seemed half dead). I must have been more tired than I thought as rather than getting some work done as I do normally I simply sat back and enjoyed some fan fiction and even fell asleep at one point.
Having travelled to London via Inverness the night before, I arrived home shortly after 22:00. Something really needs to be done about the lack of taxi availability at Aberdeen Rail Station. There must have been at least 25 people in the queue when I arrived off the London train, however only 4 were rail passengers with the rest a combination of crazy late-night shoppers and those on a night out. A separate taxi rank is needed for Union Square with the rank at the station dedicated to rail passengers only, or else significantly greater capacity is required at the existing rank to cope with the off-site demand.
The next Living With Sight Loss Programme Board meeting takes place on 20 February 2014.
- Tags:aberdeen, accessibility, education, london, meeting, membership, news, programme board, rant, rnib, sight loss, taxi, travel, union square, visually impaired