There are so many things wrong in the UK currently that it is practically impossible to get numbers down to even a top ten. Whenever back in the country, however, one of my almost daily frustrations is attempting to speak to a human in any organisation via any medium.

Some have removed phone contact, others email addresses and even chat messages (although that point may not be a bad thing with banks, with which you ‘live chat’ only to discover that the agent is actually dealing with some 300 ‘chatters’ and may get back to you tomorrow). And why are so many actual staff still working from home, especially government agencies like HMRC, DVLA etc?

Question: Why is it so difficult to speak to a human in wealthy, successful organisations?

Answer: Because they become successful initially by being small, flexible and customer-focused. Then they trade on that reputation to grow to a size where they’re bought out by MegaGlobalCorp Inc, who keep those direct debits rolling over whilst sacking everyone and closing down most of the back-office operation. Customer service will be an irrelevance, and if they spend any money at all it will be on daft advertising campaigns.

And speaking to a human is almost as difficult as getting to see a GP in the UK.

At the age of 101, my mother had to see her doctor for a check up. At the end of the consultation he decided to check for Alzheimer’s, asking her if she knew the date. She promptly responded with the correct day, date, month and year which elicited the response “brilliant”. “No it isn’t,” she replied.”You have a large calendar on the wall behind you.” There were no further questions.

A friend’s mother, at 86, gave a similar response. She was then asked who was the Prime Minister, and was gleefully able to respond correctly: “I’ve just been watching news about him on TV!”

Yet another mother, when asked for her birthday: “22nd March.” Doctor: “What year?” Mother: “Every bloody year!”

And talking of nannying, Bill Giles, retired MET forecaster, accused his successors of behaving like nannies for issuing so many storm alerts, saying that the public would soon become immune to them. Let’s take a quick look at the evidence:

October 15, 1987
Michael Fish denied that a hurricane was on its way just before it arrived in the worst storm for three centuries killing 18 people.

 May 25, 2009
The Met Office warned of “a threat of showers and thunderstorms” on Bank Holiday Monday. It turned out to be the hottest day of the year up to then. Resorts lost millions in revenue because visitors were put off by the forecast.
April 30, 2009
The Met Office predicted a “barbecue” summer with temperatures exceeding 30C. It rained on 42 summer days and was the wettest July on record.
November 2014
The Met Office reassured councils and the Environment Agency they should expect a “drier than usual” winter. It would be the wettest winter since records began in 1914 and some of the most severe flooding Britain had seen in decades.

Lordy, another lie down needed!

Nora Johnson’s 11 critically acclaimed psychological crime thrillers (www.nora-johnson.net) all available online including eBooks (€0.99;£0.99), Apple Books, audiobooks, paperbacks at Amazon etc. Profits to Cudeca cancer charity.

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Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.