It was Tinkerbell Mushroom's enrolment at Brownies.
Do you know your "promise", I asked. She looked at me vaguely. "I didn't know I had to learn it." It was five minutes to going time. I called in some extra resources. Gymnast who was enrolled much more recently than me to Brownies was able to provide us with the right words for the "promise", and so then all three of us practised it whilst walking to Brownies together. So do you know the Brownie Guide Law too, I checked with Gymnast? "No" she said. I never learnt it. Someone else said it for me when I was enrolled." We got there and I went to speak to the Brownie Leader. (They aren't called Brown Owl now. Perhaps it's because such title shortened to BO. I know not.)
"I'm really sorry I said, but I've been really busy, and I forgot to help her with her vows. She knows her promise, but please may I have a look at the Brownie Guide law, so that I can show her?"
BL obliged and TM and I learnt it together very quickly, the whole thing being a total of sixteen words. Perfect for remiss mother. The ceremony started, minus hubby, who being on a course on the other side of the country, was still skating across Gloucestershire to get to the Brownie hut on time. Fortunately he made by the skin of his teeth, just before she made her promise.
And not to be smug or anything. Well... ok... a bit. But, having learnt it in 30 seconds flat, she said the BG law on behalf of all others present. Apparently she was the only one who had learnt that bit! She has a deep clear voice, and she made us very proud, and made me forget that I'd been a bad mother in forgetting to teach her said words. Brinkmanship had worked, clearly...
I then got home to find a phone bill, for an extraordinarily large amount. I had been coerced into returning to BT again recently, after numerous hassles with every other provider out there. Regular readers will remember only too well.
Well... apart from the fact that they had charged me for all daytime calls, despite having an "Anytime" line. And apart from the fact that there were £17 worth of 0845 calls, I was also seriously unhappy with the number of mobile numbers called to various teenagers' friends phones. I wouldn't mind, but they all have mobile phones, linked to the same network as ours, which WE pay for. "We'll have to have a word with them" said hubby.
"And I shall have a word with BT" said I. "I'm not working tomorrow. It can be my good turn for the day."
I dialled the number given on the bill.
After pressing every option available and then pressing star zero several, (many several) times, and still not getting through to a PERSON, I gave up and had another look at the bill. I found another number to dial. I still couldn't talk to a person, but did eventually get the promise of a call back via a machine operated voice.
"Mrs. Lommax?" "Yes" I said. And then, after making me jump through five hoops, stand on my head and say my alphabet backwards to verify that she was indeed speaking to the person that she had called, she eventually asked me how she could help.
So where did I need to start?
Clearly the mobile phone number calls were not their problem, but the daytime calls, and the 0845 numbers not being included in the "Anytime" plan were a different matter.
Not wanting to fall out with the poor girl on the end of the line I asked very nicely to be put though to the manager.
There wasn't one.
I finally managed to persuade her that perhaps she didn't own BT and she eventually agreed to put me through to someone else. I then had a serious rant about the inefficacy of 0870 and 0845 numbers and the outrageous charges for such.
He listened, and informed me that they were nothing to do with BT, and asked me why I thought that these should be included in the plan. I was very confused by this, because as I pointed out, in the days when BT were the only telephone provider in the UK, there was no-one else to invent the concept of the "local call for everyone line." But local call rates they are now definitely not, and what's more they are not included in your general calls, and so, whichever plan you opt for, such calls are charged for on top.
SEVENTEEN POUNDS worth of them!
He was having none of it, but he did nevertheless reduce our bill by a sensible amount, on the basis that obviously the person who had resold me back into BT had misinformed me. (Which of course really reads, "Because as one of our customers, you are clearly a little bit stupid, and so we will give you a stupidity discount...." Something like that anyway.)
In the meantime, no teenagers in the Sally household will be allowed to call mobiles from landlines ever again, and the "say no to 0870" website will be seriously encouraged for all at all times.
Oh yes, and he also took off the daytimes calls.... as that was a genuine error......
And to think that in days gone by I would pay bills without checking the items therein. Just think of the pounds we could have saved when we weren't so poor. I should have listened to my Dad all along.
p.s. Gymnast quite rightly reminded me that she too should get a mention... as that very evening she too was promoted - to a sixer at Brownies..... and we are very proud of her. Well done Gymnast!
Dona Nobis Pacem
2 weeks ago