Monthly Archives: March 2010

Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children

Since posting this video my bandwidth usage has gone through the roof! So I’ve had to remove it.

The video was the whole of the BBC4 Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children programme. Here’s a link with details of the programme and some short clips from it. If you’d like to see the whole programme again drop me an e-mail and I’ll give you a non-public web page where it can be viewed.

“Shot entirely undercover over the course of nine months, a beautiful and moving documentary which tells the stories of three children growing up in today’s Zimbabwe.”

“12-year-old Grace rummages through rubbish dumps in Harare to find bones to sell for school fees; nine-year-old Esther has to care for her baby sister and her mother who is dying of HIV/AIDS; and 13-year-old Obert pans for gold to make enough money to buy food for himself and his gran, while dreaming of somehow getting the education he craves.”

“From BAFTA-winning director Jezza Neumann and BAFTA-winning producer, Xoliswa Sithole, a powerful tale unfolds of the gaping chasm between what these children hope for and what their country can currently provide.”

Paloma Faith

Last night we went to see Paloma Faith live – absolutely superb! Here she is singing New York

The supporting group were La Shark, you can hear some of their music on the link. I didn’t expect to like them but came away a bit of a fan!

Incidentally, and to keep this posting on topic for buses, there was a Jumbocruiser parked at the location.

Cathy Buckle’s letter

Dear Family and Friends,
South African President Jacob Zuma inspected a guard of honour at Harare airport at the end of his brief visit to Zimbabwe. The South African President’s departure was shown on ZBC television and was one of the few parts of the visit not shrouded in secrecy. Presidents Zuma and Mugabe held hands as they walked along the line of assembled dignitaries and once Mr Zuma had gone up the stairs to the aircraft, Mr Mugabe raised both his arms and with fists clenched, punched the air a few times. It looked very much like a triumphant victory display such as we have seen on many occasions at Zanu PF political rallies.

We Zimbabweans are very aware of the body language of our leaders and very suspicious of the slightest sign that something may be going on. Its a suspicion borne out of ten years of mayhem, oppression and bloodshed.

We hear that Mr Zuma has cobbled together a “package of measures” to get Zimbabwe moving again but as usual the nitty gritty is hidden from view and couched in words which say everything and nothing at the same time; words like concessions, compromise, facilitators and negotiators. So while ‘informed sources’ and ‘un-named insiders,’ speculate about what’s really going on, we look at the body language, hand holding and air punching.

We saw body language that said, again, that Zanu PF isn’t going to give away any real power. They are still very much in control, we all know it, and a prime example came this week when commercial farmers in one area received letters instructing them to attend a meeting this week. The instruction was for the farmer owners to come to the meeting; not managers or foremen but the owners themselves. The letter was signed and stamped by the Zanu PF DCC (District Co-Coordinating Committee) and the venue was a well known country garden restaurant.

At a meeting that lasted 2 and half hours, three dozen white commercial farmers were told that they were still on their farms only because Zanu PF wanted them there and not for any other reason. At first they were praised for being “good farmers” but soon the real reason for the meeting became clear. Each commercial farmer was told that he must provide one beast (cow) for Independence celebrations. When instructed to do so, the farmer must slaughter the animal and hand it over to Zanu PF. This was stage one. Stage two would follow in the coming weeks when each farmer would have to provide diesel, mealie meal and cooking oil for the Independence celebrations.

None of the farmers were in any doubt that the meat, grain and fuel were non negotiable demands. If you don’t provide, you don’t stay on your farm – never said in plain words but clearly understood by everyone. Neither was there any doubt about the fact that it was Zanu PF and not the Government of National Unity who was making the demands and who would be collecting the goods.

So who’s really in charge in Zimbabwe?
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

Customer (Non)Service

I’ve been having a bad couple of days with Customer Support people simply ignoring me!

The first problem came on Saturday after I downloaded and installed a 30 day free trial of Vipre Antivirus. Reviews of the program were very good and in particular it appeared to use far less resources when scanning files than other antivirus programs. This was a major factor in why I wished to try it out. I installed it on Saturday morning and first impressions were very good but I had one problem with it so I used their support link on the website to request support. 24 hours later I’d heard nothing so sent another message complaining that no one had responded. To be fair I had a pretty instantaneous reply from the Customer Service Manager saying that they were forwarding my e-mail to the Support Dept. That was Sunday and now it’s Tuesday night – no word has been heard from anybody at Vipre. So, if you stumble across this Vipre antivirus people, I think your Support Dept. (to use an American term) sucks! Thanks for the 30 day trial but after 4 days you’ve managed to prove I’d be an absolute to fool to pay you for your software. It’s now been removed from my PC and I wont be troubling you again.

Yesterday morning I tried to book 2 seats on the Greyhound bus from Southampton to London but when I tried to pay for the seats I got this message.

I sent an e-mail to the customer support address on the website attaching screen shots of the booking page and the error page shown above. 24 hours later nothing but silence :-( So I wrote, forwarding the original e-mail, to Alex Warner the MD who publishes his e-mail address on the website. I asked him to ‘kick some backsides’. It’s now 20:30 and no reply :-(

Breaking news

From the Hartlepool Mail.

“A bus passenger claims he had to tell a driver how to get to his destination after a transport company moved its jobs to depots outside the area. Peterlee resident David Taylor-Gooby says he was on the number 31 Peterlee to Sunderland service when the bus driver took a wrong turn from Easington Village into Easington Colliery – when it should have travelled straight on to Hawthorn Village.”

Oh, no!!! That’s incredible. It must be the first time ever that a bus driver took a wrong turn. How could this happen?

“Easington Labour Party secretary Mr Taylor-Gooby, who was travelling to Sunderland University, said: “He wasn’t supposed to do that. A lot of people were worried”.”

I can well imagine the worry and distress this could cause but I bet the passengers felt less concerned when they found out that the Easington Labour Party secretary was in command of the situation.

“He showed me a route plan and I sat with him and showed him the way.”

Thank God for such public spirited people as Mr Tellall-Goodboy the Easington Labour Party secretary. Bus services couldn’t run without people like him – if I’d ever voted Conservative I’d not do it again.

Let’s get the bus driver sacked

The last two postings have been about Amy Wootten and her attempt to get an innocent driver into trouble. Now it’s my turn to be on the receiving end.
Friday I did the Test Valley school run, you may remember that I’ve posted about Test Valley School once or twice before :-) In case you need reminding click here for the details. It was the usual unruly charging onto the bus, refusal to show passes start until the Deputy Headteacher came over to the bus, unloaded them and told them to board singly and to show me their passes. It wasn’t long before one girl held up her pass on which her thumb, just by accident I’m sure, covered up the expiry date of the pass. “Sorry I can’t read the date” I said. Would you believe it? It expired last year! I showed the pass to the Deputy Headteacher commenting that this was why we needed to check passes. “But you’re not xxxxx” he said to the girl! This girl was using an expired pass with another pupil’s name on it. “I’ll get off the bus” the girl said. I told her in front of the teacher that I’d take her home now but she’d have to pay in future unless she had a valid pass. Since more pupils boarded and I talked for a couple of minutes with the teacher I’ve no idea whether the girl stayed on the bus or got off.
Monday I’m told that there’s been a complaint from a parent that I refused travel to their daughter from Test Valley School!
I think it’s pretty clear that I can defend myself against this one with the support of the Deputy Headteacher. But why should I have to? The little bitch must have got off the bus, ‘phoned home and said the driver wouldn’t let her on the bus while ‘forgetting’ to tell Mum the rest of the story and the fact that she wasn’t refused travel to get home that afternoon, only free travel thereafter.