I have a question. Volume 13 - Mark (RLBS)

************ NOW CLOSED, SEE VOLUME 14 ******************

In this thread you may ask any question for which you need help, advice, suggestions or whatever.

It does not need to be motoring related. In fact, in this thread it should not be.

No politics
No Speeding, speed cameras, traffic calming
No arguments or slanging matches
Nothing which I think is not following the spirit of the thread.

Any of the above will be deleted. If the thread becomes difficult to maintain it will simply be removed.

However, as has been said a couple of times, there is a wealth of knowledge in here, much of which is not motoring related, but most of which is useful.

This is Volume 13. Previous Volumes will not be deleted.
Active X problem - Dwight Van Driver
Please can I pick your brains, for I am a duffer with the Computer.

Of late, for a reason unknown to me, when trying to access Topics on the site it has become exceedingly slow to download. I have plenty of memory spare.

When the topic page eventually comes on screen it is immediately followed by a dialogue box headed Microsoft Internet Explorer and the legend " Your current security settings prohibit running Active X controls on this page. As a result the page may not display correctly. Followed is the squark of a crow.
I can get rid by clicking on the TRH X. Going to a new topic the same happens.

I am with AOL which opens the Forum on its own accord.

I have brought up Internet Explorer, into Tools, Internet Options, Security which tells me that Security is set at Medium which is the setting recommended.

Active X Controls - Download signed Active X controls is at prompt and there is no difference if I change this to Enable. Download unsigned A.X is at Disable. Do not want to tempt fate by changing to Enable.

Anyone tell me how I can speed up the Forum and get rid of the blasted dialogue? Remember that you will have to hold my hand if you have a solution.

Thanks in anticipation.

Active X problem - smokie
I'll let someone who knows the answer tell you what's up, but for what it's worth my Active X security settings are the same as yours (Enable signed, Disable unsigned).

I'm sure someone will ask what you've changed or what has changed which brought this behaviour on. New version of AOL? Any other change you can pin it down to?
Active X problem - Dwight Van Driver
Fingers crossed, Rosary beads rubbed etc etc and I think I have repaired fault.

Uninstalled/Re-installed AOL
Uninstalled IE service pack 6 - last dealing with IE.

Site back to normal apart now from dialogue box from IE saying script error at each page.

Installed Service Pack for IE 5.5.

Voila........... fast access, no boxes.

Fingers again crossed.


Premium Bonds odds - smokie
As an alternative to watching more conventional savings going down the tubes, I've been buying blocks of premium bonds regularly over the past year or so. (Nothing stunning amount-wise, believe me!)

Anyway, I have now accumulated lots of small blocks of bonds. Does the team think I would improve my odds of winning if I were to cash them in and re-purchase a single block?

The "official line" is that each number has an equal chance of winning, and scientifically this may be so. But statistically the odds must improve if you own a sequence of numbers?
Premium Bonds odds - eMBe {P}
>>>> The "official line" is that each number has an equal chance
of winning, and scientifically this may be so. But statistically the
odds must improve if you own a sequence of numbers?

The offical line is correct. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the electronics in ERNIE do not behave in a true random fashion. People with £20,000 (previous max.) bonds claim that the winning numbers are more often in a particular block than other blocks they own. (Some blocks never producing a win, some blocks producing wins every year).
I have a question. Volume 13 - SteveH42
Bit of an odd one this. I'm using Outlook Express 5.5 to read newsgroups. I've set up some rules to automatically highlight any messages I post, and to delete messages older than 5 days so that I don't have to scroll down a long list.

The odd thing is, the highlight rule works OK and all groups. The delete rule won't let me select anything other than the first group I'm subscribed to. I can change it for one application, but it always reverts to the first in the list. Any suggestions what's wrong and if it can be fixed?

ZoneAlarm Firewall - Dynamic Dave
In a couple of previous "I have a question" threads the subject came up about the Firewall software program ZoneAlarm causing peoples pc's to automatically dial up the internet when they booted them up.

It looks like this has now been resolved as I downloaded the lastest version (3.7.193) at the weekend and it seems to be ok. If like me you had to resort back to an earlier version to overcome the dialing up when first booting up, you can safely go ahead and install the latest version without it happening anymore.

Which Mountain Bike? - drbe
Two questions actually.

I am considering buying a mountain bike. Which ones are good value? I am prepared to spend up to about £300-400. I am particularly interested in good quality parts, rather than the ultimate specification, but would like front & rear suspension.

To start the ball rolling, Argos have MBs with dual suspension at £99.99 (I think) does anybody know anything about them?

The bike would be used on relatively gentle tracks and byways in deepest Surrey (KT10), rather than any rocky paths oop North.

Any thoughts, help or advice gratefully received. BTW where is the a good source of cheap bikes.

Don drbe

Which Mountain Bike? - drbe
Whoops! Last sentence should read:- BTW, where is there a good source of cheap bikes?

Sorry about that.

Don drbe
Large Fonts? - drbe
Second question - please.

I am running Office 2000 with Word. The largast font I can get is 72 point (I think that's right) Is there some way I can download a larger font for making signs etc?

I am barely computer literate, so any answers please type them slowly, using words of one syllable.

Many thanks, - I hope.

Don drbe
Large Fonts? - RichardW

Fonts - click on the box in the menu bar where the fontsize is, delete the number that\'s there, and enter any number you like. I just tried 450 which is one letter per page more or less!

Ref bikes - A bike costing £99 with full suspension will be rubbish - use it in anger and it will fall apart. Go to a specialist bike shop and talk it through with them - better to go with your budget and get what is best at that price, rather than a spec and try it get it for a budget - you will not get what you want (my Mate\'s just spend 3 GRAND on a fully suspended mountain bike....). Last year\'s models are usually 30% cheaper, as Mountain bikers are a fickle lot....


Large Fonts? - Dynamic Dave
Fonts - click on the box in the menu bar where
the fontsize is, delete the number that\'s there, and enter any
number you like.

Alternately highlight the word(s) you want to enlarge and press and hold down the Ctrl button and then press the ] (square bracket) button. To reduce font use the [ button instead.
Large Fonts? - jeds
Just bought a MB for my son. We did the tour of all the shops and Argos etc. but were disappointed at what you get for £150.00 - I've noticed this about kids bikes, they tend to not have the best quality parts for some reason.

We eventually got one from Parkers-Bolton on ebay. Brilliant bike with Shimano gears and brakes and dual suspension and next day delivery for £120.00

Which Mountain Bike? - guzzler
It's a good idea to start off with a cheap bike to see whether or not you enjoy the off-roading. Personally I think it's great fun!
Even the cheap bikes are fairly well spec'd.
Many cycle shops will have taken someone elses bike in part exchange and will give it a basic service before selling it on, you might get a good deal there, and you'll have a good idea about the bikes provenance.
If you do try a proper bike shop you'll get a "fitting service" and the right information about what size bike your looking for.
An unscrupulous person might take this info and buy something from Loot or a local freebie, the second last bike I had was a Kona cindercone for £30 from a "stolen recovered" auction in Wandsworth.
Or try Ebay?
Happy cycling:-)
Which Mountain Bike? - Focus {P}
BTW where is a good source of cheap bikes.

If you're not too far from the Berkshire/Reading area, there are a number of Berkshire Cycles shops that typically knock about 10% off list price- I got my £200 Raleigh (possibly end-of-line) for £170 including a £17 Cateye rear LED.

See www.berkshirecycles.com/ for locations, or have a look for somewhere similar a bit closer.

Which Mountain Bike? - Baskerville
I wouldn't go near a shop like Argos for a bike. Go to a proper bike shop and ask them what they recommend. If you're new to it buy second hand and then trade it back to them when you buy new. A good bike shop will change components (saddle, pedals, handlebars/stem etc) on a new bike if the standard ones are not what you want, usually at no labour cost. Just as with a car/garage if you build a relationship with a good bike shop they will be very helpful. I reckon a new £99 bike will hurt you and eventually move directly from the back of the shed to the council tip. Actually the tip is a good place to pick up bikes. My last acquisition that way is an aluminium alloy framed Cannondale road bike about five years old (rrp new about £700), in full working order and hardly used by the look of it. I paid nothing. Cheap bikes are not good value, but second hand ones are.

Which Mountain Bike? - smokie
I'd agree with Chris re Argos, especially if you are bike ignorant, like me. I got a really cheap bike in Makro for annual use only, and it has never worked properly in the gear department because I didn't know how to set it up. Next time I will go to a "proper shop"
Which Mountain Bike? - guzzler
Next time I'll go to the tip!!
Elusive Quotation - Nsar
I'm trying to think of the famous quote about fame & success, the context is something to do with a Royal Court and the king says to a junior something like "I will not support you, but you may walk with me across the court" Any clues?
Elusive Quotation - eMBe {P}
Royal court - king : Try searching on

Good luck.
Mountain Bikes and large fonts? - drbe
Thanks to everyone who contributed an answer to my questions. The font has worked - of course. Easy when you know how!

I'll let you know what happens on the bike front, I have now located the Met. Police lost/stolen property auction site and I intend to visit the next sale.

it's amazing what you can find on this site!

Thanks. Don drbe
accessing this site - HF
Is it just me, or does anyone else, when trying to access the HJ site, ever get a page full of strange foreign-looking letters and symbols coming up instead? (still with the title honestjohn.co.uk at the top)
accessing this site - Armitage Shanks{P}
Yes I get half a page of runic symbols, from time to time. Perhaps it is aliens from Planet Zog trying to hack into HJ's site! I think it may be something to with Zone Alarm privacy settings re cookies and pop ups. I usually get rid of it by changing screen names and signing on again.
accessing this site - HF
Phew, thanks AS, it's good to know I'm not alone on this one! Come to think of it, I have no memory of it happening prior to installing ZoneAlarm so you're probably right.
accessing this site - smokie
Just FYI there's a virus hoax still doing the rounds (I've heard of three people this week) which involves searching for a file with a teddy bear icon then deleting it (jdbgmgr.exe). If you get it, ignore the mail. If you've deleted the file, don't worry, as it is only critical for people who wouldn't have been caught by the hoax anyway (developers and the like). Described here...

ZoneAlarm Firewall - THe Growler
I dumped ZoneAlarm for this reason and use Sygate Personal Firewall. Free and unobtrusive,
I have a question. Volume 13 - CM

Re: computer problem.

There I was being a good boy and clearing off some files from the hard drive that I thought that I would never use and it now appears that I can't play audio files easily. I can if I go to Media Player and then open them but this is a pain.

Question - how do I set Media Player as my defauly player?

Thanks in advance.

I have a question. Volume 13 - eMBe {P}
>> Question - how do I set Media Player as my defauly
player?>> Charlie

go to Start/Settings/ControlPanel/Multimedia/Audio/Playback and set your default player.

alternatively, assign your file type to be opened by a particular program.
I have a question. Volume 13 - eMBe {P}
alternatively, assign your file type to be opened by a particular program.>>

I should have added: You can assign which program opens a particualr file type by:

start "Windows Explorer", click on View/Folder-Options/File-Types and then select the file type you want to work with - i.e. to add new-type, remove, or edit.
Satellite Broadband - Brill {P}
Currently using adsl broadband, but soon relocating to Dorset. Most areas don't seem to have broadband/cable yet, however it's essential for my business (large digital file transfers, graphics etc).

Does anyone here use satellite broadband, or know much about it?

Any other options?

DIY Questions Anyone?? - Hugo {P}
I'm renovating my property at the moment (2nd project) and may be able to help with DIY or Home Improvement Qs.

..if you need me to

DIY Questions Anyone?? - Rob the Bus {P}
Hi Hugo,

This might sound a little strange, but... I have this sort of conservatory thing joined on to my house. It's only small but was good storage space. A let's just say cowboy, took the old, broken leaking roof off it, and left it with nowt more than a few bits of hardboard for cover.

Need to repair this and roof it properly, within the tightest budget you could imagine. If you've any practical or money saving ideas I'd be very glad to hear them!

DIY Questions Anyone?? - Hugo {P}
Hi Hugo,
This might sound a little strange, but... I have this sort
of conservatory thing joined on to my house. It's only small
but was good storage space. A let's just say cowboy, took
the old, broken leaking roof off it, and left it with
nowt more than a few bits of hardboard for cover.
Need to repair this and roof it properly, within the tightest
budget you could imagine. If you've any practical or money saving
ideas I'd be very glad to hear them!


What type of conservatory is it. Is it a lean to type and is it an off the shelf aluminium/wooden unit from Wickes or just a specially built shed with windows?

DIY Questions Anyone?? - HF
Hi Hugo,

Yep it's a lean-to thingy, which everybody else tells me I should just get demolished. And they are right, my only reason for not doing so is that I live in a tiny house, and any potential storage space is REALLY needed.

It's a concrete based thing, no idea where it came from as it's probably prehistoric, but concrete walls up to about half way, then wooden stuff and windows etc. And no proper pfd roof!


DIY Questions Anyone?? - Baskerville
Assuming the concrete walls are ok it shouldn't cost too much to rebuilt the wooden part and roof it with polycarbonate sheeting (either clear to let light in or opaque). Just to give you an idea I recently built an eight foot by eleven foot free standing shed in two by four timbers and the cost of the structural wood was comfortably under £200 including proper floorboards. Your lean-to will come in well under that, especially if you can salvage some of the existing structure. If you have a handy man er, handy, he could do it easily. If the basic concrete structure is ok and you like having the space then you'd be daft to get rid. Go for it.
DIY Questions Anyone?? - Hugo {P}

Essentially you're right.


Assuming the walls are OK, I would plump for a transparent corrogated plastic roof, or one made out of polycarbinate if you want the job to look neater.

If you go for corrogated plastic, measure your roof area and add a bit for overlap of the sheets and overhang on the sides of the construction.

Assuming the roof timbers are OK, you should be able to use these to fix the sheets onto. You will need special screws for this.

The other trick is of course making a water tight seal between the top of the lean to and the wall of the house. There are various ways to do this. As Chris says, you should get change out of £200 for all the materials, depending on size.

If you log onto the Wickes site you may find a "Good Idea" leaflet that explains it better than I can here.


(I think)

DIY Questions Anyone?? - Rob the Bus {P}
Hi, ChrisR and Hugo - sorry, I seem to have missed your posts before. Thanks very much for your help, I must have appeared very rude in not responding.

I believe the concrete structure is indeed sound, so that's good news. I think a lot of the wooden framework is ok-ish too, so might get away with just a bit of a patch-up job.

The corrugated plastic idea sounds good, and I *think* the roof timbers are ok. Hope so anyway.

I've been wondering about the seal between it and the house. I'd been told previously that it had to be done with molten lead, but it would be great if I can find an easier way than this. I'll definitely check out the Wicks site, and see what I can come up with.

And the costs sounds a lot better than I'd imagined.

Many thanks, and again my apologies for seeming rude.
DIY Questions Anyone?? - HF
I don't believe it. What can I say except sorry?
Satellite Broadband - Baskerville

I have a very similar problem to you and have been using FedEx A LOT. ADSL arrives here in August, thank goodness. However I was reading in one of the current (July/August) editions of PC Buyer or some such magazine that one of the electricity companies on the south coast (not sure if Dorset is covered) is about to start supplying broadband internet using the mains supply cables. I know it sounds crazy but it's absolutely straight up: it's already widely used in Iceland and is starting in Scotland. Telcos are scared to death it will take off (you just plug your modem into any mains socket in the house) and have been holding it back with patent suits. But it's coming. Can't help with satellite, I'm afraid, but you could see if any other local businesses are having a similar problem and jointly lease a dedicated high speed line that you then access wirelessly. Good luck.

Satellite Broadband - Brill {P}
Thanks Chris the sounds interesting, will delve a little further.

Satellite Broadband - borasport20
Brill / Chris - I think you may be a bit disappointed. The concept of internet access over power cables was investigated by Norweb / Nortel in the period 1997-98 but it was decided it was unviable and quietly dropped.

sorry to be the bearer of bad news !

I have to grow old - but I don't have to grow up
Satellite Broadband - eMBe {P}
Brill / Chris - I think you may be a bit
disappointed. The concept of internet access over power cables was investigated
by Norweb / Nortel in the period 1997-98 but it was
decided it was unviable and quietly dropped.
sorry to be the bearer of bad news !

borasport20: sorry, but that is out of date. The service is being offered NOW in at least 1 region to start with, and may be rolled out nationwide soon. I haven't the time to point you in the right direction, but no doubt you can search the web for the info yourself.
Satellite Broadband - eMBe {P}
I saw this very item discussed on BBC 6 o'clock news just now!


Broadband from Scottish Hydro-Electric is providing high-speed internet access, up to twice as fast as ADSL, through standard electrical sockets in your home. This means you can surf the net all day without tying up your telephone line.
Taking advantage of Scottish Hydro-Electric?s extensive electricity network, the broadband signal is sent along the electricity wires and cables that bring power to homes. We then collect the data and transfer it over our network and onto the internet.
And don?t worry, using broadband will not cause a large increase in the amount of electricity used ? the modem provided only uses approximately one quarter of a 40W lightbulb!
Allowing high-speed internet browsing as much as twice as fast as most current broadband services, it?s much quicker for emailing and downloading. What?s more, this speed is available in both directions so information can be sent at high speed as well as received.
Simple installation and no messy wiring to deal with ? you can use your PC in many rooms and make phone calls while you?re online
Anytime ? means it?s ?always on? ? there?s no dial-up time or cost restrictions involved
Fast connection means your online in seconds
With Broadband from Scottish Hydro-Electric the need for new phone lines and lots of messy cables is long gone!
Instant email messaging
Hassle-free connection
Satellite Broadband - Baskerville
It's been under trial in Scotland for quite a while now and it does look like it works very well. Available now from Scottish Hydro-Electric for one:


Satellite Broadband - Baskerville
Wow that's amazing!

Satellite Broadband - Baskerville
I've done some digging and one of Scottish Hydro's partners in this is Southern Electric. Available now in Winchester, apparently, and more to come.

Satellite Broadband - smokie
Brill - I looked at satellite a few years back before cable was available here. At the time it wqas going to be pricey. Ideally it needs a slightly larger dish than Sky, and the bit in the middle of the dish (USB? That's wrong, but something like that)has to point at a different satellite from the Astra ones. So with a very large dish you could get a double USB and have one for Sky and the other for the computer.

It used the phone for your uplink (i.e. sending data) and the downlink was via satellite. If I remember rightly, potential speeds were fast but the company hadn't implemented much over 500k speeds at that time (although I think cable when backed up by fibre optic has the potential to be much faster.) Service can be affected to disastrous levels by weather conditions, but then so can TV.

Two things finally dissuaded me, firstly I read a webpage about the main player in the market at that time and was not convinced that they were really offering a decent service and then cable came along, and I've never looked back.

IIRC BT are offering satellite internet for remote locations, I'm sure you can find a link for it

I read
Mobile phone deals - Hugo {P}
I think this can be seen as motoring related, as virtually everyone that drives has one (including my 66 yr old mother).

A year ago, SWMBO and I took out contract deals on T Mobile mobile phones.

At £13.99 p/m for 750 off peak mins we thought that was good value for money (especially as we got cashback through the retailer for the first 12 months rental and just had to pay £50 each for the phone).

To enable us to get updated phones FOC, we decided to terminate our contracts on the 13th month and take out new identical ones on the high street. This was after T Mobile told us that we would have to pay an upgrade premium (£75) if we wanted to have a replacement phone, and pay for the new phone.

"That's fine sir, they said "why do you wish to cancel?"
I gave them the reason above
End result. We accepted their offer of a further 12 months at £8.99 p/m for the same tarrif(as opposed to £13.99). In the next couple of months we get the chance to upgrade our phone completely FOC to any phone they offer free with new contracts. The only hitch - the 12 month clock is reset when we get our new phones and we may have to pay the £13.99 for the last two months of our line rental.

Moral of this story - you have to tell the phone company that you are to terminate the contract before you start being offered the really good deals.

Mobile phone deals - Dynamic Dave
I think this can be seen as motoring related, as virtually
everyone that drives has one...

Nope, fraid not Hugo. This will get moved to the current "I have a question" thread at some point later today.
Mobile phone deals - Hugo {P}
OK Dave - Thanks for keeping it on the forum though.

Do you mind if I start a thread on "How to Chisel Companies for a better deal"?

Mobile phone deals - Dynamic Dave
OK Dave - Thanks for keeping it on the forum though.
Do you mind if I start a thread on "How to
Chisel Companies for a better deal"?

That is what the "I have a question" thread was created for. For non motoring related questions. Go for it.
Mobile phone deals - Gen
Anyone had any luck getting reduction when buy new? Keep looking at buying a new phone...
Mobile phone deals - Hugo {P}
Anyone had any luck getting reduction when buy new? Keep looking
at buying a new phone...


If you want contract, the number of free phones available for the cheap tarrifs are great. My advice is phone round, get the best deal you can and get the store to chuck in all the accessories - believe me, they cost them peanuts!

Also Dialaphone are doing deals with up to 4 months free line rental

Mobile phone deals - DavidHM
If you want Orange, try www.time2talk.co.uk or www.avrmobiles.com
Mobile phone deals - robZilla
A friend of mine was looking at hotels for her wedding night and found out something very interesting from a cleaner while she was looking around a suite. The advertised price for the room is around £100 but according to the cleaner, you can haggle them down to around £60. The nearer it is to the time when you want to stay, the better chance you have of getting a deal. It's worth a go..
Mobile phone deals - borasport20
We stayed in a Best Western Hotel in Edinburgh a few months ago - the advertised rate on Best Westerns web site was £110+ for a double room and breakfast per night, and ringing the hotel confirmed that price, and they didn't want to haggle

we browsed www.totalstay.co.uk and got the same double room in the same hotel for just over £60 !

I dont know how consistent they are, but they would be my first point of call when booking a hotel these days .

I have to grow old - but I don't have to grow up
Haggling Stories - Hugo {P}
Apparently, a doctor friend of mine really haggled for a rock bottom price on a 1.8 16V Mondeo LX, Recently.

Didn't go for it in the end, he tells me the guy had been banger racing in it over the weekend!!


Mobile phone deals - DavidHM
Look at www.laterooms.com or www.lastminute.com

Some of the deals are really very good. I got a room for my parents in a four or five star hotel in central London for less than the price of the local Travel Inn.
ROB Hotels - THe Growler
Some of the worst hotels I ever stayed in for price and service outside Sudan have been in Britain. Rudeness, inefficiency and squalor seem to predominate, plus bars which either "aren't open yet" or "just closed" and "we don't serve tea after 4 p.m."

I can get a double en-suite in the historic Manila Hotel where Gen. McArthur had his WW2 HQ, one of Asia's most revered hotels (along with the Raffles, till the Singaporeans ruined it, and the Hong Kong Peninsula), with a view of the incredible sunsets over the Bay, lovely people who are nice to me, 87 cable chanels, a lobby full of beautiful women to watch pass by over my ice-cold libation, and hot and cold running everything (which hotel in UK ever heard of air-conditioning, let alone a shower which worked?) for US$85/nt. Call that GBP60. And that's the rack rate, if I argue nicely at reception I can get that down to US$75.

And as for those poor souls left stranded by the World's Not So Favourite Airline at LHR, a word from the wise -- sleep in the check-in area. It's better value for money than any LHR hotel and I've tried most of 'em.
I have a question for eMBe - HF
Hope you read and answer this, eMBe - was just wondering why, after your well-fought campaign, you have now removed the {P} from your own name and also removed your profile?

Should we all be following suit? ;)

I have a question for eMBe - Dwight Van Driver
Right you knowledgeable lot:

Last week whilst horizontal on the charpoy and betwixt this world and t'other floating in the air from R2 came the strains of a 'long song' (about 9 mins). Something to do with 'Carrie doesn't live hear any more' Interspaced in the record was the velvet tones of Richard Burton decrying the downfall of mankind.

O.K.for a starter of ten:

What is the record, by whom and what disc(k) or cassette is it on?


I have a question for eMBe - Wally Zebon
It was Forever Autumn from War of the Worlds.
Absolutely fantastic record.

I have a question for eMBe - Stargazer {P}
Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, Forever Autumn sung by Moody Blues singer Justin Hayward.

Fanstastic album from 1978 ish....too long for a standard c90 cassette! Also contains the late Thin Lizzy lead singer as the maniacal priest, Julie Covington, brilliant special effects.

Ian L.
I have a question for eMBe - Stargazer {P}

Make sure you get the original double album version (2 LPs, cassettes or CDs) there is a more recent edited version on a single CD which is nowhere near as good.

Ian L.
I have a question for eMBe - Dwight Van Driver
Thanks Wally and Ian - on the case and tracked it down at Amazon.

c[]] Cheers.

I have a question for eMBe - eMBe {P}
Hope you read and answer this, eMBe - was just wondering
why, after your well-fought campaign, you have now removed the {P}
from your own name and also removed your profile?

I tried to be as truthful as I could be about who I am in my profile without giving away my identity [I have to remain anonymous for genuine security reasons. As it is, Sherlock Holmes (aka Renault Family) already knows too much about Watson.] However, the profile either looked totally false or said too little, so I removed it.
If I attend the BR meet, it will be incognito - just to observe from afar who you all are!

Should we all be following suit? ;)>> >> HF>>

No, please carry on ( as long as the HJ moderators are happy with people voluntarily adding the symbol {P}. )
I have a question for eMBe - HF
That sounds very mysterious, eMBe.

It's a pity that, if you attend the meeting, you won't be joining in. I'm not sure I understand why, unless we'd actually *recognise* you from somewhere. However I will say no more and respect your wishes for anonymity.

For what it's worth, I thought your profile was fine, and as equally informative as many others.

I have a question. Volume 13 - robZilla
Can anyone tell me why petrol engines are commonly sized in even numbers (1.6, 1.8, 2.0, etc) but diesels are often odd numbers (1.7, 1.9, 2.5 etc).

Now before you say "but there are...", I know that there are loads of engines which do not follow this pattern but it's just something I noticed and wondered if there was a (scientific?) reason for it... I can't think of one.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Jono_99
Apologies, would like to cut ask an additional quesiton.

Have just moved back to the UK after being away for six years. Sold all electrical goods as we returned (we were in Kenya - where residuals within expat community were very high). As a result, we need to buy:
VCR / maybe DVD
Washing Machine
Tumble Drier
Fridge / Freezer
maybe some more once SWMBO thinks of them!

Question is - thoughts on buying a number / all of these products at once. Will I get bulk discounts from the likes of Currys / Comet? Is it worth looking at Auctions of re-possesed items? Any thoughts on driving the best deal for a set of purchases that could cost me a good few quid!


I have a question. Volume 13 - Mark (RLBS)
I had to do this in August last year.

I got a healthy discount from Powerhouse on the whole lot. It took a bit of time to get the interest from one of the managers and force him to understand that he could earn his month's commission in one day, but once he got the idea it was pretty good.

Discounts on the goods, free insurance, free delivery and some fairly useful free gifts as well.
I have a question. Volume 13 - DavidHM

Not much chance of a bulk buying discount from electrical resellers but there's no harm trying. A large proportion of their profit comes from extended warranties. If you have a Barclaycard, and possibly some other cards, you can get a free one year extended warranty on appliances if you use the card to buy and then register the appliance. Sometimes online retailers are even worse with their warranty prices.

Unless you are concerned with image or appearance, or a particular high end product has a feature you really want or need, don't bother too much with the top brands. Just go cheap and cheerful, e.g., a £30 microwave from Argos is unlikely in any way to be worse than a £50 top brand one with the same lack of features. Without wanting to stress too much

Look in the supermarkets if you want cheap and convenient low end stuff.

For a VCR or DVD player, go to Richer sounds - very cheap (£10 three year, £20 five year, refundable if not used) extended warranties, low prices, excellent service.

White goods, especially if you can install yourself or sort out a friendly technician, should work out cheapest online. www.priceguideuk.com is very good for comparing prices. TVs should at least be seen working, although you can always go away and get a better price online.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Wally Zebon
For a VCR or DVD player, go to Richer sounds - very cheap (£10 three year, £20 five year, refundable if not used) extended warranties, low prices, excellent service.

Why bother with an extended warranty at all for these items.

A cheap and chearful VCR will cost you £25 and a DVD Player approx £40. If it breaks, but a new one!

I have a question. Volume 13 - eMBe {P}
>> Why bother with an extended warranty at all for these items.>>

Agree with WallyZ. I never buy any warranties. Instead, I have set up a self-insurance fund within my "open-plan" or "oneaccount". The way i operate this is to work out how much a warranty that I want costs. Then, rather than paying the dealer, I set aside that amoount in my self-insurance fund. After many years of doing so, the account is showing a massive surplus. (It has only once been necessary to call upon funds for a repair within the notional warranty period).

As this fund is now run as a part of my open-plan offset mortgage account, it is effectively reducing my mortgage by a substantial amount!
I have a question. Volume 13 - Jono_99
eMBe, Mark & Others

Thanks for your considered advice - having picked up on various threads, there is clearly plenty of wisdom to tap into here, and I am grateful to be allowed to do so.

Aware of the warranty 'scams' and their lack of value, my view is that manufacturer's one year warranty is invariably sufficient.

eMBe - quick one. Who have you your open-plan mortgage with? Appears very attractive for a number of reasons:
- self-employed (positive cash flow prior to paying tax, therefore would like to use the moeny)
- decent deposit saved from being abroad.

Thanks again

I have a question. Volume 13 - eMBe {P}
Question is - thoughts on buying a number / all of
these products at once. Will I get bulk discounts from the
likes of Currys / Comet? >>

National chains sometimes can be a little inflexible. Try your local independents from yellow-pages (under electrical appliances). Internet suppliers to try include


Curry's and Comet are also online.
I have a question. Volume 13 - hootie
Jon - depends on how much you want to spend, if you live near a branch of John Lewis (free delivery area is about 40 miles radius or so) they always match high st prices, and give a better guarantee than the norm (often 2 years and actually 5 years for tv's) - wont match internet prices though. We have bought loads from them and always been pleased (had a problem with wide screen tv and after two months + got them to replace with another brand)

Get some Home type magazines (small ads at the back) and call, or search the net for traders like Buyers and Sellers, or Hot and Cold inc (not used then myself, but hear their prices are keen and you could play one off against the other, and beat down high st prices)

HTH - good luck
House re-wiring.. - Mark (RLBS)
How on earth do I find someone competent to do this, and how do I ensure that they are competent ?

How long do you reckon it takes to rewire a house completely ? bearing in mind that the walls/floors/skirting will not have to be refinished since they are all ebing redone anyway ?
House re-wiring.. - eMBe {P}
How on earth do I find someone competent to do this,
and how do I ensure that they are competent ?

The guarnateed method of finding a qualified/approved/authorised person is to ask local electricity suppliers (british gas, innogy, electricity-board, or similar) to quote for the work. Just like authorised car dealers, they will be expensive. or you can search for an independent from yellow-pages who can answer your wuestions on IEE Wiring Regulations:


Also, search google for publications of IEE wire-regs and Building Regulations.

How long do you reckon it takes to rewire a house
completely ? bearing in mind that the walls/floors/skirting will not have
to be refinished since they are all ebing redone anyway ?

That is very much open-ended (length of piece of string). Depends on the size of your house, how much design work has been done, whether the house will be occupied, whether it has been pre-prepared for the work to start, etc. I would hazard a guess of between 2 days to 2 weeks.
House re-wiring.. - Stargazer {P}
Hi Mark,

Sorry cant give names of electricians as I am on the other side of the M40 (if this house is where you indicated you might be moving to)...but having done a few houses myself:

As a starting point try asking on UK.DIY.....even if you are not DIYing you can gain valuable info.

Basically 1 to 2 weeks full time for electrician plus assistant depending on the size of house.

You will probably get better quotes from local electricians who have a local reputation to uphold but you may have to wait...they are like gold dust.

Make it clear that the walls are being replastered and you wont get stung for a lot of the making good afterwards. What about the floors/ceilings? If you want to retain good quality floorboards or a decorated ceiling then this limits cable runs.

Any reputable electrician will be working to 16th issue regulations for wiring and issue an installation/test certificate.

Make sure you see the plans before they start....make sure the circuits are split into suitable sections, eg kitchen, upstairs power, downstairs power, garage power, downstairs lights, upstairs lights, CH boiler, immersion heater, cooker, shower(s), alarm/front door bell. Some of these will want to be on RCD, some not (eg lights, CH boiler, alarm).

They should also test/install electrical bonding to pipe work in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Going to the big supply companies is a licence to write a LARGE cheque...very expensive and no promise of a quality job to match.

Another hint.....get phone, CAT5e, video, TV/FM cables installed at the same time and before making good the walls/floors etc.

hope that is enough to start with! ask for details if further explanation required.


Ian L.
House re-wiring.. - Hugo {P}

In addition to the above, suggest you get 3 or 4 quotes.

As I do so much of my own work on properties, I have a good idea of how much materials cost, which is why I would ask for the quote to be broken down into materials (by item) and labour, this gives you extra room for negotiation. Research the key item prices on the open market.

Look at WWW.screwfix.com - they stock just about every electrical gadget going.

Also look in the YP for electrical factors.

Just to give you a view on how much prices vary B&Q quoted me about £190 for a 12 way MK consumer unit with 30ma RCD built in and 12 mcbs (minature circuit breakers). Denmans Electrical Factors (Plymouth) quoted £75+vat.

I took this back to B&Q and they had to price match it and gave me a further 10% off the price difference!

I also bought an 8 way conumer unit the same day for about £55 for another property.

Or you could try rewiring it yourself. Don't panic, it's not actually that difficult. - Get the latest copy of the Collins Complete DIY Manual (£20 from most good DIY stores) and give that a bashing. Even if you do get someone else to do it, you'll be sufficiently well informed to get a warm feeling about the quality of teir work (or not).

****Signature? - Ideas on a postcard please anyone!****

****We never stop learning****

House re-wiring.. - henry k
A few other points.
Include provision for the primary telephone point. BT require the ability to replace cable to the primary box with no hassle so no clever routing. This is why you often see cables stapled over doors etc.
Provision for speaker cables. Maybe plastic trunking but good speaker cables are fat and bulky.
I always have a 13A socket in each room 3 feet along the wall from the door on the catch side. Nothing blocks it and the old Hoover can always be plugged in.
Do not skimp on multi switching of hall and lights.
Consider a main switch for table lights in living areas.
Most electricians are not good salesmen and only do what you ask.
House re-wiring.. - Mark (RLBS)
The house has not been pre-prepared and no planning has been done. Naively I thought it could just follow the same pattern as is there now.

It will be unoccupied and unfurnished at the time the work needs to be done.

None of the "make good" bit is required. (not on walls, floors or ceilings)

And as for size/type - well its a 9 bedroom farmhouse built in the 17th century (about the last ime it was cleaned, as well)

Do you still think 2 days - 2 weeks is likely ?

After going to the websites/yellow pages, am I better to ask for a parts list and acquire the stuff myself, or leave him to it ?

Hadn't thought about TV/Telephone. Goddamit, this gets worse !

Thanks so far.

House re-wiring.. - eMBe {P}
In a vacant house, 2 weeks should do. If time is of the essence, or if need be, you can always double up on the manpower you employ. Make sure you get a good contract drawn up (I think Which DIY books give a sample contract to use).

Quotes: if possible ask for design only, design + materials only, design + materials + installation. If you are buying your own materials, buy in bulk from factors such as City Electricals (name has now changed, I think). Draw up a comprehensive "parts list" or use a "quantity-surveyor" to help you.

Remember, a good rule of thumb is think of all the sockets, lighting points, etc. and then double up for "SWMBO" factor. Plan for your wall lights, spot-lights, table-lamp points, extractor fans, bathroom heaters and/or showers, exterior power supply, kiddies future gadgets, and so on.
House re-wiring.. - hootie
Hi Mark - reference your re-wire

Not sure how much help my thoughts might be, but I have a bit of personal experience of wiring having project managed the building of a 4,500 sq' house for our own occupation.

The way I tackled the wiring scheme for contractors to quote on was to make a plan of the house, and then sit down and work out where the furniture etc was going to be (plus fixed features) noting where tv's, phones, hi fi, kitchen appliances, radio alarms, whatever were to go, plus right down to where you might use a hairdryer, razor,iron, vacuum and put the Christmas tree(s) Everyone in the family then got to check it over.

You've been given all the right advice - thinking about two way switches etc for hall/stairways'landings and 3amp (is it 3amp I forget?) sockets for table lamps.

It might sound complicated at first, but basically all I did was imagine going in through the front door in the dark - where do you go to next, where needs to be lit etc.? and also how you will actually live in the house.

You have the perfect opportunity for everything to suit your family's needs, because an electrician will just quote for so many sockets and switches and you may end up like we did where we are now, with a multitude in the wrong places :(

Whilst you're at it remember outside lighting and the garage too if applicable.

Oh and if the house is undergoing lots of renovations you may be able to open an account at the builders' merchant like we did, although we got the tradesmen to give their orders to us, rather than giving them carte blanche to go and get what they need.

Hope this may be of some use to you.
House re-wiring.. - wemyss
Mark you really have to start with having a plan for each room before you think about the wiring.
For instance the kitchen will no doubt have a worktop and you need plenty of S/O for kitchen appliances such as kettles etc. Don?t skimp, as you will find you will use all of them.
So in this instance you will need them installed at standard heights all the way along the worktop.
You may also need lighting concealed in the wall units above so this would come off your lighting circuit and not a 30 amp ring main.
And speaking of S/Os think carefully at which height you need them in other rooms. The old method was down near the floor but in later years we used to fit them much higher which will earn you thanks from your household staff when they plug vacuum cleaners in etc. and save the maid having to bend down.
Also if you were using an electric cooker you would need a 60amp supply in to the kitchen.
Power for an extractor unit maybe?. And so on.
Its very easy in the enviable position you are starting from but you really have to plan now as you have so much more difficulty adding on later.
I have planned many of these on larger schemes and it really is quite simple in deciding what you need from the onset, and then simply telling the sparkies what you require. House wiring is comparatively simple for them, which is why they term it house bashing.
They can do an huge amount in a week if you know just what you want and where?
Once you have decided exactly what you require ask around for a good sparkie and he will tell you how the job should be done and in accordance with the latest IEE regs. He may recommend two or more 30A rings on such a large house and the same with lighting circuits.
If you?re looking for quality work specify MK or Crabtree for all equipment including consumer units, S/Os, light fittings, switches etc. More expensive than what you find in High St stores but will last a lifetime.
You may wish to use one room as a study with computer equipment and other electrical equipment. Think about using dado trunking which can have as many S/Os built in as you require and can be added too.
You really need to know your own personal requirements before you begin to look for quotes Mark.
They will then easily be able to cater for it and you will be surprised how fast they can install. The worst thing for a tradesman is the customer who once work has started keeps coming and saying ?Oh I forgot to tell you I need an extra?.. and so on.
Ask at your local hostelry and you may well find a good two-man outfit who could save you some money compared to the big outfits.

House re-wiring.. - Stargazer {P}
Hi Mark,

With a house that size you really need to plan ahead carefully.

A good electrician with an assistant should be able to do it in under a couple of weeks.

With that many rooms make sure you include CAT5e networking (or at least buried trunking so it can be added later) to each room and a patch panel under the stairs or similar.....the cables can be used for phone or computer.

Similarly, add TV/FM/Sat outlets in almost every room and possibly two in the main lounge (one at each end).

You may be able to get quotes based simply on the number of sockets/room but you will look a lot more professional to the electrician if you have a plan to quote against....also you can be sure that all the electricians are quoting for the same thing.

Somebody else has already said it, but it bears repeating, dont keep changing your mind once work has started....it makes life difficult for the electrician and the agreed cost goes out of the window.


Ian L.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Monaro
I am passing on a computer running Win 95, and it had been doing some silly things recently, so I decided to reinstall windows. I made a boot disk and set about doing it. I have now wiped the Hard drive and am trying to reinstall it, but the CDRom appears to not be recognised. I cannot see where I have gone wrong. The CD Rom is a Atapi IDE CD-Rom Drive Model FX Series. I cannot find the driver for this anywhere. When I turn on the PC it says keyboard detected, CDrom installed, hard disk installed, Floppy A installed. Can anyone with more experience shed light on this for me? Or direct me somewhere which will enable me to make another book disk?


I have a question. Volume 13 - Mark (RLBS)
When it starts booting up, go into the BIOS setup mode - could be pressing F2, F8, F10, Ctrl-S or various other things, but it should say.

Then have a look to see how the CDRom is set up. Is it bootable, in what order are the boot devices accessed, that sort of stuff.

Have a look and get an idea, and then come back here with any further info.

Worst case is it doesn't know how to access the CDRom (what you're seeing so far is hardware recongition, that doesn't mean it can actually use it). Its then a matter of altering the startup commands on the boot floppy to load the CD-Rom properly - not particularly difficult to do, btu a bit fiddly.
I have a question. Volume 13 - DavidHM

Warranties - they're cheap from Richer Sounds, but then so are the products. I agree they're not worth going for in most cases, but £20 for three year cover on a £180 really high end DVD player, that can be refunded if not used, is probably worth it. The £59 or whatever a reallybig chain would charge, isn't and most people should just go for the cheap ones anyway.

Open plan - Barclays do an open plan mortgage. Virgin have the One account.

Also there is www.if.com (Intelligent Finance) which is basically Halifax, but everything (savings, current account, credit cards, personal loans, mortgages) can be offset for interest. If you save more than you borrow, they pay you interest on the difference, otherwise you only pay interest only on the difference owed to them.

It's very tax efficient as there are no limits as there are with ISAs and, by not paying the interest on the loan amount, you are effectively receiving interest on the balance at the higher loan rate, after tax, rather than the lower savings rate, which is taxable.
I have a question. Volume 13 - eMBe {P}
Jono: DavidHM is right.

Mine is with Barclays/Woolwich.
It is the open-plan flexible tracker/offset/reserve/together version. Im my opinion, for anyone who has any savings and a mortgage, openplan or oneaccount type mortgages are a MUST.

Flexible means you can over-pay or under-pay. You can sub-divide your savings into 12 separate pots to help you budget and juggle/change/rename the pots as you wish.

Tracker means that the rate is automatically adjusted in line with changes to Bank of England base rates.

Offset means that any surplus in your current or savings account is offset against your mortgage without actually leaving your account.

Reserve means you can borrow extra (effectively as an overdaraft) for ANY purpose from your reserve at the mortgage interest rate. The reserve is set to reflect the amount of positive equity available in your property.

Together means I can nominate accounts held by family members (with their permission) to be linked together so that their savings are offset against my mortgage.

For full info, go to
www.woolwich.co.uk/ and select open plan from drop down window menu.
>>>"Offset is a new type of flexible mortgage. It links your mortgage to your Current and Savings Accounts.

You can save money on interest repayments, because the interest is calculated on the difference between the combined balance of your Current and Savings Accounts and your mortgage balances. This means you could reduce your mortgage term and save thousands of pounds.

Interest is calculated daily, so every day your Current and Savings Accounts are in credit, the interest calculated on your mortgage will be reduced. ...
By linking your mortgage with your Current Account and Savings Pots, Openplan Offset can save you money.

The combined balance in your Savings Pots, and any credit balance in your Current Account, are totalled daily.

Current Account balance £1000
'Kids' Savings Pots £1000
'Wedding' Savings Pot £2000
TOTAL £4000

This is ?Offset? against the balance on your mortgage before our interest is calculated.....

Mortgage £70000
Total Current and savings balance £4000

You only pay interest on the amount remaining. The more money you have in your Current Account and Savings Pots, the less interest you pay on your mortgage. Because you pay interest on a lower amount, more of your monthly repayment goes towards paying off your mortgage. With no limit to how much you can have in your Openplan Savings Pots, there is every opportunity to pay off your mortgage years earlier.

Interest is not paid on your Current or Savings Account whilst they are linked to your mortgage. Debit Current Account balances are not offset against your mortgage.

Offset Together
Even better, the new Offset Together option allows you to link your Offset Mortgage to the Openplan savings accounts of family members and friends. " >>>

If you wish, you can have an open-plan current/svings account without the mortgage. >>> "Have up to 12 individual 'Savings Pots', choose what they are called and what they are for. Balances are combined to earn you a higher rate of interest. For e.g. a student's Open Plan enabled her to set up 4 ?savings pots? that she has called ?Commitments?, ?Treats?, ?Clothes? and ?Xmas & Holidays?. When she gets paid, Standing Orders move money from her Current Account into her Savings pots. Regular expenses, including her student loans, are paid out of the ?Commitments? pot by Standing Order.

Any money left in her Current Account is ?swept? into a high interest ?reserve? account every night, which means it earns more interest. " <<<<

Note: I have no connection with Barclays/Woolwich except my account with them.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Pete
New Question please.
Anyone out there using OnetelDSL Broardband please?

Can anyone please advise the proceedure for a OnetelDSL subscriber to access his e-mail from a different computer whilst away from home??

I can do this with Claranet, so I presume that Onetel will have a similar facility.
Thank you, Pete. petel@clara.co.uk
I have a question. Volume 13 - DavidHM
Just been on the site, you can apparently pick up your mail from webmail.onetel.net.uk/wm

You could also set up a Yahoo! mail account ( mail.yahoo.com ) and check your Clara and One.Tel accounts simultaneously. You'd need to know your POP account settings as in Outlook Express (or whatever you need now) but all IPSs will tell you those.

Incidentally, all broadband is much of a muchness as it's all supplied by BT and then rebranded by the ISP. www.pipex.com has it for £23.44 a month with a 12 month contract and www.virgin.net has it for £24.99 with no minimum contract, just a month's chargeable notice.

I was with Pipex, am now with Virgin in case we move (Pipex was in my former flatmate's name) and get good connection speeds with both for a few quid less than One.Tel. (Plus One.Tel messed up my billing when I had phone calls with them two or three years ago.)
I have a question. Volume 13 - Pete
Thanks very much David. That first address is exactly what I need to find out.
Much appreciated, Pete.
I have a question. Volume 13 - THe Growler
Amazing the march of technology. My Mum used to do this in 1947 wit jam-jars on the mantlepiece..... :-)
I have a question. Volume 13 - Monaro
Thanks Mark.
I will do and return here.

I have a question. Volume 13 - SteveH42
Yet another plea for advice - I for one an very thankful to the moderators (Mark especially) for running this thread. I could do with someone with an idea on company law to advise me on a problem I have come up against at work.

On Thursday the 24th July I got a call from my mother at work to say my Gran was very ill in hospital. I spoke to my manager who on seeing the state I was in let me go straight away to drive up from Stockport to Hartlepool to see her. Luckily I got up in time to see her one last time before she passed away on the Friday early morning, but as you can imagine with the stress and unhappiness relating to this, as well as the funeral I could not face going back to work until Monday just gone. I emailed my boss (as my manager had suggested I did) on the Sunday after she died to say that I had been intending to try and get in for the Monday and Tuesday but I simply did not feel up to it.

Today I was asked to sort out the time I had off. Initially, the accounts person said I could have a day off for the funeral and the balance of the Thursday that I did not work. However, she then asked me to take the Friday in lieu of the funeral and take the whole of last week off to simply her paperwork. I was going to do this until I realised that it would mean I would effectively lose half a day as we only work until 1 on Fridays. I had initially intended to claim some of the time as sick through stress, but I was prepared to come to an arrangement to make life easier all around. However, when I mentioned that I'd rather class the actual Wednesday as the day off for the funeral rather than the Friday she got very shirty with me, accusing me of having no give or take and wanting what I could get from the company. I wasn't in the mood to argue so just left it at that. However, a while later I got a call from her saying that she had decided that the company rules actually only say a day off is given for immediate family, and grandparents don't count as such so I would have to take the whole time off out of my holiday. When I tried pointing that the time should then surely count as sick as I had informed my boss as per the terms of our contract, I was told that stress in this instance is regarded as an absence, not an illness and therefore I would either have to take it as holiday or not be paid for that time.

To make matters worse, the stress I was suffering was not just from my Gran passing away, but just the day previously I had had a very upsetting call from my ex which left me rather upset to begin with. However, they are not interested in this at work and will only consider the symptoms they consider related to my bereavement.

Can someone confirm that the company do not have to allow bereavement leave for grandparents - I'm pretty sure they are in the right on this, but it's always best to check.

Also, I would appreciate some advice as to whether they can refuse stress as an illness and force me to either take this time off as holiday or unpaid leave.

I feel the attitude of my company in these circumstances is pretty poor to begin with - my sister was allowed 5 days compassionate leave and my mother was allowed 3 days and advised by her boss to get a sicknote for another 2 weeks. While I'm not expecting to get unlimited time off, it would be nice if they would employ a degree of compassion or at least take the circumstances in to account.

Any advise on my rights and what I can do in this situation would be most appreciated. As you can probably imagine, this on top of everything else is not really doing me any favours and if I do have to take all the time as holiday then I will have very little holiday left to take this year and therefore little chance to recover and get myself back up to speed.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Pugugly {P}
First of all I'm sure that the BRs would join to offer our deepest sympathies.

In our firm - which has around 40 employees across several Offices as well as additional part time staff, situations like you find yourself in are handled on a case by case basis, the norm being for a week or so off with pay with no penalty to the bereaved and then negotiable. This has caused problems in the past with people (including the "Directors", the Partners)having to step into the breach now and again, but it is still an old fashioned family firm IYKWIM. Our policy is based on the presumption that we value our staff and want to keep them and there is an obvious payoff in staff loyalty.

Turning to your situation, you are quite obviously stressed out by the whole thing and the question is you giving the company your best whilst you are feeling like this. As far as I am aware there is no bereavement leave only a compassionate leave policy that varies from firm to firm. I would suggest get a sick note if you feel stressed enough for it to affect your work The last thing you want is for this to become an issue now as it will effect the memories of this time. I am glad to read that your accounts staff also double as GPs this must save your firm countless thousands. How can they say whether you are medically fit ???????????????. (sorry ranting). It is an unfortunate fact of life that we experience the death of a loved one....it affects people in different ways...see your doctor.
I have a question. Volume 13 - BobbyG
My electric Flymo has given up the ghost - this is about the third electric Flymo I have had in about 7 years.

I am now thinking of possibly getting a petrol lawnmower, not necessarily Flymo. Has anyone out there got experience of using both? Which one is best? I have 2 lawns, front and back, probably about 120 square metres in total.

If I go for petrol what features should I go for? Has anyone been able to repair a Flymo electric mower without contacting an approved repairer?
I have a question. Volume 13 - Rob the Bus {P}

Steve - words cannot begin to compensate for what you have been through. I just hope that you don\'t have to go through too much more. I\'m sorry that I can\'t offer any practical assisstance here, but I do hope that you get this sorted soon.

All the best

I have a question. Volume 13 - DavidHM
This is not an area of law I know anything about, really, nor am I able to offer anything more than my sympathies, Steve. I can't see how your firm is legally obliged to do any more than they have, except possibly taking any medical issues on board.

However, I cannot begin to comprehend the insensitivity and stupidity of accusing you of being on the take because your mind may be elsewhere at a time like this. Apart from anything, they hired you because you were the best candidate who applied for your job - and they're willing to annoy you that much to make some jumped up little HR clerk's paperwork easier.

I have a question. Volume 13 - SteveH42
Thanks for the responses so far, and Rob, don't worry about BobbyG adding his sub-thread - that's what this thread is for!

I think my main complaint here is the fact they have rejected a claim for sick-pay that seems to meet the criteria laid down in the contracts of employment we have. If anyone can point me in the direction of somewhere I can find the legalities of this it would be appreciated. Not wishing to belittle what she felt at the time, but the accounts person who refused me any leave or sickness herself took over 3 weeks off on the sick after her father died as well as taking time off beforehand on the sick to look after him, so as you can probably imagine I'm rather upset at the double-standards employed here. In some ways I should have expected to get this treatment though - one person who has now retired was not even allowed a single day leave when his mother died and his sick note from the doctor was refused as apparently the reason was not acceptable. However, others in the company have weeks off in similar situations. In some ways it saddens me that the company does operate in such as way as at one time I did believe they actually cared for all of their employees, but it is obvious now that if you aren't the type that is allowed to get away with anything then you aren't allowed any leeway at all. I especially agree with PU that compassion in cases such as this has its reward in the reciprocated staff loyalty. I am amazed sometimes that the MD and his daughter wonder at the attitude of some of their staff when you see what they have to put up with.

I must admit I'm tempted to take your advice, PU, and see the doctor about going on the sick as I really am struggling at the moment, but I somehow feel guilty at taking time off this way when I can struggle on and manage somehow. And, TBH, I wouldn't even know how to go about getting a sicknote - it would seem wrong to go with the object of asking for one and I'd probably understate the symptoms to the degree where the doctor wouldn't think it necessary to give me one.

Thanks again for the sympathy etc.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Pugugly {P}
Don't feel guilty about it....There ar emany unresolved feelings at a time like this....guilt is one of them....sick note can't be simpler, go see your doc, tell him what you're feeling, tell him about the trouble in work and take time out.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Mark (RLBS)
Stress is an illness. They are risking serious punishment if they even suggest that you may not take time off for it. However, as recommended, get yourself along to a doctor right now. If this gets silly, you will need his help.

It is extremely unlikely that you are entitled to any more than one day\'s paid leave. Normally you would be allowed some unpaid leave, but even then not much.

The attending of the funeral is a red herring. You attended the funeral for one day, check the Ps&Ps to be sure, but you should receive that.

The second issue is being off sick. And you were off sick, compassionate leave is unlikely to apply.

You will be allowed n days off sick wihtout a doctor\'s note. Immediately register those days as off sick now.

If there are excess days, then explain on your visit to the doctor, he would be able to give you a note and/or letter if he is convinced. If he will not, then you will have to take them as holiday or unpaid leave.

You can also explain to your company that you were *told* that stress didn\'t count as sickness, and therefore you felt forced to come to work even though you felt unfit to do so; because you did so, you now feel worse than you did before. If they have half a brain, that should scare the living daylights out of them.

However, and I said this before when you had your internet usage issue, there is something more behind this;

I don\'t know how long I could take off in this circumstance, but I suspect a week or two without penalty would be no issue.

The difference is, perhaps, a difference in regard for the employee. Only you can know whether this is a lack of regard for all employees or whether you have opped up on the radar for some reason. I respectfully suggest you consider the latter.

Was it me, I would regard my career there as done and find somewhere else to be pdq before I needed to take any legal action and/or argument about references and/or discussion about terms on which you would leave might begin. I suspect that you will be facing that at some point.

Also, was it me, I\'d be trying to work out what, if anything, I did wrong or unwisely to get myself into this situation.

You seem to be frequently the object of mistreatment from that company or people within it. You really need to sit down and objectively consider why that might be. It is entirely responsible that you are working wiht a clueless bunch of muppets, but it is perhaps also possible that you are not managing the situation(s) appropriately.

I have no idea which, only you can work that out.

Finally, and I seriously advise against legal action, if you do decide to go that way a CAB is unlikely to be able to help. Neither, I\'m sorry to say, is the Backroom. You need a lawyer specialising in employment law. .. employment-law.co.uk is a starting point, but it very much depends on the area you are in.

The reason legal action can make your next job tough to get, and you are unlikely to get enough money to make that worthwhile. Even if you went for wrongful and/or constructive, 50 grand would be top whack unless you are some kind of ICH.

I have a question. Volume 13 - SteveH42
Mark, Thanks for a long and informative reply.

To try and clarify a few things:
The funeral - we are only allowed a day off for this if it is immediate family - parents or siblings. I'm not sure on this, but I believe the contract does not even actually mention a spouse. I accepted I'd probably have to take this as a holiday or as sick depending on the circumstances.

Time off sick - I didn't actually mention taking the time as sick leave until I found I'd been messed around over the day for the funeral. I was initially prepared to let them tell me what they were prepared to offer and while a day for the funeral and a few hours for going up to see her before she passed away wasn't exactly the height of generosity I wasn't in the mood to argue so was going to accept it. However, when this was taken away I sort of decided that if they were going to be unreasonable then I should maybe stop being overly-reasonable. Our limit on time off sick is 7 days, although if we are off more than this we have to supply a sick note by the 6th day. (Yes, I also wonder how we are supposed to know 2 days beforehand if we will still be off in 2 days time, or how we are to produce a sick note, for example, on a Sunday)

I have been told I can't register any time off sick as they do not accept what I claim as a reason to be off sick under the circumstances. Also, as I had filled in a holiday form to cover the 5 days I was prepared to accept at holiday before I was told the rest would also have to be holiday, I suspect it will be difficult to get the record changed anyway, especially as they seem unwilling to even discuss the matter.

I'm not sure in my own mind if all 7 (working) days could be counted as sick through stress. Certainly I was not in the frame of mind to be doing work, even without considering factors such as being unable to sleep properly. However, as one reason for staying away from work was to help my mother get over her stress and take some of the burden off her, it may be difficult to realistically claim this. I'd have been happy really with the Thursday afternoon, the Friday that she passed away and the day of the funeral and take the other 4 days as holiday simply to minimise the hassle all-round.

Regarding the general hassle at work, I must admit I do sometimes wonder what I have done wrong myself. I suspect it's not that I've actually done anything that has upset people, I suspect it is more than no-one in the place really understands what I do and maybe thinks that I'm messing around simply as they don't appreciate what my job involves. In the case of some people, I also suspect that they take the fact that I don't bite back when pushed as an opportunity to hassle me without fear of recrimination. There are a couple of other people in the company who suffer similar treatment. There is a lot of favouratism goes on in the company and unfortunately I'm not in the right group to get the benefits from this. It's highly unprofessional really as everyone should be treated equally, but that doesn't seem any way to stop it.

I would agree with you that legal action should be the very last resort and at the moment I'm not really thinking about it. I'd like to know where I stand in law so I can present my own case and see if that helps though. And as for staying with the company, while I'm not going to jump at the first job offered, I am actively seeking a position elsewhere and have been for a few months now. Unfortunately there seems to be a very limited demand for electronic engineers in this area....
I have a question. Volume 13 - Pugugly {P}
Buy a Mountfield - put it like this they have better engines and handle better. I've had one for the last ten years at least and has outlived any Flymo product I had. They can take abuse !
I have a question. Volume 13 - hootie
I really hope this doesn't turn up in the wrong place, it's a reply for Bobby G - re: lawnmowers.

Mr H has had a flymo and chucked it once it broke down (then again, he's not technical) He's also had Mountfield and Honda petrol driven lawnmowers and thinks they are both far superior to Flymos (for what that's worth, it's a personal opinion) Both also proved very reliable and trouble free.
I have a question. Volume 13 - eMBe {P}
Steve: Deepest sympathies on your loss.

You now have to look after your health as a top priority. Minimise any activity that is likely to cause you stress.

As for your Employer, if it is the same one you have written about before (the one whose daughter seemed to pick on you for edsurfing HJ's site), the best you can do is take the days-off as annual leave, and start looking for a new job asap.

You need a less stressful workplace and your best bet would be to find somewhere that is Union organised - ideally in the Government sector.

Good luck.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Pugugly {P}
I was thinking about the Public Sector's policies when I was reading the original thread - from what I've heard their HR arrangments are far more humane....
I have a question. Volume 13 - SteveH42
PU / eMBe - I think you are right about the public sector - both my mother and sister work for local goverment (Mother in a library, sister in a council pension department) and they both got very reasonable and understanding treatment from their bosses. As I say, it just disappoints me that when some people in the company are allowed to get away with so much they can't show any compassion and aren't even interested in hearing the circumstances.

PU - I'll try the doctor, although that is yet another moan with the company - any visits during work hours have to be taken as a half-day holiday. The argument a few people brought up that you only go to the doctor if you are sick therefore they should count as sickness not absence brought no sympathy.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Pugugly {P}
Are you in an Union ?
I have a question. Volume 13 - SteveH42
No, the only union at work is for the shop-floor workers only and even then membership is 'discouraged'.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Pugugly {P}
The legistlation is pout of my usual areas and employment law is notoriously fickle and changes often. I never offer legal advice on line..it may be worth going to a CAB, your conditions of service sound pretty Dickensian, also find a copy of your Contract of Employment and have a look at the small print. Keep your pecker up !
I have a question. Volume 13 - SteveH42
Yup, I was considering popping along to the CAB anyway as they should know where to look if no-one on here could point me in the right direction sooner. I do agree that the conditions aren't exactly employee-friendly, and I must confess I'm rather surprised the company is allowed to impose a global change in conditions as they recently did, supposedly in an attempt to unify the terms everyone was on.

I do have one thing to take heart about though - at least I get things like a pension and sick scheme - the shop floor workers are denied even these, or have strict restrictions placed on them.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Hugo {P}
Hi Steve,

Firstly my condolences for your gran.

Also, I may be able to help, as I have a reasonable working knowledge of best HR practise, from a TU point of view.

It sounds like you may be subject to unfair treatment here.

I would certainly agree with Mark that legal action is not appropriate at this stage. However, the employer should have a recognised grievence procedure.

Mark - your 'Radar Screen' comment, whilst potentially valid, is not the real issue here. The real issue is that Steve must be treated fairly by his employer, they have a LEGAL duty to ensure this - whatever his history. This is the position he must adopt. DUTy OF CARE

Steve's posts and threads have always struck me as articulate and well thought out - we're dealing with an intelligent chap here, who has a lot to offer an employer that treats him fairly.

Steve - you have a grievence with the way your company has treated you.

I can talk you through your options over the phone if you like. However, to summarise I suggest you do the following preparation.

REMAIN CALM AT ALL TIMES - imagine you are addressing this problem for someone else such as a fellow team member.

Seek a written statement of your grievence procedure. You should have this in writing. A memo to your HR MANAGER - not underling should ask for this in writing if this is not in the public domain - keep a hard copy of any e mails asking for this or otherwise connected with this issue.

This will detail a structured approach towards you and the company working together to resolve your grievence, starting from a basic hearing between you and your boss or bosses boss, and may escalate in a controlled fashion to you and a friend and two members of management, culminating in the involvement of the HR or Managing Director and you plus friend.

If you are not a member of the union, this should entitle you to be accompanied by a colleague of your choice during hearings CHOOSE WISELY!

Provided you give this procedure every chance to resolve the issue, you should be seen as willing to sit down and discuss the problems. Even if at times you're not making progress stick with it.

Steve, I'll get my mobile no to you somehow or other. If you call me after 6 from a UK land line, I can call you straight back - My mobile has free off peak mins to be used up.

Mark - I may ask for your help here again - please!!

****Signature? - Ideas on a postcard please anyone!****

****We never stop learning****

I have a question. Volume 13 - HF
Steve - nothing useful to offer at all, I'm sorry, but please accept my heartfelt condolences.

As Mark said above, stress *can* become an illness, and I really do agree with those who say you should see your doctor as soon as you can. Don't leave it until things become even worse than they are already. Please.


I have a question. Volume 13 - hootie
Steve, I couldn't be so insensitive as not to reply, even though all I have to add is my sympathy for your loss.

I don't know any of the history talked about with your current employer, but it sounds pretty much like they operate the one rule for them, and one rule for us kind of procedure there?

I just hope you manage to get through the dark days and sort things out for the future. I'm sure things will turn out right in the end, you just need to be able to work through it all. Others here have given you far more practical advice than I could.

Good luck for the future.
I have a question. Volume 13 - eMBe {P}
Re Steve's employers:
I think Mark has summed up the position very well. I had not dared put those views in print as I did wish to appear insensitive. We do not know the Employer's views or the reasons behind them.

However from Steve's comments about the Employers attitude, I would guess that the Employer is likely to take unkindly to any action Steve takes in pursuit of his Legal rights.
So in the end it is for Steve to judge whether he wishes to
1. challenge an unfriendly Employer with the consequent stress and possible unfair dismissal
2. remain quiet and get on with the job without drawing any further attention to himself
3. in addition to 2, seek out other employment in the meantime.

I think it is advisable for Steve to re-read Mark's reply and his meaning word by word; especially

>>>".... Was it me, I would regard my career there as done and find somewhere else to be pdq before I needed to take any legal action and/or argument about references and/or discussion about terms on which you would leave might begin. I suspect that you will be facing that at some point.
Also, was it me, I'd be trying to work out what, if anything, I did wrong or unwisely to get myself into this situation.
You seem to be frequently the object of mistreatment from that company or people within it. You really need to sit down and objectively consider why that might be.....">>>>

I do not have any further comments to add.

I have a question. Volume 13 - borasport20
Steve, I've come to this discussion late, and can add little but my condolences.
Look after yourself.

I have a question. Volume 13 - Hugo {P}

OK, I agree with the wording in Mark's reply. However, effective use of the Grievence procedure should get some of these issues out in the open. After all the procedure is a structured means of exploring the issues after all.

If it turns out that the employer has issues around Steve as well then this is the chance for Steve to hear and answer them and put them to bed so that they are no longer considered a part of him. By taking this to formal grievence then this removes the company's ability to continue to 'lable' him if that's what their doing. Failure for his boss to discuss any issues at this stage, then raise them later will not be looked upon favorably by their seniors - trust me!

Essentially, Steve has become disenchanted by his employer. You're right, we don't know how the employer feels about Steve, nor does he. An open and fair discussion should raise the lid on this. There may be things that Steve does not want to hear but this would be how he is viewed - not necessarily the true picture, but it's perceptions that count. He will at least know what he is up against.

Steve can then put these into context and agree with his boss actions to remidy these. In addition, the employer should also listen and take action in the areas that Steve perceives that he is being mistreated.

At least if he takes your 3rd option on board and looks for another job, he is likely to know where it didn't work before, even if it is just down to personality clashes.

In the company I used to work for there were a number of people, who simply did not get on with their supervisers, and their careers suffered as a result. Very often you could not fault their enthusiasm and abilities, but the minor faults that they had would be magnified beyond reason by their team leaders purely because their team leaders could not effectivly develop them.

In other cases, individuals who really needed more training got stuck into a rut because they were seen as lazy. In reality they were not capable of doing the job BECAUSE of their lack of training. The potential was there and the company were able to give them that training. However the Team Leaders were not able to realise what the real issues were.

****Signature? - Ideas on a postcard please anyone!****

****We never stop learning****

I have a question. Volume 13 - SteveH42
Again thanks to all that have replied. A quick update before I answer some of the points raised. I managed to get an appointment today to see the doctor and as soon as she heard the full story (possibily influenced by me practically breaking down infront of her) she gave me sick notes to cover the time I had already been off and a further 10 days to get myself sorted out, so hopefully this will resolve the immediate problem.

As for the various issues within the company I think it is mainly down to personalities. Both my immediate boss and the MD have praised the work I do on many occasions and I have no reason to believe they have any problem with me. However, the MD is the sort of person who does not like to get involved in situations to do with the workforce, leaving this to others and unfortunately those others tend to be very heavy-handed in their application of the rules. Naturally, the MD also takes the side of his daughter no matter how wrong it is so in short unless you are in the right circles or are sufficiently senior that you cannot be dictated to you tend to come off worst in these sort of situations.

In the past I have been happy to trade off these disadvantages against the facts that in the main the company is easy-going and I am allowed to get on with my job without too much interference. However, in recent times the application of the rules has been more obviously biassed and it really is getting to the point where I do not feel I can stay there much longer. The fact that I am not even getting support from the direct manager (who advised me to just accept I wasn't going to win and take the time as holiday and also refuses to directly take issue with the MD's daughter over the harrassment issue) makes it a fairly easy decision to look elsewhere. Trying to 'disappear off the radar' isn't going to work as that is what I have been doing for the last year or so yet matters have not improved. I think that basically, the problem is bosses that aren't prepared to assert their authority.
I have a question. Volume 13 - Mark (RLBS)
Hugo -

Nice reply. About the only thing I would add is that following the process you are suggesting, whilst valuable and learning, frequently does not solve anything and can make a current position untenable, or at least unpleasant enough to be so.

I think, if I was Steve, I'd probably do both; Start gearing up for the job market AND follow the grievance procedure.
Ageing Motorsport Fans - borasport20
if you're (slightly) older than me and used to be interested in motorsport, perhaps you can help me

My late brother-in-law, who was a keen and competent photographer, left a large collection of photographs, and his daughters partner, who is an artist, is interested in tracing their origins

i've posted just four pictures, which must be getting on for thirty years old, at www.sandway.fsbusiness.co.uk/ and would appreciate any informative comments in the guestbook

we think we know where the crashed single-seater is (I've marshalled there myself) and we think we know who the motorcyclist is, but we'd like some other opinions


I have to grow old - but I don't have to grow up
Ageing Motorsport Fans - THe Growler
I think that may be DVD in Pic 1.
Ageing Motorsport Fans - Brill {P}

Lovely pictures. Can't help with any info, but have you thought of making them available (selling the reproduction rights) to a photo library? There is a large demand for this sort of thing in books and magazines.

Email me if you need any pointers.

Ageing Motorsport Fans - Dwight Van Driver
Bit too modern for me G. In my day they were belt driven but that technology is way above your young head.

Ageing Motorsport Fans - THe Growler
LOL, as a mere 60 something young whippersnapper I can only bow before the immutable wisdom of my elders and betters.......

Ageing Motorsport Fans - borasport20
right - research this afternoon suggests that pic 1 shows the Ferrari typo 156 ("Sharknose", not that you'd tell from that piccie)

The gentleman who parked it at the feet of DVD was one Giancarlo Baghetti (John Carl Sandwich ?), who crashed out on lap 27 of the 1961 British Grand Prix at Aintree whilst driving for Scuderia Saint Ambroeus) - isn't the internet a wonderful thing.

any info on the others would be appreciated

I have to grow old - but I don't have to grow up
I have a question. Volume 13 - Mark (RLBS)
This volume is now closed. Please see volume 14. Apologies for letting it get so far above 100 replies, I didn't notice.

Obviously, this volume will not be deleted.

I am considering putting a reply to all closed volumes which, as they are write-locked, will cause them all to sit together in the directory listing.

I have a question. Volume 13 - Mark (RLBS)
Pulling the volumes together
I have a question. Volume 13 - Mark (RLBS)
pulling the volumes together

Ask Honest John

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