Me and the Black Pudding man

January 10, 2017


This morning I learned a lesson in customer service from Mike who delivers Black Pudding, a local delicacy, to shops in the North West of England

Our paths crossed when I came across his rather large van blocking my much smaller Tudormobile which was thus prevented from leaving a shared but tight parking area. As I approached, I could see indicator lights flashing the ‘I will not be long‘ message.

What might have happened

I might have uttered a cutting remark such as: ‘Prithee kind sir, canst ye not back thy wain,so as to permit me to go on my way?‘  But as the words (or something more churlish) were forming on my lips, a cheerful tradesman approached me, with a smile upon his face.

What happened next?

A thousand pardons, kind sir,’ quoth he. ‘I am Mike, of the Bury Black Pudding Company. I shall soon have ye upon thy way. But first, prithee, take this gift of my wares, as a token of my sorrow for the inconvenience thou hath suffered.

And at that, he thrust a small package into my hands.  ‘ T’will go very well with the egg and fried potatoes planned for our evening fare‘ I jested merrily.

On my return home, I found that I had indeed received the promised and tasty-looking morsel of black pudding. Its contribution to our repast will be reported in the goodness of time.


This post was written in admiration for the manner in which Mike dealt with a situation which too often turns into blocked driver’s rage, a well-known clinical condition. I have not received any payment for its writing, unless you count the tasty-looking item of Black Pudding mentioned in my account above.

BT and the phantom phone-line of Tudor Towers

May 7, 2011

Tudor Towers

Tudor Towers is haunted by a mischievous spirit which manifests as a BT telephone line. Yesterday, professional ghost-busters from British Telecomms started the exorcism process.

The playful spirit has been there since before we moved into Tudor Towers nearly a decade ago. It seems to have objected to the new phone line BT had installed for us at the time. Every so often there are manifestations. Sometimes the ghostly – phone line sends messages which are picked up by BT’s ghost-busting squad who then contact us about it.

The ghostly bill

Yesterday, [Friday May 6th 2011] there was a particularly intense episode. It was a bright Spring morning. I was working at my computer when the telephone rang. The call purported to be from BT. Or so I believed at the time. After reassurances that the caller was not selling me something, the voice from the telephone explained that there was a bill which seemed to have been unpaid for several years. I knew what she would say next. She mentioned the number of the phantom telephone line. It seemed like a normal number for the neighbourhood.

The ghostly number

I explained not for the first time that the line did not exist in the real world. The mysterious telephone number had been around from the time of the last occupant of the property, I explained, not wanting to get into ghost stories. I almost added that maybe we hadn’t exorcised it when we moved in.

BT has ways of dealing with these problems

The friendly lady said that BT had ways of dealing with these sorts of things. (“they have a ghost-busters hot-line!” I thought). I was given a magic number to mention, and was then transferred to another part of the mighty BT service department, also known as the BT call centre system.

“We are very busy at the moment”

A voice said “We are very busy at the moment. We apologise for the delay. Do not hang-up we will answer your call as soon as someone becomes available“. Then there was a beep and the message was repeated. And repeated…

The magic number worked

After a lengthy period of time a human voice got through to me. Another lady. She asked if I knew the magic number I had just been given. It seemed to work because she gave me a number to contact and helpfully said that she would put me through to this number.

“Do not hang up”

At which point another ghostly voice came on the phone. I began to wonder if it was the phantom of Tudor Towers playing another trick on me. “Do not hang up” the voice said. They were very busy at BT but would get through to me as soon as someone was available. I had been on the telephone for about twenty minutes. I wondered if they were very busy in part because of a campaign to chase down phantom phone lines…

Half an hour later

Half an hour later again, I had heard the “do not hang up” message too many times to obey it any longer. I hung up. I had lost the will to call-back on the special number I had been given. I felt that the ghostly spirit of Tudor Towers had been listening in. And laughing. Or maybe it had been responsible for the entire call?

Note to BT

I really think you need to take a look at what is going on at your so-called service centre. But don’t call me about it. Please.


September 16th 2011. I think we have been now been exorcised. Another bill from BP. Another rattling around the BT call centres. My count was four this time which is too long to detail. Anyway, the bill is for the cost of BT redirecting calls from the phantom phone number to our active one. So this is why I have been getting those cold calls and being charged by BT for helping cold caller locate me.

Anyway, perhaps it’s fixed now. I have various code numbers to start the next round of conversations with BT if this has not happed. Tudor Towers are ghost free.

Why not change provider?

Get rid of BT after all that work? Like hostages, I have grown to hate and love my captors. But if some enterprising competitor of BT gets in touch…