Daily Archives: March 30, 2006

Dear Sir

Dear Sir
I feel I need to write to you to express my disappointment and concern at the level of service provided by your office.
When my father was demobilised from World War 2, he chose not to apply for his medals as he felt he had done nothing heroic or special. He also felt guilty because he was invalided and in hospital at a time when his entire battalion was decimated at a major engagement. Of recent years, however, and especially since he has had grandchildren to share his stories with, he has begun to wish he had the medals to show them and to talk about.
Eighteen months ago, therefore, I wrote to your office to claim them, sending clear details of his army service record so that they would be easy to identify. You replied that, due to a change in office, it would take nine to twelve months to process the claim.
Please imagine my distress when, eighteen months later, a reply comes to my enquiry. “Before we can assess your father’s entitlement to medals we would be grateful if you could complete the enclosed Certificate of Kinship and return it to this office with your father’s death certificate. Please be aware that the department has placed a priority on the assessment of cases for surviving veterans, therefore it may be some time before we are able to assess your father’s entitlement.”
I contacted the office by telephone to explain that, while he has been diagnosed as terminally ill in the time since I first sent the letter, he has not yet passed away, and my letter had been very clear in stating that my father was still alive. I did not really take kindly to a request for his death certificate. However what made me far more distressed was the callous way in which the gentleman on the other end of the phone dealt with my call.
This is an office dealing with people involved in a war which took place over sixty years ago. The people in question will clearly be nearing the end of their life and so I would think it important that the people dealing with their claims should have some training in speaking to families who may be recently bereaved or may be facing up to losing their loved one. However there was no apology for the mistake, no sense of urgency in dealing with the claim. When I said that my father was terminally ill and asked if he could be given some priority, I was told that I would have to prove he was dying. I should send an official letter to confirm that he is terminally ill and naming me as next of kin.
While I can understand that there may be some need to confirm this in order to avoid queue jumping, I cannot believe that it could not be more sensitively handled. My father lost a lot when he fought for his country and I am disappointed that, in claiming his medals, he is not treated with more dignity.

Going grey

I was highly perturbed to discover this morning quite how many grey hairs I have.

It shouldn’t really have surprised me. I mean, I’m getting on a bit now, and all our family have gone grey fairly early. And it’s not as though I don’t have any stress.

Smudgelet is in disgrace for yet more stealing (sweeties, but nevertheless, stealing and lying about them) and for planning to find my password for the computer so they can go on the internet when I am not aware and can play games when they are supposed to be asleep. Ah, bless him. Underneath those twinkly blue eyes and beaming smile there lies a devious little brain. He is now on last warning – one more false step and he will not be going on his school trip!

Tiddles is in even more disgrace. I phoned the school to ask to come in and discuss his behaviour before I throttled him… and they replied “Funny you should say that!”. He’s driving them insane too. Now, in addition to his fourth total PE kit, most of which they suspect is lying around the school, he has lost a week’s worth of dinner tickets (another £10 down the drain) and four, yes four, temporary bus passes as well as his proper bus pass, which he is supposed to have paid £% to replace when he originally lost it. One more false step from him and he will not be going to the end of term watersports trip or the School Prom. (He has a treat, though – the school has nominated him for six weeks of free sailing/canoeing lessons…. on the sea!!! Lucky lucky boy. And it’s just what he needs, too!)

There seems to be a horrendous mix-up with Dad’s attendance allowance, which means that, unbeknown to me, I have been paying his carer out of my own money instead of his…. and have managed to run up an overdraft without realising! Now I have the fun of battling to get it back. Add to this my discussions with the insurance company to get my door paid for in time for my brother to do the work when he’s next down to visit. Fun.

Balancing Dad’s illness and the varying responses we seem to get from each organisation involved with his care doubtless contributes yet more grey hairs. The latest news from the Hospice is that I should be upping one of his painkillers. This is in direct opposition to the advice from the MacMillan nurse to decrease it. The same has happened with another medication but in reverse. The MacMillan nurse says under no circumstances to stop it altogether, the Hospice has said he needn’t take it if he doesn’t want to. This is all against the background of him suffering increasing pain, a pain which means he can neither sit nor stand comfortably for long. Luckily the Macmillan nurse is coming to talk about it with us tomorrow. This is particularly important as Dad is fairly sure – and I am becoming increasingly suspicious – that the medication they have told us to increase is that which is making him feel so sick much of the time. It’s certainly making him have some very vivid and extremely weird dreams!!!

As for school – we have OFSTED looming (rumours have it that the boss expects it straight after the holidays… oh bliss). My beloved group of madcap Year Five children were tested this week and, much to my surprise (not) they have made absolutely no progress whatsoever since they joined us in September. I’d be worried about my skills as a teacher if the other three classes I teach weren’t making such good progress. Hey, any teacher types out there will understand my utter delight when my entire Year Eight class, bar two who have significant learning difficulties, managed to achieve a good Level Four in their practice SATs papers this week. Hooray! It means they are sufficiently able at Maths to obtain a GCSE at high school… and also that despite their special needs they have made average progress over the four years that I have been teaching them and have not dropped any further behind 😀

And now I have reports to write.

So all in all, it’s no wonder I have so many grey hairs. But the problem might have been exacerbated by the fact I’ve been painting the door frames!