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Bristol Fashion

February 6, 2016

I love Steven’s use and understanding of language. Listen to him speak some times and you’d swear he was from the 1950s. Even though, some words throw him, especially if they have two meanings (“Better” for example), once he’s grasped a whole phrase, or saying, he just gets it. I don’t think I’ve ever had to explain to him what “Gordon Bennett” means but you often hear the refrain – “Oh! Gordon Bennett” from the kitchen if he’s spilled a drink.

One of my favourites he learned courtesy of Mr Crockett, the garage mechanic in Camberwick Green. Mr Crockett had been clearing up the forecourt of the garage and Brian Cant, the narrator, asked him: “Is everything all ship shape and Bristol fashion?” Steven was immediately interested in what this meant and I told him it meant that things were tidy and in order. So now, every evening, as Steven puts his dirty washing in the machine, we ask him “How’s things Steve?” To which he replies, “Washing is all ship shape and Bristol fashion”. And then we gather around the wireless, with our Double Diamonds and bars of Five Boys chocolate and listen to Round The Horne, before retiring to bed underneath the eiderdown.

I’ve been trying manfully to get the personal Budget all ship shape and Bristol fashion. I’ve had a running correspondence with HMRC for the past month about what they saw as a shortfall in the National Insurance I’ve paid for the support workers’ wages. At first, they said the deficit was over £1000. Then they got it down to £532. This morning I got two letters, both dated 2nd February. The first letter states that they have “calibrated” their records and I don’t owe them anything. The second letter asks me for £596.28. I immediately panic and start the imagine the bailiffs coming in and removing my collection of Allo Allo DVDs. I then take a closer look at the letter and see that it is stating this figure is their “estimated charges raised for moths 7,8,9 in the absence of you supplying actual figures”. This is obviously payment for the third quarter. The third quarter, of which I submitted the tax return three weeks ago. Do I phone them and suggest they have another recalibration of their records?

The same thing happens with the Personal Budget audit that I have to send to the council. Most months, I get a threatening reminder before the forms are due that late return of the audit could result in the personal budget being suspended. You may remember the time that I got a really aggressive phone call from the direct payments manager as there were two cab receipts missing out of a total of 78. Payments of the Personal Budget into the bank account are invariably late. And once I’ve submitted the returns, I never hear anything for months (“we’re working to a backlog”). But for some reason this is okay. I have to be all ship shape and Bristol fashion. But the State can be all haphazard and Newport Pagnellshire fashion.

One expression that Steven can’t get his head around is “I’ll give them the sharp edge of my tongue” but that’s precisely what I’d like to do with these bureaucrats.


I’ve got things all ship shape and Bristol fashion for Steven’s birthday next month. Steven has 26 Mr Bean DVDs & 17 Mr Bean videos. There really aren’t anymore to buy. It’s all the same twelve episodes but in different sleeves. Last week, I was browsing Amazon and noticed there was an American boxed set available. We’ll worry about the different region later. Anyway, it arrived today and it’s got all the Mr Bean Comic Relief sketches on that don’t appear on any of the British versions. What a hero I’ll be on the 19th March. Gordon chuffing Bennett.


From → Social Care

  1. Emily permalink

    Why do they have to make the personal budget so complicated? We have similar problems with payments. They are quick to take and remind, but suddenly have “problems with the system” or my favourite one – “we are in the middle of changing systems to make it more efficient”. I am not sure more efficient is the term i would use for payments that are sometimes 6 months late..My advice – let them chase you and don’t be bullied.

    • I often hear the one about “changing systems”. If it was true, Hillingdon would be changing their systems every three months.

  2. Ah yes. I had a bollocking because I failed to tell the DWP my son had changed GP, but due to someone randomly changing his age on some form or computer record his benefits stopped without explanation or warning. It took about 4 months, three sets of documents, as the first two went missing, even with recorded delivery, numerous phone calls, and a trip in person to the job centre with original birth certificate, before they were restored. If I wasn’t his appointee he’d have had no chance of sorting it out himself. Meanwhile my meagre pension was paying his rent and other living expenses. No apology, just more threats as their records weren’t up to date, and it’s supposed to be a public service.

  3. “Haphazard and Newport Pagnellshire-fashion”. Love it. Think you’ve got your title for your opus on Adventures in Personal Budgeting.

  4. Lizzie D permalink

    Oh, how I can identify with the THRILL of finding some obscure DVD. (Region 1 should play on most players)

    Before they went, I think I was famous in HMV “I don’t know what its called, but it has the man from Buffy in it, and it might begin with S…..” Worked surprisingly often.

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