I’ve never been any good at flouting authority, bending or breaking the rules. My moral backbone must be very straight, because while common-sense tells me that towing the line isn’t the only way, something transfixes me with a Paddington Cold Stare every time I consider ‘behaving badly’.

Goody two-shoes

I am aware that some of my friends find it amusing that, in many respects I’m a little goody two-shoes. Those are the ones that smoked behind the bike sheds at school, bike shedsstarting drinking age 12, wore the shortest skirts they could without being arrested, and those that were expelled. I worship their naughtiness. My worst crimes at school were once wearing a brown skirt rather than the standard navy, and going ‘on strike’ in the school hall to protest that girls should be able to wear trousers. At primary school one lunchtime I stayed inside with Vicky Manley – against the rules – to sew up costumes for the school play. Headmaster Mr Blatchford discovered us, called us guttersnipes and told us to go home. I still think that was rather over the top for two 10-year olds making bee outfits.

Tax dodgers

I have always been horrified by tales of tax avoidance schemes; the many, clever ways that big businesses and wealthy individuals find to wriggle out of paying tax through bright accountants who get paid a nice little earner to find loopholes. I wonder how it is they don’t have a conscience. Hey, I’ve declared just about every penny I’ve earned in my life. Even the £1 a day I earned as a decorator (after paying the child minder, that was all I had left). However, there’s a bit of me that now thinks differently about those cash-in-hand tax dodgers that I used to scorn. Now I’m more likely to think, why not? If a pop star skips pay tax on millions of pounds, why should the chap earning a couple of hundred quid painting some walls pay any either?  I’d dodge if I could. But then again, I probably wouldn’t.

On holiday

On a month-long trip to China it was a total surprise to me that we had to ‘follow the flag’. I’d never done anything like that before. I duly followed it to the best of my ability, until I was late back to a meeting point because my mate Julia had desperately needed the loo. We were made to feel like criminals, and almost frog-marched to catch up with the rest of the group. Publicly humiliated amongst the Terracotta Army in China, I felt cracks appear in my goody-two shoes persona.

In truth, the older I get, the more likely I am to transgress. This year I was asked to followFollow a flag in Sienna. I ran off up an alley, it was a moment when free will conquered. Hey, who knows, perhaps one day soon I’ll try and sneak on the train to Exeter without paying for a ticket. Or park in a disabled parking space and limp away from the car.

But I tell you, however hard I try, always at the back of my mind there will be the sense that I am the person holding together the tower of morality that keeps society from falling apart. It’s all down to me, for sure. So I won’t be sticking two fingers up at the taxman anytime soon. More’s the pity.

(Online) catalogue of disasters

Tesco 2I wasn’t going to ramble about this, but now I am at t’end of my tether (Northern voice please).

The background: I haven’t spent any of the Tesco Clubcard vouchers accumulated over the last year, so I decided to make the most of the current Clubcard Boost offer and buy a small laptop to take to client meetings. I duly ordered a Lenovo Yoga online for £299. My order went through, I received confirmation and a date to collect from the Honiton store.

Two hours later I received an email saying the order was cancelled. No reason given. I called Customer Service (to their credit, quick to pick up) who talked about low stock being the problem. Online, the item was still there, available, but now for £349. All very odd.

Three phone calls later, with money refunded into my account, an email gift card for the value of the spent Clubcard vouchers and Customer Services holding an extra £50 to cover the price increase (stick with me), I ordered the laptop again with them, over the phone. Order confirmed, email giving date to collect from the Honiton store. Three hours on, an email arrived to tell me the order was cancelled, without explanation.

I fired off a grumpy email online, to which no-one responded, and called first thing the next day. The Customer Service agent was as bemused as me (they have all been bemused, to be fair). He suggested that when the money returns to my bank account I hotfoot it to the nearest superstore and buy one on the spot to carry away with me then and there. I understand his thinking but I also think this negates the very point of online shopping for customers, like me, who live in the sticks.

I’ve wasted hours over this (shall I invoice Tesco for my lost working time?). It’s now a point of principle rather than a desire for this particular laptop. To my credit I have not had a single Mrs Angry moment with any of the Customer Service agents, they all did their best and all our conversations have been peppered with laughter. I have successfully managed to mask the rising hysteria in my voice.
Screenshot 2015-11-05 13.38.33 (2)

The present: I don’t think I want that laptop now even though it’s still there, apparently available to order on the Tesco website. I’ve lost the will to live.

Whatever the reasons for the cancellations, Tesco, every little helps, but nothing really doesn’t help very much!

I won’t even start about dented ovens from John Lewis and dented dishwashers from Argos. That’s for another time.