Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Big Day for my Little Girl

Today Emily goes into hospital to have her tonsils out; it'll involve an overnight stay and a general anaesthetic. She is being a big brave girl, unlike her parents both of whom couldn't sleep and are nervous as hell. For Emily this is a sleepover in a hospital; for Mum & Dad its torture. Why did nobody warn us about this before we became parents?

UPDATE: After a traumatic day all is well and Emily recovering nicely in the N&N. More in the morning.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The depth of the Tory lead

A Conservative opinion poll lead of 16%, as published in The Guardian, is hardly newsworthy at the moment - but what is worthy of note is the analysis here which shows the Tory Leader ahead in all social classes and all regions. Has there ever been a time when a government has collapsed so completely and amongst even its most loyal supporters? Brown gets back to running the country next week ... welcome home, Prime Minister!

Possibly the most rude, pointless and patronising political interview ever

If you feel the need to cringe this morning I suggest that you read this interview with Dr Sarah Woolaston, the Tory candidate chosen by Open Primary in Totnes, organised by The Independent newspaper. Clearly its name has got nothing to do with the political outlook of the paper and I feel very ashamed having previously credited the paper with being a decent read after seeing this. I don't know if it tell us more about the people who email questions in (possibly the odd Labour stooge there somewhere) or the Independent team for publishing them.

Look at the questions; are these really the best they recieved? Some show little or no attempt at balance or even trying to get an important or interesting answer. Of course not all of the questions were awful - Norua Jamenez rightly asks about the experience of the Open Primary, Stephen Casey asks about the political philosophy behind Dr Woolaston's 3 year membership of the party and Craig Sotherton, Anil Joshi and Niall Simpson all asked valid questions on the NHS.

But there were others...

Jeff Gilchrist asked Dr Woolaston to justify the way the Conservative Parliamentary Party voted in the 1945 parliament; what on earth is he going on about? Do we ask the LibDems about David Lloyd-George or ask Gordon Brown to jusift the actions of Ramsay MacDonald? I am sorry Jeff but that is a very bizarre question - and unbelievably the Independent chose it to publish!

Frances Chaudrey asks about the role of Michael Ashcroft in funding Tory campaigns - OK I grant you its an issue within political circles but I am on doorsteps day-in-day-out year round and not a single person here in Norwich has ever raised it. It may be a big deal to Frances, I am not taking anything away from that, but does it really rate amongst the 10 biggest issues raised with The Indy?

Tim Vole offers the chance for Dr Woolaston to single out the most offensive thing that Anthony Steen has ever said; this question is offensive in itself (given its probably intent just to embarrass Dr Woolaston and/or Mr Steen) and Dr Woolaston's repsonse that most people have moved on is correct. This is negative politics at its worst; not tell what you want to change about the country but tell me what you hate the most about a man who is months from leaving office.

Verity Matthews asks about the expense claims of the "Tory squirearchy" - seemingly forgeting that the claims and possible illegal activites of our MPs covered all parties including the governing one - and the response of Dr Woolaston to remind them of LibDem candidate April Pond's moat was brilliant.

I don' t have a problem with challenging questions or the topics here, but I do question the judgement of the editorial team in choosing them for publication to a future legaislator. Are we really short of questions on crime, education, foreign affairs or the economy? I understand a GP getting a lot of questions on the NHS (including the fair one on Hannan's comments) but is this really the remit of her role? Or has the Independent just pandered to its own prejudices and allowed anti-Tory readers to have their day in the sun? This whole exercise is designed to trip up and embarrass not to probe, search and find her views. Where is the vision and the positive view of what Dr Wollaston can help to achieve in government?

Come on Independent, I was almost a regular reader - until this.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Daily Mirror: A waste of paper and ink

Whilst trapped inside of a soft-play centre during a rainy time I was forced (i.e. boredom drove me to) to read all of the newspapers on offer. It included my staple diet of the Evening News and EDP, plus also a few titles I hadn't read in a long, long time.

I was deeply shocked by the Daily Mirror; aside from being badly written and utterly misguided, it seems to have totally missed the point. Luckily the whole newspaper took me less than 2 minutes to "read". The political stories were laughable; I didn't think anybody or anything could still support this government like the Mirror does. I was told about "desperate Cameron" who was "trying to con people into thinking he could be trusted with the NHS"; this wasn't in the opinions page or the letters page, this was the news stories!! The Paul Routledge column actually made me double-take it was so out-of-touch; we need more proper socialists writing this stuff because, God knows, with this government in power we need a laugh. The headlines make The Sun look rational and the choice of celebrity gossip was, frankly, second class indeed.

The whole content and structure of the paper lacked anything approaching clarity. It was devoid of a single interesting article. I understand that I am part of the Telegraph faithful, but I cannot stand the Daily Mail and have more and more been taken with the Indy (which, although it contains little to no news, always has something worth reading), and so the Mirror probably isn't designed with me in mind. But even so, is this really the best they can do?

What have Labour got left to say?

The news that a ComRes poll for tomorrow's Indy shows a strong Conservative lead on the NHS, despite Labour's summer attack on the issue, shows again that the old political narrative is dead. Labour have tried to convince people that the Tories wish to privatise the NHS - let us assume for a moment that people believed this. What does the poll then tell us? This narrative, alive since 1997, has simply said that reduced spending equals less services (or fewere schools'n'hospitals, as Blair would say). Parties who want lower tax and less government spending also want to sack Nurses and Teachers. Now, it is all change.

People no longer wish taxes to continue to rise; most believe they should be lowered.

People no longer believe cutting costs means sacking frontline workers; in fact teachers, policeman and nurses would be the last thing to be cut out of the education, police and health system (believe me, there is plenty of bureaucracy to choose from first).

So if people do believe the Labour spin and still trust the Tories more with the NHS what does that say - other than another Labour line is dead. What now do Labour have left to say?

Of course the Tories don't wish to privatise the NHS. David Cameron, who of course has made a pledge to increase NHS spending despite overall cuts in government spending, now has people on side - he ought to take this chance to lay out in clear detail the reform which needs to accompany it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Daily Telegraph: Clarke facing "concerted Tory push"

The Daily Telegraph today reports that Charles Clarke is coming under increasing political pressure and faces the reality of losing his Norwich South seat next time becuase of a "concerted Tory push". We are certainly getting a lot of traction in the campaign and the media are really noticing how many shadow ministerial we are getting, the volume of leaflets going out and the professional nature of the campaign.

It says:
Other Labour big hitters who face a concerted Tory push are Charles Clarke, the former Home Secretary, whose 3,000 majority in Norwich South looks shaky after Chloe Smith won the neighbouring seat in last month’s by-election to become the youngest Tory MP for 30 years.

Interestingly the LibDems are at war - both locally and the blogosphere - about the decision to target Norwich South with the utter lack of support for their candidate is symptomatic of this. Most independent commentators are now saying they could be the wooden spoon winners coming fourth in Norwich South.

Why is Ramsay being so timid on the "Honesty Pledge"?

I have the latest Green party newspaper thrust into my hand today - more on that later - included in which is an article by their PPC Adrian Ramsay demanding an independent body deal with MPs wage, allowances and expenses and also details of promises being made by young Ramsay if he shocks everyone and wins the parliamentary seat. This is a co-incidence because this is also what I have dedicated my latest parliamentary newsletter to as well. So let's compare.

Now usually minority parties, such as the Greens and LibDems, can promise what they want because they know they cannot win and wouldn't have to fund it or implement it. So you might expect Ramsay's honesty pledges to be wild and over the top, really taking in the public anger. Strong, bold way of cleaning up politics? Errr, no...

Ramsay pledged to carry on living in the constituency (ditto for me), to put his expenses on the web (who on earth won't be doing this now) and to carry out surgeries across the constituency listening to residents (isn't this part of the job anyway?).

I know that my promises have caused some colleagues to double-take but I believe each of them to be desirable and possible to achieve. They include:
Taking no paid work other than being an MP
Publishing my diary so you can see who I meet and whta I am doing
Never to employ any member of my family
Never taking taxpayers money (MPs communications allowance) to produce party leaflets
Claiming less year-on-year in total costs than Clarke

So why is Cllr Ramsay being so timid with this? Even if political expediency doesn't allow him to be bold doesn't he believe in making things more open and transparent?

There seem to be a number of issues on Ramsay's plate at the moment - other bloggers are asking which Green Councillor has been thrown out of the national party and if he backs Rupert Read's internal campaign which is mired in negative campaigning.

But this is serious stuff; will the Greens be as serious and strong on this as I am?

Don't do it, Eric!

According to the DT's Andrew Pierce, reported all over the place, the Conservatives are going to pile in extra resources to target Labour's big hitters in seats that the party has a chance of winning. With the swing that the party achieved in Norwich North we could have a very good chance of removing John Denham in Southampton, Jack Straw in Blackburn and Ben Bradshaw in Exter. Also rather appealing is the thought of winning the Yorkshire seat of Balls and Darling's Edinburgh Berth.

I have to admit that I worry about having a so-called decapitation strategy. I warned against it when the LibDems tried it before the '05 election and - as predicted by this blog - it came across as being nasty, neative and malicious. I think for the same reasons we ought to avoid it too.

If these MPs fall as the Tory tidalwave crosses the country then so be it, but to pour in resources to try and defeat big hitters would come across as being arrogant and wrong. Don't do it Eric!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Politicans & Footballers: How long should a sex scandal haunt you on google?

One of the brilliant things about the predictive searches on Google is that it lets you know what other people are searching for and which are the most popular searches. It has also thrown up, for me, a big question in the last few days - google can be a great record of your successes but also a permenant reminder of your failures. If you make a slip up - no matter of what proportion it doesn't only damage your career at that moment but can follow you around. Currently, as far as I know, there are only references to "conservative" and "Norwich" for me. But imagine if you were caught in a scandal; how long would that ghost you on Google? And do different people suffer in different ways and for different lengths of time?

Take for example a young man called Ben Alnwick; the goalkeeper in City's 4-0 win in the Carling Cup this week. Having heard of Alnwick from his time with Spurs I googled him to see his form. Aside from his footballing career, predictive google gave me 7 alternative searches about him - all referring to a sex scandal that we was involved in 3 years ago when he was 19 years old. He was filmed having sex with a lady alongside 2 of his team-mates and 3 years on he still pays the price on google. If you google Alnwick thats what you know about him.

So out of interest I turn to Steve Norris; former Tory Minister and erstwhile candidate for Mayor of London. Mr Norris was one the people who typified "Tory sleaze". Norris apparently kept 5 mistresses secret from his wife for some time - a very busy man! Google Mr Norris and ... you guessed it, not a word of this comes up! If you google Norris he gets away with no references.

So what are the differences between Norris - a high profile sex scandal - and Alnwick - a low profile one - where Alnwick is still there and Norris isn't? Could it be what they have achieved after the sex scandal is over? Alnwick is still playing football, not a lot to report, whilst Norris has gone on to be one of the most high profile Tories and their first candidate in the London Mayoralties.

OK, so let's take a politican who fell from grace and never recovered. Somebody who has done virtually or actually nothing since leaving office. Take, Ron Davies. Labour's Welsh Secreary was forced to quit in 1998 after a "moment of madness" on Clapham Common. Let's predictive google Ron Davies then, of whom we have heard nothing since then. Well, there is one reference to just "resignation" and one to "badger" but nothing to otherwise suggest what he was involved in. If you google Davies you have to click on to find his sex scandal.

So maybe its to do with the time period; Alnwick's case was quite recent so let's look at more and less recent cases. Every google predictive on (Lord) Cecil Parkinson is about his sex scandal and love child - and that happened 20 years ago. For Boris Johnson, his sex scandal is not mentioned at all.

Could it be be about political seniority? Former Prime Minister John Major's affair has a single reference, as does Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescotts. Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook gets away with it completely. Unlikely to be about that then.

What about the more bizarre caes? Well, LibDem MP Mark Oaten's has 4 predictive references and 3 of them are about his incidents with Rent Boys. So maybe.

Either way, footballer Alnwick has a right to be a bit miffed if his minor case ghosts him on Google longer than the more serious sex scandals by politicans. However I suppose that the predictive google works on how popular certain search phrases are - so the public set what is notworthy and what isn't. Mayne Norris & Cook have been "forgiven" in the eyes of the public whereas Oaten hasn't? Certainly people who google Oaten seem to care more about the scandal than his other political works. Or maybe ALnwick is just more interesting?

This issues continues to puzzle me - and I suppose it will carry on doing so - about why people google what they do. A combination of factors, not least public curiosity about the cases must lead this one.

But predictive google continues to give me hours of fun even if it isn't always fair on people. For example who on earth is googling "Charles Clarke Diet"?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Forgotten "Three Score"?

Site visits are one of the best things about being a Councillor because you can point to an issue and say to a council officer: "there you go, what do you think of that!" and they will see it rather than just note a name of an area from an email.

This morning I spent a few hours doing the rounds in Three Score, a new development in my ward, with 2 highly experienced council officers looking at the situation. What we saw was rubbish, weeds, broken glass, fly tipping, over grown bushes, hacked back bushes and a real sense that the footpaths in particular had no care in them.

One resident said to me it felt like a "forgotten" area - except, he added, when they needed his tax money.

There's a lot that needs to be done - the residents here pay full council tax and demand full services. Next week I am showing the City Council CEO around the area too in a bid to raise its profile and get the action it needs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's on offer in Anglia Square?

During my A Level Business Studies lessons one of the few things that remains with me to this day is that balanced business zones work best; you don't find shopping centres with just clothes shops in or out-of-town centres with just computer outlets. Today I spend some time talking to shoppers and traders who work in and around the Anglia Square / Magdalen Street area and i was surprised by the balance on offer. I was able to go to the cinema, have cafe coffee, do my food shopping, buy household goods and browse small independent and sometimes quirky traders. It was a good experience; and on the day that the unemployment figures rose yet again, and showed an upturn here in the City, I also spoke to traders who were advertising for more staff.

So given this, why is the perception of this area so bad? I did warn, years ago, that Chapelfield would unbalance the City yet further towards the south. Unlike other parties I don't oppose Chapelfield and in many ways it forced the rebranding of the Anglia Square area, but it also means that you can get pretty much everything you want without coming above ground. The strenght of the Norwich economy lies in the footfall of people exploring our wonderful City. How many tourist pounds are spent to the north? Not many now I bet. The Lanes have done well to reinvent themselves but Anglia Square doesn't seem to have matched that.

This goes against percieved wisdom but Anglia Square isn't awful - it's got a lot of good shops and a lot of life about it. The shoppers were happy and the traders, mostly, bouyant. Maybe that message isn't getting through but something does need to be done.

I'm not saying Anglia Square will ever rival Chapelfield or the Mall, but it does have a role to play in the overall services offered by the City. Maybe we all ought to be spending a little more time there and more effort in speaking up for it?

What should a candidate wear whilst leafleting?

An unusual exchange whilst out leafleting yesterday; and an admisison - I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

I came to a couple in their front garden and passed them the newsletter.

The gentleman said, "aren't you the Conservative candidate who wants to be our MP? You better smarten up your act if you want to get into power."

I was a little stunned; his wife quickly lept in: "Oh dear, you are always saying you want politicans to be more like ordinary people and look..."

And then it struck both of us at the same time - we were wearing pretty much the same shorts and t-shirt as each other.

We laughed, and the gentleman finished: "I am even dressing like a Tory now" - "Or," said his wife, "like a young person!"

Being 30 now, I enjoy being referred to as a young person...

Oh it's such a perfect day!

Yesterday must count as pretty much an ideal day for me. It started badly - with a live mouse being deposited (the third in a week) in my kitchen by my large ginger tom cat - but got progressivly better.

Firstly was the badly needed hair cut at Graham's in Grove Road. Graham, aside from giving a great cut, is also the font of knowledge and gossip in the area - he knows what is going on and is always willing to let me know what people are thinking locally.

From there I went for coffee in The Forum with my friend Brandon Lewis - the next MP for Great Yarmouth. We have, in some ways, similar seats to fight so we like to share tips and advice for campaigning. By lunchtime we were out leafleting and meeting people in Eaton Village.

During the heat of the afternoon it was time for gardening and playing with the kids; including a hosepipe!

And then by the early evening back out leafleting and speaking to residents.

I got in trouble a few years back for suggesting that teacher's waste their holidays by relaxing rather than planning lessons and the like. I am willing to risk it again; yesterday was very productive, very relaxed - bring on the summer!

At Last ... a garden party with sunshine

Last Saturday was the Annual Norwich Conservatives Garden Party, this time held in the beautiful gardens at the Old Lodge in Mulbarton. The best thing, though, wasn't seeing old friends from both in and outside of Norwich, or the strawberries, or the home made scones (sorry about the oven Karen!) but the fact we did all of this, all afternoon without a drop of rain! Sunhats were the order of the day! We raised a great amount for the campaign fund and everyone had a great time. My thanks to the organisers who, once again, did a great job!

Monday, August 10, 2009

10 Challenges to Improve Education

Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove uses a Q&A session in today's Independent to set out what he clals the 10 big challenges for improving state schools. They are - I think all of them - to be absolutely welcomed and each needs a Conservative solution too (though some I think would just need the wave of a Ministerial pen). I hope that teaching colleagues and unions would back this too.

I would emphasise 10 main changes. First, recruiting and retaining the highest quality individuals into the teaching profession.
Second, getting Ofqual, the standards watchdog, to fix our exams so they are directly comparable to the world's best. I want our 16 and 17-year-olds to sit exams which are as testing, and as attractive to colleges and employers, as those on offer in Singapore and Taiwan.
Third, allowing state school students to sit truly stretching international exams, such as the IGCSE, which currently only private school students have access to.
Fourth, ensuring Ofsted focuses on the quality of teaching rather than the zeal with which a school complies with irrelevant bureaucratic diktats.
Fifth, reforming the national curriculum to strip out unnecessary accretions and concentrate on providing a stretching academic programme for all pupils to the age of 16.
Sixth, giving teachers new powers to keep order in class, including protection from violence and intimidation.
Seventh, liberating the weakest schools from local authority control and handing these schools over to organisations with a proven track record of excellence.
Eighth, allowing the very best schools to benefit from academy status, and freedoms, providing they use those freedoms to help other, under-performing, schools.
Ninth, encouraging new providers into the state system, as they have in Sweden, by allowing parents to transfer the money the state currently spends on their child's education to the sort of school they really want.
And tenth, reforming pupil funding to ensure more resources are spent on the very poorest – to help reverse the widening gap in our education system between the fortunate and the forgotten.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Totnes Matters

The "Open Primary" result at Totnes, which saw local GP Dr Sarah Wollaston selected as Conservative candidate, could yet be the most significant political event of the year. Have I gone mad - a rural seat in Devon, setting the pace for the country? Well, yes ...

This was all part of Cameron's localism agenda, about enpowering people and getting more citizens involved in the democractic process. Post-expensesgate a chance to really engage with voters. Finally, all those people who live in safe seats but who aren't in a political party (and that's the overwhelming majority) will get a say on who is their local MP, or at least the candidate. For what its worth, I think this helps sew up Totnes - a marginal seat with a strong LibDem challenge - for the Conservatives.

The nay-sayers are in full flow, however, but I say this. Forget the turnout arguement; 25% of the constituency is far more people engaged that the few hundred local members under the old system. Forget the cost arguement; democracy can be expensive and we have to live with that. Forget the opposition parties trying to rig it; they can't do it.

So how will this change politics?

Firsty imagine if just one party did this nationwide next time, including making sitting MPs open to challenge. Then think about the kind of candidate who will be selected. I think it will inherently favour local candidates - party members are usually selecting the person they want to be the next Foreign Secretary, voters may want somebody who really knows about the area. I think it could benefit non-politicians and also people in non-traditional jobs. Lawyers and management consultants will find it harder to be selected than GPs, teachers and radio presenters. Why, because in these jobs you have a profile in a community already. A teacher, say, in a large comprehensive will be known by thousands of families locally who have been through the system. Ditto a GP in a tight-knit community. All goof stuff you might say.

Now for the bit the whips won't like. In the USA, the Primary system ensures that candidates owe their political survial more to local people and less to the party machine. Primaries in Britain I think will lead to more mavericks or independent - minded MPs being selected. In a tight vote, will that MP in a safe seat think about pleasing their whip or pleasing the voters who are due to vote in their primary next month?

One more thought; if they want to keep up as a radical democractic party I cannot see the LibDems being able to not follow suit soon - every day they delay and every Tory contest that is decided this way makes Clegg look more and more establishment and Cameron more and more grassroots orientated. But for Labour; can they follow suit without upsetting the Unions (their paymasters)? An interesting thought.

Absolute full marks to Pickles and Cameron for this one. It needs really serious thinking about and could radically change the landscape of politics.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Delivery Day

In a week where Homebase and Aldiss have both let me down, this made me laugh outloud. Nothing works the way it should and this blog post - brilliantly written - really does represents the highs and lows of "delivery day".

I bow down to Richard Fair!

The Parcel's Story
06/02/09 - 15:38:26 Sort Centre Droitwich Spa: Sorted
07/02/09 - 06:12:35 Norwich Depot: Received
07/02/09 - 06:50:35 Norwich Depot: Loaded onto vehicle

My Story
06/02/09 - 15:02:37 Norwich:Order placed. Slight excitement that it will be delivered in less than twenty-four hours.
07/02/09 - 02:48:46 Norwich:Noise outside. Can't be delivery man, can it? Goes back to sleep.
07/02/09 - o3:01:01 Norwich:What if it was someone taking something away rather than bringing something. Goes back to sleep.
04:21:33 - Toilet visit. Ponders sanity of purchase. Heads back to bed convinced I've done the right thing. Although...
05:30:00 - Birds outside wake me. Toilet visit.
07:19:21 - Wake suddenly. I've overslept and missed the delivery man. Check clock, it's only 07:19. Get up and check online tracking of parcel. It was loaded onto van half an hour ago. It could be here any minute.
08:11:34 - Someone on the radio talking about something totally unrelated to my parcel. Decide to risk toilet visit, "If he comes now, he comes now" I tell the window in the front room where's I've been stood for twenty minutes wondering if I dare risk a toilet visit.
08:24:08 - Check front step to see if parcel or card was left while in toilet.
08:46:11 - Risk shower. Leave all doors open so I can hear knock on front door.
08:48:00 - Leap out of shower, grab towel, run to door. No one there. False alarm. Return to shower which appears to have self-adjusted it's temperature.
09:52:33 - Give up on Guardian Quick crossword. Mind on other things. The parcel is bound to be here soon and then I can play.
10:43:26 - Washed up after breakfast. Washing in machine. Rubbish in bin. No parcel. Check online tracking of parcel. It was loaded onto van at 06:50:35.
11:32:13 - Rearranged living room slightly. Basically I've removed the table cloth and am now calling the dinner table 'my writing table'. Sit at my writing table and added church candle and matches to shopping list.
11:49:05 - Decide on an early lunch so that I'll still have time to go shopping after parcel arrives. Leaves all doors open so I can hear delivery man knock over sound of mushrooms frying. Check online tracking of parcel. It was loaded onto van at 06:50:35. Smoke alarm goes off. Panic, I can't hear anything other than the bloody smoke alarm. Check front door. Open back door. Smoke alarm stops. Check front door again.
12:17:45 - Check online tracking of parcel. It was loaded onto van at 06:50:35. Hang washing up. Close back door. Put heating on.
13:41:41 - Next door dogs barking. This is it.
13:42:10 - Wave to next door as they arrive back for somewhere.
14:01:20 - Check order for parcel to see if it really is meant to be delivered today. It is. Check online tracking of parcel. It was loaded onto van at 06:50:35. WD40 a couple of hinges.
14:43:56 - Check Twitter and Facebook. Get depressed reading about all the things other people are doing with their Saturday. Draw a picture of a van crashing off road into tree.
14:53:22 - Suddenly realise that Norwich are playing at home and van may be stuck in traffic. Or he may have actually had an accident. Screw up drawing. Check online tracking of parcel in case there's any mention of the the accident. The parcel was loaded onto van at 06:50:35
15:08:44 - Investigating strange smell. May be slippers again.15:12:59 - Double checked the Order. Delivery could be any time up to 18.00. May have to chance another toilet trip soon. Not related to first item at 15:08.15:15:08 - Check online tracking of parcel. 13:30:39 - Unable to deliver Address Query
15:16:08 - Call supply company. Tell my story. Told to call delivery company. Delivery company answerphone says that they close at 14.00 on a Saturday.
15:20ish - Call company company back. Tell them my story again. Told that they didn't have full postal address. I read out my full postal address from copy of their Order Receipt, also mentioning the fact that it states that delivery would be up to 18.00 on a Saturday. Told that there's nothing they can do until Monday when the delivery company... I interrupt to say that my contract is with them, not the delivery company. That I want my item delivered Monday morning - to the address on the Order Receipt and I want an immediate refund of £6.75 postage for Saturday delivery. Told that it is company policy not to refund postage until delivery is complete. I tell them that it is my policy not to shop with John Lewis Direct ever again.
16:08:33 - Finally starting to get my Saturday back into some sort of shape. Called O2 with PAC number so I can have my old number on my new phone. What a breath of fresh air that was. Phone should switch on Wednesday. Chatted with guy about SIM cards for a while. Stopped short of asking if he's on Twitter.
16:10:00- Looking up John Lewis Direct and Home Delivery Network addresses. They will be getting letters, although I suspect that even with the right postcode there's a chance they'll not get them.

Postscript to Parcel's Story
07/02/09 - 13:30:39 Norwich Depot: Unable to deliver Address query

Postscript to My Story
08/02/09 - 11:01:37 - Called in O2 shop for screen cover for iPhone. Spotted gadget I was expecting from JL. Bought gadget.
08/02/09 - 12:31:17 - Called JL and cancelled order.
Let us never speak of it again.

Final Postscript to My Story
09/02/09 - 10:51:01 - Home Delivery Network arrive with parcel. Sent away with parcel.
Now, really, no more mentions.