Archive for January 5, 2013

Authentic Tidings of Invisible Things

Posted in Poetry, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on January 5, 2013 by telescoper

One of my very first blog posts (from way back in 2008) was inspired by an old book of poems by William Wordsworth that I’ve had since I was a child. I was reading it again this evening and came across this short excerpt, near the end of the book, from The Excursion, and entitled for the purposes of the book The Universe a Shell. It struck me as having a message for anyone who works on the science of things either too big or too small to be sensed directly on a human scale, so I thought I’d post it.

I decided to scan it in rather than copy it from elsewhere on the net, as I really love the look of that old faded  typeface on the yellowing paper, even if it is a bit wonky because it went over two pages. I’ve been fond of Wordsworth for as long as I can remember and, like a few other things, that’s something I’ll never feel the need to apologize for…




Goodbye Virgin Media, and good riddance…

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , , on January 5, 2013 by telescoper


With my move to Brighton imminent, I decided before Christmas to sort out a few things that I’ve been putting off for a while. One of them was to cancel the contract with Virgin Media at my house in Cardiff. Having made the decision to ditch them, I then received a letter from said company announcing that their “broadband” service would go up in price in February 2013 by almost 10%. That’s on top of a similar rise earlier in 2012. A price hike of 20% in a year is nothing short of a rip-off. I wouldn’t mind if the service was decent, but the broadband is particularly poor; I’m supposed to have a 20MB service but I rarely get even a tenth of that. I assume Virgin Media simply doesn’t have enough bandwith to deliver what it promises. And that’s not counting when the connection falls over completely, which is far from uncommon…

In 2012 Virgin Media announced that I was getting a “free” upgrade to 20MB – previously I had the cheapo 10MB service – which sounded great. Then, just over a month later, the cost of my broadband package went up by about 10%. That’s a clear misrepresentation, and I should have cancelled my account right away then. But for some reason I didn’t.

I also get a cable TV package from Virgin Media (which I very rarely watch). Cancelling that will probably mean I spend just a bit more time reading or listening to music, which is a good thing. The woeful state of TV generally, and the dire offerings available at Christmas in particular, make me confident that I can live quite happily without it. And I’ll save the license fee too. I also have a telephone land line which I hardly use either. So scrap it all, I thought.

Anyway, I picked up the phone and called Virgin Media on 8th December with the intention of cancelling my service. A very frustrating experience with automated responses followed. “You now have five options”, you know the sort of thing. After several sets of five options (none of which were to cancel my account), I got through to a vaguely humanoid life-form. Even that wasn’t the end of the story as instead of just following my request she asked dozens of irrelevant questions and tried to persuade me not to quit. In the end I got fed up and said “I’m not going to change my mind, please just cut the crap and cancel the account”. Finally I was told the account would close on 8th January and some packaging would be sent so I could return the box and modem to Virgin Media. Fair enough, I thought.

I was travelling before Christmas, but noticed when I got back that Virgin Media had made a number of attempt to phone me while I was away. Eventually they phoned when I was in. An operative told me he wanted to discuss “changes to my account” and asked for my password. I said there was nothing to discuss as I had cancelled it. He persisted. I put the phone down. When I got back from a Christmas break in Newcastle the same thing happened again, with the same response. Then again the same day. Then again. The third time it happened in the same morning, I’m afraid I lost my temper and told the Virgin Media representative to fuck off. That did the trick.

Yesterday I received a bill from Virgin Media including a charge for the period 8th January to 7th February 2013, being the month after my account was supposed to be cancelled. I picked up the phone and called Virgin Media, assuming that somehow the instruction to close the account had been lost. In fact it hadn’t. The person I spoke to said “yes, your account is to be closed on 8th January”. “Then why have you billed me for the following month?”, I asked. “That’s our standard practice.” was the reply.

Standard practice? Sounds to me like theft! Assuming it would be very difficult to get money back once Virgin Media had purloined it, I immediately cancelled my Direct Debit to stop them taking the funds from my bank account. If they send me a correct bill for what I actually owe, I’ll pay it of course. But I’m never having anything to do with Virgin Media ever again.

P.S. I won’t have internet at home for a while from 8th January, so probably won’t be doing much blogging at weekends. On the other hand, I will have a lot of other things to be getting on with as I gradually relocate to Brighton by the sea…

P.P.S. Just received an email from Virgin Media with the following header…


…which is of course exactly what I did.