Friday, February 14, 2020

Letters of complaint

It's now something of a habit that whenever I meet up with my daughter, I manage to embarrass her by complaining to someone, usually a waitrer or waitress, about the quality of something in a cafe, restuarant or some other public place. Last time it was a breakfast menu which said "an array of pastries", which my daughter ordered, to be presented with a single pastry. I complained to the Italian/Russian waitress, who exclaimed, "Oh! No one has ever complained about that before!" Everyone in the room looked at us. Daughter looked down at her plate, embarrassed. I probably turned red too. Well, I said, it says an array, which implies many, and there's only one. It's not going to fill anyone up. She got two more pastries (she still wasn't full and had be bought another breakfast half an hour later – elsewhere). Life went on. It's good to complain. As the world gets worse, I'm doing it more. Well, we're asked for our feedback constantly nowadays. Here's three recent emails.

Hi Planning and Forest for Cornwall

Let me introduce you to each other!

I live in the Redruth/Carn Brea area. Whenever I go for a walk around the mining trails, I see some more land has been fenced up, boarded up or destroyed. This time it was the trees. Along the mining path that runs roughly parallel between Dudnance Lane and Carn Brea (couldn't find its exact name, if it has one), I noticed hundreds of trees had been chopped down, the small woodlands I'd noticed before which were abundant with trees were now threadbare (some of this, which I've also noticed elsewhere in the county, was due to new telegraph poles being installed – but really, the area all around them looks like a ton of napalm has been dropped. Surely this much destruction is unwarranted, or how about putting the telegraph poles elsewhere?).

Your Forest for Cornwall project is deeply flawed. You can't go around chopping down mature trees, expecting newly planted ones to take their place. It takes 100 years for a woodland to reach maturity.

From the saplings I've seen (specifically, along Kerrier Way), they have not been cared for since being planted. They are being suffocated in their horrible plastic tubes. Most look battered or dead. Trees did fine for billions of years without plastic tubes. The so-called mycorrhizal networks will presumably not operate with your roadside saplings (without similar, more mature trees nearby).

Wanton destruction in the name of car parks has occurred opposite Heartlands next to a hideous new supermarket, where another small woodland was destroyed, on the college grounds. Was the local populace consulted on the supermarket, or with McDonald's, KFC, Subway and other horrible outlets I will never visit, you just want to send the already-obese locals into an even earlier grave? If even these kinds of companies supported the local economy, but did you know at least 60% of profit from places like this (Costa, McDonald's etc) immediately leave the local area? Aside from the fact that places like McDonald's are contributing to the destruction of the rain forests.

Anyway, I diverge (the above is for the Planning department, but one day you will realise IT IS ALL CONNECTED).


Now, let me explain about your so-called Climate Emergency:
I'm not sure how to make it clearer. But you are managing to get planning completely wrong on a daily basis – or can't see how your decisions impact on wildlife. We don't need more car parks. We don't need new retail parks (with high streets simultaneously being decimated). We don't need new houses (the shortage is a myth – look at all the empty houses, buildings, offices, factories in the UK), we certainly don't need junk food outlets in deprived areas. Litter and fly tipping is everywhere in the area. On verges, in fields, in hedgerows. Plastic bottles, cans, nothing seems to get ever picked up.

This was only about the trees but I'm on a roll now.

My last complaint is concerning the St Austell 'eco village', whose name has changed to 'garden village', someone at the Eden Project informed me; presumably because there is nothing remotely 'eco' about it. I realise these are countrywide schemes requested by the government. However, choosing a site with abundant trees, foliage and wildlife, a haven for birds and a popular location for dog walkers is crazy. I had often climbed over the fence and enjoyed tranquil times watching birds flying over the lakes. I felt like I was in another world, all alone. Now when I pass by I see hundreds of trees and bushes destroyed.

The thing about humans, and small-minded, small-sighted councils in particular, is a compulsion TO DO STUFF. ALL THE TIME. In the case of nature, IT DOES IT ON ITS OWN. It wants to be left alone, it doesn't want you interfering. Or culling badgers or building roads or car parks or crappy houses or unhealthy supermarkets or destroying hedgerows – all these things prevent the growth of biodiversity and destroy what little natural habitat they have left.

The price of bus journeys in Cornwall is EXTORTIONATE* (you know it's so when the bus driver apologises for a five mile journey costing almost a tenner). Let's take one of the poorest counties in EUROPE and have the buses three times more expensive than its wealthier neightbour, Devon (where an hour long journey has cost me £4), and five times more expensive than London (all journeys £1.50). Then let's have the buses turn up LATE once an hour, stop at every stop for five minutes, presumably to even out the journey but leading to frustration for all on board. Let's have the rail fares at least half the price of the buses. Let's also say cycling is always quicker than the bus, and walking is sometimes quicker. Let's have a climate crisis as well, and a half baked attempt to get people to use public transport more – not with the service or prices you provide. To cap it all, shall we only have one set of doors on the buses.

*I'm talking single or return fares, I realise the weekly/monthly pass works out good value if you use the service every day.

My first letter of complaint had been hand-written on the complaint form at the Eden Project, mainly about the food being wasted there. Someone replied via email. I wrote back to them.

Perhaps try giving away the fruit and veg to the deprived of St Austell. Charity begins at home and all that. I've also seen staff throw leftover sandwiches in the compost bin at the end of the day. Better than recycling or composting is reusing and eating.

I see St Austell's "eco" village, presumably inspired by yourselves, is well underway. I can tell because they've destroyed hundreds of trees, foliage and habitats for animals and birds. Progress, huh?

I feel bad criticising a charity when there are so many other evil organisations to target, but there's something deeply unfulfilling about the place, and a golden opportunity missed in these terrible times. And it's insane that your car parks are bigger than the actual Eden Project!

Previously on Barnflakes 
Bus pass
Success and failures of the Eden Project
Abandoned Halloween Pumpkins
The China Clay pits around St Austell
Reviving Reduth (and environs)


Anonymous said...

Technical question. If you complain a lot of times does that make you a 'Remoaner'...?


Caspar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caspar said...

I'm with you all the way on this. Maybe we're both curmudgeonly old gits - but if so I don't really care (which admittedly is an existential pre-condition of being a curmudgeonly old git, or COG). Apparently our nation is full of similar-minded COGs who love a good moan, but I disagree. I don't think we moan anywhere near enough - at least not about important stuff, such as the needless chopping down of trees. I've occasionally fired off splenetic rants such as yours in fits of righteous fury, and I'd do it a lot more if I thought they might actually be read by someone who gave a damn, and might thereby stand a chance of eventually doing some good. But chances are the recipients couldn't give a damn - they don't have the time, or they don't get paid enough, or they don't see it as their job to give a damn; a symptom of the breaking of the tacit social contract between the individual and the agencies of state authority. This social contract has been broken, probably irrevocably, by said agencies' repeated and remorseless corruption, carelessness and stupidity. It took centuries to build up and maintain, and had its crowning moment in the inauguration of the welfare state by the immediate post-war Attlee government (forms of state assistance did exist beforehand, but not as extensively - I'm being very general here), before being effectively destroyed within my and your lifetimes, principally, although not exclusively, by the usual suspects. The usual suspects' inheritors - the oafish Johnson being just the latest and most conspicuous of a long line of offenders - seemingly grow more disgustingly brazen by the day. Result: wilful, institutionalised ineptitude, of a type characterised by my late, Italophile dad as "menefregismo" ("couldn't-give-a-fuck-ness"). But my point is that the menefregismo is not implemented by default, out of laziness, but deliberately, because it suits the purpose of a network of bosses and bureaucrats that do no real work other than to pull the strings around here, ordering people about while taking their money.
How's that for a COG rant? But at least it's motivated by the desire for a kinder, better society such as wot we probably once had in this green and pleasant land / poxy little shed of a country (delete as appropriate).
What actually got me started on this train of thought was the "array of pastries". Trivial? Not a bit of it. To the COG (or at least, to this COG), as to the Freudian and the structuralist, nothing is trivial; everything is significant. And here I'm roping in George Orwell (why not - everyone else does) to back me up on asserting that wilfully imprecise language is a highly effective tool in passing off bullshit as fact. And people who grow from infancy to maturity in an environment where this goes on at every level in life learn to accept bullshit as normal (for reference, see just about any TV advert). Such people are unlikely to develop the habit of independent critical thinking, and will readily accept all kinds of lies, from the quality and quantity of pastries on offer all the way up to the justification for needless war or economic austerity. So whoever wrote the words "array of" on that menu is the enemy of all that is good and decent. OK, I'm exaggerating and taking the piss out of myself - but only slightly.
Keep complaining!

Barnaby said...

Thanks, I will keep complaining and am proud to be a COG, though it would be nice to be positive about something! Brexit, Johnson, Trump, climate change – all very depressing. Well, if we Brits do moan – be it an email or millions of us protesting against the illegal invasion of Iraq or Brexit or climate change – it makes no difference. Nothing seems to change.