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Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

by Carol Ann Duffy

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin
that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud…
but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood
run upwards from the slime into its wounds;
see lines and lines of British boys rewind
back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home –
mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers
not entering the story now
to die and die and die.
Dulce – No – Decorum – No – Pro patria mori.
You walk away.
You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet)
like all your mates do too –
Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert –
and light a cigarette.
There’s coffee in the square,
warm French bread
and all those thousands dead
are shaking dried mud from their hair
and queuing up for home. Freshly alive,
a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released
from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.
You lean against a wall,
your several million lives still possible
and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food.
You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile.
If poetry could truly tell it backwards,
then it would.

Europcar Back Down!

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I try to keep this blog focused on photography, but I’ve just had a small triumph against multinational car rental company Europcar/Alamo that I’m bursting to tell you about.

I hired a car from their Gatwick office last month and when I returned it they found a bulge in the sidewall of one tyre. There is only one way such damage can be caused, and that’s by hitting a curb. Since I hadn’t hit any curbs I knew I didn’t cause the damage and so the tyre must have been in that condition when I picked the car up. Europcar had a different view. They maintained the damage was my responsibility and deducted over £60 from my credit card.

After a month of hassle, phone calls – holding on the phone to speak to people who never show up and listening to the inane garbage they play while you’re waiting (anyway, why do they think that hearing a recorded voice telling you how much you mean to them as a customer is going to help when you’re still holding after eight and a half minutes?) – Europcar today backed down, said they’d refund the charge, and wished me a nice day.

A victory for the citizen in the face of corporate bullying! Hang out the flags!

The moral of the story is that if you feel unfairly treated by one of these companies, badger the hell out of them until they realise you’re not going to give up. Then they’ll figure out it’s more hassle for them to deal with you than it is for them to surrender.

People power. Yeah.