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22
Saturday
OCTOBER

The party at Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker with friends David and Edward was terrific. You can see the fun we had from the pictures (which I thought it only fitting to take with a Russian camera manufactured in the 1950s).

Three massive floors accommodating amongst other things, a war control room, a BBC studio, an operating theatre, huge dorms and a canteen. And all this hidden below a small anonymous 1950's bungalow set on top of a remote hill.

The bunker is a perfectly preserved time capsule which has even managed to maintain that unique military aroma. Or perhaps it was just sweaty dust. They've enhanced the experience with sound effects such as an occasional tannoy calling bunker military staff and a dummy groaning mournfully to himself in the sickbay. Or it may have been another visitor surreptitiously pleasuring themselves under the blanket. And try walking through the Operations Room populated by a room full of authentic 1970s shop dummies with ill-fitting wigs without getting the willies.

There's an opportunity to dress up in military garb to have your picture taken which we particularly enjoyed. There's also films to see including Protect & Survive which had the UK population constructing shelters made out of old egg boxes and pairs of tights, all weighing up which was preferable - spending a week living under their stairs with their family chatting and playing board games or having your clothes catch fire and eyeballs melt from the impact of a two megaton nuclear warhead.

We ended the day with a stroll through the countryside picking magic mushrooms followed by beer, chips and a massive firework display on the seafront in Saaaaarfend. Thank you Essex - you make life worth living.

UPDATE: Increasing numbers of googlers have arrived at this page searching for some combination of 'magic mushroom picking essex', and one has emailed for the location of the field.

So here it is mushroom fans: if you're at the entrance to the bunker, wind your way up to the main public car park (where the big aerial thing comes out of the roof), and walk around the adjoining field - it's a hippy paradise. Happy mushrooming!

Here you can read David's detailed account and see some pictures of us in our party outfits.

If you live anywhere near London you owe it to yourself to have a day out at Kelvedon Hatch.

18
Tuesday
OCTOBER
Following my slightly frustrating experience with Telewest, I'm happy to report they relented and apologised for their shoddy customer service and credited my account with the £75 charge. I'm blowing the £75 on a celebration party at the Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker on Saturday.


16
Sunday
OCTOBER


The
Secret Nuclear Bunker at Kelvedon Hatch easily qualifies as The World's Most Terrifying Bungalow. At first sight an unremarkable 1950s farm cottage, this bungalow is in fact the tip of a government iceberg - a huge, three-storey bunker with 10ft thick concrete walls reaching 100ft underground.

15
Saturday
OCTOBER


Liquid Drop is a handy service that allows emails to be sent directly your mobile / landline phone in the form of a text message. So, in combination with a simple forwarding message rule in Outlook Express, you need never miss that crucial email when you're at the horse racing, or perhaps having your hair done.

You don't have to change your email address, you can avoid being sent guff, and at around 10p per message, it's much better value than setting up a separate mobile email account. And, almost unheard of for a telecoms company, they offer friendly and helpful technical support.

You get the first 10 messages free, so try before you buy.

13
Thursday
OCTOBER
If you've arrived at this page through a google search for 'Telewest' + ' pig ignorant' + 'customer service', you are most welcome.

The impact that electronic publishing is having on previously passive, arrogant corporate giants is just great. Apparently this particular page is causing a few headaches for Carphone Warehouse.

Meanwhile, my friend David drew my attention to a hopelessy ingenious and wild viral marketing campaign for household cleaner Cillit Bang. A weblog by TV's own Barry Scott - great. Until some idiot from the manufacturer's PR agency saw fit to contribute to a weblog by Tom Coates who had posted a heartfelt message about estrangement from his father. The message purported to come from the fictional Barry Scott who, bizarrely (considering he doesn't exist), also 'hadn't seen [his] father in 15 years', and even more creepily, suggested that Tom 'drop him a line if he could be of any more help'. Insensitive and crassly stupid. I can imagine that the Reckitt Benckiser brand manager is delighted to be talk of the Internet - for all the wrong reasons.

This talk of gross corporate incompetence leads me on to Telewest customer services. To give you an idea of my personal experience with them, two years ago my Telewest phone line went down, and despite calling them repeatedly to get it sorted out, I was left without a home phone line for seven months. Not great when you are trying to run a business from home. I should add that I then had to put up a fight not to be charged line rental for the entire period. Chimps.

More recently my phone line died again, I duly reported it and was visited by an engineer who told me a repeat visit was necessary for which I would be charged £75. The second engineer arrived the following week, sorted the problem within five minutes, telling me categorically that I would not be charged as he had not needed to carry out the work they anticipated and that his visit was unnecessary as the first engineer could have easily solved the problem.

Then, true to form, a bill appears carrying the £75 charge. After wasting a whole morning on the phone talking to pig ignorant monkeys that staff their call centres I gave up and called my solicitor. Having been advised that I shouldn't have been charged, I've now written to Telewest, and an approach to industry watchdog Oftel is pending their response. They also bully babies.

3
Monday
OCTOBER
Journalists never cease to amaze me. I was contacted last week by a Sunday Times writer. She offered a 'substantial donation' to charity, and £600 'towards website expenses' in exchange for interviews with 7/7 Trauma patients. She was particularly interested in people who had lost limbs 'because they make a better picture'. We politely turned her down.

The following Sunday a large piece appears on 'after the bomb' in the News Review section. Her article dwelt on the forgotten victims of the bombing, ie people who haven't suffered physical injury but can't resume normal lives because of flashbacks, nightmares, changed personalities etc, and could be said to have 'fallen through the holes of the health system'.

Interestingly, her piece made absolutely no mention of the free help and expertise she knew are on offer through 7/7 Trauma. Given the fact that she called because she knew about the free psychological help available through our service, you would have thought it would have been useful to have given at least a reference to the help on offer.

But that would obviously weaken the gist of her story because, actually, there are services for the victims she is talking about.

But, hey, never let a free trauma service get in the way of a good story, eh Deirdre?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2007 Bill Hunt