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).
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
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
& 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
particular page is causing a few
headaches for Carphone
Meanwhile, my friend
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
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
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.
following Sunday a large piece appears
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
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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