Friday, November 25, 2005

Wide-eyed and legless....

Well not quite, but an interesting day nonetheless. Today was the day of the long awaited medicals, or nearly not quite. Started off pretty well, with a lie in until 8am! Then the usual mad rush of trying to get four people ready to go out at the same time, two of whom aren't really that keen on the idea. The morning was spoiled somewhat by a phonecall from the doctor's surgery just before we left, to tell us that the doc wouldn't be in, and the appointment would need to be rescheduled again.

Arrrrrrggggghhhhh!! I don't need this. A bit of quick talking and the receptionist agrees to get us in for the X-rays and phone around to fit us in somewhere else for the medical bit. So we get there, and get a bit of good news - we can have the X-rays straight away and the doc feels so bad about cancelling our appointment to deal with his wife's broken dentures that he agrees to come in at 1pm to sort us out.

So, we get called in for the X-rays and everything goes without a hitch....then a commotion breaks out - turns out we are the first ever people to be X-rayed on the new digital machine, and the radiologist is a bit chuffed with himself. "Would you like to come in and see the pictures?" Well, I'm not one for watching other folks' home movies but it seemed such a shame to spoil the we all four troop in to look at my perfectly formed ribs and clavicles. I was even reassuringly shown the shady outline of my heart, lungs and other assorted grillocks......"That bit there is your Dad's diaphragm"

We got a bit of a tour round Mrs Chipshaker's insides too. She doesn't half look thin when you take the outside bit away.

Anyway, now we have a couple of hours to kill, but it's chucking it down. So we nipped into Manchester's biggest toyshop for a couple of verses of the "Can I Have" song and a brief period of shelter in Waterstones (where we saw David Attenborough, who had the same idea it seems), before dashing across for a swift bratwurst at the German Market, .

Then it's back to the surgery, to meet an elderly chap who is probably Britain's most eccentric and funny doctor! I'm not quite sure it was worth 600 quid, but it certainly was entertaining. Kids out of the way quickly - not too much hassle there. Then Mrs C gets the full attention. "Any mental disorders or psychotic behaviour? No?"......looks at me.....frowns......"Women always lie about that one - they think school holidays don't count!"

Next we try three different sets of scales because both Mrs C and the Doc think they are faulty!

Then we move on to his obsession with my wife's breasts, after she reveals she had a minor operation as a child.

"Ah right, which jug was it m'love?"

"And do you have them checked regularly? No no no, not a mammogram, does he check em fer yer?" (looks at me and they both start laughing)

Then it's my turn - weight, height, no problem...he even has the good grace to skip over the revelations about my drinking habits....I probably wasn't totally truthful about the 6 pints and 15 glasses of wine a week but even this lesser amount I confessed on the form seemed excessive when you see it in black and white!

"Right young man....kit off.....oh my word, posh underpants!" (I'm thinking "It's like having a medical with Trinnie & Suzanne!)

"Okay kids...who wants to stick sharp needles in Dad?"

Until this point, they'd been sat quietly playing with a couple of toys but, all of a sudden, all hell breaks loose at the prospect of exsanguinating Dad - they are falling over each other to get there first and I'm beginning to thing "Jesus, he can't seriously be going to let the kids have a go?" Fortunately, he didn't but I'm sure I looked anaemic at that point! Mind you, he did let them watch whilst he took the blood. "See all that coming out? We use that to make Raspberry Ripple ice-cream for our tea"

Then he whips out his tape measure, and measures both my legs from hip to ankle and mutters "Hmm, same size...good job"

Turns out, "good job" meant 'a tidy piece of work', rather than 'fortunate' - he'd noticed I'd put on the form that I'd broken my leg a few years back and he was checking whether I had one leg shorter than the other. I still can't work out why that should be relevant but it is strangely reassuring to know that my legs are both the same length.

He was also very interested in an eye problem I'd had since birth (only one of them works) and told me to get an opticians report.

I have to say, all this leaves me wondering just how rigorous New Zealand Immigration criteria are. Seems to me that if you are a pirate, you're buggered - you'd trigger every alarm bell on the eye, dodgy leg - you've got no chance and that's before you even mention the parrot.

Nevertheless, not a bad day all in all - rather entertaining and a medical reassurance that Mrs Chipshaker's jugs are in fine fettle!

Uma tiraha, Turi whatia

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ships...? I see no ships!

So, I come home from work and find that the present Mrs Chipshaker has been surfing the net, looking for temporary rentals for us, and she's left some stuff on the 'puter for me to look at.

Now the subject of the Hibiscus Coast came up a few weeks back, but my thoughts were that it was waaaaaayyyyy too far to commute to the Auckland CBD. Seems that isn't a factor though, and if anyone is to be inconvenienced, it's most definitely me!

Mind you, I have to say, the little two bedroomed apartment she's found in Gulf Harbour does look I check the transport system out and you know what? It doesn't look too bad - the ferry sails out at 7.10am and back from Auckland at 5.35pm. Now I'm thinking....THAT'S the way to commute to work!!

Not to sure about the winter time though...can't see the Weetabix lying comfortably when a storm blows in!

A upa ne ka up ane

You shall be taken from this place and hanged by the neck...

Except I won't you hanged that is......because the police report came back today and confirmed that I am an upstanding citizen, with an unbesmirched character. Ten quid and a month's wait to find out what I already knew - I've never been caught! I could have told them that myself and saved me ten quid and the State a load of time and hassle.

Unlike Mrs Chipshaker of course - she submitted her report before mine and we are still waiting. Doffing my proverbial cap slightly to the late, great Jake Thackray, I'm beginning to wonder if Mrs C isn't big, bad, Norman, fifteen years on the run. Admittedly, her hands are big and hairy, and embellished with a curious tattoo. Her voice is on the deep side, and she shaves more often than other women do!

Anyway, next step on the Road to Rangi is the rigorous medical examinations next week. Not looking forward to that one bit. As if it's not bad enough worrying about the prospect of having some stranger shove their thumb up my backside, I'm beginning to thing it would be a good idea to give up the hooch for a few days beforehand, just to make sure my blood doesn't register an ABV percentage. Then again, at my time of life, and with all my experience, it could be dangerous putting my body through that kind of sudden trauma.

And urine samples? How does that work then? Whenever I've been to the GP, they just take one look at it, make sure there are no stringy bits or wriggly things in there, then chuck it down the sink. But these medicals are a bit special I'm thinking. Well, they'd bloody better be anyway, they are costing me £600!! I think as a minimum, they are duty bound to take a sip, gargle noisily and pronounce on the vintage. I suppose only time will tell........

Tenei te tangata puhuru huru

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thou shalt not sell........

So........after five days the estate agent who promised us a new way of marketing properties, based on internet listings on all the main UK property websites, has still failed to list anywhere other than on a small portal site used by a handful of independent agents around the country....and used significantly to list all of his properties.

But what's this, look carefully and you see that the portal site is owned by the same software company that powers his agency's personal site and provides all the market research software he proudly demonstrates in his sales pitch. Turns out, it's all his set up.

So, I do a bit more digging around and check out the agent listings on the two national websites he claims to use. Surprise surprise, after wading through pages and pages of agents, I can't find his company listed anywhere. So I called the very helpful people at one of the national websites, who go through their own agent listings and tell me they've never heard of him or his company.

Hmmm, interesting........might be worth asking him why he can't seem to list our property when all the other agents in the town have no trouble listing their clients' houses. So I call him. Apparently it's a software problem. Not his software problem, but a problem with the national websites, which apparently can't cope with his advanced software. There is no problem listing the property on the third site he mentions....but then why would there be? It's owned by the software company that he owns, which he uses to drive his own website. Nevertheless, he assures me they are working furiously to convince the national websites of their inadequate software, so that they can "reinstate" his listing. At this point, I thought it might be interesting to mention that one of the websites he claims to use has never heard of his company.

Now we change tack a little and he points out that it is unfair of me to direct the pressure I am facing on to him. So, it's not fair of my to question why he can't do the very thing he claims makes his business so different to competitors? It's different alright, I have to agree with that.

He points out that he doesn't like my comment that "I am concerned that, five days after he confirmed the successful upload, our property still isn't listed on the websites he'd promised". I'm puzzled by this, as it didn't strike me as a particularly inflammatory statement, merely an expression of concern. However, in the nicest possible way, I explained that I find it a little difficult to believe that his agency, which claims to specialise in maximising web-based techniques to sell houses, can sell my house if it isn't listing on the sites people use to find new houses. It seems I'm being a little unreasonable. Apparently, "the 'For Sale' board does all the work and the internet hasn't always been there you know". At this point, those of you who were paying attention will cast your minds back to the last blog entry....cul-de-sac? lack of passing traffic? Er, no, I struggle with that one a little too. Besides, in the days before the internet, didn't people use newspapers, and agency offices? (Neither of which he uses).

So then we move on to the next stage, where he very quickly suggests that he would be happy to tear up our contract, without enforcing the 14 day notice period. Seems reasonable to me, we'll go for that. Within the hour, the house disappears from his website, never to be seen again. That's very accommodating, at least I'm now free to list with "one of the other numpties that are out there" (his description of the conventional estate agents that seem to do revolutionary things like....list your house on the major property websites in the UK!)

Sadly, what also disappears with the listing on his website is the progress log that shows that he has uploaded our house three times on to a certain national website. Good job I thought to print off the progress log before making the phonecall that ultimately led to our house being deleted from his records. You never know when that information might be well as the letter accompanying the contract, which clearly states the websites he claims to list on.

Never before has the chilled bottle of white wine waiting in the fridge been more welcome

Ka ora! Ka ora!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Day why am I here?

So, why am I here then? Not in the Biblical sense of course, but why have I suddenly decided to write a blog? Well, back in August, I landed a couple of opportunities to ship the family out to New Zealand. Not on their own you understand, I'd be going with it seemed like a good idea to tell them.

They all took it fairly well, although the 4 year old is convinced it's a holiday. Technically, I suppose she's right, and who am I to mess with the mind of a four year old? Mind you, I'm not sure she can come to grips with why strangers are tramping around the house from time to time, looking in her bedroom.

Anyway, things have moved on apace now and we are off in January. It therefore seemed a good idea to start documenting the trials and tribulations that would invariably come along as we go through the process - selling the house, shipping our possession, making a 27 hour plane journey, turning up in a new country on the other side of the world, with no home, no car and not a lot else.......

So I guess the starting point is selling the house - what a nightmare that is turning into. We turned up this estate agent who offered what seemed to be a good proposition - a new way of selling houses, based predominantly on using the main property portals on the internet. For some reason, our property still isn't listed on the internet, some three days after it should be, but that's just a minor distraction I'm sure..

I'm being told not to worry, because we have a 'For Sale' sign up in the garden.....but I'm not sure I can get my head around that concept - we live in a cul-de-sac where the only passing traffic is a mixture of kids on skateboards and geriatrics out perambulating to make sure their plastic hips don't seize up. Obviously we get a few more people going past at weekends, but I'm not sure your average lager-bloated, pill popping chav is going to take much interest other than to sling his ale can in the garden and spit onto the kerbside. (Not that it's not a nice area - if any of you are interested in a four bedroomed, semi detached, it's a lovely area!)

Anyway, Mrs Chipshaker tells me I have to look on the bright side, because it will all come good in the end. So on that note, I was heartened to see that my 10 year old had been doing the homework I set him, and had memorised the first four lines of the Ka Mate Haka, complete with rather dubious movements and facial expressions (although I'm puzzled as to why he seems obsessed with the bit where you pass your hand backwards and forwards in front of your groin). He seems to be getting quite good at it too. He gave his four year old sister a demonstration yesterday and managed to get her to run away in floods of tears after one particularly effective rictus. Funny though, I never realised farting was an integral part of the performance......

Ka mate! Ka mate!