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Back again….and still ranting!

Back again….and still ranting!

Took some time off last week to recharge the batteries and soak up some sunshine away from the rest of the world. Very relaxing it was too, once we got there; it was the bit between leaving the house and getting to the apartment that caused the grief.

Two factors conspired to make the journey less relaxing than it should have been; the ministrations of a certain Irish airline and the facilities of Bristol Unintentional Airport.

The airline is very proud to call themselves the “Low Cost” airline. What they don’t tell you is that means low cost to them, not you. Every step in the process of booking the flight to getting off the plane at your destination has been brilliantly engineered to save them as much effort and money as possible. So you end up standing in interminable queues to check in bags (with the best will in the world I struggle to get a week’s packing into my carry-on hand luggage and She Who Must Be Obeyed certainly can’t). You have to get to the most distant (and hence cheapest) gate possible at the most inconvenient flight times. Once there you stand in another queue to get on the plane, usually waiting for the incoming flight to unload its passengers so as not to waste any time when the plane is ready. Two hours at the airport and no chance for even a cup of coffee, much less some pre-flight drinkies

And, most irritatingly, all you hear over the loud shouters and in the in-flight magazine is how well they do in all the surveys, how few bags they lose, how few complaints they get (possibly because we’re not stupid enough to think they’ll take any notice if we do complain so we don’t bother) and how good their timekeeping is. So why were we 30 minutes late then…

As for Bristol Unintentional. I’m fairly well-travelled and as far as I’m concerned it rates as being about the least convenient one I’ve ever used (and that includes the one in Zanzibar). You kind of get used to paying to use the drop-off car park since they closed the front of the terminal building to everything bar their own taxis. You have to pay to use the trolleys; most places give you the money back when you return them, but not Bristol, In fact there is nowhere to return them to, so they usually get abandoned in the departures hall and the car parks. They’ve taken most of the seats out of the departures lounge to expand the Duty Free shop (which isn’t duty free anyway, come to that). And now, “for your comfort and convenience” they’ve scrapped the buses that take you to the more distant gates; instead you have a 450 metre walk along endless corridors and stairways with nary an escalator, moving walkway or lift in sight.

And all the time, you’re being told this is all for your own benefit. Yeah right…

So then I get back to the real world this week and have a read of a paper HMRC have submitted to the IR35 Forum to establish the scope of who is and who isn’t caught under IR35. Sadly, they seem to suffer the same level of doublethink; compare the level of understanding demonstrated in the paper to the realities of what the IR35 Forum is trying to achieve and there is a yawning chasm between the two. For one thing, it’s headed “Customer Segmentation”. Sorry, but I am not your customer, HMRC, for a start. Also taxation is simple, according to that nice lady in the adverts; how does segmenting the taxpaying population lead to simplification then? The paper was rejected and is being redrafted apparently, which will be interesting.

Meanwhile I’ve vowed never to use a certain Irish airline ever again. Such a shame I can’t do the same with HMRC.

About the author: Alan Watts

Alan has worked in IT for most of the last 35 years, and first went freelance in 1996. He has been a PCG member from its start and has been spreading the message that freelancing is a professional career choice for many years. Alan also runs Malvolio’s Blog, a personal but highly informative take on the life of the modern freelance.

Alan Watts, Principal Consultant, LPW Computer Services

© 2011 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited

Image: Cartoon: Big Data by Space & Light

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