Successfully Dealing with Authority

A short post tonight and nothing to do with smoking.

It occurs from time to time that ‘the authorities’ cock-up, and, as a result, you are inconvenienced, and in a way that costs you financially. Just such an event occurred to me yesterday.

Herself is ‘seriously disabled’ by multiple sclerosis.  [Thankfully, her type of MS is a slow deterioration, and she seems to have plateaued. The biggest problem is that she cannot use her legs at all] Because of this, she is entitled to certain travel benefits. In her case, travel vouchers are the most useful. She is entitled to £120 worth of vouchers for £30 – no big deal, but well, it is a matter of fact that transport is expensive when you cannot use you legs. For example, it cost us £30 for a round trip to the dentist’s for her earlier this year.

In typical local authority fashion, obtaining these travel vouchers is as complicated as getting a passport. You have to be ‘a member’ of the ‘scheme’. You get a plastic card like a credit card, except that the card has an additional requirement of a photograph.

In February, we received a letter from Manchester Transport, or the Local Authority, or some combination of the two, telling us that her membership of the scheme expired on 31st March. Now, I am very good at reading such documents and understanding them, but this letter was odd. It only made sense if the renewal of her membership would be automatic unless her circumstances had changed. But, I must admit, that I have seen this sort of confusion in local authority documents before, and I really ought to have phoned a clarified the position. But ….. Well ….. What is more reasonable than to expect that the local authority knows what it is doing?

In early April, I phoned to get some travel vouchers. “Oh Dear,”, came the response, “Her membership has expired. We wrote to you about it etc”

“Well, Yes” said I, “But your letter said that she need do nothing (like sending proof of her condition) UNLESS she was a new applicant. There was no application form as such enclosed. I still have the letter.” “Oh …. Well, what we can do is send the letter again”.

There being no immediate need, I said OK. A few days later, a letter was received. Again, no application form was enclosed, so I phoned again. “Oh, sorry – we’ll send it to you” So we got the application form, which was almost as nonsensical as the original letter (“WE DO NOT NEED A LETTER FROM YOUR DOCTOR OR PROOF OF YOUR DISABILITY AS YET ……. but a statement of entitlement to x, y or z benefit will be required”) Erm …. What are the ‘statements’ of entitlement to x, y or z benefits other than proof of the disability? In other words, they said, “We do not need proof of your disability but we need proof of your disability”.

So I filled in the nonsensical form and sent in ‘proof of entitlement’ (with a few logical comments) and, after about ten days, got a new membership card.

So, about three weeks ago, I phone them to get the vouchers for this year, paying by debit card. I was told five to seven days. On 2nd July, my bank account was debited. I waited patiently. No signs of the vouchers. Sixteen days elapsed, and still no sign. So I phoned them again.

The young man that I spoke to told be that the vouchers were sent out on the 1st July. I told him that we had not received them, but I said that I would check again and phone back. So I thoroughly checked everything that we had received – no joy. Phoned back again and told the chap so.

“We will need your confirmation in writing before we can re-issue the vouchers”, he said.

I am sure that we are all familiar with ‘the red mist’. ‘The red mist’ is not really anger, although it is hard to stop it erupting into anger. I suppose that you could describe it as ‘cognitive dissonance’, if you wish. But it seems to me to be some sort of conflict between emotion and rationality. The guy said, “We need written confirmation…..” without emotional imput. But we, on the receiving end of the demand, have done nothing wrong. IE, we have done nothing which is emotionally ‘naughty’, nor have we ‘made a mistake’. The implication is that the local authority cannot possibly have done anything wrong. That is what brings on ‘the red mist’.

‘The Red Mist’ makes you shake with suppressed emotion. There is anxiety in there as well as conflict, and what makes things worse is that your ‘enemy’ seems to be inhuman. It seems to be a robot.

Often, it is a matter of luck whether or not you arrive at the right ‘form of words’ which can break down the edifice of roboticism.  In this case, I managed to do so.

I gave ‘Tom’ (not his real name) an alternative – either send out the replacement vouchers TODAY, or refund my payment TODAY. That seems to have set the cat among the pigeons.  His personal certainty of his position collapsed. He did not know what to say. I further increased the pressure by saying that, when he said that he COULD NOT replace the vouchers, what he actually meant was that he WOULD NOT replace them.

Anyway, I got to speak to his boss – and the answer was simple and satisfactory. She asked me to send her an email, which I did, and I received a reply half an hour later that the vouchers were on their way.

Of course, it is always possible that the vouchers will not arrive.


But there is another emotional extension, which is ‘feelings of guilt’.

After all the blather, and later on, I went for my usual Friday night beer. For some reason or other, a visualisation came into my mind. I remembered taking travel vouchers out of the envelope in which they came and checking them. I could not believe it. I even, vaguely, remembered putting them in the folder where I keep such things. I managed to restrain myself and enjoy the rest of the evening at the pub. When I got home, in fear and trepidation, I check the folder.

There were no vouchers in the folder. THANK GOD! It was not the possibility that I might have to eat humble pie (because I would certainly have emailed the boss and apologised), it was the possibility that I was becoming senile. I really mean it! Ordering the vouchers after all the trouble of the membership thing, waiting for them to arrive, receiving them and then absolutely totally forgetting that one had received them, and them creating ‘trouble’. That is senility, or nearly so. Well, I am 75. My memories of opening an envelope must have come from a previous occasion. There is nothing wrong with that because we do it all the time. We mix up the  timescales (and the facts) of our memories.


‘Experts’ in Tobacco Control know all about human psychology. They know that our memories do not really have timescales.  Our memories reproduce pictures, words and feelings. We have to deduce, using our ability to reason, to what times our memories refer. Thus, I remember a firework exploding in my pocket when I was a child. My memory includes my childish state, but not my age at the time. I have to deduce my age at the time by reference to other happenings around that time. Thus, we moved house when I was not less than 4 yro and not more than 9 yro. Therefore, the incident must have occurred between my age of 4 and 9, because we moved after the incident.


Even as adults, we tend to live ‘day by day’, even if we do plan ahead. I should imagine that very, very few of us plan our whole lives from beginning to end. But is that not precisely (and I mean ‘precisely’) what the Healthists demand?

Taking this idea to its reasonable limit, there is a generalisation which is true, which involves a simple ‘Yes/No’ – Does an individual person have the right to indulge in heroin or not? There can only be one answer, which is that he does have that right. If that means that he is gradually committing suicide, so be it – it is his decision. Does that mean that the NHS has to pick up the tab? Well ….Yes and No.

“Thou shall not kill.

Nor need thou strive,


to keep alive”


Dealing with ‘Authority’ requires clarity of thinking, perseverance and demands that they do whatever to correct the situation which they have created. Thus, in the simplest terms, the ‘Authorities’ MUST repeal the Smoking Ban, if only because it is based upon emotion and is irrational.




4 Responses to “Successfully Dealing with Authority”

  1. nisakiman Says:

    Off topic here, but I wondered if you’d seen this news item:

    A US court has ordered the country’s second largest cigarette company to pay $23.6 billion (£13.8bn) to the wife of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

    R J Reynolds are appealing (unsurprisingly, given the size of the payout), but I wonder if they or their legal team are aware of of the McTear case. One wonders how that would play in the American courts if it were to be cited, given the partisanship of the US judiciary.

    • junican Says:

      The McTear Case is not a case which the US legal system would accept as precedent, but even so, I have seen US cases quoted in British Courts.
      I think that the US justice system is corrupt. Reynolds ought to appeal the decision in its entirety, regardless of the size of the payout.

      • garyk30 Says:

        McTear was decided by a judge.
        This award was by a jury.
        Juries are not as sensible and are easily swayed by emotion, facts and common sense be damned.

      • junican Says:

        I’d forgotten about the part played by juries in the USA civil case system. That system lends itself to long appeal processes, doesn’t it, since precedents and logic fly out of the window if a jury can just decide on the basis of emotions and such.

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