Vote Now: Infuriatingly Cornish, or Lamentably London?

This is Cornwall, where my parents live.

This is London, where I live. Image by Kashfi Halford, on Flickr Commons)

It’s time for today’s thought on perspective.  Let me preface this post by saying I love holidaying in Cornwall.  I’m on holiday, so I don’t care whether things go according to plan.

My parents decided to have a clear-out to make room for all the new product symptoms of my mother’s shopping compulsion.  Usually, this means some stuff comes my way, and now I’ve got an entire house to fill I’m grateful for useful things.

But: problem!  The useful things were too big to fit in my parents’ microscopic vehicle, or in Vernon the slightly-bigger-but-still-not-SUV Ford Focus.  Solution!  Pay someone to deliver a couple of things from Cornwall next time they are in London.  It’s about 300 miles.  There must be firms who will do that for a reasonable price, right?  Yes.

I left investigation and organisation in my father’s hands, which was a mistake.  I tell you, there are reasons I struggle with delegation.  If you want something done properly don’t ask a too-busy borderline-elderly soused-up old codger who is more interested in the characteristics of his daily bowel-movement to do it.

So it was all booked, I was informed.  I would merely need to be present in my abode to receive delivery.  Then the question of when reared its ugly head.  Monday afternoon, or possibly Tuesday.

A delivery window that wide is not ideal.  I banked on the fact that things in Cornwall tend to operate at a more leisurely pace, arranged to work at home on Tuesday.  On my father’s recommendation call the removal company on Monday to make sure the payload hasn’t been accidentally scheduled for delivery to outer Mongolia, and to try and pin down a day.  I can’t call, said my father, I am going to Fartstown, Dumpsville tomorrow for a week.  But I heard a rumour it might be Wednesday.

Well.  During said telephone conversation I was informed that delivery was scheduled for this week.  I laughed out loud, and informed the voice on the other end of the wire that I couldn’t be expected to sit around twiddling my thumbs at home all week.  I have a job to go to.   I could hear her thinking that I was an arsey fuck from the big city and I should climb down.

The voice asserted that people have different working environments and that some bosses don’t mind if you need to go and pick up your girlfriend from the train station and then go and get a road-tax disc.  Or something.  I informed her that while some lucky people might live in a world where their office is at the end of their road and their boss is permanently asleep under the desk, t’aint common in London.  Things be different in this part of the world: professional, like.  There’s no surfing at lunchtime here.  I cannot just POP home since my office is nearly an hour and half from my home.

The voice lectured about the logistical problems of delivering part-loads and the apparently frequent need to screw people over at the last available moment according to the needs of the company’s management.  In my mind, statements churned: stop acting like you’re doing me a favour, and I don’t care what the eventual profit-margin of this particular delivery is.    My mouth spoke words to the effect that I can be flexible but I’m going to need a single-day window of time far enough in advance that I can make arrangements.

Perhaps my neighbour could take delivery, the voice suggested.  Yes, I rejoined, if they happen to be around, they probably could.  But they might! also! be! at! work! during the daytime in the middle of the week.  I’m starting to come over all depressive-capitalist.

Now, in Cornwall it’s common to just show up next door and ask your neighbour to put themselves to significant inconvenience because a company’s customer service comes at the bottom of their priorities, after finding out who used the last office tea-bag.  Where I’m from, it’s just not done.  The jury’s out on whether that’s a good thing.

Someone would call me back.  Nobody did.  You can all pick yourselves up off the ground.

I called again today, and I’m pretty sure the male voice on the end of the phone was drunk.  Or very, very old and lacking some key mental faculties.  He couldn’t pin down what day of the week my delivery would take place but told me it will probably be tomorrow afternoon.  I offered Friday, another day when I can work at home if need be.  No, that’s no good TO THEM.  We came to an arrangement which isn’t to my satisfaction but at this point I can’t bear another conversation about it.

This juxtaposition of two different approaches to life got me thinking.  Questions arise as to which way is better.  And that depends how you define better.

So here’s the question: is this situation infuriatingly Cornish, or lamentably London?  Would you prefer life to be so slowly-paced and flexible that nothing ever gets done as it should.  Or are you a proponent of the rush rush efficiency expectation of professionalism?

Employment is difficult to come by in Cornwall, for a range of reasons.  Perhaps one of those reasons is that the Cornish find it difficult to relate to the sphere in which the rest of the UK operates and in today’s economy when heads butt, as they must, the Cornish lose out.  The question is whether they are the minority who really see this thing life in the right perspective.  Is it the rest of us who have it all wrong?

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7 Responses to “Vote Now: Infuriatingly Cornish, or Lamentably London?”


  1. 1 Ashley July 20, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Hmm. I’m not sure we can say that either is right or wrong. Whether one is right or wrong, certainly there will be people who prefer things to be one way or the other. Maybe it’s *right* to be businesslike and efficient, but if you’d prefer to live the Cornish way, why should that be considered wrong?

    I think, though, that if this company wants to do business in London with Londoners, they need to be flexible and work with London standards. The same way a London company should do when trying to get business in Cornwall. They could very well have told your Dad that they only provide deliveries ___ far outside of Cornwall, which wouldn’t include London. If they want London money, they should provide London service.

    Then again, if they aren’t providing London service, why provide them London money? I guess that’s the problem – the service is for a Londoner but they’re being paid by someone in Cornwall. Or wait – are you paying? If so, I’d bite the bullet and do you own research/reservations so that you could get the company you want.

    THEN AGAIN, at least here in the U.S., moving companies are notoriously bad with service and timelines. This story doesn’t sound Cornwallish to me – it sounds like every moving company I’ve ever heard about.

  2. 2 Jenn @ Juggling Life July 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I’m not sure if it’s a matter of whose way is best, the bottom line is that most of the industrialized world operates London-style. At least if they want to make money they do!

  3. 3 lane July 20, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    As much as I am also not a fan of crazy-crazy everything has to happen RIGHTNOW city life, I really despise giving my money to people who can’t even feign the slightest hint of enthusiasm. I don’t ask that they love their job, I just ask that they actually want my business. If a company acts like they can’t be bothered, then I certainly can’t be bothered to pay them. We ran across this attitude quite a bit in Nelson and it got really frustrating.

  4. 4 Naomi B. July 21, 2010 at 12:03 am

    While I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants and perhaps meander my way through a day off, I work in an environment where we have to get things done and provide a service to our patrons in generally less than 20 minutes. There are steps to follow, precautions to take, checks and double checks before they are served.
    It is infuriating service no matter where you are to not have a specific window and have the person/delivery show up when expected. I can’t imagine that in Cornwall if someone is expecting to have something delivered that they want to have to stay home all week just in case it arrives. And what if you don’t know your neighbors yet? You just go ahead and ask someone you don’t know to let delivery people you don’t know into your home while you are not there? You are expected to leave these strange people a key- if they are going to be around? Crazy!

  5. 5 unmitigated me (m.a.w.) July 21, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Perhaps they can also provide a Cornish house-sitter to be at your place for the delivery? While they wait, they can be on the phone making arrangements for the eventual delivery of some COURTESY for the company!

  6. 6 lucylastic July 21, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I’m with you! They’re not doing you a favour – they’re meant to be providing a service. Just hope a) the wait is worth it and b) you haven’t changed your mind about how much you really want your parent’s cast-offs anyway when they finally arrive!!! I made that mistake with a lamp once…….. ;-)

  7. 7 Stacie July 25, 2010 at 3:30 am

    I haven’t read your blog in a while (or anyone’s for that matter), but I’m taking a little internet time tonight. I loved this piece – as sharp and hilarious as your writing is, you also make a very good point, something that I’m also struggling with.

    My two ends of the spectrum are Angola, which has the typical African SLOW pace of life, to the point making you want to pull out your hair in frustration (much as you described in Cornwall, but with far worse scenery). Then there is Houston, where it’s nonstop activity 24/7 but there is still never enough time to accomplish everything. Somewhere, there has got to be a balance.


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