Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stella, pensions and ghostly libraries

I spoke to Stella yesterday morning and she seemed much cheerier, though her heartbeat was still quite irregular. Today she has been zapped, in the hope of bringing it back to regularity. Tony and Lindsey both report that it has only been partially successful, but that the heart rate is better and that she is feeling a bit better. I *think* they are hoping that she will move into a rehab unit sometime over the next few days.

Do you know - I'm not sure that they have rehab units here. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone going into one. At least, not on the NHS. Must investigate.

(Seems that they do, though they appear to be mostly for stroke patients. Will investigate further. Although - I suppose one of the family medics might know. I shall ask one of them).

I don’t know how many of us know this, but the British government has some incentives for people to defer claiming their state pension when they reach pension eligibility age. Amongst these are claiming a slightly larger monthly pension when you do claim it, or, providing you defer it for a minimum of 12 months, calling in a lump sum with interest. When The Builder reached 65 he arranged to defer his on the grounds that he was still working and that a lump sum might be handy in the future. He decided to claim it after twelve months. You can, if you are minded and financially able, defer it again later.

Back in March, I mused that I was a bit surprised that he hadn’t had any paperwork from the Pensions People asking what his intentions were. And that it would be quite handy to have a bit of extra money while we were pootling about in Australia and Japan. He rang them up. No worries, said they. We’ll fix it. Ring us back in a couple of weeks just to set it all in motion.

So he did.

Huh? said the chap he spoke to. That’s not how it works. You need to fill in a couple of forms. I’ll send them to you. Get them back to me and I’ll make sure you get your money for just after your birthday.

So he did. And off we went to Australia, armed with my credit card, rather than The Builder’s money.

Birthday came and went. No money. Japan came and went. Still no money. Got home, to find a letter from the Pensions people saying that his State Pension would start being paid on a particular date, at such and such a rate. We blithely assumed that the lump sum payment would go in then.

As if!!

He rang the Pensions People. Oh no, they said. That’s not how it works. We can’t calculate how much we owe you until your pension is first paid into your account. It will take six weeks after that. Deep, deep sigh

The first pension payment appeared.

We waited six weeks.

No money!

Thereafter followed a period during which The Builder rang the Pensions People on a weekly basis, with absolutely no result. Until, out of the blue, some more forms appeared.

He filled them in, signed them and sent them back.

No money resulted.

He rang and yelled again. And was told that his money had been paid in the previous day. The following day, a letter appeared telling him the money was on its way.

Nearly one week after that – the money APPEARED in his bank. A mere 4 months and gadzillion phone calls later!!!

Somehow, I don’t think he will be deferring it ever, ever, ever again!

Level 2 of the Adsetts Centre looks like a ghost library today :-( Nearly all the furniture has gone away. Large swathes of it are roped off. Some of the book shelves are empty of books. There are dead bits of furniture and stray bits of rubbish. There is nobody in our office except me today. Richard and Hilja are in the office next door, but the rest of the floor is empty of humans. It’s like the last scenes in On The Beach! I think Richard, Hilja and I should move somewhere more life-infested, lest we be swallowed up too!

Actually, I have. I’m on the (strangely busy, to say there are so few students about) Level 5 desk. Where there are the disconcerting sounds of sawing, drilling and hammering. It sounds remarkably as though someone is trying to tunnel out of the wall behind me.

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