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Member since:01.01.1970

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Please Phone This Clueless Alpha Male, Alicia!

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18.01.2002 (22.02.2006)

Advantages:
Useful for Conducting Holiday Romances

Disadvantages:
Lack of Decent Relatives to Phone

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Line Quality

Customer service quality

Tariffs & Charges

Range of services (call waiting, etc)

Value for money

Customer service waiting timesShort

Accuracy of ChargesExcellent

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ORIGINALLY WRITTEN January 2002

INTRODUCTION

Many foreign professionals and even asylum seekers come to the UK thinking it is the land of milk and honey. It isn't.

After a few months in this country their minds wonder back to their homeland and they start thinking about their friends and family.

Writing letters would alleviate this loneliness. But nothing beats the sound of the voice of a friend or relative. BT international call charges were extortionate. So the introduction of low cost phone companies a few years ago has been most welcome.


A SHORT HISTORY OF LOW COST PHONE COMPANIES

My father came to the UK in the late 1950s to add to his medical qualifications. At that time there was a chronic shortage of doctors in the NHS and there were plenty of jobs available.

My father kept in touch with his family back in India via letters. International telephone calls were then very expensive. What made things impossible were that his relatives had no telephones at home.

Eventually in the early 1980s my relatives in India managed to acquire an archaic telephone. There was a company in Bradford which offered cut price calls. My father got through at the 10th attempt to his relatives.

Low cost phone companies came into existence here in 1994. The first company we signed up with was Swiftcall. We had to prepay for the phone calls via credit card. VAT was also added to the prepayment. Calls to India then cost 60p per minute.

The next company we signed up with was Callmate who offered a cheaper rate and no VAT to the pre-payment.

When I moved back to London I tried Cherry Communications. The problem with Cherry was that the calls were not pre-paid. This meant getting a heart attack every time the bill came through the letterbox. I think that later Cherry Communications went out of business.

Since Cherry our main low cost telephone operator has been Universal Communications (Unicom). The service over the past 5 years has been fine. But recently the customer service staff having been messing us and other customers around.


ALPHA THE FIRST TIME AROUND

I remember reading an advert in the London Evening Standard about Alpha Telecom in 1996. The advert said that calls to India were 26p/minute. This was amazing, as the call charge to India using Unicom was 37p/minute.

Like a prat I immediately signed up to Alpha Telecom. When I registered I was given loads of documentation. One of the leaflets said that the call charge to India was 37p/minute. I got on the phone to Alpha and they said that the newspaper advert was only an introductory offer.

I never used Alpha again until…


ALPHA AGAIN

Last August my uncle told me that he used Alpha Telecom. My uncle is probably the most social person I know. During the week at least 2 families stay with him. At weekends he visits friends all over the country. So he knows what he is talking about.

My father and uncle have not spoken since 1989. Both are in their late 60s and their behaviour is rather childish.

Around this time Unicom started messing us around. Due to problems with the software, money was taken from our account without a phone call being made. Normally this lost money is refunded. But Unicom started a stupid scheme where only large amounts would be refunded.

The money in our account is our money. It seemed scandalous not to refund money, which was lost through no fault of our own. Luckily other customers felt the same way and made their feelings known. A couple of weeks later Unicom refunded all lost money.

I suspected that all was not well at Unicom for them to be haggling over small amounts of money. So I decided to try out Alpha Telecom whilst still keeping Unicom on trial.


JOINING ALPHA

Joining Alpha Telecom was quite easy.

I simply went to the web site at www.alphatelecom.co.uk and e-mailed them for an application form.

The form was straightforward to fill in. The fields were method of payment, password, personal details etc.

The postal address is remarkably: FREEPOST ALPHA TELECOM (must be in capital letters).

The pack came about 2 weeks later with several leaflets.


USAGE

I was given an account number to go with a chosen pin.

I simply dialled a freephone access number, entered my account number and pin. Once accepted I simply dialled the international number and began speaking.

It is as easy as that.


CALL LINE IDENTITY

Regularly entering the account number and pin can be a bit of a pain.

Fortunately there is a facility called Call Line Identity or CLI. This meant that the account number and pin did not have to be entered. Once registered with CLI I simply dialled 1833 followed by the international number.

I wanted CLI when I filled in the application form. But it would not work straight away. But a call to customer services quickly solved the problem.


TOPPING UP YOUR ACCOUNT

One way of topping up your account is by calling customer services and giving them your credit/debit details and the amount to be added to your account.

Another way is by using the Quick Pay service. This is simply an automated call handling system. This method is quick and easy.

You can also top-up you account via the Internet. But I have not used this method.

The minimum top up is £15.


CALL RATES

I am only interested in call rates to India. But I know that calls to other countries are available. These are some of the call rates taken straight from the impressive leaflet provided on registration.

Country: Price/minute

Australia 4p
Bangladesh 35p
Canada 4p
Denmark 4p
Egypt 25p
France 4p
Germany 3p
Hong Kong 7p
India 32p
Jamaica 33p
Kenya 35p
Luxembourg 12p
Malta 12p
New Zealand 4p
Oman 55p
Pakistan 35p
Qatar 32p
Romania 26p
South Africa 14p
Turkey 15p
USA 4p
Venezuela 33p
Yugoslavia 19p
Zimbabwe 12p

One thing I never understand is that the call charges to India are much higher than to New Zealand even though India is nearer the UK geographically.


REFUNDS

One annoying feature of low cost phone companies is that often money disappeared from my account even though no phone call was made or the line was busy.

The customer service staff at Alpha is generally helpful in this respect and any lost money was refunded within a few days. But some of them did look down on us as if to say how dare we ask for a refund.

Normally the money loss is due to some faulty software. Hopefully the system will be better in the future.

I have earlier mentioned how Unicom would not refund small amounts of money lost. This almost led to us closing down the account. I am sure other customers felt the same way.


GETTING THROUGH

The busiest times for calls are at weekends and on Bank Holidays. It also depends on the weather. If it is colder more people stay at home and make international phone calls.

It can be frustrating to keep on trying without being able to get through.

But we have experienced no problems getting through during the week.


TELECOM SHARES

I was one of those investors tempted by telecom shares a couple of years ago. But I did not buy any after my experiences with Vodafone.

I phoned the customer service centre to top up my pre-paid account for my mobile phone and gave my debit card details. The customer service lady misheard my expiry date and said that my card was not valid. I was going to say that I would not be stupid enough to use an old card to top up my account.

I felt cheesed off with Vodafone and did not buy any telecom shares. A few family friends invested in Kingston Communications, which hit £17 before diving to £1 at present.

But the telecom sector is the second largest sector and worth investing in. I think the best way to go forward is via a telecom tracker fund.


E-MAIL

I have found that e-mail is the best way of communicating with anyone. I say everything I have to without stammering and the cost is cheap.

I was pleased when some of my cousins in India had acquired e-mail addresses last year. But we only corresponded for 4 months.

There are great differences between my western and my cousins' eastern mentalities. Every year my cousins become more mature and serious. I am still the same old Paul i.e. watching cartoons, sports programmes, eating junk food, listening to pop music etc.

I think that my cousins are fed up with my immaturity.


PHONE CARDS

An alternative to having a low cost phone account is to use phone cards. These cards can cost up to £10 or £20 at a time.

These cards offer very cheap international calls. But sometimes the cost per call is much more expensive than that advertised. Occasionally the cards do not work at all.

I have not used these cards and cannot really comment. But in London these phone cards can be purchased from selected newsagents.


FINAL THOUGHTS

A couple of weeks ago I saw Alpha Telecom being advertised on ITV1. This means that its business is fairly healthy.

Really given the number of people who make international calls there are too many low cost telephone operators. Several companies have gone out of business.

But this can be a lucrative business to be in. This product can target large ethnic groups such as the Indian or the Chinese community for example.

I was pretty impressed by Alpha Telecom. I hope the call charges will be lower in the future due to better technology and business competition.

I must apologise for not keeping up to date with opinions written by my Circle of Trust. I am struggling to reply to all the comments made on my own opinions. These comments are really appreciated and boost my fragile confidence.

I hope this opinion made interesting reading. It's good to talk.


UPDATED January 2003


IMPROVED QUALITY OF LINE

I rarely speak to my relatives in India so cannot make a proper judgement on the quality of the phone line. But my wife speaks regularly to her relatives. She said that the quality of the phone line is much improved and is very good now.


ALPHA EAST

My myisp.co.uk e-mail server conked out just before Xmas. So I had to go to a few sites changing my e-mail address.

After changing my e-mail address on the Alpha Telecom site, I noticed an advert for Alpha East. Basically if you signed up to Alpha East then calls could be made at reduced rates to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

We rang to join up and it took about 4 days for everything to be complete. Now calls to India cost 20p/min as opposed to 32p/min.

I just wish that Alpha Telecom had told us about Alpha East earlier. It was just by chance that I found out about it.

Back in 1995 calls to India via Swiftcall cost 60p/min + VAT. Prices have since dropped by 66%. Long may this continue.


UPDATED December 2004


PREAMBLE ABOUT MY CIAO OPS

The beauty of Ciao ops is that you can update them aeons after writing the original op. 'Which' magazine does a more professional job but sometimes it is better to follow Joe Public than professional journos.

My ops have often been criticised for being verbose with unnecessary detail. This is done deliberately. Back in the 1970s I loved 'The 2 Ronnies'. I used to fantasise about Madame Cockotte. I also loved the long joke told by Ronnie Corbett as he sat on a chair. The joke itself was very short but he interspersed several other jokes, which made the original joke funnier than it should have been. So he can be indirectly blamed for my tedious ops!

A few days after returning to the UK as a newly married man Ronnie Corbett appeared on the TV. I thought I would show off to my new wife by quoting some trivia about him. I ended up with egg on my face as she had regularly seen him on Kolkata TV. The pleasure of the hen night soon turned into the pain of the hen peck! Still one day Tim will win Wimbledon. Ronnie C has proved that size does not matter.

I have also been criticised for complaining too much in my ops. My former IT background is to blame for this. I used to code computer programs of roughly 1000 lines long each with about 80 characters. After compilation the number of errors in the code is displayed. It was hell trying to reduce the number of errors within the required unrealistic deadline. Therefore my reviews often pedantically go through the product with a fine toothcomb.


ALPHA - STILL EXCELLENT AS EVER

Since I wrote the original op Alpha has improved its service over time. Even by delving into minutiae there is nothing to criticise.

We joined the Asia Plus tariff, which gave reduced rates for calls to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. E-mails from Alpha are regularly sent to my in-box. Their postal address is even freepost. Alpha has started its own landline service with a fixed monthly rate of roughly GBP 9.99 monthly. Prices are competitive and line quality and customer services are very good. Ultimately it is market forces, which determine call charges.


PHONECARDS

Most of the local shops sell phonecards to many overseas countries. Some specialise in certain regions such as Africa, the Balkans etc. Call prices now even vary to different cities in the same country e.g. calls to Mumbai are cheaper than to Kolkata.

Some phonecards are cheaper than Alpha but it is a matter of sorting the wheat from the chaff. The main problem with the cards is obtaining a refund with faulty cards. Most of the local shops will refuse to give a refund if the phonecard malfunctions. The shops have prominent signs on the outside saying that all complaints should be dealt directly with the phonecard company and not the shop. This puts the element of doubt in the mind whether or not the phonecard I would purchase would work at all.

Surely the Sale of Goods Act applies here. If I bought some faulty batteries from Argos e.g. I would go to the store for a refund. I would not be expected to phone Ever Ready or whoever for a refund. I am not sure whether Ofcom regulates the phonecard industry or not.


OTHER TELCOS

I was amazed to learn from the excellent 'Working Lunch' business show that there are over 300 telecom companies (telcos) in existence. But market forces dictate that some may fold and others may merge with others. I think that Tele2 purchased Alpha some time ago.

The competition for customers has seen international call prices plummet over the past decade. Fortunately my wife can speak to her relatives more regularly than in the past. Too regularly for my bank manager's liking!

A few months ago I came across an excellent site www.moneysavingexpert.com. This site was ideal for someone like me who is a curmurdeon and a discount addict. All the latest best buys of a variety of products are displayed here. A weekly e-mail is to my in-box. The founder of the site has appeared on Radio Five Live, Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show and on ITV's Tonight with Trevor Macdonald.

There is a comparison chart for the best low cost international cost carriers. Some Swiss telecom direct dial companies are cheaper than Alpha. I have now switched to these although I still have my Alpha account.

I have a paranoia of my phone calls being monitored by people unknown. I wrote about this in more detail in my Unicom op. My phone conversations mainly revolve around sport, pop music and celebrity gossip. Not much has changed since my childhood then. For the record the most seductive celebrity voice belongs to Radio Five Live's 'Garv'. Time now to throw a bucket of ice-cold water over me!


FUTURE OF TELECOMS

The price of overseas calls has plummeted due to increasing demand and better technology. It is possible to phone abroad for free via the Internet provided both speakers have headphones and a PC. A few broadband providers are also offering free calls for a year to tempt subscribers. More people are using mobiles. I just hate it when a mobile goes off in the middle of a crowded tube.

If technology progresses at its current rate landline connections may be less frequently used. The likes of BT may be priced out of the market. This bodes well for prattlers like me. My longest phone call lasted 3 hours to my father over 14 years ago.


DEUTSCHLAND DEUTSHLAND UBER ALLES

Only my parents and maternal uncle from our family in India have crossed Sangatte and settled here. My father's distant cousin also lives here. I wish that my parents had told me about his daughter's wedding a couple of years ago. No one tells me anything. As an only child I have no idea about sibling rivalry.

A few years ago my father's sister's son moved to from Krishnanager, West Bengal to Saarbrucken, Germany. I cannot disclose the large electronics company that he worked for. A clue lies in a former England goalkeeper with a spunky ponytail. He runs his own quiz team on TV. He made only 2 mistakes in his career! He regularly has tea with the Queen. He has the best seat on Wimbledon Centre Court. He is rich enough to pay someone to wash his car. His autobiography revealed that he fancied Caprice although he has never scored for Arsenal.

My cousin soon e-mailed me after arriving in Germany. He said that India was far superior to Germany. He wanted a photo of my wife but got angry when I attached my photo instead! I did attach my wife's photo in the next e-mail. Interestingly he did not send his or his wife's photos to me. British Asians like to give whereas Indian Asians like only to receive and steal if they can get away with it.

My cousin gloated over India's superior cricket team to England's. He rubbed salt in the wound by saying that Graeme Hick was his favourite England player. I should have retaliated that England would beat India at football provided the left-sided problem was sorted. No pundit has suggested that Loos and Alam would fill the void! I would like to see Alan Thompson of Celtic given a chance. His freekicks for Bolton always caught the eye.

My cousin also had the same feelings about his mother as me about my father. They could be mistaken as brother and sister! The e-mails stopped after a few months. My cousin never spoke to me on the phone despite the low call charges from Germany. During one of my stressful visits to Bates Motel, Hull he did ring my parents but ended the call after my mother passed a coded message to him. She did likewise when my uncle also rang her. Knowledge is power. You can choose your fantasies but not your family. I did remember that the suffix of my cousin's e-mail was 'gmx'.

When I think of Germany, Ciao is my initial thought. This is followed by the actress Kelly Trump. She has better feet than Claudia Schiffer!


WE ARE FAMILY

My dysfunctional family makes the Munsters and the Addams family seem quite normal.

Both of my parents have x brothers and y sisters back in West Bengal. The family is larger than the Osmonds clan. As I was growing up my parents divulged nothing to me about their family. Relatives were hatched, matched and dispatched without my knowledge. Their attitude was that I should concentrate solely on studying to become a doctor and nothing else. I thus became detached from reality. I found solace in celebrity gossip instead. About 13 years ago a cousin asked me in Kolkata what I thought of her as I was growing up. I replied that until a couple of days ago I did not know that she existed!

At Bates Motel, Hull my mother sprinted towards the letterbox whenever she heard the postman. She used to open my mail, which increased my paranoia. She also wanted to grab any letters from India and hide them to avoid my Spanish inquisition. Nowadays I am not really bothered about her relatives who are mostly hawkers anyway.

At Durga Puja last year I rang Kolkata to give my Puja greetings to my relatives. One of my auntie's picked up the phone and began a conversation with me. Immediately my grandmother informed her that my mother had said not to give me any gossip whatsoever in case I rang. So my auntie reluctantly passed the receiver to my grandmother who faked deafness perfectly. I got my own back earlier this year when I conveniently forgot to see my blood relatives during a fantastic holiday in the City of Joy. Revenge was sweet as a rasgullah!


LOW COST PHONE COMPANIES E-MAIL SCAM

E-mails have been a brilliant innovation over the past decade. It has enabled very quick communication between friends and relatives in different countries. My parents have 2 e-mail addresses. One for me to communicate with them and another one for their perfect relatives to do likewise. To quote Kipling east is east and west is west and never shall the two of them meet. He does cook exceedingly good cakes though. I am not bothered about my relatively illiterate mosquitoes as I am more interested in Lucy & Michelle from Nuts magazine!

Unfortunately there are a number of e-mail scammers who always put a spanner in the works. My in-box has contained Nigerian gold promises, unsubscribing instructions to sites I have never subscribed to, Spam from Yahoo users, get rich quick schemes and even promises to improve my wellbeing. Lucy & Michelle cater for the latter!

Unfortunately I have been a victim of phishing i.e. receiving a fake e-mail from a bona fide company. When I purchased this Packard Bell I signed up with Freeserve ISP which is probably the best around. Later on I also signed up with the Myisp, Mutual.net and Totalise ISP's in order to obtain free shares. The best things in life are free. Freeserve, now called Wanadoo, sent monthly newsletters to my in-box.

A couple of years ago I started receiving suspicious e-mails purportedly from Freeserve. They offered Freeserve customers very very cheap calls from telephone companies such as pd-dial.com. The first e-mail introduced the new service of these low cost companies. The second advertised cheaper calls to Asia. The third cheaper calls to India and so forth. There was an unsubscribing link at the foot of each email. Having been suspicious of these too-good-to-be-true offers I clicked on this link to unsubcribe. The email was returned saying the e-mail address was unknown. I then decided to block the e-mails. I was astonished to find that the suffix was 'gmx' which was my cousin's e-mail address.

Although I thought that I would be a victim of Internet scams I did not think that it would be courtesy of a relative and a computer professional at that. My cousin would feel more at home in Spandau rather than Saarbrucken. I wonder what the IT equivalent of the General Medical Council is? One or two members of my paternal family bribed their way into college despite failing their A levels. Interpol should investigate!


AND FINALLY

This update is probably longer than the original op. I hope that this provided the required entertainment value as Silverback (Paul) describes my ops. If you only ring overseas to one particular country then it is best to shop around for the best low-cost provider. Otherwise Alpha is definitely the girl for you.

Thanks for reading.

Paul


UPDATED July 2005


Alicia Silverstone got married last week. Some guys have all the bloody luck. But I shall keep on fantasising.

Every Little Alicia Helps!


UPDATED February 2006

The purpose of this update is to simply clear my mind of clutter. Most of it is meaningless and little to do with Alpha Telecom. But writing about certain events will hopefully be therapeutic.


HANGUP ABOUT PHONES

All of my life I seem to have had problems with telephones. In the 1970s my GP father was on call every Tuesday evening and 1 in 7 weekends. The atmosphere was very tense during this time. We were all nervous when the phone rang in case a patient needed a home visit.

On one occasion I spoke to a patient myself telling them not to bother my father as he was busy. I really got told off for that misdemeanour. On another occasion I pretended to be my father but let the cat out of the bag when the patient wanted medical advice. On another occasion I was giggling over the phone in the kitchen while my father spoke to a patient using the sitting room phone.

These incidents caused my parents to allegedly ban me from using the phone. Whenever the phone rang, my mother raced towards it. I was not allowed to pick the phone up and pass it on to my father.

In my teens I used to speak to my uncle quite frequently. But he allegedly used to tell my mother (his sister) all my secrets. Looking back this was one reason why I could never develop relationships.

I remember having a huge argument with Jenny before slamming the phone down. I did the same during another disagreement with Sheila. When we had our really blazing row, I slammed the phone down as hard as I could and did not speak to her for over 2 years. She got her own back by allegedly slamming the phone down early one cold Sunday morning. I guess that evened things up between us.

Where are you now, my love? - Jackie Trent


FATHER DEAR FATHER

Does anyone remember this ITV comedy show from the early 1970s? It starred Patrick Cargill as the father of two voluptuous daughters. In 1976 he also played the lead in 'The Many Wives of Patrick.'

Phone calls with my father are always interesting. He is just as verbose as me but tends to dominate conversations. This means that I can hardly get a word in edgeways. Despite his verbosity he is economical with the truth and allegedly never imparts any important information to me.

When I started work, phone calls with my parents were consistent. They always lasted 10 minutes. At that point my mother would allegedly cough which would act as a signal to my father to end the call. I really found this funny.

I remember an odd incident from the early 1980s. My aunty was heavily pregnant at the time. I was very busy revising for my 2nd year university exams. Once I had got my results, I decided to catch up on all the gossip. I thought that my aunty would give birth in a few weeks time.

On the phone my mother told me that she had given birth weeks earlier to a boy. I had spoken to my parents subsequent to the birth but they allegedly did not reveal anything. Throughout my life relatives have been hatched, matched and dispatched and no-one allegedly told me anything.

Around the mid 1980s my parents were coming down to London to see me one weekend. I bought a lovely box of chocolates for their arrival. When I offered a chocolate to my mother, my aunty stopped me saying that she was a diabetic. I was sad for my mother and also felt sorry for myself that no-one had allegedly told me her diagnosis. I felt really alienated from the family. Certainly this episode was one of the factors in my being suicidal a few months later.

In the early 1980s my beloved neighbour Reg had cancer. He used to work as a photographer for the Hull Daily Mail. On one of my regular visits to Hull I asked my mother how Reg was coping? She simply allegedly told me that he had passed away. I went into shock. Why didn't she tell me at the actual time of his death?

In the mid 1980s my father phoned me allegedly saying that his father was very ill. He went to India the following day for a few weeks. It was only when he got back that he allegedly told me that his father had passed away before the above phone call. What harm would it do if I was informed of the death at the time of it happening?

In the late 1980s I phoned my mother on a Monday. I knew that she would be at home as my father was on call. I rang but no-one answered the phone. Something was wrong. I later spoke to my father but he seemed normal.

The following Friday they came to London to visit me. My mother seemed quiet. On the Saturday me and my father watched an England v Scotland match live on TV. At half-time he allegedly told me that my maternal uncle had passed away. The second half was ruined. Why am I always the last to know?

In the mid 1990s I was working at my father's surgery. I overheard a receptionist say that one of my father's friends had passed away. I phoned my mother who allegedly confirmed the story. Later that afternoon my father picked me up from work. I could hardly detect any change of expression on his face. I guess being a doctor means that you have to deal with death every day of your working life.

In the late 1990s both of my parents seemed a little down on the phone. They allegedly assured me that nothing was wrong. A few days later they seemed more in the doldrums. I got the same answer as before. I then asked my father "If something was wrong, would he tell me?." He allegedly stayed silent. What had happened was that my maternal uncle had been run over and later passed away. Do my parents hate me so much as to deny me such knowledge?

In the late 1990s we visited Hull for a couple of weeks. My father decided to treat us to a fish & chips lunch at Morrisons, Beverley. Early on in the meal my mother had allegedly mentioned that Amal, a longstanding family friend, had passed away in Kolkata. The meal was ruined. There is a time and a place for dispensing bad news.


So all these examples follow a similar pattern. It would be nice to be treated with a bit of respect. But my parents just treat me as a doormat and nothing more.

The silver lining is that all the above deceased have come to me in spirit readings. Refer to my 'Life After Death' op.


As a parent my father was allegedly very stern, strict and despotic. I used to be very scared of him. This meant that my behaviour was exemplary and I respected everyone. In fact I was the model child. It was only after I left home that I went off the rails. A lot of fathers in Bangladesh have the same approach as my father. The only drawback to this was when I had problems I was too scared to confide in him.

One of the biggest gripes about my father was that he usually allegedly went abroad on holiday by himself during term time. Although my mother was an excellent cook and cleaner she was allegedly out of depth dealing with other matters.

In the early 1970s just after I started senior school, my father allegedly headed off to India for 4 weeks to wet his brother's new baby's head. I had a run-in with a demon Cornish Latin teacher. My mother could not give me the necessary support. My father was conspicuous by his absence. Empty vessels make the most sound. But justice was done when the teacher's daughter allegedly messed up her French O-level oral.

In the late 1970s my father allegedly took off again during a school term. This time it was off to the Far East for a 4-week medical jolie. It was during this time that I was applying to medical schools via UCCA (now known as UCAS). I really needed my father's medical expertise at what to say at the interviews. While I failed miserably at an interview with St George's Hospital, Tooting, my father was allegedly enjoying the delights of Tokyo.

I would have had no complaints if my father went abroad during the Summer and Xmas holidays. But he was allegedly too selfish to realise that. Justice was done when I failed to acquire a place at medical school.

I got the impression that my father allegedly never valued my opinions. He allegedly disagreed with a pop music observation I made in the late 1970s. Yet when my nemesis, Bobby M, made the same point as me my father wholeheartedly agreed with him. So it is who talks to my father rather than what is said which is more important. This is why I love expressing my opinions on Ciao. The whole world can tune in to my thoughts.

It is easy to see where my father allegedly gets his arrogance from. Back in India he is the one sibling all his brothers and sisters look up to. They always butter him up because of the financial help he gives them. He is the senior most member of the Hull Bengali circle. Dealing with patients day-in and day-out, he has become messianic thinking that he can heal the ill. Every pharmaceutical rep tries to be in his good books or else he will not prescribe the drugs they are peddling. Being a doctor gives him a high status in society. The money he earns has given him unlimited spending power. Little wonder that he allegedly turned despotic.

My father allegedly always behaves differently with me in India. He allegedly is always putting me down and often ignores me. He wants to show his family how superior he is. He allegedly also bribes them with gifts they could never afford in a million years. I have allegedly seen him give backhanders to hotel waiters to gain better service. It would not surprise me one iota if he has allegedly bribed the porters in the past. P45. Money is the root of all evil.

For some reason my father allegedly loves his nephews and nieces more than me. If he feels that way he should go back to his own country and stay there. The grass is always greener on the other side. You can take the Bengali out of Bengal but a pencil must be lead!

My father allegedly hardly ever tells me any gossip from his family. When he does open up, he allegedly intersperses them with lies. But once he kicks the bucket I shall not keep relations with his family.

Love is thicker than water - Andy Gibb

My father allegedly often forces me to do what he wants. When he fails to do so he allegedly asks his relatives to persuade me to his way of thinking. He allegedly likes to gang up on me.

My cousin Rahul R is a computer professional and has set up an impressive family website. But no-one has told me its url. He has allegedly also sent me spoof phishing e-mails in the manner of Wanadoo. No doubt any information he receives will allegedly be passed onto my father. Even Ian Brady allegedly could learn a few tricks fom my cousin.

When I got married, my mother allegedly referred to my in-laws as 'shotolok family' which referred to their pauper status. Her own family is allegedly teeming with hawkers anyway.

My parents behaviour with my in-laws has allegedly been appalling. They always looked down on them as they had less money. But integrity is more important than money in my book.

Once my parents allegedly took my mother-in-law to a jewellers shop in Kolkata. The plan was for her to choose something for her daughter. But when she made some suggestions, my parents aalegedly ignored her. I was furious about this. So when I next visited Kolkata I deliberately did not visit my grandmother. Even Frankie Fraser loves his grandmother allegedly.

Usually on the day before my parents departure from Kolkata to Heathrow, my in-laws visit them. They always gave them a bag of goodies to take for my wife. But my mother allegedly opened the bag and gave most of the stuff to her relatives.

On one occasion my mother-in-law gave some Indian rice pudding in the bag for my wife. As ever this went astray. When we visited Hull my mother served us some delicious rice pudding. It was the same food which went astray allegedly.

On another occasion my wife was in Kolkata and my parents landed there a few days later. But they allegedly did not have the courtesy to visit her at all. On another occasion in Kolkata my parents allegedly deliberately did not invite my wife for a family wedding.

Once me and my mother were at Heathrow Airport waiting for my father's arrival from Kolkata. The flight was a few hours late. My mother was in the ladies when my father came through customs. He allegedly simply said "Hello, Paul. Where's mummy?" and walked straight past me to find his wife. This is how little he thinks of me.

My father is quite penny-wise and pound-foolish. So when he signed with a low cost overseas telephone service he put in about GBP 20. This allowed my mother just one phone call per week. But after my father left for work, she allegedly phoned her mother every day. Cunning as a Samantha Fox. My father was too naive to check the balance on a regular basis.

My father does not want to see money spent on food wasted even if it has gone bad. On one occasion I saw my parents allegedly eating stale bread complete with green mould. Shocking.

About 10 years ago there was a huge family argument amongst the 4 of us. At the height of her anger my mother allegedly shouted to my wife "This is my house." If that is her attitude then she can stay in her precious house and die there. She also allegedly told her "Let's see how long your marriage is going to last?" The typical mother-in-law.

A few days later I attended an out-patient appointment with my father and wife. We were heading towards the consulting room when my father allegedly abruptly stopped. I carried on walking towards the room and entered it. Meanwhile my father allegedly shouted something so nasty to my wife that she was too scared to enter the consulting room. I knew then that we had to leave Hull. We did so 7 weeks later.

My father has got quite an obsessive personality allegedly. In the early 1980s he made friends with a GP who had just moved to Hull. Initially my father allegedly invited them over a couple of times per week which was acceptable. But this generosity of friendship allegedly turned to 7 times per week which was way too much.

On holiday in Benidorm I accidentally locked myself in the hotel bathroom. My parents were very concerned. My father allegedly shouted at me to turn the key to the right. I did so until my hand hurt. I somehow decided to turn the key to the left and fortunately the door opened. I was very shocked. My father was allegedly about to tear a strip off me before my mother stopped him. Also on that trip my father allegedly repeatedly shouted at me to dive underwater into the swimming pool. That was scary.

My father allegedly used to scold me unnecessarily. He allegedly sometimes used abusive language like "introvert" at me. It was the force of his voice which most frightened me and destroyed my confidence.

About 18 years ago I was very ill just before my 2nd breakdown. My parents were concerned enough to drive immediately to London. But my father allegedly could not detect any signs of illness in me. After I fell off the edge, a very nice and caring doctor looked after me. My father allegedly then told me "I have failed as a father and I have failed as a doctor."

A few years ago I got absolutely furious at my father's behaviour. I wanted revenge and wanted to tell the whole world about his alleged despotic and autocratic nature. I hope that I have succeeded.

Dance with my father again - Luther Vandross


MOTHER OF MINE

Does anyone remeber this song from the early 1970s? A 14-year old called Neil allegedly sang it on 'Opportunity Knocks.' Whatever happened to Monica Rose?

My mother has allegedly always been a possessive control freak. The post used to arrive after I had left for school. When I returned home, any letters I had were allegedly already opened. I stopped keeping a diary because of my mother's alleged nosiness.

When I made phone calls, my mother was allegedly in the bedroom listening in on another phone. Sometimes she allegedly stood behind the sitting room door listening in. On one occasion a caller asked me if it was safe to talk. I said that my mother was probably listening in on another phone. Immediately I heard the receiver of that phone be allegedly replaced. I basically had no privacy. No wonder I became paranoid later in life.

Just before my fourth breakdown relations were quite good with my parents. One Sunday morning me and my father allegedly spoke for 3 hours. Two days later I went over the edge.

In my Unicom op, I have already outlined how my parents were allegedly monitoring my phone calls. They had
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Comments about this review »

luseantom 03.07.2005 21:05

good review , Lynz xx

torr 12.12.2004 13:36

At those call-rates I would try to think of reasons to phone Aus and NZ more often. Your family saga gets more interesting with each update, Paul. They ought to make a TV series out of it! Cheers, Duncan

Silverback 24.01.2003 15:31

Fascinating op, Paul. A whole area I knew absolutely nothing about. But as many of my relatives live in Kent, I suppose I haven't really needed to!

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