Thursday, 28 January 2010

Where you live does'nt exist, sorry

Today I finally did a job I had been avoiding for a while as I knew it would not be an easy task. The paperwork and registration necessary to allow us to have Hetty our Dexter cow. Now you might think that smallholding would be a relatively simple task, free from bureaucracy. Think again. Sometimes it seems like a full time secretary is needed to keep track of the forms, logs, medicine journals and passports associated with keeping livestock.
The task began at 9am with a call to the the local Animal Welfare Office to clarify a few details relating to the annual sheep and goat survey, as our sheep and goats are naughty and often cross the track into England we needed the CPH number of the common land to complete the form. It clearly stated on the form that if you were in any doubt of the CPH number of common land give them a ring. So I did.
"Sorry, cant help you, unless you know your RCL number."
"Excuse me?"
"The common land has a RCL number, we need that to find the CPH. Can you give me the name of the common, I'll see what I can find on the system."
I gave the name. There was much bashing of a keyboard.
"Where you live doesn't exist, sorry. You need to phone your local office for the RCL."
Another phone call. A different office. I now have the RCL number.
I phone the first office to pass on such vital information. "Thank you, your CPH number is......"
Tracey filled in the boxes on the form while I paced around the kitchen and vented my spleen over the CPH being almost the same as the RCL but with the addition of five zeros in front. "Look on the bright side, at least they gave you the number to register Hetty, the BCMS office" she said soothing ruffled feathers.
I dialed. I could not understand a word but was used to the bilingual messages when phoning Welsh agencies. I waited for the English version. "Bore Da" the irate Welsh voice repeated.
"Bore Da" emphasising the Welshness of the phrase.
"Erm..... Hello" I could hear myself sounding more English.
"Ydych chi'n syraed Cymraeg?"
"...tipyn bach?"
Erm... Mae fy hofrenfad yn llawn llyswenodd" I stammered.
There was a frosty silence. "Your hovercraft is full of eels is it?"
"No I'm sorry I don't speak Welsh"
"Then why have you phoned the Welsh language helpline?"
"I'm trying to contact the BCMS"
"You have, the Welsh version, English farmers need to call a different number"
"But I'm English and farm in Wales"
There was an audible sigh. "Then you need to register with us."
"Great, can I?"
"Have you a herd number?"
"No that's what I am phoning for"
"No, (sigh) you register with us once you have a herd number, you need to get the number from your local office, whats your CPH....then its Cardiff, when you have that get back to us."
"Ok, what exactly does BCMS stand for?"
"British Cattle Movement Society!" each syllable delivered like a bullet.
Cardiff office. Very efficient. Like the Spanish Inquisition. "How many goats do you have? Why do you keep them? What purpose do the sheep serve? How many poultry do you have? Exactly how many ducks? Why? Pigs? What are they for? You? How many have you got, none? Well I'll mark you down as having one, but if you get more than six let me know. Herd number? Same as the number for your Sheep. What? of course I'm sure its the same number, yes the BCMS would have known its the same. Goodbye"
Back onto the BCMS.
This time the English language version.
A familiar acid voice answered.
"Hello, have my herd number, Ok I'll hold"
A friendly voice finally stopped Robbie Williams singing about Angels. "You wish to register your herd?"
Finally. "Yes please"
"What part of England are you from?"
"The Welsh part"
"Oh sorry I assumed you were in England as you called the English helpline, but don't worry I'll deal with it for you"
Three minutes of talking to the helpful lady in Peterborough later we were done. Despite the runaround we are now registered cattle keepers and Hetty will soon take up residence somewhere at Rock HQ. If the Government want to save a few quid I can think of a few offices where they could make a good start.

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