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This is my blog. A collection of thoughts from one such as I.

Message to Brian “SmithWithClass"


Dear Brian,

Thanks for replying to me on Twitter. Hopefully, this page and the next will explain the issue I seem to be having with the Credit Reference Agency, Equifax, which is one of the three agencies used here in the UK.

I joined for free after they were hacked, just to see if there were any problems. I’m glad I did because there were two credit entries that were not me! These are now removed. 

However, the report also has a section called “Social Media Footprint”.

When I run a search and look at the results, I get a page with:


To my surprise, several of the entries are not me and the info at the top shows my location as Forest Heights, Kitchener, ON, Canada. Given that Equifax has my full address, most of my bank account details and records of my credit history, I couldn’t see how their system could post such obviously incorrect information.

Equifax Social Media

efx logo

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2008 Renault Laguna For Sale

IMG 9075


Petrol, Automatic
July 2008 (MOT until July 2018)
One owner from new
72,343 miles
30mpg (this is a real measurement, taken over 6,000 miles)

This is a fabulous car. I bought it new in July 2008, and the 72,000 miles (8,000 a year) have all been driven by myself and my wife. It was bought from, and has a full service history from Smiths Renault of Bretton Way, Peterborough. It even has a new cambelt, something almost all cars should have at around 50,000 miles but most don’t. There are a few cosmetic scratches but it still looks immaculate and is quite an eye-catcher. Some 2008 cars look dated but this still looks good amongst modern cars.

The Initiale was the top spec of the now discontinued Renault Laguna line-up and it came very well-equipped, but I also added several factory options such as the sunroof and upgraded sound and navigation systems.

Buying a New Car

Safety Technologies 2

Cars have always been expensive purchases but now there's an extra factor to buy into (or not) - safety technologies.

These are the driverless technologies which will one day give us fully autonomous cars They're being introduced to new cars right now. They don’t replace the driver; they make driving safer.

An increasingly familiar example is “City stop” where the car itself will apply the brakes if you don’t as you approach the car in front of you 

There are calls to make it compulsory on all new cars because it would save injuries and insurance premiums if every new car had it fitted as standard.

But as usual, these technologies are being implemented slowly, and they are usually optional (and expensive) extras, so most cars still don’t have them.

But now they've been invented, it seems very unwise to buy a car that doesn’t have them. So, needless to say, I want them all!

“A 12.5% service charge will be added to your bill”

service charge

Have you noticed that a new charge is being added to your bill in most restaurants when you eat out? They call it a “service charge”. In order for the restaurant to provide a waiter to come to your table and take orders and serve your food, they will add a fee.

They don’t even pretend it’s a gratuity for the staff. They brazenly name it for what it is - and it’s usually a massive 12.5%.

Admittedly, they do forewarn you, in rather small type, at the very end of the menu, that “an optional (or discretionary) 12.5%”  will be added to your bill. But it seems strange to me - what if John Lewis added 12.5% at till every time you shopped? Or M&S? 

When utility companies put their prices up by 8 or 9%, there's a public outcry, but when restaurants add 12.5% few people seem to care. Are we all so rich that we don’t care? Or are we so British that we would be far too embarrassed to say 'no' in a restaurant, but we don’t mind marching in protest about utility companies?

Buying a New Car (2014)

Photograph of my Renault Laguna 3 car

Buying a new car should be a fairly simple affair shouldn’t it - there’s so much choice that it’s just a question of finding the best deal? But I'm finding it extraordinarily difficult for a variety of reasons. Read this post to find out just why I’m finding it so difficult.

One Illegal Immigrant

Library photo of immigrants at Calais

We see them on the news. Hundreds of illegal, would-be immigrants trying to get to Britain’s bountiful shores. In 2015 they filled the camp at Calais known as “The Jungle”. 

We saw them as we left Calais on our journey by coach to Boulogne-sur-Mer  with a party of people from Stilton’s Twinning Association. They were running about on the the road leading to the channel ports and tunnel. We were travelling the other way.

As residents of a small island off the coast of mainland Europe, we tend to feel threatened. People say: “We’re already overcrowded.” and “We can’t take endless numbers of strangers into our tiny island.” and “They only want our benefits, housing and a car”.

News photo of immigrants at Calais

It’s a worrying situation and, reading the newspapers makes it feel more like an invasion than a crisis. But what happens when you meet one of these illegals face-to-face? It happened to us on our return from a coach trip to Boulogne in July in 2015.

The End of Antibiotics

615px-Richard I of England - Palace of Westminster - 24042004 - Version 2

King Richard I, ‘The Lionheart’, died in April 1199 when he received a crossbow bolt wound to his left shoulder whilst walking the castle walls without his chainmail.

It wasn't a bad wound and these days we'd clean it and dress it and put him on a course of antibiotics. He'd have been as right as rain in no time.

But Richard died in his mother’s arms ten days later. The warrior king, seen here in the famous statue outside the Houses of Parliament in London, was brought down by microscopic organisms that we barely give a second thought to.

Richard's wound allowed bacteria through the skin's protective layer, and once inside they multiplied until infection raged through his body, causing fever and gangrene and ultimately killing him.

His fate was not unusual. Before the discovery of penicillin, any wound could lead to infection, fever and death. Not all wounds did, of course, but the possibility was always there. Even a minor scratch could lead to death if you were unlucky.

© Brian Smith 2015