Friday, 28 May 2010

Sex & The City 2 with captions? HA!

Today is Thankful Friday, and aside from the fact that I've chosen to wear a dress that does a Marilyn in even the tiniest gust of wind, I have lots to be thankful for!

Most importantly, and excitedly, I am in the running to be a Superdrug Summer Insider again, after being invited to fight for my title.

Eek!

Am very happy about this, but nervous, too. After being sent a wonderful collection of goodies by the peeps at Superdrug, I put my first blog up yesterday, which you can see here at Superdrugloves.com.

Apparently, there's some Facebook thing on each post where you can ‘like’ my post, and the people with the most 'likes' go through to the Summer Insider 2010 competition.

So if you like my post, be sure to click on the thumbs up picture at the top, please!

Anyway, I got the listings for subtitles for Sex & The City 2 yesterday and I definitely wasn't thankful about them. In London, there are a pitiful amount of evening showings and only 13 cinemas in the whole of the London area in total showing it with subtitles.

Of these, only six are even vaguely convenient for me and of these 1 has an evening showing – and because I HAVE A LIFE, I am not free on this day. I could go to Electric Cinema in Notting Hill at 10am on Tuesday 1 June – except, no wait! I have a mortgage to pay and holiday days that need to be used for holidays not watching a movie that everyone else can see in their free time.

I don't understand!! Are deaf people not supposed to work or something? Is there some Government initiative that gives us the right to take paid time off to attend subtitled cinema screenings?

Well, to my knowledge, the answer is no. So I'd love to know what these cinemas are playing at.

My early readers will know that when the first movie came out, Fab Friend and I had to wait quite a few weeks for subtitles, but at least there was an evening showing. Ah that was great – we met for cocktails and half sobbed, half laughed our way through the entire thing!

I'd so love to do that again with Fab Friend – but it's not looking likely with the current listings.
*sniff

But I can't think about it too much or I'll get so mad I'll combust, and that wouldn't be a very good thing to happen on Thankful Friday.

So I'm going to take action. And at lunchtime I'm going to write to all the cinemas who are showing subtitled SATC 2 and ask them to explain why they don't think we deserve equal treatment.

I'm guessing, maybe a little cynically that money will be a factor here, but I'm not stopping until I get some answers.

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

My deafness wishlist

This morning on the bus to work, I saw a friend of mine who works for O2. He’s a great guy and always listens to my O2 rants with patience and helpful suggestions. So it was fab to let him know about my recent success with contacting O2 via the press office team on Twitter.

We chatted about technology for a while and this eventually turned into useful apps for my iPhone in terms of my deafness and other things I’d like to make life easier in my Hard-of-Hearing World.

When we were talking though, my mind went quite blank, but now I’ve had a chance to think a little bit more about it, it’s made me resolve to start compiling my Deafness Wishlist – things I want changed or services I’d like to see.

I mean I know I write about them often, but perhaps if I put them all in one place, it’ll make it easier when I bump into VIPs on the bus…

So here we go:

1. Subtitles at all cinemas for more than just one movie, at one time, once a week.
2. Accessibility email addresses for all major companies so we don’t have to call.
3. Email or online booking in all doctors’ surgeries and dentists.
4. Deaf plates for bicycles – they have these in Holland and I have one, although English drivers won’t have a clue what it means.
5. Subtitled announcements in train and tube stations.
6. All tube trains to have subtitled announcements so when stuck in a tunnel, we know what’s going on – the District line already has this.
7. Subtitled options on all movies and TV shows on iTunes.
8. Subtitled on the iPhone BBC iPlayer app.
9. Prettier vibrating alarm clocks.
10. An iPhone app that converts speech to text live – so if you’re in a meeting or at a non-subtitled, play it translates it for you.
11. An internet provider that gives deaf people a discount for their internet even if they don’t take a phone line.
12. All extras on DVDs to be subtitled.
13. Better live subtitles from the BBC. Am sick of reading ‘Urine for a nice sunny day’ when the weather forecast begins.
14. An app that links my iPhone to the unhearable things in my flat – such as the fire alarm, cooker alarm, door alarm, so it’s all in one useful place.
15. Birds that tweet lower! OK, this is one for Mother Nature, but I’d love to hear a robin sing just once.
16. Deaf-aware quiz masters in pubs. Admittedly I am normally very lucky with this, but when they’re bad, they’re very, very bad.
17. Subtitled exercise DVDs! Would love, love, love this as it’s quite hard to lipread someone when you’re bobbing about on the spot.
18. Ways to alter the pitch of the warning noises in my car.
19. More subtitled comedy shows – I know the Soho Theatre did one recently, but I want to be able to see any comedian and for some tech-savvy person to work out a way to subtitle them efficiently.
20. Deaf-friendly store alarms – am sick of setting them off and being pursued down the street by security, completely unaware I’ve done anything!

And that’s just the beginning. Please add you own at the end of this list, or let me know if you know something I don’t, and let’s see how many get ticked off by the end of this year. If just one or two could be achieved, I reckon I could live without a tenor-voiced robin – for now, anyway!!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Waking up on the wrong side of my vibrating alarm clock

And it's back to being chilly again!

Gah!

This however provides me with excellent people watching opportunties on my bus to work this morning.

The lady next to me is in full on winter garb, while the woman in front is in a floaty white dress and gladiator sandals. I'm kind of a mix in between, of lots layers that can be removed when I suddenly find myself sat on top of a heater on the bus, like right now! I'm not kidding! It's tropical in here, and the full-on winter garb woman is starting to wilt.

The traffic is terrible as well today. And I know for a fact that the local tube line is stuffed, which means any moment now, there'll be a deluge of tube commuters boarding my bus, with no understanding of bus etiquette, standing on the top deck until the computerized woman has a total meltdown from repeating 'No standing on the upper deck or stairs please' fifty times over!

Phew, do you know, I think I got up on the wrong side of bed this morning. I definitely woke up on the wrong side. Upside down to be precise. Head under my Cath Kidston quilt and vibrating alarm clock between my toes.

Harumph!

I think it's probably just that I'm tired and behind in my household chores, and in need of a holiday, but I miss waking up and throwing on my running gear and embracing the day. Right now the only thing moving at anything faster than snails pace in the morning is my vibrating alarm clock as I hurl it against the wall.

However, on arriving at work, I was helped slightly out of my grump by the arrival of a parcel from Superdrug. I’ve been invited to fight for my Ultimate Summer Insider title over the coming months and can’t wait to get started. Having just had a disaster with the mascara they sent me though, I think I’d better get to work immediately!

Keep a look out at Superdrugloves.com for my latest post.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Subtitles on my iPhone

Phew! What a fabulous weekend of weather we had!

First Ever Friend and her Ma came over from Switzerland to visit, which was great fun. The Rents joined us and we went to Kew Gardens in the baking Sunday heat. It was amazing but very, very hot!

I'm not good in the sun. I require factor-50 sun cream and a big sun hat. If I'm not watered regularly I keel over, too. So Sunday was spent looking like a dessert dweller, shrouded in a lightweight scarf and sheltered by a big straw hat that I bought in the men’s' department at Debenhams.

Anyway, yesterday I booked my first ever cab online. And it didn't go well.

With a BBQ at Gym Buddy's house, we decided to travel there in style rather than throwing ourselves on the hot, rammed, smelly, unreliable tube. It couldn't have been easier to book and I got quite excited about the thought of having this online booking service at my fingertips no matter where I was in London.

So we waited, and a text came through saying the cab was 20 minutes late. We waited for 20 minutes and no cab arrived. So I tried to call them but couldn't hear clearly enough. In the end, Gym Buddy took over and when it became apparent that our car might never turn up, she cancelled it, before securing me a full refund and politely having a go at the clueless woman at the other end!!

It was so frustrating. Like a half-finished convenient service for deaf people.

One thing I am very excited about though is a new application I have discovered for my iPhone called ‘Subtitles’. This allows you to download subtitles for movies and then read along from the screen as the movie plays on the TV. The first thing I did was check if there was subtitles for Withnail And I – London Aunt’s favourite movie – and there was. She has been trying to watch it with me for years and the DVD isn’t subtitled. But now, I have the subtitles downloaded onto my phone so we can finally watch it together.

I’m hoping that the new Sex & The City movie subtitles will be added onto it relatively soon so that I can go to that as soon as possible instead of waiting for a subtitled showing. It would be amazing! Just think, subtitles at the cinema without being at the mercy of the scheduling people.

Subtitles at the cinema and erm…

…a flat iPhone battery!

Ah well – you can’t have everything!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

I'm lipreading, not staring at you!

So last night was fun!

I went the pub with GBman and The Singing Swede and made an utter idiot of myself!

And I'd also like to add that I was drinking Diet Coke, as I haven't been able to drink alcohol since the Bank Holiday fiasco.

So anyway, it was quiz night and I was late. On arriving I discovered the quiz master not only had a beard, he also had an Irish accent – neither good for lipreading, but I wasn't in the mood for explaining my hearing loss, so I just concentrated really hard, which of course meant staring at him.

And this of course freaked him out until he eventually piped up ‘I'm that goodlookjng aren't I?!’ cue big blushes from me. So then GBman piped up that I was deaf and needed to lipread, and then someone else piped up ‘And you're not good looking.’

Erm... and that someone was me!

*blush

And I have absolutely no idea what on earth possessed me to say that out loud – especially as it wasn't true.

I mean he's not my type but that's no reason to tell the poor bloke he's not good looking. And I can't even blame it on the alcohol.

So a good thing to do at this point would have been to shut right up. But no, I gabbled on, digging a pit so deep I'm sure I saw the lights of Sydney Harbour Bridge at the bottom.

I thought I would never live it down – until GBman tried his hand at breakdancing...

And after that, I felt much, much better!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Subtitles Tennessee Williams

Last night I went to see a Stagetext captioned performance of Spring Storm by Tennessee Williams, and I enjoyed it so much that I'm still grinning from ear to ear over 12 hours later.

Tennessee Williams is my favourite poet and playwright you see. In my final year at uni, I lived, breathed and even spent all my beer money on that man, ordering rare books from America, soaking up the poignant mix of tragic characters and humorous lines, and generally falling in love with him. He’s even on my dream dinner party list, along with Jeremy Clarkson, Clive James and Katie Fforde.

When I saw there was a performance of one of the few plays of his I hadn't dissected through lengthy study sessions, I jumped at the chance to see some of his work from a fresh perspective.

Now, I'm still quite out of practice at going to the theatre and when I read that the performance was 2 hours and 45 minutes long, I was slightly concerned that I might fall asleep or get bored. But what I was forgetting was that I would be watching it as a hearing person. I would be able to follow every single little thing.

And not only was it magical, it was also the quickest 2 hours and 45 minutes of my life. I didn't want it to end. And even though I know Tennessee rarely gifts his characters with happy endings, I couldn't help hoping that this time he would.

One hilarious moment was when Hertha, the dowdy bookish underdog declares that at 28 she's an old maid. At 29 and 30, and both single, Miss K and I burst out laughing. It was a fascinating perspective of Deep South attitudes of that period, and how one mistake could leave you sat rocking on the porch until the end of your days waiting for your man to come back.

If that's the case, I'd better start looking for a house with a porch! Teehee!

Monday, 17 May 2010

These are a few of my favourite things…

In the light of no post on Friday, today is thankful Monday!

Today I am thankful for the wonderful weekend I had with Penthouse Flatmate and her growing brood. I am godmother to her eldest daughter, and this weekend we celebrated her 4th birthday and her little brother's 2nd birthday, as they were born two years and one day apart.

Penthouse Flatmate had an incredible vision for the birthday cake, so armed with all my baking tools I descended upon her on Saturday morning. First Uni Housemate was also there and together with their husbands we created the fairy castle of all fairy castles. It was great being able to help make this masterpiece, but all credit has to go to Penthouse Flatmate for her incredible idea.

I am also thankful that I got to see Jose Gonzalez live at the Royal Festival Hall on Friday night. He was breathtaking. With his low voice and captivating across-all-octaves guitar playing, I really do forget I am deaf when I listen to him play.

And it's obviously the month for seeing my favourite things, as tonight I am going to see a captioned showing of a Tennessee Williams play. Having done my dissertation on Williams at uni, he will always have a place in my heart and, this is the first captioned performance of one of his plays I have ever seen, which makes it doubly exciting.

Wonder what the favourite thing hat trick is going to be this week...

Looks like we're just gonna have to wait and see!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

I'm hearing in my dreams

Last year for my birthday, Fab Friend gave me a book called Teach Yourself to Meditate.

In the madness of the move to my new place, it got packed up into a box and then unpacked onto a bookshelf and until now, I haven't felt the urge to get it out.

Until yesterday that is.

You see recently I've kind of been feeling as though I'm on a super-fast roller coaster that I can't get off. This has led to some questionable decisions that haven't pleased me. Plus, I feel exhausted.

So last night I came home and read the introduction before heading out to dinner at Niknak and Country Boy 1's flat. And already I liked the direction it was heading in. The encouragement to slow your thoughts down can only be a good thing after all.

I'm feeling positive I can learn a lot from this book... and that doesn't mean I'm going to turn into some clich├ęd, chanting hippy – although I think that look could suit me! I'm just going to utilise the best part of my thought process, not the worst.

Anyway, this week I've been having ‘hearing’ dreams again. No interesting content to report other than the fact that I can hear things in the dreams that I can't normally hear. Things like a whispering in my ear, a group conversation in a noisy pub, and most incredibly, a cat meowing are all audible in my sleep.

Now the latter is what confuses me the most, as I don't think I've heard a cat meow for over 20 years, and even then I certainly don't remember what one sounds like. Although I'm guessing it goes something like meow!

It’s just odd that’s all – but it got me thinking, do blind people see in their dreams? Do hearing people not hear? And are stupid people clever? Something for you to ponder on, as I will be meditating!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Evolving deaf services

Well, we have a new Prime Minister! And he may look young now, but give him time and soon the curse of the PM will get him and his face will slowly start sliding down his body.

Seriously though, watching all the news, I couldn't help wondering that, if Gordon Brown had come across the way he did during his ‘Bye-Bye’ speech yesterday during his entire time as PM, he might have actually succeeded in gaining enough Labour votes to win this General Election.

There was something rather lovely about him.

Bravo to his speech writer I say.

What’s great for me during all this election stuff is how I’ve been able to catch snippets and thoughts of others that I would usually miss out on in general conversation, through Twitter. It’s given me a new perspective of what’s been happening, especially during live TV broadcasts when the subtitles aren’t that reliable.

And better still, because I choose who I follow on Twitter, it means I have a select narrative forming – much the same as if you’re conversing with friends. It’s great!

It’s things like this that remind me just how much technology has changed for the better for me. I remember when The Rents had to spend over £200 on a video recorder that played and recorded subtitles on the TV. But even then you had to hope that the show was actually subtitled in the first place. I also remember trawling through Blockbuster with my friends trying to find a captioned movie. Sometimes there weren’t any we all wanted to watch, and I’d be left with just the pictures.

And then there’s the theatre – OK so there aren’t many subtitled performances, but there are some, which is a long way from where it was when I was doing English A-level. I remember going to see Macbeth and almost wishing he’d murder me too, as I was so bored of sitting through hours of inaudible Shakespeare! I thought I must be terrible uncultured to be so bored – when really I was just deaf.

And now, this year for the first time, The Globe is captioning things – ‘Bring on Shakespeare’ is now something I can finally say!

I also remember buying Smash Hits and Fast Forward magazines religiously just so I could cut the song lyrics out and learn then to prevent embarrassing and wrong renditions of Kylie songs. Now, I can get lyrics online at the drop of the hat, and have an application on my iPhone that I play my iPod through and the lyrics for each song are automatically brought up!

Amazing!

It’s all this that gives me hope, when I discover things like the iPlayer for the iPhone to be lacking subtitles, or a lack of subtitles on iTunes. Only recently, I discovered a programme you can download that adds subtitles to things – and while it’s all gobbledegook to me now, I fully intend to research it to see how it can help me.

I’m incredibly excited for the day where I can attend the theatre at the drop of the hat and know there’ll be subtitles, see films with subtitles at any time, any day and any week and buy movies for my iPhone safe in the knowledge that I’ll have the same extras as a DVD and be able to switch on captions.

I wonder, sometimes optimistically if there’ll eventually be a day when I come to write my daily blog and realise that I have nothing bad to say about services for deaf and hard of hearing peeps – imagine that?! Which is why I am going to continue to complain to companies like the BBC and O2, who I think could be doing better, until they do, do better. After all, it can’t hurt, can’t it? And maybe if enough of us do, then these companies will eventually take note.

Fingers crossed, eh! Fingers crossed!

Monday, 10 May 2010

When train subtitles go wrong

Today's blog comes from the train on the way home from The Rents' house. I had a lovely weekend with them both – although they've both been quite ill recently, Ma with a chest infection, and Pa with pneumonia.

As a result we had a quiet weekend of chilling out, watching cheesy movies and catching up. It was perfick.

This morning though, my train almost gave me a heart attack! After a particularly speedy journey to the station, I was able to just make, by running, the earlier train. I didn't even bother to look at the details of the platform, I just jumped on the train waiting to leave and sat down.

And so it set off. Then, there was a tinny announcement on the tannoy that I couldn’t hear, so I read the subtitles scrolling on the screen and it welcomed me aboard a train going somewhere completely different!

Um...

I sat for a moment contemplating the situation and then decided to ask the guy next door me, who confirmed I was, thankfully on a London-bound train and the subtitles were in fact wrong!

Phew! I’ve never been so pleased in my life that subtitles were actually incorrect!

*teehee!

Anyway, I finally have 3G coverage on my iPhone! Awaiting me at The Rents' was new SIM card from O2, with no instructions whatsoever. It didn't work. So I decided to visit an O2 shop instead. There the staff were lovely and explained that the SIM card probably hadn't been set to my phone. They also did not disagree with my opinions of O2 online customer service and in 15 minutes flat had sorted my new SIM!

Utterly brilliant!

Now I know I have brilliant contacts at the press office, a disabilities email and helpful staff in O2 shops, I feel much more reassured that I will now get the service I am paying for…

Maybe it is easier being deaf after all!

Friday, 7 May 2010

General election gripe

Today is Thankful Friday, and it can't have anything to do with politics. But while I am on the subject of politics, there is something that really riled me when watching the news this morning. And that was voters up in arms that they couldn't vote in time.

These are probably the same people who moan and are surprised about Ikea being busy on a bank holiday Monday!

I mean seriously, the election is every five years. Did they just think they could rock up 45 minutes before and it wouldn't be busy? That's like turning up at the gym just before closing and expecting it to accommodate you while you do your work out and shower.

Plan ahead people! The rest of us did! Dragging our sorry backsides out of bed early to make sure we got our (however worthless) vote in. And if it really wasn't possible to get to the polling place on time, then surely you qualify for a postal vote?!

On the other hand, perhaps there’s something the political peeps can learn here, too – longer voting times? Applying for set voting slots – like parents’ evenings? But the thing is, we all knew the voting times, and we all knew it would be busy and the people who were that worried about their vote made damn sure they voted as soon as possible.

And while I am sure some people were genuinely caught out by the whole thing, I’m betting the majority went home and ate their dinner in front of the TV before going out to vote, instead of joining the queue as soon as they could.

It's like they expect to have their hand held throughout this whole process, never taking responsibility.

And now to me, it feels like the country has just had a raucous sleepover party and now we're all sat here waiting for the adults to arrive and take charge. In fact, one of my favourite authors, Jenny Colgan, tweeted something very similar this morning.

But that's quite enough about silly people at polling stations.

Today I am thankful for erm... ah... well... I'll come back to you on that I think.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

O2 issues resolved

So, today I voted!

And it just goes to show what a little bit of last minute campaigning can do as well! I was teetering on the edge between two parties in my ward and this morning a leaflet dropped though my letterbox and answered my final concern.

Sorted!

But enough about that, as you know I don't really like talking about politics here.

Most importantly, it's time for an O2 update.

Well, all I can say is if you want something sorted, and can't use the phone, then contact the O2 Press Office on Twitter.

They sorted my SIM card issue for me before the day was out, and it's currently in the post!

Whoop! Bring on 3G!

But at the same time, another Twitter peep contacted me with a disability email address for O2 – disabilitycustomercare@O2.com!

Confused as to how, when I had repeatedly asked O2 if something like this existed, only to be sent a link to the Access-for-all page of the website, I wrote an email to the press office. No reply. But within the hour, I had an email from an O2 customer service peep confirming that, yes I could use this email to contact O2.

I am intrigued as to why it’s not obviously placed on the O2 website though – some text along the lines of, ‘If you are unable to use the phone, please email us on disabilitycustomercare@O2.com’ would surely suffice.

But honestly, it doesn’t matter now – I have my contact with O2 sorted, my SIM card is on the way, and I just received news that Cath Kidston does floral iPhone covers – everything is good in the world once more… until the election results come in, that is!

Happy voting.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The problem with deaf customer service

Apologies for my silence this week – I’ve been recovering from my bank holiday weekend, which included my running race.

I completed it slowly and steadily, without stopping, which was quite an achievement as it was pouring with rain and freezing cold. But the camaraderie between the runners was fantastic and Tigger stayed by my side as promised throughout.

Now, I’ve just got work on getting faster – this morning I had a jolly good go at it, but my egg timer failed so I have no idea whether I was quicker or not! Ho hum.

Anyway, I’m back to an old bugbear today.

O2!

As regular readers will know, I have an iPhone, and the recent upgrade procedure – done completely online with no human contact whatsoever – demonstrated that in some areas O2 have got better in making it possible for deaf people to use its services. However, what I didn’t factor in was that, as I have been a loyal – and long-suffering – customer with them for almost 10 years, my SIM card was too old to receive 3G coverage.

I thought it was my iPhone that was the problem, so spent my entire lunch hour queuing at the Apple store only to be told that lack of 3G was due to the fact that my service provider still appears as BT Genie! Remember those days?

So, I went onto O2’s website and had a good hunt around through the FAQs to see if this was fixable online – but it wasn’t. I had a look at the contact us section, which features lots of phone numbers for all sorts of reasons, and one email us section. I even bit the bullet and called O2 – and after 10 minutes of saying pardon, asking the call centre peep to repeat himself, reminding him of my hearing loss and trying to request yes or no answers, I gave up, red faced, conscious of the fact that once again I was hitting a brick wall with what should be a disability-friendly company.

So, counting to 10, I filled in the convoluted email form and sent it off. And guess what? They will endeavour to get back to me within 24 hours. When people on the phone get an instant service. How is that fair?!

It just makes me cross that after years and years of technological developments, O2 does not have a designated email for hard of hearing people – or if it does, it certainly doesn’t advertise it.

Surely there must be someone in O2 thinking, ‘Hang on a minute, this can’t be fair – a crap service for people who can’t use the phone?!’ but then, seeing as they’re a phone company, this is probably not the case.

But what I want companies like O2 to recognise is that it is more than just a phone provider now – and for a deaf person like me, my phone is my lifeline – I can book tickets on the internet, find out train times, send emails, chat on MSN, text, search for traffic issues when I am stuck in a jam, check London travel situations while on the move, and even, when stuck on an overland tube, find out if there are any problems on the line. All this, is invaluable to me – it saves me from trying to communicate, it enables me to build relationships, keep in touch and maintain friendships. And when it goes wrong, I literally feel as though I have lost a large area of my world.

To have no way of contacting O2 quickly to sort this out is a big problem for me.

Now, I know that I could cancel O2 and go elsewhere, but guess what? You need the phone for that. And also, apparently, I can go into an O2 shop and sort things like my SIM card out – even though I am an online customer. And I have done this on occasions, but it reall does seem to depend on the friendliness of the shop staff as to whether they can actually help you. So with the whole SIM card issue, an O2 shop is going to be my next port of call. But I’ve heard a rumour that I may be charged for a new one.

Charged for 10 years of loyalty!?

Well that makes sense, doesn’t it.

But, it shouldn’t be relevant whether or not I can go into an O2 shop for service. I am an O2 online customer. I should be able to get a decent service from my provider. I mean, I certainly pay enough.

It’s not rocket science, I don’t think. O2 need to give deaf people the same service they give hearing people. And if that’s really not possible, then deaf people should get a reduced tariff as an apology for substandard customer service – plenty of other companies offer just that, from theatres to travel.

The 24-hour window of the email response I have been promised by O2 has almost run out – I’m hoping I hear from someone. I’m hoping that they’ll tell me that a new, improved 3G-friendly SIM is in the post to me, free of charge.

I’m also hoping I win the lottery and achieve a 7-minute mile by the end of the month. And right now the latter wishes are looking more feasible.

UPDATE: Oh the power of Twitter! Through it, I contacted O2 and I have been assurred that I can go in store and get a new SIM for free and that I will soon have an email back in reply to the one I sent yesterday. It was so nice to actually have a conversation with a real person from O2, that I got carried away and asked them about an easier way to get in touch with the online peeps. I was forwarded a link about access for all, but it only gives phone options or the email form that I filled in yesterday and have yet to have a reply from. So I am not sure how this helps. So I said that – and it's gone quiet for now. I will keep you posted!