The value of face to face and a near miss scam

Mon 18 – Sun 24 Oct 2021

Sometimes when I write my blog, there is no clear theme for the week gone. True of this one and different to the revelation about the centrality of ‘combining’ in my previous blog. Sometimes my blog is simply about events that are worth recording for the future and for others to learn from. Looks like the impact of the Covid virus is on the rise but I realised the value of face to face meetings last week so long as they are not taken to excess. Meanwhile, I think of myself as astute and not gullible but I was on the receiving end of a very near miss scam. Worth reflecting how professional and bloody well done it was, scarily so.

Tech for Good

Our big delivery project with Citizens Advice continued last week. Meanwhile, our first discovery project at the fantastic food charity The Felix Project finished and everyone seems to be happy. If you want to do something to help poor and disadvantaged people then these are both brilliant charities to volunteer for.

Tech for Good

The value of online communication (let’s hope business travel is dead)

Regular blog readers will know I am a big fan of the internet and social media. Including using it as a tool to connect with people and stay in contact. And working life since March 2020 has been built on zoom and internet based work. Indeed, I think we are at a stage now where we have moved light years ahead in our understanding of how to do good online working together.

And hopefully we have learnt not to waste so much time and resources in the future having face to face meetings that are unnecessary. Massively less train / car / flight journeys around the UK. And big hopes that we aren’t flying round the world so much related to work. Here’s hoping for an end to business travel.

Realising the value of occasional face to face

But a work social made me realise how useful face to face meetings can still be. I went out for a vegan cream tea on Wednesday evening with a random selection of work colleagues. Great to meet people I hadn’t ever met despite working with them for several months. And equally brilliant to meet people I had never met before and find out about the work they are doing.

Face to face means unexpected, randomised meets and better communication through being able to appreciate the non-verbal aspects of talking. Such as tone of voice and body language including facial expressions. Indeed, I think that a phone conversation with can often tell you as much as a video conversation and it’s less hassle to do.

So the questions to consider for the future, how do we:

  • Stop people being lazy and defaulting to the old ways of face to face meetings?
  • Continually improve the quality of online meetings so they becomes as useful as face to face?
  • Work out when we really need face to face meetings and ensure the most benefit is drawn from them?
progress being made

Bad Tech

I do sort of believe that ‘tech will save us’ in that our future problems will only be solved by changes in human behaviour and technological advances. But my confidence in tech was tested last week by experiencing and realising the value of face to face meetings as well as nearly being victim to a very elaborate scam.

Details of the attempted scam

There was a call on the landline. Mum answered it, got flustered and handed it to me. Basically someone claiming to be from the Indian security call centre of our internet supplier. It sounded so realistic with all the right background noises. He assured me several times this was not a scam, wanted no identification from me, and would not ask for money. He had some info about our account that was convincing including knowing our supplier’s name and our IP address. Later I realised this was probably info bought on the dark net.

The story was that my internet had been compromised so it was now connected to 70 different devices and the security centre would supply software to block the illegal users. I kept challenging for more confirmation of authenticity and they said they couldn’t supply this as they were unable to access billing information for security reasons. I was transferred to the person’s ‘superior’ and the same discussion continued.

My alarms really rang when they said I needed to download the AnyDesk app. If you have not come across this then it is an app that allows someone to control another person’s device. A totally genuine app but I’m not sure of its value and it is a dream for scammers. Bells really rang when the guy said I must ignore any warnings and give them access so they could provide the blocking software. This was the point when I discontinued the call.

Learning from this

What I learnt from this scam was how professional and well done these things are. Almost to the extent that it shows how things should be done in terms of delivering any service – online or face to face. It’s about human engagement, telling a story, producing evidence, using emotions, and perseverance.

A horrible experience but one to learn from and so easy to see how people can be conned. Important to share these experiences so others can learn from them. Be careful out there everybody.

A black crow


W Somerset Maugham – ‘Liza of Lambeth’

Just one book completed last week. Maugham is a classic author who I love to dip into now and then. Very much of his time, the early nineteenth century. But someone who later discovered he was gay. This was his first ever book and its success switched him from being the doctor he had trained to be. A wonderful doom-laden story of failed romance and abuse amongst the dirt-poor London working class.

Christopher Fowler

Another author with a prodigious catalogue and again someone I love dipping in and out of. I am reading his novel ‘The Sand Men’ about westerners living in Dubai. A place I have absolutely no wish to go to. A story of repression, darkness, and being unable to identify who to trust.


Christopher Fowler maintains a blog-site that is well worth catching up on I have written before how this sort of daily blog is something I aspire to. But I am heartbroken with the news that Christopher Fowler has a diagnosis of terminal cancer. He is honest that he has to decide what to do with the precious time left and he may not put so much emphasis on regularly writing blogs.

Art and Culture

Tate Britain

Regular readers will know that I love art and culture but it has not featured as strongly in my life as I would like. But a great experience on Thursday afternoon when I booked a visit to Tate Britain. So lovely to be able to wander around wherever you want rather than keeping to set routes.

I hadn’t realised how much brilliant modern sculpture they have. There is something wonderful about coming face to face with life sized figures set at your own height. I also spent time sipping coffee and reading my book. It was a cool day but the sun through the window made me feel positively warm.

British art from the 1930s

Friends and Family


A large part of last week was spent without having face to face contact with my beloved partner. Wednesday to Sunday he was up with his mum in the north spending time with her before she goes into hospital for an operation. It’s nice to have time apart but I missed him. Still we phoned each other each day.


Time spent with mum last week. Though I did have to go out on two evenings, one to see an old school friend and the other to see my colleagues at our work social that made me realise the value that can come through face to face contact. I was working from Dave’s flat on Friday and knew mum was out at the doctor’s. My poor brother didn’t and had a complete panic when he couldn’t get hold of her.


So great to have a face to face meet on Tuesday evening with Peter who was in the year above me at school. Our lives were both very much shaped by our time there. Indeed, I gave him the recent book I had read by William Corlett ‘Now and Then’ about two boys who had an ‘illegal’ gay relationship at school and one who was damaged by it for the rest of his life.

Also, lots of general catching on what had been happening to us. I was amazed when Pete pointed out that we had not met face to face since before the pandemic. Wow, so many big life changes for both of us. Pete declared he was paying for the meal we had eaten (and drunk) – what a complete gent. Hopefully it won’t be so long till we see each other again and not so much will happen in-between.


Weight and exercise

Didn’t weigh myself at the weekend. But my feeling is that my weight is basically staying the same. This was helped by several long and purposeful walks; I wasn’t put off by the ongoing recovery from my cold which still persisted last week. But probably not helped by the yummy vegan cream tea social event but hey ho. I have said before that I know my weakness is my love of food and alcohol. Indeed, I love trying new food things and I’m not vegan but it was a bloody nice tea.

Ongoing problems: knee and prostate (for the latter, don’t be embarrassed)

Wrote about both of these things in last week’s blog (read it here). I am doing my knee exercises based on the app sent to me by the muscular-skeletal service (another example of tech for good). This will go on till my face to face physio appointment at the end of November. My knee did hurt on Friday particularly after many hours spent at my standing desk and lots of walking the day before.

I have only just started to take the new medication to tackle my enlarged prostate. But I already think there is a beneficial effect. I am pissing less and it is a stronger stream. We really must not be embarrassed to talk about such things but if we don’t then they remain hidden and somehow ‘dirty’ so that people don’t go for check-ups. Its the same for checks related to anal, cervical, testicular, and breast cancer.


Back for a check on my blood clotting / internal bleeding levels last week. Return to a good situation after previous week’s test. However, caution rules and I am required to re-attend next week. Unfortunately(?), this can’t happen as I will be away in Spain – can’t wait. So back to test again on the return from my holiday.

Personal Development + Sustainability

Putting these two themes together as they have a commonality. A week gone where they stayed central to my life. But nothing significant to report on either. Managed to do language learning everyday and some practice on Python. The usual stuff on sustainability including taking a load of books to the Exchange on Tuesday though no cash option, just vouchers unfortunately.

The importance of planting trees

The Week Ahead

  • Two working days and then I am off to Spain! Though don’t think I will start properly relaxing until I am on the plane. It is interesting how long it can take for us to really begin to unwind.
  • Whilst I am away, the second 3 week discovery project will start and preparation will continue for the third and final one
  • Planning to take a whole heap of books and do some power reading whilst away on holiday
  • Might get a temporary gym pass whilst I am in Spain and go with Philip
  • Planning to do some gallery and museum visits whilst away. Though not much of that in the Costa Del Sol towns and I think I will have to go to Malaga for this.
  • I think losing weight will be too ambitious a goal whilst away. Rather I aim not to over-indulge with food and drink but do lots of walks so that hopefully I can stay at the same weight.
  • Will carry on with my daily personal development lessons and my knee exercises. Plus I will try to be as sustainable as possible by not creating waste nor buying stuff I don’t need.

And Finally…

how to protect when face to face

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