Before I went down with this lurgy I had booked Peter’s BathBot** for delivery and installation this past week. This meant lying on the floor*** festooned with hellhounds for an hour last Monday† waiting for this large heavy box†† to arrive.
Friday was installation day. I had a booking slot for noon to two. I was beginning to feel a little bit alive again by Friday, so having chased the hellterror around the churchyard and locked her up with a fresh chew toy the hellhounds and I went up to Third House where I re-embarked on that tired old house-move cliché of attempting to get too many books on too few shelves. †††
It occurred to me that time was passing in a lacking-installer kind of way.
At quarter to two I rang customer service‡ and said, um, I had a date with a toolkit and a drill for noon to two and neither hide, hair nor drill-bit had I seen thus far? Ooooh? she said. She took my post code and said she’d ring the engineer and get back to me.
At quarter past two I rang again‡‡ and this time, when some other woman took my post code she said, ooooh, there’s a message for you. The message said: the engineer has been delayed and will be with you at THREE THIRTY.
First I checked that they did, in fact, have Pooka’s correct number—Pooka, who had been lying open on the table for the last two and three quarters hours‡‡‡ so I would be ABSOLUTELY SURE to hear any incoming calls§. Yes. They read it back to me faultlessly. THEN WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME THE ENGINEER WAS DELAYED? I said, thinking of the poor hellterror back at the cottage wondering where the rest of her hurtle (not to mention lunch) was. I MIGHT HAVE ONE OR TWO OTHER THINGS I NEED TO DO TODAY. ASIDE FROM THE SHEER INFURIATINGNESS OF HANGING AROUND WAITING FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T ARRIVE.
Do you want to reschedule? said the woman in a placatory manner.
NO, I said, I WANT TO GET THIS OVER WITH. BUT WOULD YOU PLEASE PASS IT ON TO ADMIN THAT YOU SHOULD TELL PEOPLE WHEN THEIR ENGINEERS ARE DELAYED? I AM, AT THE MOMENT, FEELING EXTREMELY CROSS. I’m sure she would never have guessed.
So I sprinted back to the cottage§§, pelted Pav around a bit§§§, hauled everyone down to the mews, produced lunch in which only Pav was interested, and the hellhounds and I were just about to leap into Wolfgang and return to Third House when Pooka started barking AND IT WAS THE ENGINEER WHO WAS TEN MINUTES EARLY.
He viewed me a little warily, I think, but I wanted the frelling BathBot installed, didn’t I? So I was as glacially polite as possible in this weather. And then I went back to my books on shelves and he got on.#
He was there over two hours## and I was feeling rougher and rougher, but I put it down to FURY, lack of lunch, and trying to keep any of the discarded books on the discarded pile.### And then he called me in to see what he’d done~ and as he said ‘the sealant will need a couple of hours to settle’ the smell hit me and I felt dizzy, queasy—well, queasier—and my returning sore throat started to swell. FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING I’VE BEEN OFFGASSED. If I’d actually been able to smell it before I was in the same room with it I might have had the sense to open some windows. . . . ~~
So I’m back on the sofa again. Still. Forever. Not. I hope.
And I feel like rubbish.
* * *
* or fortnight
** Since I’m about to be rude I will give them a belated alias
*** There are a few chairs at Third House but nothing to lie on, and chairs have mostly not been my best trick recently.
† An hour. One hour. Let me tell you about the wonders of DPD. http://www.dpd.co.uk/index.jsp First you get an email from your seller, telling you that your parcel has been dispatched to DPD and what day it will arrive.^ And then on the day YOU WILL RECEIVE A TEXT WITH AT LEAST AN HOUR’S WARNING OF THE SINGLE HOUR YOU NEED TO WAIT IN FOR DELIVERY. I adore DPD.
^ This for ordinary shopping like, ahem, say, dog food, when you haven’t booked a delivery day, as well as hideously expensive one-offs like BathBots when you have.
†† I’m not going to touch it, I said to Mr Delivery Man with his handcart. You just plonk it down there, and thanks.
††† Episode 76. Episodes 77 through 1,003 to come.
‡ Which was pretty much an event of its own since their 800 number apparently bounces from local office to local office to local office till—at last!—it finds someone not on a coffee break^ who could actually bear to pick up a ringing telephone and every time it bounces to the next office first you hear that little jerk in the ringing tone AND THEN YOU GET THE SAME FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING ROBOT VOICE ABOUT HOW CALLS MAY BE RECORDED FOR TRAINING PURPOSES AND YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO THEM FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING DOODAH FRELLING.
^ Not in a good mood here.
‡‡ Undergoing the same lively and engaging experience as last time.
‡‡‡ Because I’d got there early poor eager fool that I was, so I wouldn’t miss anything.
§ Absorbed as I might be in the books-on-shelves question. And its corollary, the I have here one hundred books and have space for fifty, therefore I must divest myself of fifty books conundrum. And the sub-corollary which says you will comb carefully through your hundred books and divest yourself of . . . three.
§§ Which is a really bad idea when you’re struggling with the end of flu and the familiar recidivist weight of the ME.
§§§ And aside from flu and ME the weather for the past week SUCKS DEAD BEARS. It is that gruesome hot-sticky-humid that makes you feel as if you had ME even if you don’t. We’ve had several nights of thunderstorms but all they provide is son et lumiere. There’ve been cloudbursts that wouldn’t fill a birdbath, and the water continues to hang in the air.
# Because the frelling Brits won’t allow ANYTHING ELECTRICAL in a bathroom you have to go through all these acrobatics any time you want . . . oh, a light switch installed, say, let alone a BathBot. So he looked at the ground and made some sensible suggestions and then let me decide—this was something he was good at, as opposed to the ‘keeping abreast of scheduling problems’ thing—and we now have wiring holes in the airing cupboard and some curious tech in a corner of the dining room. Feh.
## You can see how he could fall behind, because of having to fit everything but the Bot itself outside the bathroom and finding a remotely suitable location for this; I briefly wondered about putting some of it through to the attic but decided that was just too Cyberiad. We don’t give a lot of formal dinner parties anyway.
### The moment you turn your back, they hop back on the keepers pile. This is another well-known house-move phenomenon.
~ And to give the chronologically careless ratbag his due, he had done an extremely neat and well-disguised job in the dining room. The BathBot itself is the BathBot but it’s supposed to be, you know?
~~ In this weather it tends to be cooler inside than out so you don’t frivolously open windows.^
^ And while the well-being of the twit who stole six hours out of my day is perhaps not high on my list of priorities, and I’m prone to environmental allergies, which goes with the whole auto-immune ME-and-other-things spectrum, I do kind of wonder what breathing that stuff day after day is doing to him, however robust his constitution.
~~~ I know. KES. Some day.
I should declare a dedicated Regular Forum Day. I read the comments and think oh, yes, I want to answer that . . . and then I get distracted and the comments I particularly want to answer pile up and pile up and then I can’t find the ones I was thinking about and I fuss about this one or that one which would overlap with what I wanted to say about this other one if I could find it/them and then I stress about the ones I miss out, especially the interesting and amusing ones that I meant to get back to but they didn’t fit with the hare I was pursuing right now and then of course I LOSE THEM . . . .
No, I’m not safe to cross the street alone.*
Or – when the power is out – [smoke alarms] chirp despairingly** at you. Which I figured meant the back up battery was dead. I had presumed that the battery was what they ran on. Turns out that ours must be wired in. And no, the spare, little square battery wasn’t there. Must have used the spare last time.
At the old house we had this diabolical system where whatever you did . . . was wrong. They were (apparently) BOTH wired in and had batteries, like yours. There was the additional factor at the old house however that it was LARGE. You could wander for days through the winding corridors and up and down stairs looking for the particular smoke alarm piping forlornly. And if it started at two/five a.m., forget it. Put a pillow over your head. Put several pillows over your head. Oxygen shortage will make your heart thud in your ears louder than the frelling smoke alarm.
Although for hysterical-making LOUDNESS, any of you have back-up batteries for your desktop computers? So if the power goes out you have a few minutes to save and shut down? I have never heard anything so loud in my entire life as that thing. An entire chorus line of Wagnerian sopranos couldn’t make so much noise (HOJOTOHO HEIAHA-HA!!!!!! etc). AND IT’S A MAJOR RATBAG TO TURN OFF. MAAAAAAAJOR. It’s hammering you with that noise and you CAN’T THINK what you did last time to make it stoooooop—no, you can’t think, THAT’S ALL. YOU CAN’T THINK. I don’t believe the power has ever gone off while the desktop was on so I haven’t tested the likelihood that I’m incapable of focussing through the cacophony to save and close down which kind of destroys the point, doesn’t it? The wretched thing is now years and years old so maybe I could replace it.*** No, better not, my even more ancient desktop, which at present is bizarrely rather reliable†, would probably pine.
Your luck is rubbing off–my oven gave up the ghost this morning–sigh.
Oh dear. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . . Whimper. Please may my Aga go on working. Did I tell you that my central heating packed in several weeks . . . um . . . quite a few weeks ago? Since I spend most of my time crouched by the Aga downstairs it’s not crucial although I should perhaps get it mended in time for next winter, just in case it’s more like winter and less like spring in a rainforest. But these last two nights when we’ve had frost I do kind of pelt downstairs in a hurry to get dressed by the Aga. In lots of hairy, fluffy layers.††
I’ll see you a peacefully chirping smoke alarm in need of a battery and raise you a screaming (yes, the dragons reference is accurate) carbon monoxide sensor… which is a plug-in… and the power goes off… and it screams… and you eventually stash it in the garage, under something large, until your husband can come home and eviscerate it temporarily but thoroughly. Or until the power comes back on. Which ever is first.
So at least it’s portable? My frelling computer back up battery weighs more than a hellterror. Probably more than a fat hellterror. Not to mention that little ‘not making your neighbours hate you’ thing. I have at least one fairly scary neighbour—Phineas, Atlas and I tend to hide when we see her coming.
Carbon monoxide? Is this something to do with your furnace/boiler? As I recall when I was still in Maine they were starting to have screaming radon alarms. I had no need for one, since I had entire weather systems tooling around through my charming, but aged and leaky little house. Since it sat on granite and had two one-and-a-half storey granite boulders in the back yard I’m sure there was radon around, but it didn’t settle in and get comfy.
Diane in MN
Pooka continues to refuse to pick up the internet when we’re away from our home wifi. I can have all the little ‘signal’ bars that there’s frelling room for dancing the fandango and singing ‘I feel pretty’ and Safari just sits there saying ‘Nope.
. . . is it supposed to connect automatically to any network anywhere? Or do you have to tell it to locate all available networks, then specify which one to use? . . . Another possibility is that the bars you see are for a wifi network that’s password protected, and if you don’t have the password, you’re toast.
No, this seems to be pretty genuinely a FAULT. The bars are to do with the automatic if-the-default-wifi-is-not-available alternate system. Raphael has come and wrestled with it twice and all the ‘settings’ say the right things, they just don’t do what they’re told. Tech. Arrrgh. Speaking of default: tech = arrrrrrgh. The problem I see slowly and relentlessly coming into focus is that everything except, for the moment, my elderly desktop, is getting increasingly unreliable: Pooka, Astarte, the laptop. I can’t replace all of them. I wish they’d get together and offload all the nonsense on one piece of kit. But that would be much too easy.
It was the kind of meeting where your fearless leader decides that you should start with something that makes you talk to each other. [ . . . ] The first thing on the list was: ‘knits’.
I’m not a big fan of these exercises, and if this is typical of the list, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about this one. Just as an example, I’ve found that “I knit” might generate a comment or a question, but will only start a conversation with another knitter.
I pretty much detest all pointless social flimflam. Either let’s do something or let’s go home. If I’d gone into the kind of career that started developing Team Bonding Seminars and Group Hug Retreats—which were rare when I was a young thing and I’ve watched proliferate alarmingly as I pursue my cranky, fortunately solo way through life—I think I might have had to change careers. Or, possibly, had them changed out from under me when I failed the Group Hug Weekend. In this particular instance, however, the list was long enough you didn’t have time for a conversation, you were busy tracking down the next thing on your list. Anybody who plays a musical instrument/ knits/ likes Marmite/ would like either to DO SOMETHING or go home, please wave your hand. I, of course, being able to get stuff wrong even when I’m not trying to get stuff wrong managed to strike up a conversation with the wrong people and had to be chivvied back into the central melee. Sigh.
I think this little fire-movie from Norway is quite funny.
The geeky person starts by saying “In the beginning it felt really strange. I didn’t understand – why did they want me in their home, when they didn’t respect me at all…?”
::falls down laughing:: Yes. And while it’s more or less clear in context I’m grateful for the translation.
I did the fire marshall training at my work. It was very entertaining. How often, these days, do you get to let off a fire extinguisher ON PURPOSE?
Among the other gems that stick in my mind, I remember the trainer saying that he changed the batteries on all his smoke alarms every Christmas. Presents, Queen’s speech, change the batteries. He said that way you remember to do it. He acknowledged that some people might want to do it on their birthday instead.
Oh, feh. That battery had lasted SEVERAL YEARS. I’m supposed to WASTE SEVERAL YEARS of battery? I suppose I could buy a five-year diary for batteries . . . um, no, I don’t think so. Although I did write down, and put in Wolfgang’s glovebox, when I was obliged to buy him a new battery two (!) years ago. So I’d know. Hmm. Actually I could put ‘Mar 14’ on a sticky label and tack it to the smoke alarm. . . . maybe that’s too obvious. . . .
YOU CAN’T TURN THE RING OFF ON MY NEW PHONE/ANSWERPHONE. . . .
Grrrr. My husband wants us to continue to have a land line, so we have a phone/answering machine plugged into it. I work from home and no longer answer the land line (anyone I actually want to talk to calls the mobile), and so I wanted to turn the ringer off so I’m not disturbed every time someone calls wanting to sell me something or ask me to donate money to their cause.
Yes. I am continuing to fail, speaking of failing, to get my act together to finish the process of renting Third House, and one of the obstacles I keep swerving away from is spending the several hundred pounds to force BT to put a landline in, since there isn’t one in this centre-of-town, eighty-year-old house with the phone jack in the kitchen. Do I have to have a landline? Unfortunately rental agencies are still kind of traditional about this.
There is no “ringer off” button on our machine. Or on either handset.
I think we figured out that for ours, at least, we can silence the ring on the handset but it took some digging and poking in the menus (and I’m usually good at figuring this stuff out).
Well I feel better that the insanity is general. I am NOT usually good at figuring this stuff out . . . but eventually I managed to find the very small print in the handbook that SAYS you can’t turn the ring off the portable handset. It does not, however, tell you why.
* * *
* Fortunately I rarely am crossing the street alone. Usually I am accompanied by hellcritters.
** Just by the way I am interested that Australian smoke alarms make the same dying-battery noises as British smoke alarms.
*** First I have to buy a washing machine. I’m still whining and wincing. I need to get on with it though. The extra-years’ guarantee deal is only till the end of the month. Not to mention that Peter is threatening to divorce me if I don’t get my stuff out of his washing machine.
† No, no! I didn’t say that! Never use the “r” word about computers, it makes them nasty!
†† No, the hellcritters come after the dressing. Although some of the hairy-and-fluffy kind of migrates.
I’m beginning to feel cursed. You already know about the temporarily comatose Wolfgang and the definitively dead washing machine*. Last night/this morning at five a.m. my smoke alarm decided it needed a new battery. Aaaaaaaugh. So you’re dragged out of a deep, satisfying sleep (!) by this frelling chirping noise . . . and first you have to decide you’re not imagining it because in fact you weren’t really experiencing deep, satisfying sleep because deep, satisfying sleep is not among your skill set. Then, having more or less decided that it is a real noise and not the sound of all your brain cells clicking together like billiard balls, and wondering if you need to wake the hellterror and bring her upstairs so she can find the source of this alleged real noise for you**, and you are in the arduous process of getting out of bed*** because one way or another this must stop, it slowly manifests in your sleep-raddled mind that the only thing in your experience that makes a noise like that is a smoke alarm that wants its zonking battery changed. They programme them to make this decision while you should be asleep, right? I think possibly they programme them to study the household first so as better to ascertain when horizontal bed time most often occurs: if you’re a farmer with cows to milk you might well be awake and on your second cup of coffee by five.
So then you get to stagger around trying to remember where you might have stashed one of those frelling square batteries that almost nothing else uses but you’re pretty sure you do have one because you’ve been here before, although it’s so long ago you don’t remember where you put the spare battery . . . but this is one of those super-frellers that if you try to unplug it so you can deal with it in the morning the BACK UP BATTERY kicks in and there’s no courteous, mild little cheeping, it screams death, dragons, disaster, debacle and defeat and the back up battery itself is one of those horrible tiny round things that you need a Special Tool to open the door of and it doesn’t open and it doesn’t open and it doesn’t open possibly because you have no idea where your Special Tool is and are using a 5p piece and then when you finally do wrench it open the battery leaps out and rolls under the table. Where you have to be sure to retrieve it before the hellterror eats it. But the whole teeny stuck battery-hatch thing is not going to happen at 5 a.m. since neither my fingers nor my eyes are up to that much focussing so we’re back to finding a new square battery for the main event.
Okay. I found it. I reattached the little wires. I shut the barglegleebing plastic battery door. Silence fell.† AT WHICH POINT I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO TURN THE RING ON MY NEW PHONE OFF. So I could, you know, sleep. I used to do this regularly on the old machine: unplug the phone from the machine, the machine silently picks up messages, and the phone doesn’t ring. YOU CAN’T TURN THE RING OFF ON MY NEW PHONE/ANSWERPHONE. Who the freaking double grasking whatsit argle frell figured that one out? THAT YOU CAN’T MAKE YOUR PHONE NOT RING? The ‘base’ unit will allow its ringtone to be turned off. Not the portable. You can turn the volume down—which, just by the way, is about as effective as turning a barking hellterror down—but you can’t turn it off. Eventually I buried the thing under the sofa cushions and (finally) went back to bed. . . .
* * *
* And—just by the way—Pooka continues to refuse to pick up the internet when we’re away from our home wifi. I can have all the little ‘signal’ bars that there’s frelling room for dancing the fandango and singing ‘I feel pretty’ and Safari just sits there saying ‘Nope. And you can’t make me.’ Since Astarte doesn’t have a mobile connection THIS IS VERY IRRITATING. And yes, while it’s true that we’re all overconnected out of our tiny minds, it IS CONVENIENT, while you’re waiting for something to happen, to be able to whip out your tech of choice and check, for example, on the weather. You are (let’s say) a quarter mile from your car and your umbrella is still in the car. Frell frell frell frell frell.^
^ I was at a meeting tonight# and I got there about fifteen minutes early because I’d been worried about the traffic and/or getting lost. So having failed to check the weather I . . . of course . . . got out my knitting. I think everyone else in the room commented##: knitting as nonthreatening topic of conversation among a bunch of strangers waiting for something to happen.
It was the kind of meeting where your fearless leader decides that you should start with something that makes you talk to each other.### So she passed out sheets of paper headed: Find Someone In the Room Who . . . and it’s a list, like, has moved house in the last year, plays a musical instrument, loves Marmite. The first thing on the list was: ‘knits’. Nine pairs of eyes immediately swivelled to focus on my name tag.
# And no I wasn’t rained on on the way back to Wolfgang.
## But no one else got out their knitting. Everybody keeps telling me how popular knitting is. I sure hang out in the wrong crowd.
### NOOOOOOOO. NOT MORE CONVERSATION WITH STRANGERS. “IT’S A BIG SQUARE SCARF” AND “YOU JUST KEEP KNITTING—IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GORGEOUS YARN” IS AS FAR AS I GO.
** There’s no use in asking the hellhounds. They would open one eye, say eh, it’s a noise, and close the eye again.
***. . . while reluctantly deciding that hellterror involvement is a bad idea. She’s very good at finding and pointing things out, it’s just that a crucial element of the pointing-out process is barking at them and while my semi-detached neighbour is a paragon of tolerance and patience I think a hellterror paroxysm at 5 a.m. might be pushing it.
† Except for hellterror snores.
Yes. Feebledweeb came back this morning. There was a postcard through my door about my missing my scheduled pick-up. I’m probably imagining the petulance. I am not imagining, however, the incredibly long, annoying, would-be mollifying robot email from a critter-supply site I have ordered from for the first time because they sell a Critter Fur Bag that is supposed to protect your (possibly new) washing machine from the extremes of critter hair production.* Cosy Paws and Fuzzy Tummies Ltd is using one of the shiny new carrier companies . . . which I’ve already had several emails from informing me that my order is creeping inexorably nearer but they’re not going to tell me how fast or anything . . . I have to be AT HOME to SIGN FOR IT and they will only make TWO attempts to deliver before it’s returned to sender, etc. HOW THE FREAKING ARGLEBLARGING FRELL DO THESE COMPANIES STAY IN BUSINESS? Apparently I’m supposed to be able to track it tomorrow, when it’s (maybe**) due for Delivery Attempt #1 but I don’t even know what that means. If I sign on tonight/tomorrow morning at midnight oh one, will it tell me that the driver is at home having a beer in front of the Late Show?*** Will Astarte chirrup at me at 6 a.m.† when the parcel is loaded into the lorry? Will tracking include a klaxon when the lorry passes the New Arcadia town limits? Arrrrrgh. And the Seriously Irritating Robot letter from the critter-supply site says, ooooooh please be nice to us, we’re trying really hard.†† Sure you are. Change delivery companies. Change to one that when you say ‘LEAVE THE SODBLASTED PACKET BEHIND THE GATE’ they leave it behind the gate and don’t require me to poke a touchscreen with a plastic stylus in a manner that not only looks nothing like my signature, but doesn’t look like anything remotely resembling anyone’s signature.
The garage started work on Wolfgang today. I’m supposed to ring late tomorrow afternoon and see how they’re getting on. The suspense is killing me. I WANT MY MONKS. I WANT MY MONKS. I also have an appointment to talk to Alfrick before service Saturday night. If I started walking Saturday morning I might get there in time, maybe they’d let me sleep in the porch . . . after all I’d have to bring the hellpack, they can’t keep their legs crossed for thirty six hours, we could keep each other warm. . . .
And I’ve probably decided on my new washing machine. ::Gasp:: It’s a Miele. You know what Mieles COST?! But if you ask six random critter owners what washing machine will best stand up to the depredations of critter fur, they will speak in one voice: IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, GET A MIELE.†††
Um. Ratbags. Well, the hellhounds don’t eat much . . . and I could maybe buy fewer books and less yarn . . . .
And in other techie news: My new phone machine appears to be working.‡ I can call out on it. I can receive calls on it, even if the dargletching ring tone sounds like a drowning pigeon. I can even pick up messages. That’s all I can do. At some point I will have to find out how to erase messages before the sorbligging Message Space fills up. For some reason a number of people, having read the Are you sure it’s not Friday the 13th? blog post, starting with lecuyerv on the forum and for which thank you, have sent me a link to this: http://xkcd.com/1343/ Yes. Exactly.
* * *
But I didn’t buy it here. If I’m going to be rude about the seller I’m not going to hang a link on the blog. But I’ve heard of the site I ordered from, it has a good rep in critter-supply circles, and it had some happy customers reporting on the Fur Bag.
** There is some question about the depot being stolen by deranged djinns. A little-known prediction of Nostradamus.
*** If there have been any djinn sightings?
† The drawbacks of taking your iPad to bed with you. Remember to turn it off? Are you kidding?
†† If we roll over will you rub our tummy? —No. I get enough tummy rubbing demands already.^ Humans have alarm clocks to get them up in the morning. Hellcritters have tummy rubbing. GUYS. I’VE ONLY GOT TWO HANDS. Darkness, who is his generation’s major tummy rubbee, however, does not acknowledge that this creates any sort of common ground with the hellterror. You call that a tummy? he says. At which point Chaos, who isn’t totally committed to tummy rubbing but does not want to be left out of anything, ducks under one of my arms, as I kneel blearily on the kitchen floor rubbing tummies while waiting for the frelling kettle to frelling boil, and knocks me over.
^ Also, I don’t like you.
††† Also, who knew that reading about washing machines could be fun? http://www.whitegoodshelp.co.uk/about-whitegoodshelp-andy-trigg/
Miele is also, siiiiiiiigh, the top of the list by a margin of about seventy-three leagues at WHICH?
Although you have to join. I’ve joined. But nothing on earth will make me read an entire article on George Osborne.^
^ This comment will become obscure+ as soon as they put some other headline on their opening page.
+ I have a strange reluctance to use the word ‘obsolete’. I think it’s very unfriendly of Bosch to stop making parts for a mere twenty-plus-year-old washing machine. I bet Miele is still making parts for twenty-plus-year-old machines.^
^ At these prices, better had.
‡ Mrs Redboots
Um, I’m not quite sure why anybody buys an answering machine in this day and age – can’t you just record your message on 1571, which is what I do? . . . Of course, the huge downside is you have to remember to check the frelling thing, which I never do . . .
Um . . . pathological loathing of BT?^ BT, who, when applied to to turn the landline phone on at Third House declared that there was no cable to the house—the eighty-year-old house in the middle of town with the phone jack in the kitchen—and I would have to pay several hundred pounds to get one installed. BT, who has insisted for nearly a decade that my problem with the upstairs phone at the cottage is to do with the house wiring and it will cost me several hundred pounds if they send an engineer, even though their own frelling linemen, laughing like drains at the state of the cul-de-sac’s common wiring, says that it is BT. Yes, it’s true that my series of cheap, simple-minded previous phone machines were BT, but in the first place they were crap and they never pretended to be anything other than crap and in the second place a phone machine is a discrete thing that sits on your desk/table/electric keyboard/floor, it has a beginning and an ending, it has edges, and for that matter you can smudge it with burning sage if you want to drive the BT demons out. I’m not going to use 1571. It’s too personal.
Oh, and Peter uses 1571. And never remembers to pick up his messages.
^ That postmistress didn’t retire. She went to work for BT.
I have a DEAD CAR.
I have a DEAD WASHING MACHINE.
I am SUPPOSED TO BE STREET PASTORING TONIGHT*, but I can’t, because I have a DEAD CAR. This means I’ve missed TWO MONTHS IN A ROW.**
I probably won’t get Wolfgang back till the end of next week . . . which among other things means I WILL MISS MY VOICE LESSON ON MONDAY.***
I will also MISS MY MONKS TOMORROW NIGHT.†
And the DEAD CAR means I have no way to schlep my dirty laundry to Peter’s washing machine—and New Arcadia is way too small for a Laundromat, aside from the question of how many machines one person with three hairy dogs can blow up in a single application.††
AND I—finally—bought a new phone answering machine†††. Which I spent two hours over this afternoon, trying to figure out how to make the sucker work. I HATE TECHNOLOGY.‡ This object is such a piece of rubbish in so many ways. You have 1,000,000,000,000 frelling menus of obscure acronyms and impenetrable icons . . . and an ‘instruction book’ that fails to instruct. For example: it keeps saying, you press this little arrow till you get the listing you want, and then you hit ‘okay’. IT NEVER TELLS YOU WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO FIND THE OKAY, AND OKAY DOESN’T APPEAR UNTIL YOU’VE DONE SOMETHING RIGHT ALREADY WHICH YOU WON’T HAVE BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. Frelling icons are frelling Rorschach blots, every one of them meaning: YOU’RE TOTALLY SCREWED HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.‡‡
I think I finally got the date and time set up‡‡‡ and a basic message recorded . . . although that I am speaking through clenched teeth is pretty obvious. Leave. A. Message. After. The. Beep. I have no idea what most of the superfluous crap on all those menus is . . . but this frzzzzzblggggng thing has only TWO ringtones, both of them nasty. And this thing cost money! It cost real money! I’ve been putting off buying a new phone machine because BT stopped making the cut-rate plastic toy model that I used to use, which was not a total loss because they were SO cruddy they only lasted about a year before disintegrating like one of those cornstarch shopping bags . . . but they were simple. I could use one. Mind you, if you’re asking, I’d say they were overspecified too: all I want is something I can record my voice on, so people ringing me know they’ve got my phone number—among my many, many pet hates is robot-voice answering machines so you have no idea if you’ve reached the right person/number or not—and that will record any messages. I don’t want a phone machine that can make hollandaise sauce and tutor me in Russian and mechanical engineering! I ONLY WANT TO RECORD MESSAGES, PLAY THEM BACK, AND THEN ERASE THEM.
. . . And now I have to shoulder my heavy knapsack§ and hike home . . . with three hellcritters gambolling delightedly in my wake.§§
* * *
* So this entry was supposed to be a stub. It may yet be when a crevasse opens at my feet and the table falls into the centre of the earth, which would be about par for this day’s course. I may or may not catch the laptop before it disappears forever, but my four knitting books from the library, at present lying on the table, will be goners. Even knitting books are out to get me: there is ONE pattern out of all FOUR of them that I can imagine knitting, and this includes two books by a designer I usually like.^
^ There’s also a yarn sale going on on a Web Site Near You where one of the listings is for £17 skeins of luxury yarn . . . at eight pence off the usual price. Be still my heart.
** Last month was The Night of the Tempestuous Tempest, when the cops were telling us to stay home unless we HAD to be out. And I was looking at all the raging torrents that used to be roads and gardens and sitting rooms and so on and thought, staying home, above the flood line, that’s a good idea.
*** I may end up hiring a car—NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO—but not till I’ve talked to the garage again on Monday, which will be too late for my lesson. They’re ordering parts tomorrow, so some of my fate is riding on whether the gloppendorkenflurgetruder^ arrives on Monday.
^ Well, Wolfgang is German.
† Buckminster thinks he can find me a ride to St Margaret’s Sunday evening. He hasn’t said anything about ‘if you promise not to sing’.^
^ I will miss my monks worse. I like their music better.
†† I think I’ve told you that the hellterror is an astonishing producer of loose hair. No wonder she eats so much. Has to keep her strength up for all that intensive fur growing.
††† Delivered by an unusually delightful carrier, who put a postcard through my door after a failed first attempt, saying that they would try again the next day, any time from seven a.m. to six p.m., and upon a third failure the item would be returned to the warehouse and I would be issued a refund. WHAT? How does the seller stay in business with a system like that? And as I’ve said—often—before, any blasted carrier who puts a postcard through my door saying they tried to leave my package with a neighbour is either lying or terminally lazy. My neighbours are all either retired or work from home.
As it happens I was waiting in, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for the washing-machine man—the appointment was for ‘after nine’. Well, it was certainly after nine: in fact it was after noon—and I was therefore available at 11:45 when Delivery Attempt #2 happened—and I ran after him and pulled him down and snatched my parcel away from him before he could get back to his truck and lock the doors. . . . I should have let him keep it.
‡ The favour is, of course, mutual.
‡‡ I am reminded of the old joke which I’ve seen somewhere very recently, did someone post it on the forum? Having no car and no washing machine is having an unfortunate suppressive effect on my brain. So, this shrink shows a patient a Rorschach blot and says, what do you see? And the patient says, a man and a woman making love. The shrink shows the patient another blot and the patient says, that’s a man and a man really getting it on. And looking at the third blot the patient says, and that’s two women having a very, very hot time. The shrink says, I see that you are obsessed with sex. The patient says in possibly justifiable outrage, that’s rich, coming from you. You’re the one with all the dirty pictures.
‡‡‡ Which I will have to reset every time there is a power outage, and we have brief, settings-blowing power outages kind of a lot. My old el frelling cheapo phone machine, you put a BATTERY in it and it HELD its settings through power cuts.
§ Having seriously damaged my back and shoulders hauling dog food in the other direction
§§ This is a rant for another day, but I’ve basically given up taking all three of them out together—the Off Lead Dog problem is too severe, and I’m at just too much of a disadvantage with three of my own. The only time I’ll risk it is after midnight, like now. . . .