Friday 11 April 2014

Monopoly on incompetence

It was a real pleasure to squirrel away some time and catch up on some of the blogs I've missed reading over the last couple of weeks.

Some of you may know that we've been having a new boiler installed this week.  It's almost too painful to recount the tale of this process, because it would become a 1000 word Kafka novel.  But you can have some highlights.  When we decided on a new boiler from British Gas, this had to come from the commercial division, because we have a large house.  It's not a mansion or a stately home, it's just slightly larger than the average home.  We had to have a new supply which involved National Grid who sent two surveyors several weeks apart.  The second one informed us that our supply was insufficient.  We already knew that and that's why they had been commissioned to upgrade it.  Even after two surveys, the guys who turned up didn't know what they were supposed to be doing, so quickly disappeared again to get the right equipment - an excavator.  They did their work in the two days allotted and disappeared leaving a trench in the drive.  A new team was sent to re-tarmac the pavement.  Another arrived to retarmac the road.  Another arrived to remove the bollards.  Another arrived to fill in the trench.  And a final team arrived to remove the safety fencing.  Although the boiler had been on order for three months, some parts hadn't been delivered, and didn't arrive until Friday morning.  This for a job that we had been told would be done in two days.  I can't talk about the British Gas metering department which refuses to talk to either the rest of British Gas or National Grid.  Nor can I talk about the outside meter housing which National Grid described as hideous and told us to get a nice one elsewhere, only for us to discover you really can get them only from National Grid.  Between us, The Cat's Mother and I have quite a high IQ, yet we remain completely baffled as to how this system can survive in the 21st Century, and how these two organisations think it is an acceptable way to behave.  Our only possible answer is that the stress is so much that we've both aged into senility since we first started thinking a new boiler would be a good idea.

On a happier note, The Cat has been home for the Easter break to keep her Mother company.  The only shock will be the arrival of her boyfriend on Sunday.  He's staying until Thursday.  Neither The Cat's Mother nor I have met him before, so those few days will be interesting.  Indeed.

The Boy has just returned to Kitzbuhel after his few days in Amsterdam...he seemed to split from his Dutch girlfriend around about the time he arrived...or may be just before so he probably didn't get the experience he was expecting, but I think he had fun at least when he was cycling not knowing which way to turn on continental roads.  He's hoping for a summer job in Kitz and I wish him all the luck in the world, although I miss him desperately.

I meant to mention, but think I forgot, that it was Grandad in Cyprus' 70th and he had a celebration dinner for family in the UK just before I went off skiing.  There were people there I hadn't seen for nearly forty years...but it was easy to see they are the same now in their hearts as they were in the olden days.  I very much enjoyed spending the evening my brother who continues to have some serious health problems...he seems to have worn his body out quicker than most, but I suspect his cheerful visage will see him through for very, very many years yet.  The outdoor gardening job he has seems to give him enormous satisfaction...more than I've ever known and I'm sure all the exercise can only be good for him.

We went to see 'Another Country' which remains an utterly absorbing play.  I find it a fascinating story of how the establishment does down those that are not 'one of them'.  I think it still has the same impact, given that the cabinet is stuffed with Etonians, as it did when it first appeared.  The performances were not amazing, but then the original run included the likes of Kenneth Brannagh and Rupert it had a lot to live up to.  I was somewhat shocked when The Cat's Mother insisted we stop off for a donner kebab on the way home.  After all we were stone cold sober.  No idea what was going on there.  It was delicious.

And last night we headed off to another Secret Cinema which was splendid.  It took place in a north london town hall from the 1930's which suited the film down to the ground.  The actors who added the 'experiential element' were as superb as always and we came home feeling it was an evening well spent.

I now have one of the videos of my bobsleigh run, so I suspect my next posting will simply be a link to a youtube of me lazy if you like!

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Up the Alps

I like CDs, I don't like's nice to have something to have and to hold, look at the artwork and sometimes I even read the lyrics.  The same applies to DVDs...much better than downloads, but, as I was taking the train from London all the way to the Alps for my holiday, I thought it would be a good idea to download a couple of movies for my viewing pleasure.  I tried with Blinkbox, but try as they might and try as I might we couldn't get them to download on to my shiny new computer.  So it was back to Apple, who offer the same service, at the same price it seems, and no hassle.  I'm not a great fan of Apple, but needs must.

I hadn't thought it through though.  If you're watching a film in public, you need to think about the people around you...especially children.  So when I started watching Riddick, I quickly realised that the monsters, the blood, the gore and the violence were totally inappropriate.  I had to shield everyone from the horror fest.  The same applied for my next selection, Filth.  Sex, drugs, transvestites, violence.  The perfect family viewing on Eurostar.  I was sat next to a Muslim, and felt awful.  Oops.

I didn't plan things too well, and when I arrived I realised that I hadn't packed either toothpaste or deodorant.  The local shop stocked only women's deodorants, so I pranced around the slopes smelling like a bunch of flowers all week.  The same shop sold me a tube of toothpaste for £10....

Apart from that, the holiday was a gem...still loads of snow for the skiing antics, and loads of sunshine too. No more holidays for me this year...I've been away so much this year that Easyjet has categorised me as a frequent flyer.

The Cat and Cat's Mother seem to have enjoyed themselves in my absence...I'm sure quality time together was very welcome for the both of them.  I thought it would be fun to text The Cat's Mother only in French...she obviously liked the idea so much that she would ring me back and speak in English...may be it was because my texts were based on 'O' level French of some 35 years ago...

The Boy is in Amsterdam for a week with friends...staying on the Boatel.  I'm sure that it won't be the sea that gives him sickness this week.

A little harsh...just because I didn't follow the instructors lessons....

 Google invited the Hoff along...I am lost for words....