Tuesday, 6 April 2010


I think Mercury must be in retrograde or something. There has to be some explanation for the succession of niggly frustrations and difficulties I have been plagued by for the last 10 days. Nothing has worked out.

Item 1: Friday 26th March.
Brand new laptop delivered 4 days earlier than expected by excellent 'Laptops.direct.co.uk'. (That's not the frustrating bit). Switch on brand new laptop. It doesn't work. Screen knackered. No picture - just lots of thin, multi-coloured lines, like a weird bar code. Takes me until following Tuesday to get company to sort out return arrangements, after various phone calls to call centres in India and exchange of e-mails. The final straw was when the webpages which carried the returns request form crashed, and all I got was error messages when I tried to post the return details. Much swearing and gnashing of teeth on my part.

Item 2: Thursday 1st April
Having finally sorted out collection of non-functioning laptop by Parcelforce, get a text from husband, who was staying at home to facilitate said collection. The Parcelforce man had called at the very moment husband was in the loo. By the time C got to the door, Parcelforce man had gone back to his van and was driving away. I think ringing the doorbell once and then buggering off as fast as possible doesn't really constitute a reasonable collection service. Returns agreement with Laptop company states that if the collection doesn't go ahead because we weren't at home at agreed time, we would have to pay for second collection. Spent an incredibly frustrating half hour on my mobile phone, parked on a side street, navigating automated call routing system of Parcelforce in an attempt to request that the driver turn around and come back to pick up the laptop. At one point, I was connected to some random manager who was on his car phone! And of course, if you end up at a dead end on these automated call systems, you have to start ALL OVER AGAIN and listen to a cheery recorded voice telling you that your call may be recorded for training purposes, and that answers to many queries can be found at the Parcelforce website and that all the lines are busy and I am in a queue but my call is important .... We've all been there. Finally got through to Edinburgh dispatch office and was told that they would try to contact driver, but it was unlikely that he'd be able to come back and I'd probably have to arrange another collection on Tuesday, as Monday was a bank holiday .....

Item 3: Wednesday 31st March - Saturday 3rd April
Return of snow, sleet, gales and general wintery weather on Wednesday. Wednesday evening, central heating boiler breaks down. No heating. No hot water. Luckily, we have one of those service and maintenance agreements with the gas company, so I am sanguine. Foolishly so. 8am Thursday morning, phone to arrange engineer visit. No one available until following day but engineer would come between 8am and 1pm on Friday.  Spend Thursday huddled near to electric radiators (before we moved to Edinburgh, we used to live in what was possibly the coldest house in England, so at least we have a good range of mobile heaters at our disposal,  which have not quite yet found their way to the car boot sale). Enjoy pleasure of stand up wash with flannel and kettle of hot water.

Wait in on Friday until 4.30pm, before finally being told by British Gas that the engineer wouldn't be able to make it that day after all. This after 4 phone calls from me during day to enquire as to whereabouts of engineer. At each enquiry  I had been assured that he would be with us soon, and we were next on his list. In a rare moment of assertiveness (fuelled by blind rage) I insist on being put down as the first call for the engineer the following morning, Despite my assertiveness, I am fobbed off by 'Sean', who insists that this is impossible because the scheduling of the engineer calls is done by a computer. When I ask to be put through to a manager who might just be able to override the computer scheduling, I am told by the charming 'Sean' that the manager is on another call. When I ask to be put on hold until the Manager is free, Sean informs me that this is impossible as he, Sean,  has lots of other customers to call. I manage to extract a promise from 'Sean' (he refuses to give me his second name) that the manager will phone me back as soon as she is off the call. She doesn't call back. At 4.55pm, I phone British Gas and get through to the main Homecare call centre, where a  very charming man, with much better customer care training than 'Sean' arranges an engineer's appointment at 12 noon the following day and promises that this will go ahead come what may.

Saturday morning. Another nice stand-up wash at the basin with the kettle of hot water. Regret cancelling my gym membership. Even if I never went to the gym, I could have gone and used the shower. Engineer arrives shortly after 12 noon. Switches on central heating boiler. It works perfectly!  Let me just type that again so you don't miss it: CENTRAL HEATING BOILER WORKS PERFECTLY.  I had tried to relight the boiler a number of times on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning with no luck. But now, it works perfectly. Engineer checks everything, but cannot find a fault. We have been shivering, washing with kettles of hot water and having arguments with unhelpful British Gas employees, and all the while, our heating was apparently ok.

Item 3: Monday 5th April - Easter Monday Bank Holiday
Brief flirtation with DIY - putting up a venetian blind from Ikea - turns into day long swearathon. First I have the wrong screws. Then the wood is so hard the screws won't go in. Then I put the brackets on the wrong way round and have to start all over again. Then I put the brackets on about 2mm too close together so the blind won't slot in so I have to start all over again. All of this done balancing very precariously on top of stepladder, as we have very tall windows. Each time I (repeatedly) drop one of the screws, or the screwdriver or the pencil, or on one rather noisy occasion, the electric drill/screwdriver, I have to clamber down the steps and then clamber back up. Many, many times. What I estimated would take me an hour in the morning takes me until 6.30pm. Admittedly this includes a break for lunch, a break to go to Homebase to buy new screws and frequent breaks to calm myself down. I think the old man who lives underneath us must have been able to hear me swearing, and he is stone deaf.

Item 4: Monday 5th April
Undaunted by gruelling battle with blind, on Monday evening I embarked on a further - and some might say misguided - attempt at DIY. Putting up of very simple brass rod for new lace curtains in bedroom. (Yes, we had been to Ikea on Sunday, along with half the population of Scotland.) More precarious balancing on top of a stepladder. Manage to fix first bracket to carry curtain rod into very hard window frame. Discover I haven't left enough space between bracket and side of bay window for ornamental finial on the end of the rod. Have to start again. Discover that the window frame isn't wide enough to accommodate bracket in such a way that the ornamental finial can fit between bracket and wall. Give up.

Item 5: Tuesday 6th May
Take delivery of new mattress from Ikea. C and I haul old mattress off bed, then wrestle wrapping from new mattress, before dragging new mattress onto bed. Mattress is 3 inches too small. Either Ikea  have delivered the wrong size, or we were so confused by the weird Ikea bed sizes that we have ordered the wrong size. Either way, new mattress had to be dragged off bed and manhandled back into its large plastic bag.

Tomorrow I will face job of arranging exchange. Not now. I am just going to sit quietly for a bit, and eat some chocolate.


  1. I'd suggest rather a LOT of chocolate myself and a good stiff drink or two...

  2. Ahhh yes, I recognise the scenario. Mine happened in the winter. Boiler backed up due to cold, back door froze shut, double glazed window (BRAND NEW) exploded in the night, roof sprang a leak...all this and shovelling snow every morning and evening AND walking to work and back twice a day. It's a bit like the times all the household appliances have a suicide pact and give up at once.
    Go for it with the chocolate...

  3. Definitely time to consider exorcism.......

  4. oh that's weird... both Ruth and myself had weird communication problems (too tedious to explain)and Ruth even had boiler problems that week, cue Twilight Zone music....