Today was supposed to be a day of industry, a day for getting things done, a day of tick, tick, tick and it certainly started well enough.
I’d taken the day off primarily to receive delivery of part of the Trafford Centre competition prize, courtesy of John Lewis. I’d been taken on a wild telephonic goose chase over the last couple of weeks – usually via their inefficient call centre in Hamilton – and finally they would be here. When it would arrive was another story. The delivery “slot” (makes it sound like a small window) was actually between 0700 and 1400 (a large window) and from experience I knew they would turn up just as I’d had enough and decided to “’pop out’ for five minutes.
The secondary reason for the day off, and a happy coincidence at that, was the return to school of Felicity. She’d had a full and busy summer holiday and couldn’t wait to get back to our chosen seat of learning. I was more than happy to take her there and play the doting parent.
The phone went at 0745. “We’ll be there in half an hour”. Perfect! We were obviously first on the John Lewis delivery list and it meant I didn’t have to rush back after dropping Flick off at school. Phew!
The delivery guys turned up on time and brought in the TV, Blu-Ray player and, unexpectedly, a TV stand. Tick.
We got to school in plenty of time and milled about as the playground began to fill with carefree kids still in holiday mode and anxious on-looking parents, guardians and relatives, who I imagine were mostly there for the new P1s. Flick’s only concern seemed to be where her new class waiting line would be but as the bell went it soon became apparent and before long she was off. Tick.
I walked back to the car with one of her classmate’s parents. She headed off to work and I headed into town to begin my day of leisure. I had time to kill so I settled for my free, within walking distance, parking space. I did a circuit of Dunfermline as the first salon was full, the second one – my usual barber and part of the same chain – was also full and then back to the first one, which had emptied during my 10 minute tour.
Ten more minutes and £3 (plus standard £1 tip) later I was shorn and heading back to the car. During my short stay in the barber’s I’d endured one of the local commercial breakfast shows. Listening to it had raised a knowing but private smile. It wasn’t because it was amusing – it never is – but because I’d just finishing reading Phill Jupitus’ book “Good Morning Nantwich – Adventures in Breakfast Radio” and there’s a great chapter about why local commercial breakfast shows are shite. Just as I was leaving the male presenter was saying how he wanted to go and see Jason Byrne at the Fringe but it was sold out and press pass this and freebie that and oh, fuck off, you should’ve bought your own ticket you…sorry!
I returned to the car with the sound of tick, tick, tick in my head as the first three items on my To Do list headed for the Done Bin. The day was going well. No sooner had I got home than the phone went. It was Scottish Gas and could they arrange an appointment for the service engineer. I couldn’t be bothered with them and told them to call back later. Click.
You’d think the job of connecting a Blu-Ray player to the TV would be easy but it wasn’t. I’m a manual man (oo-er missus) and I read it and began to follow the instructions contained therein. The first thing I did was to pull the TV stand away from the wall only to find a mountain of stoor and a spaghetti junction-like mass of cables. It’s the kind of spot that’s easy to miss during the weekly clean. I resolved to wipe, clean, polish, vacuum and de-clutter the entire area before I went any further. Everything would be unplugged and then re-plugged.
Well it would’ve but I couldn’t found a duster under the kitchen sink, their usual abode. Before I knew it the Blu-Ray installation job was on hold and I was now on hands and knees cleaning out the whole area under the kitchen sink. After decanting four bottles of carpet shampoo into a more reasonable two bottles and binning a number of charity bags, as well as the Breville toastie machine and assorted rubbish, I felt ready to return to job 1.
Again, I would’ve continued but now there was something missing. I checked the box and then the manual only to find (or not find) that there was no HDMI cable included. What! The job was on hold once more as I made my way back to Tesco. (I felt like a proper tradesman. “Ooh, sorry love, I need to get a part. Back in an hour”.) Any thought that buying the cable would be easy enough was soon dismissed. There were about six of them by various companies, including Tesco Value, and they came in a variety of lengths. Eventually, I plumped for one costing the best part of twenty quid. It was blue and had a gimmicky pivot at one end. Cool.
No sooner had I got started again than the phone rang again. I recognised the number as the one I’d palmed off earlier with a “my wife deals with that, call back later” cold shoulder. It was Scottish Gas again – this time a man – asking if, instead of the originally agreed date of 15 September, they could come round NOW to service the boiler. I said she’s not here! (Only joking, dear!) I said, “You’d need to ask her” and put the phone down. No sooner had I called K to confirm she’d agreed a date for them to come round – she hadn’t – than they were back on the phone asking if, after all, the engineer could come round now. Obviously they’d realised I was home alone and thought I was so sad and lonely that I’d like the company of a service engineer. “Fuck off! I’m trying to join a Blu-Ray to a telly during the lunch break of the Test Match”. Bastards.
Eventually I agreed. “As long as he’s gone by 4.30”. “He’ll be there in ten minutes”. Shit, the house was a mess. When you’re having “a bit of a tidy” it tends to get worse before it gets better and the living room was indeed a state. Well, a state by our standards. Thankfully, his ten minutes turned into twenty and I had time to clear the fireplace and hot water boiler areas for him to gain access.
After sitting outside for an age, he came in. No sooner was he in than he started asking who we get our gas and electrical supply from. Here we go. I knew who it was but I feigned ignorance and played the “the-wife-deals-with-that” card. I’m sorry but if I’ve invited a service engineer into my home I expect him to do nothing more than service the parts that our contract says should be serviced. I don’t want him to try the old “our combined gas and electricity is the cheapest” routine especially when he tells you it like it’s a fact. No, you’re wasting your time AND my time – that’s a fact!
Even before he left he called one of the salespeople from the company and handed the phone to me to arrange an appointment to call back. I told her that anything before 8pm was inconvenient as we had to get our daughter to bed. That was true but I also knew full well that they didn’t work after eight (Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website is a very handy source of this type of information). She tried the weekend tact. “Ballet…blah blah…swimming lessons…blah blah…radio show…”
That seemed to get her off my back and the engineer left. Obviously these engineers are now multitasking as sellers too because this never happened previously. Maybe it’s time to change our service company.
By the time the Blu-Ray was in place and had been tested (albeit with a CD as I had no Blu-Rays), the DVDs, Wii games and equipment, V-Tech games and videos had also been tidied and arranged by the Dewey Decimal System. I had tried to get a Blu-Ray Disc on my first visit to Tesco this morning but when I got to that aisle there seemed to be some sort of staff meeting going on right in front of the small Blu-Ray section, headed by a very loud regional manager type who loved the sound of his own voice and repeatedly used Tescospeak to impress the minions. There wasn’t that much of a selection but in my desperation to have something to try out on the new Blu-Ray I’d have bought almost anything. Okay, I’d have drawn the line at anything featuring Jason Statham or Jennifer Aniston. As it was Mr Regional Manager can congratulate himself on losing the store a sale as I couldn’t bear to be around him any longer.
Any hope I had of finishing putting together my next two radio shows and maybe, just maybe, doing some writing went right out the window. I only had an hour before I had to head back out on my taxi run so I had a shower, a quick coffee and counted down the ten minutes before I had to leave to pick up the girls. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.