Thursday, December 20, 2007

Things Abandoned on the Pavement Within 100 Yards of My Home That I Have Taken a Photograph of #5

A rather scruffy cuddly dog, wearing a striped scarf with a bobble. Dropped by a passing child, unwanted by a nearby householder or just out for a walk and it stopped to cock its leg?

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Alas, it was not to be another five week epic. Let's hope that the child found him before the street sweeper.

That's it for the year from me. Season's Greetings to you all. Sorry that the posting got a bit sporadic after MY LOVELY BABY was born, but then so did the sleep. Thank you as ever for all your comments. It really makes a difference knowing that people enjoy the silly stuff that I come up with. From considering going back to C++ last January, I think I've got seven writing jobs on the go next month, one of which came in a totally unexpected way from the space I have to try ideas out here, so I have much to be grateful for. But mainly MY LOVELY BABY!!!11!!!!1!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's a Gas, Gas, Gas

Our boiler is covered under a maintenance plan with British Gas. We have never needed to call them out, so I was a bit miffed when they jacked up their price by 39%. I had a look around and found that I could save us £30 a year by switching to Coverheat. (Don't worry that I have sold out and am now plugging companies on my blog. Rest assured that no one comes out of this well, including myself.)

The Coverheat man came out on Friday and serviced our boiler, which was working perfectly well (heating the flat, giving us hot water - the only two things that I really ask of it), then told us that the spark electrode was cracked and wouldn't go back properly. This meant that the boiler was now no longer working as he couldn't even try to refit it (Corgi regulations, possibility of dying etc). I was somewhat bemused that a boiler repairman had taken a working boiler and turned it into a non-working boiler. The only explanation that I could find was that the space-time continuum had been reversed and that we can soon expect the re-election of Tony Blair, withdrawal from Iraq and global cooling (so it might be quite nice to have a boiler that worked).

He could fix it though. Yes, he could fix it. But because we were not yet covered under Coverheat as the boiler had not passed its initial inspection, it would cost us about a billion pounds. Aha, but I had been SO CLEVER as I had not cancelled the British Gas contract yet. The only problem was that when you are covered under one of these contracts, you are NOT SUPPOSED TO LET ANYONE ELSE TOUCH THE BOILER, particularly someone from another company who might break it. So, I made him put it back together in such a way that although it wouldn't work any more it wouldn't be obvious that someone else had just serviced it. British Gas would come on Monday, and we were going away for the weekend, so we wouldn't be cold for too long.

On Monday, the British Gas man came and removed the boiler cover. "Has it been serviced recently?" he asked.

"Um, fairly recently", I didn't quite lie.

He poked around for a bit, then said, "Yep, it's the gas valve. I can't do it now, but I can come back and fit it tomorrow."

But it wasn't the gas valve, was it? It was the spark electrode. I knew that, the Coverheat man knew that, if only the British Gas man knew that. What would probably now happen was he'd come back on Tuesday, fit a new gas valve, then realise it was the spark electrode after all and we'd have to wait yet another day in the cold. But how could I tell him that it was the spark electrode without letting on that someone else had serviced the boiler?

"Um, are you sure?"

"Yeah - those symptoms, it's always the gas valve."

"Really? It couldn't be anything else?"

"Nah. I do one of these a week."

"It kind of sounds to me like, I dunno, something isn't sparking? You know? Not that I know anything about boilers, or anyone who does, but from the noises it makes it sort of sounds like the gas is coming in, and then something should spark to light it, some kind of, I dunno, electrode? And that isn't happening."

"I'll see you tomorrow when I come back with the gas valve."

Today he came back and fitted the new gas valve. Obviously, the boiler then still didn't work. He was very apologetic. He should have checked the spark electrode as well, but in seven years he'd only seen one faulty one. He's coming back tomorrow with a new one.

We are currently warming ourselves on the heated towel rail. Maybe I could spend that £30 on an extra jumper.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

To the Person from Montreal...

... who arrived here after Googling "I want to name my baby Zorro":

DO IT!!! DO IT!!!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007



After the revelation of how much childcare costs (think of a number, double it, add a zero - that's what you can pay just to be on a waiting list), I have taken on a foolish amount of work. As a result I have been learning to work with distractions such as a crying baby, so a slight buzzing somewhere in the room is nothing to me now.


Whatever has been buzzing has been doing it for half an hour or so now without bothering me. It's late afternoon, my girlfriend and baby are out, and I have a deadline. But, pleased with working an Apocalypse Now reference into the script that will go over the heads of only 99.999% of the audience, I sit back and notice a wasp buzzing around my head!!! In December!!! I hate wasps!!! If this is what is happening due to global warming I might even turn my patio heaters down when I'm not using them.


I yelp and jump around a bit like an 8-year-old girl, flap my hands, then do a funny run with my arms down by my sides. I shut it into the study and look for a bit of newspaper to hit it with. What with all the working and looking after the baby I've hardly read any of the weekend's papers, and I don't want to get squashed wasp on the international news section, Guardian editorial or business and finance (OK, the Sudoku, TV guide, and the dot-to-dot in the family bit). Eventually I settle on the Observer travel pages - there is no way we are travelling anywhere in the foreseeable future.


I peer around the door. The wasp is buzzing around the halogen spotlights. I raise my arm to hit it. It flies off.


Now it is on my whiteboard. I raise my arm to hit it. It flies off.


Now it is back on the lights. I raise my arm and give it one hard whack. I hit the light. The bulb blows. This blows the main fuse, plunging the entire flat into pitch darkness.




(What followed was like The Blair Witch Project, only instead of three students in the woods there was an idiot middle-aged man with a dodgy torch trying to find a five-amp fuse, and instead of a ghost there was a wasp.)