Don’t you just hate it when some pretentious person with zero emotional intelligence, wants to appear posher and cleverer than they really are, by using expressions like, “a smorgasbord” of something or other? I do. It’s stupid isn’t it? Who do they think they’re fooling? I just wanted to say that. Anyway, it’s been a while since I wrote anything here, so as a catch up on life in Cactus World, here’s a potpourri of what I’ve been up to…
Had a big row in the local Ford garage for 15 minutes, as I queried a bill of nearly £700 for work that didn’t solve the problem that the car was in there for in the first place. It’s justification? Well, the work needed doing anyway and they thought it would solve the problem. This was after it failed to ring me to discuss the issue last time I was there and raised the same concern. What’s even more annoying is the fact that when I’d first taken the car in with the problem (several visits previously) I’d told them what I thought it was, which is what it turned out to be in the end; a ten minute repair rather than three visits and a bill for around £1,000. But what do I know, I’m just an ignorant, moronic member of the public who knows nothing about cars? So anyway in the end, they suggested if I wasn’t happy I should write to them. Well done Fucking Ford’s, where customer service is clearly not a speciality; or indeed is a basic understanding of cars either. I will never, ever spend a penny with Ford again. Now officially classed as Spawn of the Devil. An interesting aside to this was that for the first time ever, when my car had been serviced (which is why it was there this time), I was rung up and told a driver would drop it off home for me. I can’t imagine this was for any other reason than they didn’t want me in the showroom again, pointing out their shabby lies.
In an effort to turn myself into the physical Adonis (that I really ought to be) and realising that over the past few months I’ve taken less exercise than I had been previously (and have consequently become a bit of a fat slob), I’ve started to walk into work again. (The horror of realising I’d spent £30 driving to and from home and work the previous month probably also had an impact too, as well as the guilt trip I get for adding to the size of my carbon footprint in this way.) We moved offices last October and the new one is further from where I live. So this fact, being very busy at work and the winter weather, had all colluded to ‘force’ me to drive in. So Monday last week, psyched up for the adventure ahead, I stepped out, alone, onto the streets of Reading. Nearly 50 minutes later a sweating, wheezing, half-dead husk of a man turned up at his office, barely recognisable as the person who had started the journey all those minutes ago. There wasn’t even a big welcome or a brass band waiting for me either, what a swizz. You know that film about that guy who has to cut his hand off to escape being trapped up a mountain, 127 Hours? Well, expect a similar effort about my epic journey, to be released around Summer 2013, entitled of course, 50 Minutes. To make matters worse, three men walked past me on my journey, leaving me to cough and splutter in the dust as they zoomed past me. Needless to say, this humiliation has had a profound effect on my mojo. Actually it wasn’t so bad and I did it again last Thursday too. It’s nearly a five-mile round trip. I went the wrong way coming home both times too; my sense of direction isn’t all that great…
Penny news. Penny is fine. I do have two bits of Penny cuteness to report though. Firstly, in a wilful act of physical vandalism associated with my walking to work, I decided I also ought to go back to doing some sit up and press ups too. In my first attempt for some time to do this, (when even getting on the floor took a great deal of effort), Penny came over and rolled around on the floor next to me. I thought that was very sweet. She was either trying to encourage me or (and this is more likely), thought it was some sort of new and rather incomprehensible cat friendly game that I was playing just for her benefit. Secondly, I was watching Red on DVD recently. (This is a film about a man who has his dog killed by some thugs and the consequences of his search for justice; it’s very good and well worth watching.) Anyway, at one point there’s a cute puppy on the screen. Penny likes to sit on my lap and watch films with me, although her taste in films isn’t apparently quite the same as mine so she generally goes to sleep. In this case however she saw the puppy and jumped onto the floor and started rolling around like a little kitten right in front of the TV. Now if anyone doesn’t think that’s extremely cute, then you are truly a heartless and unfeeling being.
I’ve had a leak in my bathroom. (By which I mean a leak in one of the walls from above, rather than a colloquialism for using the toilet.) Actually this is very boring. Anyway, it’s been fixed and the smell of damp dogs in my flat has slowly receded as it dries out. I await the redecorating being arranged by the building owners…
I’ve loved this hot weather recently. I’m a summer person and a morning person. There doesn’t seem to be a way to extend the mornings, but the recent good weather has been very welcome in Cactus World. I celebrated it by not going out into it over the two, long weekends we’ve had recently. But I can assure you, it looked lovely out of the window!
One of the most important highlights of life in Cactus World, is of course the flowering of a cactus. Last week saw two, huge, pink flowers make an appearance on my window sill. Sadly lacking an extra Bank Holiday to celebrate this momentous occasion, I was at work both days so came home to see just a rather collapsed version of them; (they only really last a day). So no photos I’m afraid, but it was a small, special highlight all the same.
I’m reliably informed by my electricity company that the average electricity bill for a one bedroomed flat is around £20-£25 per month. I work for an environmental charity, have low energy light bulbs everywhere and generally try my best not to consume too many resources. I don’t use the cooker every day, put the immersion heater on perhaps twice a week, don’t leave lights on all over the place and normally take showers rather than baths. I only heat one room in winter and I’m out most days at work. My monthly electricity bill is £63! I’ve just changed my tariff to one of those that comes with all this smart meter monitoring stuff, to see why this is the case. (Of course, I’m secretly hoping to discover that the bills have been wrong and will thus get a huge refund.) News to follow, as I investigate the crimes of the environmental criminal that I have apparently become. Guilty or innocent?
Finally, I’ve have been to a number of brilliant gigs recently. Fishbone and Random Hand at the Camden Underworld; Capdown, Random Hand and Dirty Revolution at the Camden Underworld; the Stranglers at the Hammersmith Apollo; the Undertones at the Islington Garage. Lots more too; it’s actually been a really good run of gigs, most satisfying, despite the many bruises and the partial black eye I managed to suffer. The Undertones at the Garage was probably the best. It’s the best I’ve seen the band since it reformed around ten years ago; the place was packed too. The good news is that it’s playing a gig in a pub called Powers in Kilburn in June; there’s only 100 tickets available. The bad news is that that’s exactly in the middle of the two weeks I’ve booked of annual leave, so I now have to rearrange my holiday to take this gig into account; but it’s worth it. One small downer about the Fishbone gig was that I managed to lose a credit card, a debit card, my Oyster Card, my Rail Card, my Rail Card Pass, my train ticket home and £45; which left me with about £2 in my pocket. I wouldn’t normally have all that lot with me either. By some miracle I managed to find my train ticket on the floor afterwards, so at least I could get home. That’s the first time I’ve done that at a gig. It was very annoying!
Right now I’m listening to “Let Me Go” by Rancid.
Technology hates me. I know this to be a fact…
First my car became incontinent (which it has been for many months), in the sense that it couldn’t hold a charge in its battery for more than three days; (cure, nine days off the road and a bill of £638.31).
Oh and while I think of it, both the Nectar and Ford web sites say I can collect Nectar Points from my local Ford dealer, but just you go and try to do so. (Cue whiny, Ford employee’s voice), “you have to get a voucher from the web site as they took all our swipe card machines away.” Then ring Nectar to get told (in a, fuck you you’re a moron, do you really think customer service means customer service kind of voice), “there aren’t any vouchers, you need to get the dealer to swipe your Nectar Card, it’s nothing to do with us.” Lying bastards. They’re first up against the wall when the revolution comes. ‘They’ haven’t heard the last of this from me, ‘they’ don’t know who they’re messing with.
Then my immersion heater at home broke; (cure, three weeks or so with no hot water and then its replacement is apparently scared of heat, given the barely more than tepid temperatures it seems capable of producing).
Then my computer decided not to start; (cure, a morning of my time, three trips to Maplin and about £60 for a new power supply unit). Just as well I’m an IT god.
Then last week no less than three trains I was travelling on got badly delayed; always on the way home of course.
Then finally, American Express are on the phone whining at me to pay my credit card bill as I’ve gone over my limit. Don’t they realise technology hates me? I bet all those bankers with their disgustingly huge bonuses didn’t get rung up and moaned at when they overspent by billions? Oh I forgot, it’s them on the phone whining about my credit card payments and halving my credit limit without giving me any notice whatsoever, just so they can charge me £12 for going over my limit, to feed their obscene greed. Bastards.
Sometimes you see stuff on TV about people who live in what are little more than mud or straw huts, have bugger all belongings or money, but seem very happy. No TVs, no cars, no DVD players, no expensive holidays, no iPhones, no electric can openers, not designer clothes, no ready-made meals, etc, etc. How can they possible be happy? Then you realise this is exactly why they are happy. No consumer shit to worry about breaking down or being stolen. (This of course assumes they’re healthy, have enough to eat and enough money for the things they need, which given the way so many countries exploit so many others, probably isn’t especially likely. But give me a break okay? It’s called a poetic licence.)
Right now I’m listening to “Wilderness” by the Mega City Four.
I drive a car; it’s a company car; it’s a Ford Focus. I try not to use it too often, as it’s a car and cars are the spawn of the devil in environmental terms; however, I do find I need to drive one for my job from time to time. It’s now about 4.5 years old. As such it’s been entirely reliable, except for one tiny, tiny little detail; the fucking thing has an inability to hold any sort of change in its battery! It’s been four days since I last drove it and this morning it won’t start, again. I can’t even bump start it down the slope, as for the first time this winter (and I know it’s winter as I had to put the heating on at home last week), the windows are all frosted up and I can’t see a thing out of them. I can’t even wind the window down to look out of as they’re electrically operated. I also can’t easily clear the windows, as I broke my last window scraper last winter and haven’t quite got around to buying a new one. (I did try once but Halfords was sold out. How Halfords “We Go the Extra Mile” and probably the biggest vehicle superstore chain in the country can be sold out of windows scrapers I don’t know, but there you go.)
I’m presently waiting for the breakdown vehicle to come out (for I think the fifth time this year) to get it going again. It will probably be the same guy again. In fact with my busy social life I probably now see this chap more often than any of my friends; he’s going to start thinking I fancy him or something, as no one can really have such an unreliable car can they? (Not that I have any friends as I’m a total loser and socially inadequate.)
No it’s not the battery. A new one was fitted less than a year ago. Anyone who remembers the fun I had then getting it imported from Inner Mongolia (well it’s a Ford Focus, so it’s apparently pretty exclusive and requires obscure parts) will remember that this isn’t a new problem.
No it’s not the electrical system. It was in the local Ford dealers about two months ago getting the problem ‘fixed’. (Like the same dealer has ‘fixed’ the missing hub cab three times after I’ve asked it to, which strangely still seems to be missing. Or the cracked button on the hand brake, which looks remarkably similar even though I’ve asked for this to be replaced twice. )
So basically what it must be is that the engine has been taken over by a supernatural entity with a crap and very limited sense of humour, who enjoys pissing me off. Either that, or Ford make shite cars (and run even more excrement fuelled dealerships who’s mechanics couldn’t organise a children’s party in a Toys ‘R’ Us store). Humm, choices, choices.
Right now I’m listening to (somewhat inappropriately) “Maximum Joy” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.