It was twenty years ago today that I entered this domicile, as I remember at the Easter weekend that year. Twenty years, almost as long as the time I spent in London, longer than most murderers serve these days in this country, longer than many folks marriages last.
That Easter weekend I turned up to discover there are many differences from living in a bustling city, as I always had done, and existing in a small market town out in the sticks! One such was the electric meter, this was at that time paid weekly by a card system to stop folks running away and leaving the lights on for the landlord to pay. I had no card. My limited memory tells me I had two £1 cards which didn't get much electric in an all electric house and somehow I discovered the Post Office was the place to go. The long weekend was on us and electric was useful at this time so cheerfully I waited for ever in the queue to be told things had changed and none could be given out till Tuesday next week, I forget the reason why. That somewhat chilly Easter Weekend, it is usually chilly at Easter, I spent an enormous amount of time trying to conserve the limited power I had.
For reasons which I forget I discovered and emergency button which allowed me a free £5 of power to be paid later, I grabbed this with both hands, the same hands I wrapped around a candle in a vain effort to keep warm in the dark at night.
A long weekend that was, eventually Tuesday arrived and I managed to obtain the new cards for the meter. How lovely to switch the wall heaters on! How lovely to eat hot food without watching the clock! Ah well things settled down and twenty years on the meter is paid monthly, the gas fired central heating while expensive works well, life is settled in some ways and this boring little town which at first I thought had closed down has become home. The day I walked down 'The Avenue' listening to the birds singing and watching the blue sky above I realised it was not such a bad place after all. Getting old and no longer interested in the false flashiness of city life, the bright lights here I admire are the ones that stop the traffic so I can cross, may have had something to do with it but in the end this town had all I wished for. Local doctors, supermarkets, rail & bus, all that was missing was a church and a woman to do the laundry. The last two have still not arrived.
So today I arose feeling considerably better than I have done for weeks, I slept until nine, I arose and coughed my way through to the east wing to contemplate cleaning up some of the mess I have left behind me. It was time to celebrate the twenty years, time to remind the Landlords lassie how long I had been here, time to remind his workmen how many cups of tea they had drunk! Twenty long years, I wondered how I could commemorate this event? What would be suitable, what would ease my pain and give me a day to remember...?
The electric was off!
What? The kettle would not start. It was one of Tesco's best (£5) and it was bust. Then I noticed the laptop, always the first thing switched on, was not going online. After fussing for a bit I realised the WI-FI was dead, so was the phone, so was everything else bar the lights. After about three hours it struck me the laptop has a battery that is why it came on but this fooled me into thinking that was one plug that worked. I fussed but the deadened mind was thinking slowly, oh so slowly, and I called the Landlord to speak to my friend Lisa.
"Hello, this is Lorna."
Lisa has followed Chris, the one who ran the place for around 15 years, out the door in an attempt to make some money. Lorna was the new lass and she sounded about 19! I explained the situation and she called John the workman and later he called to say he would be round.
No tea in a dead all electric house. No hot food with a dead oven, dead microwave and dead head.
Having eaten only rarely in the past week and living on my abundance of fat I was not too keen to do without something warming. Add to my desire to return to bed, eat something hot and stay far from the world came the noise of men repairing the road outside while others hammered away at one of the other flats somewhere round the back. My joy was complete.
John arrived claiming to be unwell and looking sickeningly well while he said so. Quickly we traced the various fuses, I had tried earlier, and we soon knew it was the kettle itself that had blown. It probably blew as I switched it one but no spark, noise or explosion occurred at that time, not that I noticed anyway, and having proved the point John left grinning.
Still this meant I could heat things and later would obtain a new kettle.
Having managed to rise, decided life could be good and then had it smashed in my face I returned to the real world and switched on the laptop which connected with the real world of the Internet! At last I could get on with the important work of reading email, facebook, Twitter, and the various gutter press editions that lay about.
What's this? "You connect via WI-FI. Log on here BT Fon?" There follows a list of things to select
A bloody virus!
The whole morning wasted already and now a virus!
There was in the end nothing to do but run a Boot Time Scan which takes hours! This I did and while I pretended to eat, my insides were not fooled, the scan ran and ran. Later, much later, I was able to make use of the laptop thankful the brute had gone.
It had not gone!
Oh no he was still hanging around and the thing had to be done again.
It was not till near five o'clock that I finally satisfied myself he was beaten, I hope I am right!
There were times today I wondered where my guardian angels had disappeared to. I realise this is not an easy option, they could on the other hand have Donald Trump, I understand the difficulties involved but all I wanted was to rise feeling considerably better than I have done for the past ten days, I wished to make and eat a nourishing breakfast, clean the mess of the last week and hopefully return to work tomorrow.
Instead the electric goes, my friends go and some sort of JS virus arrives. To my mind this is not what I wished for this morning. Luckily the other day I discovered just how many people are suffering this bug in similar fashion to myself. Thousands are being beaten down by the latest flu,cold, man flu bug. An item in the paper drew many to comment on their long lasting problem, three months in some cases and mine goes back to February yet nothing can be done about it but suffering.
Onwards and upwards, 'per adva ad astra' as they say in the RAF, in Edinburgh we say "Haul awa lads, I'm no deid yet."