Monday November 8, 2004
It really isn’t fair. Not at all it isn’t. I’m much better at handling frustration and rage than Graham; comes from years of practice, I suppose. Generally, if there’s any rage and frustration to be dealt with round here it’s my job to handle it. Can’t always be done that way, however, and today poor Graham had to do the ranting thing while I sat back, smug, and all satisfied with myself.
It’s a simple story of course, and short in the telling. Graham is having Amazon problems. Again. He ordered a 1 gigabyte memory card for his Pocket PC and, surprise, suprise, they sent a 256 megabyte one in error. They’re very sorry, of course, and promise to send a replacement ‘in 10 to 28 days’. Not just that, but they no longer have a phone number, and no direct email addresses, so you can’t communicate with a human being anymore. If they employ them, that is. So he’s been limited to filling in complaint forms and hitting the submit button, to be informed a few minutes later, by email from a no-reply address, that his complaint has been recorded. And that they, whoever ‘they’ might be, will ‘get back to you’.
So Harry and Dolly and I are keeping out of the way while rage and frustration is vented at the already badly dented, near-antique desktop computer that Graham hates like something you hate a lot. Graham loves his Pocket PC but he really, really doesn’t like his desktop.
Where’s the unfair bit? Not to mention my smug self satisfaction? Well, I’m cooing and crowing over a classic eBay purchase, bargain basement price, smooth transaction and fast despatch. Unlike Graham’s Amazon frustration, I couldn’t be happier with my deal.
See, in this house, we have a fireplace in the living room. Not a pretty fireplace, being home-built by some previous owner in a rather dull country brick, tile and cement, and, to my eyes, completely lacking in appeal or decorative effect. Prior to our ownership it was used as an open coal fire, traditional, exceedingly cosy, and very, very dirty. My immediate take on it was that we ought to remove the grate and install a gas fire. Graham likes the brick fireplace as it is, and fancied the open fires.
So, in our usual sensible way, we decided to defer a decision until the weather turned and we could see how warm the house is and exactly what form of room heating might be appropriate.
Well, it’s wonderfully warm. While we want a comfortable focal point in the fireplace, the house is far too warm to want any kind of additional heating in the living room at all.
“What we need,” I said, scratching my head at the problem, “is one of those old-fashioned electric glow effect things, just like I used to have in my London bed-sits back the old days before affluence.”
“They haven’t made them for years. Now you have to buy a monstrous studio-design type thing that’ll cost at least four hundred pounds.”
“I shall find an old style one, then.”
“Bet you can’t.”
“Bet I can.”
In my quietly persistent way I won the bet, of course. On eBay. Probably some forty years old but in really good, clean condition. And, far from four hundred pounds, it cost me six pounds and 49p. It’s sitting in the grate now, glowing, the little heat-driven fan spinning nicely giving a pleasant flicker that’s almost but not precisely unlike the real thing. Clean, silent, and completely effective. Harry and Dolly and I are already addicted to sitting by it, dreaming the dull days away.
Graham’s coming round to it, too. He came in for a little light relief from his Amazon-bashing, paused as he saw all three of us flopped in the orange glow, and said, “There’s cosy, then.”
“Yup,” I said. “It’s almost as if there is real toe-warming heat coming from it. Dear old Harry Cat is completely fooled by it, too.”
“That’s good. And cheap, too.”
And back he went to thump his computer again, leaving Harry, Dolly and me, stetched out, enjoying our cosy new friend.
Like I say, it really isn’t fair.
Somewhere in the back of my mind is a good story from my bed-sit days, sitting by an electric fire just like this, on a drear November afternoon in London, reading James Joyce and eating onion sandwiches. I had a thing about James Joyce and onion sandwiches back then. I shall have to see if I can’t dig it out some time. Not today, though. Today, I’m doing the full cosy.
The full cosy