It always looks different in the morning

Tuesday April 18, 2006

8 days to M-day

Some days you end up thinking the whole world is against you and that the best thing to do would be to go back to bed and pull the covers over your head. I’d have done just that today if I’d been able.

Started out fine. Got my indoor chores done, finished my morning writing session, stretched, and decided that the time had come to get out into the garden and cut grass.

So I opened up the garage, pulled out the mower, attached and connected the electric cord, pushed the switch and… clunk. I fetched a screwdriver and checked all the connections, which were fine, and then ended up checking the fuse. Whoops! Located and installed a new fuse, started the mower up and it fired up straight away. So I did the first section, turned the motor off, and got ready to do the long strip along the front of the hedge. Pressed the switch and… clunk. This time I checked the fuse first. Whoops! So I fixed a new one, pushed the button once more time and… clunk.

Now, I’m not an idiot when it comes to electrics but I do know my limits. So I meekly stowed the whole lot back in the garage for Graham to check over when we get to the next house, and resolved to bribe the young man in the bungalow opposite to run his petrol mower over my grass before we move out.

Back in the house I sat down for a coffee break and almost, but not quite, settled back into a slothful inactivity, frustrated and paralysed by my failure with the mower. I was good, though, got up, stowed the fruits of my wardrobe blitz in the car, and set off for Boston.

The drive along the wide-ish river known locally as the South Fen Drain was delightful. Sunny, the water calm except for tiny little wind squalls dancing over the surface and making themselves visible in a glittering display. The seagulls were off scavenging elsewhere so the smaller water fowl, shy by nature, were dotting the river, doing what water fowl do. Uptails all.

I had a less poetic end in mind, though—the Salvation Army clothing banks in the central Boston car park. Great, green painted, resonous steel bins with a clattering chute in which one is supposed to deposit small, wrapped donations of clothing.

Which is fine except that, over the Bank Holiday, other people had had the same wardrobe weeding idea and it was mighty difficult to stuff my old clothes into the bin. I sighed, and set to the perilous task of half-closing the chute, sticking my arm in, and forcing my donations down into the hidden void. I got it done by being ruthless. Felt a little strange to handle 500-quid suits quite so roughly but somewhere along the journey from my wardrobe to the clothing bank they’d ceased to be mine, somehow.

Goodness knows why I’ve kept the last two suits so long, cluttering up my wardrobe, gathering dust on their dry-clean covers. Last time I wore one of them was when I travelled up from the Welsh cottage to London seventeen or so years back, to negotiate my retirement terms at the head office of my employers. Strange thought, that. I remember being alarmed to discover that I was travelling, in full senior exec gear, on an early train along with a batch of good, honest labourers in less than salubrious garb.

I got rid of all those old clothes, though, and headed off into the central Bostonian crush, to pull in at MacDonald’s, where I treated myself to a quarter-pounder with cheese ‘medium’ meal. The young lady on the counter seemed puzzled that I really didn’t want a ‘large’ meal, even though it was on special offer. I did my sweet old man thing, though, and got my way. Delicious, too, mainly because it’s quite a long time since I indulged myself in a burger lunch.

The supermarket wasn’t too bad. Busy, but not bad. I picked up provisions for two days, and hit the country road home, winding down gently as the quiet roads unfolded in front of me.

Back home, unpacked, I had a treat of two small custard pies washed down with coffee, and took myself off for a late afternoon siesta.

As the evening started to fade, I decided to tackle the Vodafone Mobile Connect card thingie that’s supposed to get me connected while we’re in the caravan. Thought it would be an easy job, designed for techno-idiots like me. Wrong.

I checked in with the technical support guy, learned the likely cause of the problem and how to fix it, made copious notes, and resolved to leave the whole thing to Graham, either when he gets home on Sunday or shortly after we move into the caravan on the following Thursday. I’d hoped to have the laptop all sorted and ready to fire before moving day, and I’ll have another go tomorrow, but I suspect that it’ll have to wait. I’ve no doubt that it’s fixable, though, so even if there is a one or two-day interruption, I’ll be able to keep the journal going.

I’m rather disappointed that Vodafone couldn’t have made a better job of the software/hardware installation, making it a fully self-detecting and self-correcting process. The people who design and construct these things still seem not to have come to understand that the vast majority of us, their customers, are not technical whizz-kids.

In this instance it seems that the unused modem in my laptop creates a ‘conflict’ with the Vodafone Mobile Connect card and that I shall have to delve into device management to disable it. Even though I know enough about these things to do the job, I see no reason why the software can’t diagnose the problem and fix it automatically without filling me with techno-fear and wasting hours of my time.

This cavalier approach to the end-user will, one day, disappear in the face of commercial pressures. In many areas it already has. Can’t happen too soon for me.

“That does it, Dolly,” I said, pushing the laptop away in disgust. “I’m going to have two large glasses of Australian plonk, eat my dinner, and go to bed early. It’ll all look different in the morning. It always looks different in the morning.”



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