Routine matters

Tuesday June 13, 2006

“Hello, Sally,” I said. “I hope you’re in the mood for a good laugh.”

“Try me.”

“Well, I just received your completion statement and there’s a tiny error.”

“Oh dear. I thought it looked rather odd but you know me. Arithmetic is one of my weaknesses.”

“Everyone is entitled to at least one weakness, Sally. Some would say we should cultivate them.”

“Hah! Right. You’ve softened me up nicely. Now, what’s the error?”

I pointed out the place where a decimal point had been misplaced, resulting in the final settlement figure being almost fifteen thousand pounds greater than it ought to be.

“I’m grateful for your eagle eye, John. I’ll get a corrected statement off to you in the post tonight.”

We finished our laughter, exchanged our fare-you-wells, and rang off.

Graham peeled himself from the ceiling, whence he’d flown on reading the statement. “Thank heavens for that,” he said. “You’re good. You’re very good.”

“Why, thanks,” I said. “Just remember, you’ll have to do this next time, if there is a next time.”

Then, it being Graham’s day off, we took ourselves to Taunton for lunch and coffee, and so’s he could take a pair of shorts back to the shop that’d forgotten to remove the security tag.

My task was to visit the library and consult the ‘independent’ online energy cost assessment and comparison service at I was delighted to find that the present suppliers for the house are almost exactly mid-way on price, justifying my instinct to stick with them for the first year before doing my own assessment. Establishing utility services, in this case electricity and gas, is quite complicated and fraught enough already without trying to switch supplier before even moving in.

Tomorrow I’ll need to contact British Telecom to arrange for telephone and broadband connection and do my best to persuade them that the broadband side of the account should continue the arrangement, and the email addresses, that we had in Lincolnshire. Then, the local council, to register liability for council tax from completion day but to claim exemption for the period during which the house will be unfurnished while we clean and redecorate.

Those calls will tax my negotiating skills to breaking point, I suspect. When you have to tackle two leviathans of the bureaucratic world, it pays to do your homework before picking up the phone. I’ve done that, but even so I don’t expect the job to be easy.

The rest of the setting up task will be easy by comparison. Leastways, I hope it will. I don’t want to end up feeling my age over such routine matters.



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