I’m on the air again

Wednesday July 19, 2006

There’s nothing rescues a horrid, hot day better than a glowing success when you least expect it.

Let’s get past the horrid, hot day first. It was horrid. It was hot. According to the Met. Office, it was officially the hottest day on mainland Britain since records began. I can’t verify their claim of my own observation but I can vouch for the fact that it was very, very hot indeed. It was quite apparent that it would be too hot for me even before Graham departed for work just before 9 a.m.

“Don’t even think about doing any decorating today,” Graham said. “Just go over, check the mail, and see if you can’t sort out this computer problem. If you feel too hot, stop immediately and come home.”

“OK,” I said, meekly.

“Yer wot?”

“I said, OK.”

“Wow. I didn’t expect you to give in so easy.”

“Not a matter of giving in. You’re right. I agree. It’s far too hot for me to play at decorating. I wouldn’t consider going out at all if we didn’t have such good air conditioning in the car.”

First port of call was the filling station at St Audries, to tank up. I’d sort of resolved that, if the price had risen above one pound a litre—the Mid-East crisis is hitting the petrol pumps here already—I’d take ten quid’s worth only, and top up when I got to Sainsbury’s in Bridgwater, where it’s as cheap as you’ll get anywhere for miles around. Sainsbury’s is bleak and hot, though, and I hoped I’d be able to use the St Audries filling station, which is shaded and situated in a cool, green tunnel on the A39. They just managed to win my custom, having pegged the price at 99.9p per litre.

I got a bit of a shock when I came back to the car from paying my bill, though. There was a steady stream of water from beneath the engine compartment. Not a lot, but worrisome even so. Until I realised that it was nothing more significant than the outlet from the airconditioner, which had been working flat out to provide me with a comfortable environment. No problem, then.

The drive over to Bridgwater was quieter than normal. I suspect that most people had taken heed of the heatwave warnings, and were staying at home rather than sweltering in a hot car.

I popped from the car into the cool of Sainsbury’s quick as I could, and started a mini buying panic when I got to the check-out.

“That’s a darn good idea,” said the woman in front of me as I plonked my 1kg bag of ice cubes on the belt, laid the bottle of wine on top of it, and placed my chilled and dairy goods as close to it as I possibly could. “Where did you get them?”

I directed her to the freezer bank where I’d picked up my ice cubes, and assured her that I didn’t mind waiting while she went to fetch some for herself.

“Do us a favour, mate, and look after my stuff while I do the same thing,” said the bloke behind me.

Despite my good citizen’s waiting act, I got back to the car across the searingly hot car park before the cooling effects of the air conditioning had quite gone, loaded my bags into the passenger footwell, and set off for the house.

I found the place to be bearably cool, checked the mail, and sat down with my bottle of water before plugging the laptop in.

One of the things the health service warns us about when they hand out advice for staying cool in hot weather is that older folks are liable not to realise that they are thirsty and so don’t drink enough water to keep the perspiration going and to cool the body the old-fashioned way. By my experience that’s precisely what happens. I have constantly to remember my need for water. I very seldom feel thirsty and, if it weren’t for my resolution to consume three litres of the stuff each day, I’d get dehydrated, and distressed, quicker than quick.

Then the success of the day happened. I plugged the laptop into the phone jack, connected, and started surfing through the information pages about the things I needed to do to access my website again. Fixed this, fixed that, and, voila!, I had FTP facilities once more.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I uploaded the entries I’ve been diligently formatting during the interregnum. Then, heart in mouth, I tried to access them with the browser. Great! There they are!

Now, I have to say it, I hate it when I fix something without really knowing how I did it. Goes completely against the grain, it does, fundamentally opposed to the way I used to do computer things, after careful research, checking every aspect until I was certain that I’d got it right before I did it. Once more, I was obliged to recognise that things aren’t done that way anymore. Whatever I’d done, clicking this, altering that, I’d succeeded in making the website not only updateable but accessible.

Let’s not tempt fate. Let’s just accept the realities. I shunted off an email to let the readership know I was back on the air, and providing URLs to the most recent entry, shut the connection and the computer down—the battery was close to empty—and went back into the kitchen to munch my sandwich and fresh fruit salad lunch, all deliciously cold from close contact with my ice cubes. That’s another health tip from the heatwave warnings—fresh fruit contains lashings of natural salts and sugars along with a lot of water.

Last thing before leaving the house, I checked the comments and email, using up the last of the battery. Yippee! The readers had left me messages, welcoming my return. I’m on the air again. And that’s as much of a glowing success as I need to compensate for a horrid, hot day.


Cooking in the caravan. Someone has to do it



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