Wednesday, 31 October 2007


I apologise for describing smallcorner as untechnical. She is very technical. I meant unintellectual, of course.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

October 2007: trendspotting

A quick update, for the curious...

Roof attached to house; house much warmer.
Much carpentry done; house much prettier.
Plumber back from Thailand, or being attacked, or whatever, but cleary still not inclined to come and do heating.
Tiles purchased by builder, but not yet attached to wall.
Father making frequent enquiries of me about whether bargeboards are done yet; me ignoring questions due to not being quite sure what bargeboards are.

So that's the state of play at the moment.

Now, I've been noticing several trends recently (moving away from the building work, and into The Rest of The World, at last).

Firstly, everyone is going over to WordPress, even non-technical people like smallcorner. Why is this? I think it may be something to do with tracking how mnay people read your blog, but frankly, I'd rather not know. If it's lots, I'd be intimidated, and if it's few, I'd be disappointed. So I'm staying right here. But it means all the links on the left of this page are now wrong; sometime I will fix that.

Second trend: everyone is starting 365 blogs, where they record a nice thing every day. Now, this is lovely and everything, but it doubles the number of blogs I have to check. In any case, I'm not going to start one of these, because I'd get 2 weeks in and give up; I have no sticking power.

Third trend: qmonkey is leaving comments on every post he can find. Does this man not have a job, or hobbies, or a wife and child, or something?

Fourth trend: we're all debating whether God exists and what science has to say for itself. I blame qmonkey. I've been composing some thoughts on this for a while, but they have yet to make it into coherent form. Bate your breath, though. I have a PhD in Physics, so my word on this one is final.

I've still not fixed my internet connection at home, which is irritating. You see, what happened was, I brought my laptop into work to download something, and connected it to the network, and it wiped my dialup settings. So now I have to go back to square one and set it all up again, but I can't remember how. If anyone knows how to set up a winmodem for a dialup connection on a Dell Inspiron laptop running Dapper Drake Ubuntu, please be in touch.

Until next time.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Here's a thing...

Now, this is very clever because it means you can learn new words and donate rice to hungry people, both at the same time.

Which is propitious.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

More building news

I'm sorry to go on about my building work, but to be honest, when you're flushing your toilet with a bucket and it is the same temperature inside your house as outside, it's hard to think of much else.

So yesterday saw the arrival of a new member of the cast: the carpenter. His task was to fit the doors which go between the new room and the living room; in an unneccesary display of initiative he decided to build me a cupboard on the landing instead. But this is ok, since I do need the cupboard; it was just that I need the doors more. However, by this stage I think we're all resigned to the bizarre sense of priority exhibited by the builders, so we shall take this in our stride and move on.

No sign of any heating until this morning, when I stepped outside my front door to go to work, all sleepy and minding my own business, and was accosted by the Chief Builder, someone else, some doors and the new boiler. The Chief Builder and the other man were exceptionally cheerful for that time of the morning, and I fear I came across as a little sleepy. Still, as I drove off they were enthusiastically moving doors, hinges and boiler into my house, where they will no doubt take up residence for the next fortnight or so, until someone gets round to installing them.

Incidentally, is it polite to use the word 'toilet' in normal conversation? You see, when I say that I've had no bathroom for about a month, people gasp in horror and I feel obliged to assure them that I have always had a toilet throughout. But should I say 'toilet', or does one say 'loo'? Or is there another even more polite word, like WC? Or is it one of those things where the chavs and the Queen say 'toilet' and everyone else says 'loo'? CAN YOU HELP?

So, scheduled prognosis for the building work: tiling to be done today, carpenter to do doors today, plumber to do heating today and tomorrow (ha!), gypsies doing roof yesterday and all completed by this weekend.

In other news, of which there is starting to be a little, I have been having a lot of fun making things for our church craft fair, have just completed the church calendar, and am rather impressed by John Lennox's new book about God and science.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The sound of silence

It may be a bit quiet round here for a while, as I have banjaxxed my internet connection at home. This means I can only update the blog if I'm not busy in work... Oh, actually, service should be pretty much as normal.

By the way, my proof of God's existence by analogy to plumbers has taken a knock; I discovered it was actually the electrician who installed my bathroom. Not sure where we go from here...

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

A Proof of God's Existence, by analogy

You will be delighted to hear I have a new proof of the existence of God, which I now present to you.

It is a proof by analogy (Richard Dawkins is quite fond of these; see 'memes').

I had a bathroom which needed to be installed. I was told there was a plumber and that he would come and install the bathroom. I had never seen the plumber personally, nor spoken to him or heard him speak, but I was excited at the thought of the bathroom being installed, and I believed that the plumber would do it.

This is like God. No one has seen God or had a conversation with Him (out loud, in the usual face-to-face manner). However, many of us believe in God.

After a time, I became dismayed at the non-arrival of the plumber. Various excuses were offered by the Chief Builder ('He's sick', 'He went to Thailand', 'He got attacked and his leg is broken in 3 places', 'He was climbing Mount Everest' - I promise you, these are all true things he told me). I began to doubt the plumber's existence.

This is like agnostics and atheists. They say that they have not seen God, so he must not exist. Even though plausible reasons are offered by theologians ('God is invisible', 'Have faith', 'He went to Thailand', 'He'll be along shortly'), still these people doubt.

However. Yesterday I came home and my toilet was installed!!!! Although I still did not see the plumber, it is clear that someone must have installed the toilet. Toilets do not install themselves, even with much prayer. Therefore the plumber exists.

This is like the universe. Universes do not create themselves. But the universe is here.

Therefore God exists.

I am quite pleased with my proof, and confident that it is watertight, unlike my bathroom sink.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Jeans, iPods and similar

I'm not even going to bother telling you my builders didn't turn up today; you're all intelligent adults, you can follow a pattern.

Nor are we going to dwell on the weekend's rugby result except to say that I was surprised by how devastated I was, and to point out that, for an Ireland fan, the only possible good outcome of England-France would have been for them both to lose.

No, instead we shall discuss tonight's shopping trip, which was most successful. I finally got myself new jeans, which I've been looking for since June (one thing I cannot be said to be is an impulse buyer). I didn't get the ones I'd seen in the catalogue, I got different ones. I also would've quite liked the brown cardigan the mannequin was wearing, but they don't seem to actually sell it, just advertise it.

I also bought razor blades, which I mention because they had a sticker on the back which said:

"WARNING! This product contains a security device which is NOT MICROWAVABLE"

and which I thought was funny.

In good news, Alex has Bluebelle back, but she has been injured by Harles Churst - she has a big dent in her bonnet (this is Bluebelle we're talking about, not Alex). Bluebelle is most upset. Also, the repair doesn't actually work, so she's going to have to go back to Harles Churst to be fixed.

Listen, I need some advice. I want one of those things that lets you listen to FM radio on your iPod (not a transmitter to listen to your iPod on your car radio, other way around). I saw Logic3 ones in HMW for £20. Does anyone know if they're any good? I've always thought Logic3 was like cheap iPod and therefore tacky and inferior - can anyone confirm or deny this? Thanks.

Right, off to put my pizza in the oven (and maybe my razor blades in the microwave - because you can't read a sticker like that and not know).

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

In which several incompetent bandits are exposed

It could easily be argued that one of the main advantages conferred by this blog on mankind is its habit of exposing incompetent bandits wherever they may be, and it is with this in mind that I tell you of a well-known car dealership, which we shall call Harles Churst.

I must begin by introducing those of you who don't already know them to Alex, my colleague, and Bluebelle, her car. Alex and Bluebelle have enjoyed a companionable relationship for almost 2 years now, so you can imagine Alex's distress when Bluebelle developed an injury (known in the car business as a 'fault') and required treatment ('fixing'). So Alex took her car to Harles Churst, where she was assured that it would only take a day to remedy.

This seemed good, so Bluebelle was left there for the day. This was last Monday. Not Monday past, the Monday before, 10 days ago. Bluebelle has not been seen since.

Bluebelle has need of a bonnet clip... thing.. (sorry, we've reached the cliff-edge of my technical knowledge here) - not, you would imagine, one of the more difficult-to-fix things that could happen a car, but Bluebelle even now remains clipless. Alex has, of course, been calling every day, to try to retrieve her (repaired) car from Harles Churst, and has had a range of 'explanations' for it's continued state of non-fixedness. These have included them sending the right clip for the wrong car, the wrong clip for the right car, and, on one spectacularly successless day, no clips at all. Naturally they blame, among other things, the postal strike (but really, what on earth are they doing sending car parts with Royal Mail? 'Tis all well and good till someone needs an exhaust) and having to get the part from France (seriously, they could've got it from Mars in less time, including designing the rocket from scratch).

So, anyway, Alex, having temporarily given up on trying to hurry up the fixing of the car and turned instead to trying to at least aquire some form of compensation (having had to hire a car every day) phoned the Renault UK people, and spoke to a chap called Joe Hisock (seriously) who said they have a policy of not compensating mistakes. Which is handy. In fact, she has spoken to Joe every day, since there appears to be no one else there who is fit to speak to customers (leading us to assume that the rest of the workforce consists of trained gorillas or something); he gave a glimmer of hope on Day 4 by saying that they would compensate the cost of the hire car, but then dashed it this morning by saying they would not.

Naturally, the only other person involved (Neil) is very nice, which means it's not possible to shout at him.

I will keep you updated, but for now we must press on, because there's a lot to get through today.

So, Q&B phoned this morning, to check that the cupboard doors have been delivered. Point number 1, no they haven't. Point number 2, nor were they supposed to be; they were meant to arrive with the man who was going to fit them. Point number 3, I actually don't really want them yet, owing to the ongoing building work, of which more now.

The building work. So they came today, smoked in my living room, ate some lunch at my living room table, and then demonstrated a delightfully unconventional approach to the prioritising of tasks by plastering the bit of ceiling around the skylight. Not, you will note, by doing anything about the bathroom (which, if you remember, presently consists of a toilet with no cistern, and a bucket). They seem to like plastering; it is pretty much all they have done for the past fortnight. I wouldn't mind (after all, it keeps them occupied), but all my rooms are gradually getting smaller, layer by layer, and soon it won't be possible to fit visitors in unless I go out first, which rather defeats the point of having visitors. Also, for some bizarre reason, which I really haven't fathomed at all thus far, they are systematically removing all my lightbulbs; the current score is 5 remaining and 3 missing, with the rest having been disconnected or not yet installed.

So tomorrow I am going to set my father on them, and see what happens. If that doesn't work, I will send my mother, and if even that doesn't get a bit of action, I may have to take drastic action. Maybe if I suck up to Renault Joe he'll lend me a gorilla.

Quiz answers

Answers to yesterday's quiz:

1. No, they did not.

2. No, no progress has been made since Friday unless you count me and my mum tidying up.

3. Not as much as you might think, but it has certainly disturbed my usual equilibrium.

4. I don't know. I wish I could find out, because I can expect to live (on average) another 40 years or so, and it is likely that something or other will need done to my house in that time. I think I shall have to get married to someone who's good at DIY.

Incidentally, they didn't turn up yesterday either, so my mum went round to the Chief Builder and issued threats, and he said the plumber had unexpectedly gone to Thailand but he had a new plumber who'd be here today. He said it quite convincingly, too, more so than might be expected.

On a positive note, Phoenix Gas arrived On Time, and installed my gas and meter and so on as they said they would. They unfortunately got called away to a gas leak in the middle of it all, but had the courtesy to leave me a message all full of apologies and assurances that they would be back as soon as possible to finish off; they did indeed return and finish the job, which was good. Not that there's any plumbing inside the house to connect it up to, but that's hardly their fault.

If I get home tonight and there is no progress, I think I will collapse in a little sobbing heap, and then move into someone else's house.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007


Today's quiz:

Question 1. Did my builders turn up yesterday?

Question 2. Is the building work ANY further on than it was last Friday?

Question 3. Am I getting very annoyed?

Question 4. Why do I seem incapable of hiring competent people to do things in my house?

Monday, 8 October 2007

Building work update, the second

So the building work moves idly on. On Friday there they had plastered the entire bathroom, and even started on the downstairs room. It was all going swimmingly until someone removed the toilet cistern and they all went home for the weekend. So I've been learning the old 'how to flush a toilet with a bucket of water trick'. Not my forte, I have to say.

Anyway, they tell me that they are putting in the new bathroom today (or at least starting to - I'm hoping they do it in the order toilet->sink->bath->accessories, but have a horrible feeling I'll go home to find a bathroom devoid of all the normal accoutrements except for a nicely mounted toilet roll holder and matching towel rail).

Phoenix are also supposed to be coming today, to begin installing my heating. They do all the outside bits, and then some bloke called Kyle does the inside, like the radiators and stuff, so that might take a few more days.

There has been no further contact from Q&B Darren, but I suspect that one of these days he'll turn up and install all the new doors just in time for the builders to plaster the ceiling and pour water all over them. That would be about right.

I may soon have a tale for you from a certain car dealership, but I may not. Alex is giving them one more day to sort her car out, and if they don't, Harles Churst are being grassed on, right here.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Ireland's Call

You used to know where you were, as an Ireland supporter. The boys in (scruffy) green would run out onto the field, line up for the anthem and then run around like mad things until they had a chance to play their one set piece that they'd practiced this week, and then they'd score. This running around like mad things would continue until the final quarter, when they'd run out of steam and defeat would again be snatched from the jaws of victory.

Of course, against crap teams, they could win, but against half-decent teams, they could at least give them a run for their money and make sure the supporters got a good day out. There was no need for the Haka (or whatever they call it), since most of the rest of the world thought we were all terrorists over here, or a bit mad, or both, and were a bit scared of them until they got them tired out. They had Jonah Lomu, we had 'The Lads'.

But now it's all changed. The kits are sparkly and new, they have something that could maybe pass for tactics, and there's a professional sheen and, most worryingly of all, an 'expectation'. But the Ireland team have always been good underdogs, and I think it's laregely that expectation that has finished them.

Of course there are two other key factors. Everyone has it in for O'Gara these days, but surely the main problem is that no matter what he wears or does, he always looks like a bank manager who's reluctantly agreed to take part in the company's annual Rugby 7s charity match. And O'Driscoll took the wrong road a few years back when he got those highlights. He stopped being an Ireland rugby player and started being David Beckham. Except he wasn't.

Maybe we need to go back to the good old days, where a few likely lads, with more enthusiasm than talent, were pulled in off the streets, handed a grubby green jersey and told "when you hear number 10 shout 'fundamental', kick for the right-hand corner and leg it".

Of course, we'll never win, but at least it'll be fun to watch.