And the winner is…..

Getting an award for my blog is really quite astounding to me. It rather feels like getting paid for something I love doing. If I had known this honour was going to be bestowed upon me I would have written a speech or bought some champagne. Anyway I would like to thank… whoops just a second my underskirt has got hitched. I tell you it chooses its moments. Where was I? Oh yes, thank you to my lovely friend Marcia who awarded me The Jennifer Avventura reader appreciation award. Marcia is such a brilliant listener that I really ought to be paying her what I pay my therapist. (I don’t really have a therapist and when I did, she assured me it was perfectly normal to be a little crazy) But really you should read her blog because it is brilliant and her writings are fab, so do pop over. Marcia, I mean, of course, not my therapist. As far as I know she doesn’t keep a blog, my therapist that is. Well, I do believe that is enough excitement for one day and I feel a little dance coming on. Thank you again Marcia. I only wish I could give the award back to you. Below are the rules for passing on the award. I don’t have six bloggers to give it to sadly, boo hoo.

Here’s the rules:
1. Award your top 6 bloggers who have commented the most.
2. Be thankful.
3. You cannot award someone who has already been awarded. And you cannot give the award back to me.
4. Don’t forget to tell the bloggers you’ve awarded.
5. If you don’t want to pass on this award, that’s okay too. Just admire it.
6. Link back to the person from which you received it.
The Reader Appreciation Award goes to:
Mature student hanging in there
Book shelf.

Thank you to the above for all your comments. They are very much appreciated. Many thanks also to those who take the time to read the book and thank you Marcia, whose friendship is very special and her Blog ‘Nuggets and Pearls’ is fab.

You have 72 hours to shoot the computer…

A few weeks ago our internet connection died. If I had known the hassles that were ahead of us I seriously think I would have emigrated to Australia or something. Oh, it surely wasn’t that bad, I hear you say. Oh, trust me, it was worse. But as usual I digress. So let me go back to the beginning. It all began on a Sunday night about three weeks ago. Andrew was trying to get his server onto something called a cloud. Now, don’t ask for any more information on that. Suffice it to say that he runs a business from his office and had some concerns about his personal server going down so that particular evening he was attempting to get it onto a cloud. Not a cloud in the sky you understand, although for as much as I know about it, it could well have been in the sky. Again I digress. Trust me, the server, cloud and everything else is really unimportant in this story. The next day we both toddled off to work. Well, I toddled anyway. I only work a few hours in the morning at a health centre and believe me a few hours working for the NHS is still a few hours too many. Andrew doesn’t work for the NHS and therefore works more than a few hours and is far more important than me. I left work and travelled miserably to Sainsbury’s, as you do and fought my way around the aisles. I knew exactly what I wanted but nothing goes to plan does it? It seemed something had blown up that morning so their freezer department wasn’t working properly and for some reason it affected their spit roast chickens. I did query the connection but no one seemed to know what it was. I quickly re-arranged dinner in my head and headed for the fish counter. Finally, I got to the tills where the queues were a mile long. Eventually I reach the till and am faced with twenty questions.
‘Hello, how are you? Would you like bags for your goods?’
Actually no, I thought I would carry the whole trolley load in my skirt! Or better still in a basket on my head.
Of course I want bags. But before I can answer…
‘Do you have your own bags? Do you need help packing?’
No, I don’t have my own bags and no I don’t need help packing. I mean, do I look helpless. Before you ask, I have sex three times a week, or more if I am lucky. Of course, he didn’t ask about my sex life but you know how it is? And yes I have a club card but I forgot it and no I don’t need to complete a form for a replacement as it is just at home. What an ungrateful woman you think. Well, yes, but I just want to get home and I know they are only doing their job. But really, if you have more than three things in your trolley, then obviously you need bags, right?
Next comes the bit that makes me cringe and bite my tongue. Along the conveyer with a thump come my apples followed by my pears. The bag of flour splits slightly as it is thrown along and the lady behind me gasps. Oh no, I now have to say something and then he will ring the bell and then I will wait forever for someone to get another bag. I sigh and push it into my bag. I really do not have the time. I pay and smile when he tells me to enjoy my nice things, like I have just bought an iPad rather than Mackerel and salad. Ah well… I drive home, lumber inside with my shopping and put the kettle on. Now, you can tell that already I am not in the mood for anything more dramatic than perhaps the teabag splitting. No luck for me. I realise the answer phone is bleeping like crazy and the skype phone is flashing like mad and there is a loud screeching coming from Andrew’s office. I feel an overwhelming temptation to flee while there is still time. I enter the office warily and prepare myself for the horrors that await me. I fight the temptation to scream. The computers are consistently rebooting themselves in an effort to re-establish connection and the answer machine is flashing menacingly at me. Poor Bendy quakes behind me and attempts a purr but it comes out a bit shaky. I listen to the messages with a sinking heart. Andrew’s customers can’t access the server. I phone Andrew and pop two painkillers in case. Pre-empting a headache is always a good idea I find.
‘Not to worry,’ says my calm husband. ‘It’s probably the router. I’ll sort it out when I get home.’
Andrew arrives home at about six and by ten thirty we still have no internet connection. We have a new router though which doesn’t work and irate customers who cannot access what they need. We phone BT. Well, we actually phone India, which is the same thing. We think the woman tells us it is the router. Now, I am not being racist here when I say we cannot understand her. It is just a fact, we simply can’t understand her accent, or the man who follows her, or the woman who follows him. Andrew consistently tells her it isn’t the router to which she responds.
‘Good, we agree it is router.’
Hello, are you talking to us?
We finally give up and phone our internet provider. There is a thirty minute wait. Forty five minutes later someone answers and thirty minutes later after we have turned the router on and off several times we are told the problem will be logged.
‘Someone will contact you in 72 hours. In the meantime should your connection resume please contact us.’
’72 hours,’ I repeat in a strangled voice. We don’t own a television, I want to shout. What are we supposed to do? For God’s sake, you can’t leave us for 72 hours. What are we going to do? How will I get onto Facebook? Andrew slaps me round the face and I calm down. (Obviously he didn’t slap me round the face but it sounds dramatic doesn’t it?
So, we wait 72 hours. During that time I buy a dongle which doesn’t work, or at least it does but it cost me £5 just to surf Amazon for ten minutes and five of those minutes is spent waiting to get into Amazon in the first place. Andrew suggests we use his Android phone as connection. So we do and this takes 10 mins to get into the web page and just as I order a book and go to pay, it times out. How did I ever cope in the days when we had only BT phones and no internet? Can you remember what you did when there was no internet? Anyway, as usual I digress. So, finally one afternoon 72 years later, whoops I mean hours later. It probably just felt like years. Anyway many hours later, they text Andrew at work who then in turn texts me and asks would I like to phone them as I may get the connection back. Even with a thumping headache this sounds good to me. Never again, do you hear me, never ever again, at least not with a thumping headache. The guy is named Mark and this is how it went.
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‘Hello, how are you?’ Asks Mark.
‘Fine,’ replies I.
‘I need to go through the router settings with you.’
‘But we have done that already.’
‘I have nothing to say it has been done already.’
Lesson number one, do not argue with them because…
‘Well, I assure you we did.’
Phone goes dead. Now, I am not saying they do this on purpose. I mean why would they? With a thumping head I redial and wait fifteen minutes. While we wait, let me tell you something about Andrew’s office. No, better still have a look at Andrew’s office. (the picture below is just one part of the office but it would have to be the bit where the router is kept)

Now, believe it or not he knows exactly where everything is in here. And believe it or not, I don’t! I fumble around all the papers trying to find the old router. I then fall over objects as I try to plug things in while the whole time Bendy who has picked up the atmosphere is meowing around me and trying to get the airing cupboard door open with his paw.

Bendy hides in cupboard

‘Mark speaking, how can I help?’
‘We got cut off.’
Silence. Oh no!!
‘Are you there, are you there,’ I scream, slightly hysterically.
He politely gives me a web page address to type in. I start typing.
‘Are you in?’
‘Not yet.’
Was that a tut I heard?
‘This lap top is a bit slow. Ah, here we go, it says there is no internet connection.’
Surprise surprise. In fact he does sound surprised.
‘Are you certain?’
Why is it I now feel like hanging up? Finally I get into the settings and they are in Italian. I tell him this and he coughs nervously and then begins telling me to type things in but I haven’t got a clue where to type them.
‘Why is it in Italian?’
‘I don’t know’ I reply honestly.
‘Are all your settings in Italian?’
‘Well, that’s obviously the problem.’
‘What is?’
‘The fact it is in Italian. The best thing to do now is turn your router off, wait a few hours and then turn it on again. It should be okay now we have reset it.’
A few hours? Why does everything take hours with these people, what is wrong with minutes?
‘But, we have done that already and…’
‘The best thing is to wait until your husband gets home. He can phone us this evening.’
Wait till the husband gets home! Oh, do I see red, or do I see red? I stand up angrily, fall over the cat and curse. The phone goes dead. I am so livid I want to sue them. It has been four days now and so far all we have done is buy new routers and turn them on and off. Where is the engineer that everyone talks about? I decide it may be best to leave it to the husband. In fact, neither of us do anything and the next day it is back on. Of course it goes off again a week later but I really don’t want to put you through all that again. You will be pleased to know that after another 72 hours, copious amounts of Valium, a study clear out and a tranquilised cat, we finally got an engineer down who discovered our eighty year old wiring had gone rotten. But of course, we all know, it really is the router…

Tits ‘R’ Us

Every afternoon at three I am usually sitting in the summer-house, writing. I am not always writing great stuff, of course but at least I am writing. However at exactly three I am distracted by the screams and chattering from the village school next door. I feel my attention being pulled reluctantly towards the window to the glamorous mums who stand by my garden wall, laughing and chatting. Trust me, one does not need Hello magazine when living here. All that glamour, sophistication and great fashion sense is right outside my window. Not to mention the designer babies and dogs. Not satisfied with my summer-house spectating, I find I often have to venture nearer. I trudge outside in my baggy sweat pants (sorry for the Americanism) and tatty jumper (well, I was only writing. After all, Iris Murdoch never dressed up, right?) I head to the dustbin where I can get a better look at the school gates. I empty the Sainsbury carrier bag that doubles up as a bin bag and stare mesmerised at the sight before me. The fragrant smells of Chanel and Marc Jacob assault my nostrils while swinging designer handbags dazzle me. The scathing looks I receive have me scurrying back with head bowed. I feel almost inclined to walk back down my garden path towards the summer-house with a brown paper bag over my head. Of course, I then spend the next hour wondering why it is that I cannot achieve this look. Is there something wrong with me? Even the Betterware lady who comes to our house looks a little like Joan Rivers. Mind you, her house also looks like something out of house and Garden magazine. Maybe I should become a Betterware representative. They obviously pay well. Then again, I probably just don’t have the Joan Rivers look to be a Betterware representative. I mean, truthfully, if I resemble anyone I feel sure it is Hilda Ogden out of Coronation Street. I have tried. I buy all the face creams but nothing seems to work. I used the scientifically proven Boots protect and perfect, or is Perfect and protect? Anyway, I used that for a year and I swear I look older now. I even started booking a wash and blow dry at my local hairdressers. Although I have to admit it felt like the ultimate in laziness. I make a visit to the hairdresser to have my hair cut or coloured, but just to have it washed, I mean, really. Why pay someone to do something you can easily do yourself for free? It is rather like paying someone else to wipe your arse isn’t it? Mind you come to think of it that is probably worth every penny. I just don’t do hairdressers that well. You know all that chatting about holidays and stuff and gossiping about your sex life and whether you do oral sex or not. I mean, good lord, does anyone really care if you do or don’t. Worse of all, why is it so important to get the answer right? I get so flustered that when my hairdresser asks,
‘Do you have cap or foil?’ I am afraid to answer in case I have misunderstood and they are referring to my sex life. I mean, one doesn’t want to get these things wrong. People gossip after all. Then there is all that lying. Well, my hairdresser lies.
‘No, darling, I don’t believe we are covering the grey, not yet. Why, you don’t look a day over thirty.’
Not bloody much! Some mornings I look in the mirror and swear I have seen better heads on beer, but I transgress. Where was I? Ah, yes, having my hair washed and blow dried and even I have to admit it looks great until the next morning. After a fitful restless night, it sits like a limp pancake on my head and my effort at blow drying it in the same way as the hairdresser usually end up with me fighting to get my tangled hair out of the sodding hairbrush and as for fashion and sophistication, let’s not even go there. This is the woman who spends more time with her skirt tucked in her knickers than anyone I know. I have been known to walk across a crowded and very chic restaurant with my Marks and Sparks panties on show. No, fashion just doesn’t work with me. This is the woman who ran for a bus wearing a boob tube and ended up asking the driver for a single to Romford with her tits on show. I am also probably the only woman alive who can wear Chanel No 5 and have it smell like cats piss on her. Eye make-up has my eyes streaming and lipstick is chewed off in minutes. So, you can understand why I stare enviously at these women who manage to look like models when they deliver their kids at eight in the morning. I can’t even manage looking alive at that time. Brekky and a quick coffee is all I can muster in the morning. So, I made a resolution to keep to a beauty regime. But when Monday morning comes I mostly just want to shoot the whole world down. I crawled into the bathroom after my husband only to find I couldn’t see a thing through the steamed up mirror. Cursing I fumbled around in the overstuffed bathroom cupboard to find the small mirror I had bought yonks ago. No luck. I finally give up, have a quick shower and then realise I only have ten minutes. No time for hair styling or make up if I want to prepare my lunch. I choose lunch. Food always over rides fashion. I rush out of the house without even moisturiser. Note to self-get up at the crack of dawn if you wish to look glamorous. I choose sleep. After all that is the best beauty treatment. Yes, a nap at three in the afternoon sounds good. Avoidance always was the key.