Great Eggscape

Well it hasn’t taken long for the honeymoon period to wear off and I’ve never been a fan of that unfortunate turn of phrase…

Well it hasn’t taken long for the honeymoon period to wear off and I’ve never been a fan of that unfortunate turn of phrase.

I write having wasted an entire day of my holiday entitlement on hold trying to get the Butchelor Pad hooked up to the utilities and burning up my monthly mobile data allowance in the process.

At the time of writing, my radiators blaze away all day when I’m out at work while my temporary BT Wifi drops out every time I dare look away from my keyboard.

Why is it that customer services advisers paid to answer telephones ask if I have visited their websites or downloaded their apps? Do they not realise they are talking themselves out of their own jobs?

Needless to say, if I ever see that little 8-bit T-Rex dinosaur figure signalling lost connection again, I might turn into Captain Caveman if I can lay my hands on a decent club.

And don’t get me started on the seemingly simple task of taking the meter readings.

The meter is so small it wouldn’t have been out of place in a doll’s house. You also need fingers as tiny as those of a garden gnome to work its illogical keypad and the eyesight of Superman to see it.

I’ve never had much energy, patience or inclination for all this stuff and after two days of it I felt like putting my head in the oven (not that I could get it to work, you understand).

I somehow contrived to programme my washing on a nine-hour spin cycle and one week on my packing is unfinished. On one day this week, I had to suffer the ignominy of eating my breakfast boiled egg out of a shot glass.

I know I unpacked my egg cup but like everything else in my universe, it seems to either go missing when I need it most, die on me when I least expect it, or sprout a pair of legs and walk out.

But worst of all, in my impatience to get signed up to the utilities I may now have mistakenly cancelled the electricity and gas supply to the shop downstairs who are registered to the same address.

Any day now, I’ve been told the post man will deliver them a “final invoice” which I’m sure will endear me to the new neighbour no end.

When I finally got through to speak to E.ON (so-called because it takes an aeon to reach a human?) – they were very helpful and promised to sort it out.

But then I got an automated text contradicting all previous conversations, so god knows where we are in the process.

At least I could rely on the big sister to come to the rescue and she managed at least to get the uneccessarily complicated oven working.

And with the impeccable timing that only a woman can possess she immediately identified my biggest problem of all.

“Your cushions don’t match your curtains,” she said. (They do now thanks to her and her endless generosity).

Praise this week must also go to my malnourished nephew Tom. He who once ate three selection boxes in a night burnt off several calories with his impressive heavy lifting. Rapidly shuttling three boxes up the stairs at a time and declaring everything in the new flat as “decent”.

And I suppose it is, although I’m acutely aware that this must be what happens to men of a certain vintage when they are released back into the wild.

So after all this dreadful Orwellian online misery and pop-up chat bots, I was forced to drop into the new local for a pint – just to speak to a real person.

The landlady was typically charming although the hours beyond that first drink remain a bit of fog.

I do have a vague recollection of playing a good game which involved flipping 20p coins across the bar to try and land them in a charity pot.

I also ended up in another pub with two very witty ex-forces guys who helped put a smile back on Butcher’s chops.

That is until they challenged me to an arm-wrestle. It was all my fault, of course, having stupidly announced that I had once “arm-wrestled professionally” as part of a feature I was writing for a newspaper 20 years ago.

I was convincingly stuffed by the one eight years my senior who had biceps like polished teak. His friend, 12 years my junior, also had a vice-like grip and chuckled in my face as he crushed all my typing fingers.

Then the week ended with a breathless phone call from the lovely nurses in NHS Scotland suggesting my Dad might have had another stroke. He’s had a scan, hasn’t had a stroke and is ok, but it certainly put my lost egg cup in its place.

There’s not been much on the music front this week but the first CD played in the flat was from 1986 – Queen’s A Kind of Magic

Chris Rea – another favourite of mine – did the finger clicks at the start.

Then in my new loft I spookily found somebody else’s cassette tapes. They included Jesus Christ: Superstar which I swerved, and 1988’s The Living Years by Mike & The Mechanics, which got me thinking of my old man in the Orkneys. Then Auberge, also by Chris Rea, which I played to death last summer.

Well I’m 50 next week, so onwards and downwards as they say. A fella in the local told me that when the careers officer came round school and asked him what he wanted to be, the fella said he looked him dead in the eye and said: “Not a careers officer, that’s for sure.”

Harsh but true.

Cozzer Covid

It was all going swimmingly until December 29 when the offer of a temporary bed that I was supposed to be laying in was suddenly withdrawn late in the day – “cozzer Covid”.

IT has been a peaceful Christmas week and I have stuck to my usual monk-like discipline of total abstinence and only light wafer-based snacks.

It was all going swimmingly until December 29 when the offer of a temporary bed that I was supposed to be laying in was suddenly withdrawn late in the day – “cozzer Covid”.

So I did what any self-respecting credit card holder does and took myself off for a night in the Lake District – booking last minute into a palace in the middle of nowhere for drinks by the holly-lined fireside and a slap-up beef dinner for one.

I’ve never dined in a draughty aircraft hangar before, but can now summon up a fairly reliable image of what it must be like. The very attentive member of waiting staff explained that they had been required to extend the chairs and tables into the conference centre/function room, cozzer Covid.

The plates were the size of chargers and the starter was with me before I had unfolded my napkin. The main course included huge soft cuts of beef, the creamiest mashed potatoes, sprouts you could actually taste and gravy you could drink by the pint.

I distantly mingled with some hardy pensioners from Wigan who had spent the day staring at the drizzle from the windows of a fogged-up coach trip which, of course, had very nearly been cancelled at the last minute because five of the party pulled out cozzer you know what.

“Not that they had it, but that they were scared of getting it,” said my informant.

“The company had thought about cancelling but if they had done, there would have been absolute uproar.

“We only come away the three of us – me and me Mam and me Dad because we haven’t seen them the same this year, cozzer Covid,” she sighed as the rain hosed the windows and Let It Snow played over the speakers.

I noticed the background music in the hotel was about four fractions too low on the volume for me; although like I said to her: “My hearing aid isn’t what it once was.”

“It’s been a dead day today because there’s nothing to do around here,” she added dismissively. (The hotel being somewhat socially distanced from civilisation).

At the bar, there was quite the socially-distanced queue for drinks too because a couple of staff had managed to socially distance themselves from going to work, presumably because of you know what.

So it was left to the blue-arsed ones to wait on, clear up, serve on, check people in and remain patient and smiling throughout, having festooned the room with lovely Christmas trees.

The music was marred for me when I detected this joyful little trio of upbeat numbers Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen; Phil Collins’ I Wish It Would Rain Down and These Are The Days Of Our Lives by Queen.

I spent far too much time contemplating whether Phil Collins had ever been to the Lake District. Probably not on the evidence of this weather.

Still, like I always say, you’ve always got to look on the dull side of life.

And spare a thought for the geriatric cat of a friend of a friend of a friend.

Its thoughtful owner had decided that after one last Christmas together it would have to go for one last visit to the vets this week. Its explosive bowels and poor bladder control have added a new dimension to the term kitty litter.

But in an 11th hour day of drama, reported to me by the Non Practising Buddhist Big Sister, the latest word is that the owner has now tested positive for Covid and must self-isolate, so Kitty gets a stay of execution for another week.

All because of Covid.