When Plumbing is Not a Metaphor

Having got off to a difficult and surreal start with the belligerent lorry driver, last week continued to plummet to new lows. The books were, at least, early, unlike the next issue of Envoi which arrived three days late with a driver who insisted he’d been twice before – the study is about two steps from the front door and there’s a bell – and no ‘sorry we missed you’ card had been delivered, but anyway – there it was ready to go out to subscribers. I spent most of Friday filling and sellotaping boxes of books and Rowan and I spent most of Saturday filling envelopes, only to discover that the labels for Envoi had printed two or maybe even three times – we realised when we were starting to run out of magazines and still had several pages of labels. So I spent Sunday making a list of subscribers and marking off each envelope – reclaiming magazines from duplicated envelopes to give to those who had none.

In the intervening days a couple of books went through crises of varying kinds, resulting in needing to reschedule two anthologies in a translated series, my leaking toilet started to pick up the pace and leak more and the kitchen tap had a tantrum so we decided definitely not to turn it on again until a plumber has spoken kindly to it, which might be some time, but not having hot water in the kitchen seemed less of an issue when the immersion heater gave up the ghost. The wood burner in the living room provides some hot water, but not enough for a bath or for much really unless we burn wood all day.

On another of the intervening days an unexpected slew of paperwork arrived that needed to be completed two weeks ago (it had been sent to the wrong address originally), but, in retrospect, I’m grateful it didn’t arrive the next day when my computer had a major incident after a routine software update or I wouldn’t have been able to comply at all. After the update I realised iTunes would no longer open so I went online to look for a solution only to find that Safari wouldn’t open … it soon became apparent that nothing except mail would work (no Pages, no Word for Mac… I was too scared to try to open my accounts software, but Rosetta Stone wasn’t functioning). I phoned Apple (at 5p per minute) and the adviser took me through a long routine to with the set up disc, all to no avail. She finally decided to go and get someone senior as she didn’t want to reload the operating system in case it adversely affected other applications, particularly my accounts. ‘Steve’ was not only senior, but seemed to think everything hilarious and soluble with no problems – he said his last colleague was completely wrong in her fears, he would reload the operating system and nothing would be harmed in any way by doing this. He got the process started, gave me his email and said he’d phone me straight back if I had the slightest problem – but really, there would be no problem.  A few minutes after he hung up the OS disc stopped reloading with the same error message as every other application on my computer. I phoned Apple – started the story again and was told that the last two colleagues were completely wrong in the solutions they’d proposed (you can see how this builds confidence in costumers) and we needed to use Time Machine to re-set the computer to a point before the fault occurred. The engineer got this started and the machine chugged away for four hours until – success! Except that now Rosetta Stone won’t work at all and Rosetta’s ‘engineers’ have not the first idea what to do. Between a thousand forum posts and the mumblings of the Rosetta adviser I have an inkling that is either to do with repairing permissions (though the first Apple adviser tried this) or to do with Flash, but it might be to do with walking in three anticlockwise circles at midnight chanting something sideways.

Still, most of the computer was back and I could fix the Envoi envelopes the next day (Sunday) and soak away the day in a hot bath… no, no hot water – how incredibly privileged we are most of the time, I realised – baths, for me, are the most soothing thing I can imagine – who needs Prozac when there are baths? My bath will be fixed – even if a plumber in Tanygrisiau takes a while to find (no, a wonderful neighbour has already found me one, but it could be a while before he can fit me in) – most of the world has no such luxury.

Last week was a bad week, but the tragedies were small ones. I need a plumber – and a software engineer who knows how to fix a 2213 error on Rosetta Stone would be rather welcome, but I’m still here and the novel and poetry competitions are now adjudicated with wonderful books coming out as a result – Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn’s novel, The Piano Player’s Son, and two debut poetry collections, Father lost lost by Ian McKewan and A Force That Takes by Edward Ragg. So not such a bad week after all.


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2 responses to “When Plumbing is Not a Metaphor

  1. Aargh… I feel for you. You deserve a long run of good luck to compensate.

  2. Thank you, Bobbie

    Though I’m completely aware that these kinds of frustrations essentially come from having a life in which there is work and gadgets and hot water, and at the end there are still good things happening 🙂

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