I have a wandering brief at present – my personal desk-builder is putting the finishing touches to the desk of my dreams and I have been relocated.
Which is why I’m installed temporarily in the cosy sitting room with an ad hoc arrangement of computer, router and printer (involving a viper’s nest of cabling), an Ikea step stool and an antique Pembroke table*. I understand the necessity of my temporary home but I am not a happy bunny. I feel much displaced.
In fact nothing is in its place – even the Internet has gone ‘walkabout’ in the past few days. A long conversation with BT’s little helpers in the Indian sub continent was predictably fruitless – we’ve been here before – we’ve done that: the checking, the plugging and unplugging. Pretty soon – in 4 or 5 working days the engineer from BT (or is it now Open Reach?) will be standing in front of me and, in that manner peculiar to all specialists when confronted with an amateur, will shake his head and suck his breathe in wearily. “You’ve got how many phone sockets? Seven? Really? Seven. Blimey’ More sucking and shaking. “There’s your problem…’
Not, Mr Open Reach. Not. Please take your new livery and box of screwdrivers down to our inadequate exchange, twiddle some knobs, open some valves and get our connection up to speed. Just because we live out in the sticks doesn’t mean we should be fobbed off with a second-class service – apparently it’s some sort of miracle we get Broadband here at all. Am I grateful? I pay for it at the same rate as in the city where interruptions to the service were few and far between. Whatever happened to inclusivity?
And that’s about as political as I’m going to get.
*The little table came from my father’s home – he remembered doing his homework at it as a small boy – this would be in the 1920’s. I can’t imagine letting a small boy loose on such a dainty piece these days but presumably the young Martin Arthur Cross was not a threat; he did seem to spend a lot of his childhood learning poetry by the yard - a fairly passive pursuit. The mahogany is unblemished and it still has all 4 legs. Had it been chez nous, the Bouncing Bevanos Brothers would soon have rendered it to matchwood.
On the death of his parents the adult Martin brought the table to his own family home – from where I remember it – standing in the window, always polished, home to a lamp, a cyclamen and a silver cigarette box. There were playing cards in a drawer lined with a page from the Stratford Herald. And now it is with us, in a barn in Wales. And, just for a couple of days, home to a bit of high-tech gimcrackery that would have had old grandfather Cross sucking his teeth and shaking his head.
‘It does what? My goodness! Sends messages and pictures and plays tunes? All over the world? Instantly? You can ask it questions and buy things from it?‘
Well, Grandpa not today you can’t. We’re still waiting for Mumbai to call back to arrange a return visit from Mr Open Reach. And waiting. And waiting.