Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Insulation Day Part 2

Having cleared out the loft in preparation for new insulation, when the guys from British Gas arrived they didn't have the right stuff on board. The Right Stuff makes insulating a loft sound like rocket science, it's not.

So, there we were sitting in a house full of boxes, cots, lampshades, headboards, carpet and everything else I mentioned yesterday. We knew we had to go through it all and reduce the mountain to a mole-hill or at least a hillock.

I began with fifty reels of recorded programmes that dated back to when I first sat behind a microphone a lifetime ago. There were whole programmes, insert tapes, trailers, music, all sorts - it's all gone. The lot. I'm not sentimental about these things, I'd rather move forward than look back and like so many other broadcasters I can't stand to listen to myself - I always want to edit, rearrange, revoice. It's all gone, along with paintings and chairs and curtains and all the things that should have been booted out ten years ago or more.

But in amongst the flotsom of loft-life we discovered a tin, a Treasures Tin.

I remmebered it the moment I saw it but not having seen it for over twenty five years - I had no idea of what was inside. I lifted the lid. Sitting on the top was a photograph of a young man with sporting aspirations.

Me attempting to fill my father's boots

There were photographs of girlfriends past; Debie, Wendy, Karen, a girl with long legs whose name I can't recall from a holiday romance in the seventies. I can't say the pics didn't stir a few memories and set me wondering what had happened to...(note to self - idea - start website where old friends can get back together again).

There were letters from my old buddy John who joined the army from school. I'd forgotten the length of time we'd spent writing to each other. Diaries - I never manged to fill anything in past January - holiday photos of the family, boy did I have long hair! some newspaper clippings from my early attempts at stand-up, trick playing cards, a lighter - still works - love beads and most remarkably of all a green velvet box that contained my Granfather' gold shirt studs. Long ago I'd given these up for lost, long ago I kicked myself for not putting them in a safe place. Turns out they were in a safe place. 

By the end of the weekend we'd been througn a mountain of paper and shredded and burnt everything that could be of any interest to anyone seeking a new identity or an inclination to try and draw on my Midland Bank Account from 1982. We'd been to the dump, recycled and binned so much stuff - and still the mountain stared at us. It was like some magic pile that replenishes itself the more you take away. How can it be possible that we have as much now as we did three days ago?

And still no call from the people at British Gas.

I set my demeanor to grumpy and sat down to make the call. First problem - nowhere on any piece of paper I have or website I surfed, do they give you the correct number to ring. After four attempts, two of which left me with a dead line having been promised I was about to be 'transferred', I got to talk to Panos. Poor Panos.

I was calm, I didn't get loud or resort to bad language but I did tell him I wasn't happy. He'd been on a course, he sensed it. He said it was their bad (I'm still not sure I like that phrase) and offered an apology. When I pointed out that I had to phone THEM  to get the apology he got the message that this caller was going to be 'difficult'. All his 'how to handle the difficult bugger' training kicked in. What could he do for me? I said how about a new date, this week. We can't live like this much longer, even if I had found photos of girlfriends past the tingly feelings I got looking at them was wearing off.
Okay, says Panos - ah...
Ah? I don't like Ah. What Ah are we talking about?
I can't give you a new date because you already have a date.
Yes, last week, when you didn't actually do the work.
Yes but you've got a date so...
So, give me a NEW date.
It won't let me do that.  (I'm going to call all my computers IT . When a producer phones to ask how things are progressing I'll just say, sorry, IT won't let me finish).
I'll have to email Planning.
No, I'm living in hell, give me the number I'll ring Planning.
You can't do that.
Why not?
They don't have a public interface. (I don't know why but that phrase makes me want to buy a Kalashnikov)
Then YOU ring
I can't. I have to email.
How long will this take?
They promise to get back in 48 hours.
No. No, no, no. You don't seem to realise my house is sinking under the Crap from my loft. It has to be done this week, Planning have to phone me today.
Long pause.
It's usually forty eight...
...Okay. I'll stand over them till they ring.

God bless Panos. They rang - eventually. Insulation Day has been rearranged. In the meantime we're still some way off our throwing out target amount of crap  - but we're getting there.

IF they arrive on the right day, IF they bring the right materials, IF all goes well we might be able to see the floor before the weekend.

But then IF is a mighty big word. I'll keep you posted.

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