Thursday, 30 March 2006

Panic stations! Panic stations!

All hands to panic stations!

Yes, that's what my brain keeps screaming at me this week. It's certainly been eventful and ever so slightly stressful.

Work is ultra-busy, which is always fun. Especially when people come up with hilariously short deadlines. Well, I say hilarious, it's more 'tearing your hair out'-eous. But, so far, I'm managing to get through everything that's been thrown at me. Thankfully, this does not include bricks.

Then I arrived home last night to find a piece of paper (which looked like it had been torn from some kind of form or other) lying on the floor of the hallway. It bore the logo of British Gas and was in a lovely shade of salmon pink. And indicated that the gas supply was to be disconnected. In fact that they had called to do that very thing earlier (whilst I was out - naughty Kathryn, going to work, what the hell was I thinking). As you can imagine, it was a bit of a shock. Even more so when I tell you that I switched to npower for gas and electricity nearly 6 years ago. The paper didn't indicate which gas supply was to be disconnected, but it preyed on my mind all last night, which meant that I ended up having to get up and locate all the details of my contract with npower so I could ring and ensure that they didn't mean me - and all this at quarter to two in the morning.

So, I get into work and I ring British Gas. And speak to the most disinterested woman ever. She really couldn't have cared less. Which wound me up even more. She kept saying that it did appear to be my gas supply and that it had been with them for some time. I eventually managed to pin down that 'some time' actually meant since 2004. FOUR YEARS after I'd switched to npower. Coincidentally, this is about the time that the numpty upstairs moved in.. oh no, is that a rat I smell? Anyway, to cut a long story short, she advised me to ring Transco and find out who supplies the gas to my meter - as I have the number - which doesn't match any of the details she had. She even gave me the number, in a rare moment of helpfulness. Only it turned out to be the wrong one and was unobtainable. At this point, I was succumbing to hysteria and extremely close to tears.

Dum-dum-daaaah! Internet search engines to the rescue! Thank you google and Ask Jeeves (well up to a point anyway). I eventually tracked down a place called Energywatch which is the website of the independent energy watchdog, where I eventually found the right number for Transco.

So, I rang them, and oh lordy, what a performance. They use 'voice recognition' software which appears to be entirely faulty. 10 minutes into the call and I was still trying to get the disembodied voice to SHUT UP long enough so I can give her my address. Shortly after that, I was told 'I am still having problems understanding your request, so I will transfer you to an operator.' Halle-bloody-lujah. By this point I was wound up tighter than a really tight spring (yes, it's a crap metaphor, but hey, just go with it) and ready to scream, and then came the most irritating individual on the face of the planet. I gave her my address and postcode whereupon she asked if there was anyone living in the flat. Errr.. yes. Turned out that she couldn't give me the details, due to data protection. But... but... it's ME who lives there. ME. ONLY ME! I was almost hyperventilating I was so wound up. But eventually I managed to get hold of the details. And there's another name to add to the mix, Calortex. She gave me the number for them (I suspect she just wanted to get me off the phone) so I could ring them and ask who the devil they were and how come they were supplying me with gas.

Which I duly did. And they turned out to be npower. I mean honestly, what's wrong with using the name npower. It's no wonder people get frustrated with this kind of thing. Anyway, I spoke to a lovely woman called Maureen, who was very kind and helpful. And more importantly, she actually listened. I almost gave her my life story. And yes, at this point I was in tears. Because someone had been nice to me.

Which is what happened yesterday too. I see a pattern emerging. I may need tissues.

Monday, 20 March 2006

Reasons to be red-faced

Only two, but there's still plenty of Monday left.

1. Winking at yourself in the mirror really isn't cool. Especially when you're not doing it in an 'ironic' way. Yes, I really did this. I went to the loo at lunchtime (well, I thought I'd treat myself), went to wash my hands and noticed that my hair was looking fairly good. Which might explain the staringness of one or two of the males across the office - though that might also have to do with cleavage on show. Errrm... but anyway, I noticed how nice the hair looked and I winked at myself. Really winked. shakes head sadly in anticipation of further descent into cheesemeistery

2. I've just noticed that I have been spending the afternoon pouting. Not in an Angelina Jolie-esque sexy way, oh no. I caught a glance of myself in the reflection of my monitor and realised that I bore an uncanny resemblance to Lewis Collins (just like in the picture below), in ultra mean and moody mode. It's not funny. Really it's not.

Thursday, 9 March 2006


That's my paltry excuse for not coming up with anything of note recently. Struck down by that terrible cold that's going around. And in my prime and all. Shocking.

Anyhoo, it gave me occasion to watch daytime telly. And, oh lordy, is it rubbish. Talk shows wall to wall in the mornings, dodgy soaps in the afternoons. Still, there were compensations (thank god for cable tv) such as double Diagnosis Murder on the Hallmark Channel and re-runs of Murder She Hopes (sorry, Wrote) on UKTV Gold. Which also features as part of the Murder Mystery Sunday on the same channel - something of which I'm becoming inordinately fond. Two (or three if you're extra lucky) episodes of Murder, She Wrote interspersed with a Miss Marple (the Joan Hickson ones) and a Columbo (generally featuring Robert Culp, Robert Vaughn or Patrick McGoohan as the villain). It's a fantastic way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, snuggled up on the sofa with a cuppa and some biscuits.

Mind you, occasionally the continuity announcers get a bit carried away. I heard one say 'And now, Miss Marple, a capeless crusader dispensing brutal vigilante justice.' I mean, for heaven's sake, it's Miss Marple, not a geriatric version of the X-Men. Sheesh.

Anyhoo, back to daytime telly and the other thing I noticed - the sheer volume of adverts for Cillit Bang (and its associated products). There's hundreds of 'em. And it's not even as if they're any good (the adverts I mean), given that they star (if that's quite the right word) the amazingly un-natural Barry Scott. Oh yes, he of 'HI, I'M BARRY SCOTT!' fame. It made me wonder if he talked like that all the time.

*Warning: potential gross-out ahead*

Like if he ever gets 'in the mood'... it's not exactly sweet nothings is it? Could you imagine him in a singles bar?

Okay, I need to stop now, I've even grossed myself out - and I think you've got the idea anyway. Still, he'd make a fantastic international hitman. 'HI, I'M BARRY SCOTT! BANG! AND MY VICTIM IS DEAD!'