Tuesday 15 April 2008

Tyred or exhausted?

Regular readers will know that I was without my car for a very long time, thanks to Bert's insistence on using a particular mechanic that he went to school with. Bert applies this 'can't trust anyone you didn't go to school with' logic to most aspects of our lives. Plumbers, electricians, builders, the car mechanic - they all went to school either with him or his brother. It's amazing he married me really, gritty Northerner that I am.

In the end I was without my car for much longer than I blogged about it. I just got too bored with the situation and became quite adept at using public transport and walking everywhere. However, the mechanic finished his final piece of work last week - fitting a new exhaust - and once I'd paid my car tax I was off again. I've managed to get out and about and enjoy the car again, and was feeling quite pleased with the situation.

However, today I was feeling very grumpy for reasons I won't go into, but which involved contacting a counsellor so I can start to deal with Bert my issues. In the end I decided a good gym session was in order to relieve my stresses and strains. Halfway there I noticed a funny noise emanating from the back of the car, which got worse and worse and eventually couldn't be ignored. I pulled over to the side of the road and took a look round the back, immediately spotting the new exhaust floating loose. "Damn," I thought. "That's all I need." I decided that the best thing was to carry on to my destination, which wasn't much further.

The sound got worse and worse and I had to drive really slowly. Who'd have thought a loose exhaust could make so much noise? When I got there I took another look and realised that in addition one of my back tyres was completely flat. "F*ck it, f*ck it, f*ck it," I thought as I speed-dialled Bert's number. We agreed that I would need to phone the emergency repair people, and of course once I'd done that I had to stay with the car. No gym, just a packet of crisps and me lying on the back seat in despair.

Luckily they weren't too long. There was a slightly bizarre moment when the counsellor phoned me just as the repair man was asking me to move my car. "Oh yes," I said to her in a manic way, "Thanks for returning my call! I'm just in the middle of a breakdown - can I call you back?"

She seemed keen to take me on.

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Capital Letters

Bert received a cheque for £500 this morning following a dispute with our electricity company. He calls it a result - I call it a damn nuisance. Every time he 'wins' it encourages him to write even more letters of protest. Some of you may remember Bert's recent interaction with the Post Office. Feeling good after this morning's success, he decided it was time to write to the PO.

I couldn't make this up even if I wanted to (which I don't).

Dear sir/madam

It seems to me from your ‘standard’ letter that you are deliberately attempting to put people off from claiming against the Post Office for their inability to deliver letters. Do you honestly believe that anyone would go to this much trouble if the claim were not genuine? I enclose the original recorded deliver slips as requested but I charge you for the copies (5p each) plus £2.50 for my time in going to a shop to obtain these copies. I also charge you 10p for the envelope, as you did not supply one for me to return the information in. These charges are in addition to my original claim. Take it as threat if you may, but if I do not receive satisfaction over this matter then I will take the Post Office to the small claims court over what is a trivial amount of monetary loss, but a loss all the same, and will add to this my additional time and consequential costs already incurred.

May I also point out to you that your success rate in delivering recorded delivery letters, in my experience, is less than 50% and I shall be reporting you to Trading Standards as I believe that the service is fundamentally flawed and therefore improperly marketed.

Of course the question begs; will this letter actually find its way to you?

Will it be lost or will it be late?

Please be assured that its posting will be witnessed but it will not be sent by Recorded Delivery.

Yours sincerely,


Wednesday 2 April 2008

The Anti-Coach Strikes Again

As some of you may know, I recently started a Diploma in Coach-Mentoring. Bert, as you would expect, is being as supportive as he can.

I had my first proper coaching session with one of my 'coachees' today. I was quite apprehensive but it seemed to go very well. Bert asked how it went. "It was really good," I replied. "Afterwards she said that she had found it very powerful."

Guess which of the following is Bert's response:
  • Darling, that's wonderful. You're so clever and talented.
  • That's really good - you must feel pleased with yourself.
  • She probably fancies you.
No prizes I'm afraid.

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Grand Intentions

I was watching Grand Designs the other day, and it reminded me of when I once watched it with Bert in our previous house.

It was the episode when they converted an old waterworks, and my brother and his wife were also watching with us. At one point, the couple on TV were sanding the very large ceiling in their lounge, using just a small sanding device. The ceiling was in very poor repair and it was clear that this was a mammoth task. Bert couldn't resist adding his two penn'orth. "Why the hell are they doing it by hand? It's going to be a crap finish. Personally I could never live with a ceiling that wasn't perfect."

The rest of us looked at Bert, then at each other, and then at the rather large hole in our living room ceiling that had been there for three years. We all burst out laughing, but Bert couldn't see what he'd said that was funny.

You can just about see the hole in the background of this picture, with the purple balloon dangling from it. It isn't very clear but it's the best I could find.

Bert created the hole so he could investigate a leak that had damaged the ceiling and was coming from the balcony at the front of the house. He couldn't track it down and kept making the hole bigger in order to get a better look. (That's Bert in the foreground by the way. He's probably saying, "It's weird, it's only when there's a strong north-easterly wind with driving rain.")

Bert wasn't prepared to repair the ceiling until he had sorted the problem, and in the end it only got done when we moved house. But at least it was perfect for someone.

Thursday 20 March 2008

Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner's Daughter

Bert is currently upsetting our younger daughter (L).

Most weekday mornings Bert starts his day with a cycle ride (of sorts: I think I may post on that next time), or a long run around the neighbourhood. He has done this for many years, and the girls have always found it highly embarrassing. We live just up the road from their old primary school, and around the corner from their current secondary school. They have had numerous comments over the years from teachers and schoolfriends along the lines of "Was that your dad I saw...?"

So what's new?

Until recently Bert set off on his run or bike ride at about 7.30, and was back home before school started. But now, in encroaching middle age (it's alright - he doesn't read this blog so I can say that), he gets going later and sets off just around the time they go to school. Now L. is finding lots of her friends saying "Is that your dad? What is he wearing?". The answer is a pair of skimpy little old-fashioned shorts, and a very raggy old triathlon top.

L. asked him if he would consider stopping, or at least changing his route and / or his shorts (it might not have been that polite - she is 13). He thought about it momentarily: "No chance!". She asked me to intervene and I said to him, "She's got a point - couldn't you go a different way, or set off a bit later?". "B*llocks," he said. "I've been doing this for years and I'm not going to change my routine now."

We argued a bit more about it. His final point was that if L's friends commented on my grey hair, would I dye it just so as not to embarrass her? I said that would be different. Well it would, wouldn't it?

(And this on a day when I've got a lovely new haircut and colour.)

The current state of play is that L. is 'ignoring' Bert. She keeps forgetting, and halfway through talking to him she suddenly shrieks "Oh Dad!" and stomps off.

I can see this one will run and run.