Wednesday 1 April 2009

The Border terrier as guard dog

15st 0lb, 6.0 units. Yes, it might like look my diet is making no progress but in fact today’s reading represents A Result as my bathroom scales in Northumberland always make me at least 2lb heavier than the ones I took to the North West. (Now why do you think I chose those scales to make the trip?) I decided to ignore completely the grand old weighing machine in the gents of my club in Liverpool, which showed that I had gained approximately 14lb during the short train journey from Chester yesterday, since frankly that seemed just a little bit unlikely.

I was surprised to note, on returning to my bedroom after a bath this morning, that the gate into my front garden was open, as it had definitely been closed last night and I have taken measures against this sort of thing (viz screwing in place a reproduction of an old railway warning sign that sternly instructs “CLOSE THIS GATE”). On wandering down to deal with the problem, I was surprised to find a young man up a ladder outside the house. Surprised on two counts:

(a) because he came from BT Openreach, and his colleague in India had been at pains to advise me that no-one would be able to reach me before tomorrow at the earliest; and

(b) because he advised me that he had knocked loudly on both my external doors before entering my property, and I retain the services of an expensively fed guard dog specifically so that I can be sure of being alerted to this sort of intrusion.

At this point said guard dog deigned to toddle downstairs and out into the garden, where he looked at the BT man in a bleary sort of way before wagging his tail half-heartedly, urinating on a convenient plant and returning to bed for another few hours’ much-needed shut-eye.

As ever, I found BT’s man on the spot considerably more obliging than his counterparts in India, whose brief appears to be simply to deny the existence of any problems. (I wonder whether they help to draft Gordon Brown’s speeches in their spare time? That might explain why they take so long to answer the sodding phones.) True, he did claim that he needed to disconnect my second phone line in order to repair the first, thereby depriving me of my broadband connection and preventing me from doing the work I had planned. But he also freely acknowledged that there was something wrong and spent well over an hour up the pole replacing things before sheepishly admitting that the fault actually lay in a junction box under my study window, and replacing that, too. He laid great emphasis on what a favour he had done me by renewing the other contacts, so much so that I wondered whether he was angling for some sort of cash bonus. If so, he was rather less successful than the average banker.

I drove to Newcastle for lunch in the restaurant I used to describe in this blog as the city’s equivalent of The Ivy, in the days when I was discreet and hid behind my pseudonym, while Mrs H called herself the LTCB and would only be photographed only with her back to the camera. Actually it’s Café 21. It seemed less busy than it used to be (not that occupancy levels were ever my point of comparison with The Ivy), but the food was as good as ever. I just wish I could remember not to order the fishcakes every single time I go there for lunch. I had a convivial time chatting to a senior local journalist and a PR guru who expressed a sympathetic fellow feeling about my obesity while oddly appearing to be as thin as a lath himself. Then I drove to Gosforth for a haircut, only to find that Northumbrian Water (Real, Continuity or Provisional) had reduced the place to total gridlock. Still, I had luckily allowed enough time to walk from the distant point I was actually able to reach, and perhaps even burned off a few of my lunchtime calories in the process.

Phone mended, lunch eaten, hair cut. A day of above-average achievement for a 50-something blogger with no visible means of support.

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