Monday 4 October 2010

Mixed fortunes, but definitely a fortune

15st 8lb, 6.0 units. A mixed start to the week. The first thing I hear when I finally and reluctantly attain consciousness is the Boy Osborne on the wireless cheerfully announcing that he is going to confiscate my child allowance, but this is more than offset by the happy news on my BlackBerry that I have won no less than US$1 million in the Yahoo Thailand Lottery 2010. Yippee! What an amazing stroke of luck. Now all I need to do to claim my winnings is to supply them with my full name, country of origin, present adress [sic], date of birth, occupation, telephone number, sex, fax number, marital status and my winning number, batch number and lotto number, and they will do the rest. Nothing so obvious as a request for my bank sort code and account number, so it couldn’t possibly be a scam, could it?
Mind you, for a Thai lottery it does seem slightly strange that the reply e-mail address is in Hong Kong and that the sender’s name sounds suspiciously Nigerian … but, hell, what have I got to lose?

I will provide you with an update on the answer to that last question in due course.

Incidentally, can anyone offer a convincing explanation of why even Americans would consider Yahoo! an appealing name for a search engine? Did they know what a yahoo actually was, according to Swift? I have long considered it a grave personal affront that BT has given me a Yahoo e-mail address, adding to the long list of crimes against humanity for which I hope that they will be brought to justice in due course, though at least I never actually use it.

Meanwhile, continuing the theme of mixed fortunes, on the one hand we have water mysteriously dripping through the ceiling of our utility room; but on the other hand it isn’t actually our utility room, it’s our landlady’s. To be honest, I’m glad it’s not really my problem because I am completely and utterly baffled as to where the water can be coming from. The utility room lies under a bedroom that we never use, except for occasional guests (VERY occasional guests, given my personality) and that is completely dry, as are all the spaces under the eaves that I can access. I finally realized that we had a problem on Saturday morning, and put it down to a leaking central heating pipe, assuming that it had just started up because we have the heating turned on for the first time since the spring.

Thinking back, I realized that there had been leaks onto the utility room linoleum at that point before, and felt a bit guilty about having kicked the cat and dog up the arse and telling them that it was about time they started to exercise a bit of bladder control.

Then the problem got markedly worse yesterday morning, when we had torrential rain, and Mrs Sherlock Hann deduced from the fact that the water was (a) cold and (b) clear, rather than rusty, that it was probably finding its way in from outside rather than from a leaking pipe. This theory, I have to report, has been summarily dismissed by the experts I have spoken to today, on the grounds that there is still a steady drip, drip, drip into my bucket and it hasn’t rained for 24 hours.

I reported the problem to our landlady’s managing agent on Saturday morning and have been at home all day today, so naturally their emergency plumber has just rung to say that they will be with us between 08.00 and 08.15 tomorrow morning, when no-one can be here to let them in. Great. Still, I have also got an out-of-hours super-emergency number to call if the drip, drip, drip should suddenly become a swoosh, SOS, abandon ship, women and children first, where’s my gun and floral cretonne frock (not necessarily in that order), ooh it’s a but parky isn’t it, still I expect the Carpathia will be here by tomorrow lunchtime, get your hands off our boat you filthy steerage scum or I’ll fetch you such a whack across the head with my oar, now does anyone fancy a nice ham sandwich and a game of cribbage?

At lunchtime I listened to a classic Martha Kearney interview with Iain Duncan Smith on Radio 4, focusing on the massive unfairness of taking the child allowance away from a single-income family earning over £44,000 p.a., but continuing to pay it to a double-income family raking in £43,000 each, because neither of them makes it into the higher rate tax band. And why target this poor, hypothetical, single income family with kids when you could have saved even more money by withdrawing the winter fuel allowance from richer pensioners?

No doubt this sort of drivel will fill the airwaves for weeks now.

My suggestion: stop ALL benefit payments to people like me who don’t really need the money, leave the EU, abolish the overseas aid budget in its entirety, get out of Afghanistan, cancel the 2012 Olympics, slash NHS spending, impose a retrospective 110% tax on all bonuses paid in the last ten years by banks that have required State support, reverse the Beeching cuts to the railways, buy more horses for the police and the army, commission a new crown for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and build her a proper yacht as well as a third aircraft carrier and perhaps a dozen frigates. Now that’s what I would call a proper Conservative programme. I wonder if I could sell it to Nick Clegg?