Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Domestic Darkness, Damp & Damnation ...

Yesterday, the light in the kitchen ceiling went. Well, the second half of it: the other half burnt out about 8 years ago and has never been fixed. I can't reach it, even with a ladder, so that reduces me to groping around with a torch. It's raining hard this evening and the roof is leaking again. F*ck it!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Mummy's Boy on Mother's Day

Balu in a box

Mother's Day here in Spain was last week. In the UK it was in March, but today, Balu has been constantly hanging around either of his "mummies" (me or the dog) for love; for reassurance. That furball has idolized his dog, ever since she picked him out of the box when he was a mere 4 inch long scrap of kitten, seven years ago, laid him on the floor and washed him from arse to tip - with one lick.
Holly has slept next to her adopted charges, kept bums clean, supervised them to make sure they didn't stray, chastises them for bad behaviour and, many's the day I will wake up to find her playing with "her kid", rolling him on the floor, nuzzling into his soft belly fur and seemingly giggling, as well as sneezing, while showing no retaliation nor impatience with the painful claws in her snout.

Today, Balu got me up at 7.30 a.m., he's been on and off the desk half the morning and, unusually for that time of day, snuggled on my lap, "arms" around my neck, nuzzling me and purring loudly. He's been sat on the chair beside me and has been following and nuzzling the dog even more than normal. 

Animals can always sense when their routine is changing.

Little does he realise quite by how much.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Passport Security

Last Wednesday, finally, my passport arrived although it took several phone calls to chase it up and two more to literally "coach" the courier up here to the valley - against more whining protestations about having to drive further. Once she got here she thrust the thing in my hand, wouldn't even look at me and, was off like a speeding bullet once she had my signature. Charming. NOT!

But, considering how important the document is and after the performance on the Tuesday, I really had no alternative but to phone the consulate in Madrid to chase it up and, in doing so, complain. They put me onto the courier, who, after I'd explained again, said they'd tell the driver it "just wasn't good enough."

Well, it wasn't. And, she was dead lucky to still have a job.

No, I don't say that flippantly. If I'd told one of my company's (any of them) customers they were too far away and refused to deliver, or lied to pretend I'd been somewhere and been caught out, I'd be on the dole, deservedly.

Another worrying issue came out of that conversation though: the office was telling the driver (I appreciate the hurry up) that I needed the passport to fly the next day. What I don't like about that (apart from the fact that it was a lie and, as an excuse will soon wear thin), is that this confirms to me that the couriers know what those packages contain. They should not / do not need to know.

All it would take is an employee who is anti-British or thinks they're underpaid and, let's face it everyone in Spain IS underpaid and you have a "perfect" environment for thefts of these valuable, saleable items.

(Yeah, yeah, so it's got a chip. The crooks will be well ahead ...)

Anyway, I thought Britain was trying to tighten security on passports, but this new delivery system, seems entirely counter productive, if you ask me. No, I'm not saying that any passports will definitely go missing, but this just does not seem like the best way to go about helping to prevent that possibility. And after that, now I really angrily resent all the additional costs, stupid photo requirements, extra journeys and unnecessary hoops I had to jump through.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

WTF Plumbing

Fontanería creativa (creative plumbing)
The council plumbers, who were due to come last Tuesday, turned up at 7.50 a.m. last Wednesday morning. It's a good thing Cat Balu has taken to waking me up early then, she says sarcastically. Anyway, the new regulator is fitted, even if they did fit more pipe, another stopcock and the whole thing ended up looking awfully similar to this bit of Fontanería creativa (creative plumbing).

The WTF element is still the fact that a regulator is needed to protect the installations in the house from damages that could be caused by ups and downs in water pressure, when a) every single bit of it already broke (because of the last pressure surge) and is now new and b) the very same plumbers still insist that they are not responsible and that the pressure never changes.

For b) to be true, a) could not have happened.

They would, no doubt, argue that I had imagined the whole scenario, but I distinctly remember being wet up to the knees mopping out real water.

So, that just leaves the leaking water heater still to be fixed.

Since the regulator was fitted and the pressure was put back at a sensible level (I'm sure it wasn't measured with an apparatus, but it's better than it was), the intermittently not working water heater and the temperamental washing machine have both behaved themselves. Now I've said that, bet they won't.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Lies and disrespect ...

Excuse me while the smoke fumes from my ears, but I almost cannot believe the telephone conversation I had this afternoon. Was talking to Jack on Sunday, who said their passports only took days to arrive, so I decided to check with my bank to see if the amount had been charged. It had, on the 18th. That being 10 days yesterday, I planned to phone the British Consulate in Madrid to chase it up, except they beat me to it, when I was told that, "We've been trying to deliver it, but you weren't in."

Did I detect an undertone of accusation, like I was causing a problem by being away from home? I'm certain, but I chose to grit my teeth and believe I'd imagined it. Probably, if you don't actually tell people when you're coming, likely as not people won't be in. People who go out to work certainly won't be at home, will they? The consulate then said that the courier couldn't find me and they wanted "the rest of" the address. There isn't any more. No, it doesn't have a number. 

This is no surprise: nobody can find me, because I'm way out in the sticks, just past the end of the world and make a right (seriously, well almost.) 

Anyway, they'd obviously tried to deliver the passport on Friday, while I was out (this, I do believe was essential), catching 4 busses to buy a regulator. (Which, by the way, I was promised by the town hall that they would be fitting today too, but they didn't turn up either, but I digress ...

The only way anyone can find me and I've gone through this ritual with every delivery or workman, etc., for 9 years, is if they get fairly close, phone me and, then I give them instructions, ask them what kind of vehicle they are driving and tell them that I will go down to the main road to wait for them and that they should look out for a 50 year old mad woman flagging down passing cars!

They said they would try again today, Tuesday and, I've been here, all of it.

Something after 4 p.m. (when I'd virtually given up on them and had mentally noted to call the consulate to chase it up again tomorrow morning), I get a call from some youf who says, in a tone that was clearly bored and unconcerned, that they have this thing from the British Consulate to bring me. They weren't that eloquent and they were speaking Spanish, but in essence.

They say they are in Buenavista del Norte. I point out to them that the address is in El Palmar (a valley, with a village of the same name), which is about 3 km above Buenavista. They tell me to wait outside because they are on their way and, before I can give them any more instructions, they hang up on me.

There would be no point going outside without giving them further instructions, finding out what kind of vehicle I'm looking for, telling them what landmarks and person they should look for, etc. The house phone doesn't work outside, down at the main road, strangely. So, all I could do was wait indoors on the off chance that they would get up here, realize they need to know more and ring again. Actually, I didn't have to wait long. Less than a minute actually, when the phone rang again. They had not had time to get far and certainly NOT 3 km or more up a mountain road with successive hairpin bends from Buenavista to El Palmar. Of course, they couldn't find me, mostly because they were nowhere near here. I kept asking them where they were, what could they see around them, etc., and explained that I needed to know so I could tell them in which direction to go. 

They avoided answering and made out puzzlement or indignation, like there was no logical reason for me to ask. Obviously, because answering would mean admitting that they knew they weren't even trying. I couldn't hear an engine, or wind to suggest they were moving either. On the off chance that they were actually hurtling up the road by private jet, I had to go through the motions, tell them what landmarks to look for. As soon as I mentioned those landmarks, they immediately claimed, oh yes they passed them way back and could not find the house. Well they wouldn't, even if they'd been close, because the house is not near the main road, which is why I have to go down to meet everyone ...

But it was absolutely impossible that they had been this far up, let alone further. Now they said they were on their way back down again. Giving up. No can deliver today. Not enough time / too difficult. When I challenged them, saying that I knew (you know, I live here) they had not had time between the two phone calls to have travelled 3 km or got anywhere near this valley, let alone the right village, of course, they insisted they had. Just out and out barefaced lies. In fact, the only thing this unprofessional courier seemed to be interested in was that, as they kept repeating, they had to be in Santa Cruz by 5 p.m. (To "clock off" presumably?)

Well, it would take an awful lot longer than the 40 minutes they had remaining at the end of this discussion to get back to the capital, so would another 10 minutes (or so) to do their job, really have hurt? Oh no, they said they didn't have 10 minutes, they would try again tomorrow (how hard?) and hung up on me. Think of the wasted fuel, coming back across the island again tomorrow.

And I'm so afraid of the passport "going missing" the more it traipses back and forth across the island, especially in the hands of someone like this.