Home » Agony Auntie » How long, o Lord, how long?

How long, o Lord, how long?


Je recuse

It’s Christmas time once more again

Joy! My new little laptop thing has arrived.

I have little idea of how to use it, I have never known what the f-keys do, for instance, but I plugged it in anyway and it’s sitting there, configuring Windows updates to its heart’s content. In fact I think it may even have connected wirelessly already to muh BT hub, as it’s got a picture now on the screen, one of those annoying pictures Windows 10 puts up, asking if you’d like another one the same or something different? Or maybe you’d just like to use the computer?

Christ, Americans.

Oh, no. I think it just does that. It wants a security ‘key’. Er….

It was delivered from Laptopsdirect at 09.30 prompt on the promised day by an admirably brisk and efficient young man with a van, from a courier firm I haven’t heard of before, DX. I expect they’re a rebrand of some formerly semi-useless American operation, TNT or something, one of those whose reputations weren’t of the best.

But it seems to have worked, and it means Hunzi gets his walk at the normal time – I feared having to wait in all-day, as one does with UPS, only to discover they actually came the previous day and left it who-knows where.

After ringing the bell, the courier waited politely for me to get from my studio to the door, which takes about 90 seconds if you don’t fall over a dog, so I didn’t have to sprint down the garden path to accost him as he was climbing back into the van to rush on to the next delivery, for which he would be paid 45p or something and nothing for the journey time or his van rental, distressing tales we read about so often nowadays.

I asked him about it, and he smiled and said he was actually reasonably well-paid for his labours.

I may apply for a job.

But now I’m looking at the battered remains of this, muh previous laptop, with wistful nostalgia.

I’m still using it, as you can see, but it’s coming time to bid goodbye. The lid part has disintegrated: the left hinge, broken, with its visible wires and other gubbins; the screen, free-floating between the detached sandwiching halves; the worn-out keys, E, T, C… some others I don’t recognise; the piece of thick cardboard I had to gaffer-tape over the trackpad to stop the cursor flying about everywhere when I’m typing and using a mouse. (Asus warning: you can’t cut out the trackpad, there’s no driver for it.)

And at last I can shut it down – it’s been left on for weeks because it’s been increasingly reluctant to wake up, and I fear one morning, like myself hopefully,  it may simply not.

But the new m’chine, well. Flimsy. A rattly, plasticky keyboard, that feels it might not long survive the pounding I shall undoubtedly give it, as long as the dumb-cunt old lesbian Trump is in office, lying her fat orange pumpkin head off.

The thing I can’t figure out is how to transfer stuff over in bulk. Most of what I do is write these endless, obsessive pieces using WordPress, which is a kind of cloudstore, so the data is out there somewhere for all eternity in a bunker under Arizona or Kyrzgystan, along with every embarrassing first and hundredth draft, and I don’t need to worry about it. Ditto G-mails galore, in the parallel Google universe; and the webthings I visit, obviously: YouTube and so on will still be accessible.

So there’s no shortage of things to do and see, once it’s connected to the i-net. And has a printer driver.

But what to do with my photos, that I don’t really want, most of them; the many hundreds of docs saved in Word? I purchased along with the laptop a key to Office 365, that’s arrived too, and instructions for how to key it. But you need to be online first. I’m afraid now of making mistakes and the whole thing is blown.

Then there’s Firefox and Chrome, with all my Bookmarks. How do I hang on to those? Windows 10, Microsoft, hates Chrome and clearly doesn’t want me downloading it, or Firefox come to that. And most of all, the 60 hours of music files, copied from my extensive collection of mainly disappointing jazz CDs? How do I copy those across? (Actually, I bought a tablet specifically to handle all my musical requirements, but I don’t know how that works either. Somebody shoot me now.) The resident media player will play, and very well — but there’s no ripping CDs on it, or organising libraries. What’s it for, one wonders?

And then there are the dozens of passwords to various needed websites that are going to have to be reset, none of which I can remember. I usually have to reset them once a week anyway as the ‘Remember me’ tickboxes never work. They’re all based on jazz musicians, but there are hundreds of those and I’ve lost the bit of paper I’ve been writing them down on. I finally burst into tears trying to reset my Gmail account. Change one password in Google platforms, and you have to change them all. They know perfectly well who I am.

Alas, the sockets on the new laptop are on the wrong side and upside-down for all my cabling – I didn’t think of that, but now I’m going to have to reverse all the plugging.


Look! My new laptop has got various ‘apps’ as we must now learn to call whatever they were before, preloaded on it! Joy. I just clicked on a letter ‘A’ in the taskbar, and boringly Amazon has popped up, begging me to ‘love’ it. You can’t ‘love’ Amazon, nobody can, they treat their employees like dirt; although it’s dashed useful, especially if you live where I do and love getting presents in the mail.

No, Amazon is a horrid, impersonal thing that keeps suggesting stuff to order that has no relevance to your life, on the basis of a brute and cretinous algorithm that can’t understand how no-one is going to buy more than one saxophone in any given month. And keeps trying to sell you onto their Prime service, at an eyewatering price, just so you can be treated a little more servilely and enjoy more crap TV with Jeremy Klaxon. It’s already looking quite dated, frankly. Dated and cumbersome.

Stuff it.

So with the lad away I’m thinking about renting a teenager, or someone with a worse case of Asperger’s than my own, rank body odour is always a good sign, to come in and sort it. Only looking around, I can see my studio needs a good clean-up first.

In fact, the whole house needs spring-cleaning, it’s a tip. I’ve given up, quite honestly. No-one visits, no-one comes to buy it. The prostate – I had another night of straining every ten minutes to pee yesterday, starting at four a.m., with consequent blow-back and leakage – and now I’ve got this hiatus hernia problem that’s giving me nightmares as well as indigestion.

It’s not promising.

I dreamed last night that I was struggling on my own to keep an enormous exam-room full of comprehensive-school pupils quiet and on-message. (I am actually a part-time invigilator, of undergraduate exams thank God, not kidz.)

Ranging in ages from about 12 at the front to about 35 at the back – there were even some teachers there too who were becoming increasingly noisy and insolent. They were all supposedly  sitting a very basic-level math exam by way of an infinite series of multiple-choice questions, but refused to stop talking and laughing with one another and texting their mates. After trying dire warnings, expulsions, disqualifications, confiscations and futile threats of violence, including tearing-up their papers, I ended up pathetically telephoning the headmaster; and while waiting seemingly forever for him to arrive, improvised an interminable speech about taking responsibility for one’s life.

Of course, no-one took the slightest bit of notice.

Not even, it seems, me.

“Ah did naht have intracourse with that Ambassador.”

Inside the Whitehall echo-chamber

In reply to a question from the BBC about school pupils being forced to go on retaking Maths and English GCSE until they get at least a Grade C, some of them well into their nineties, and wasn’t it likely they had other skills that could be encouraged, more useful skills; and perhaps desirable that they should benefit from more specialised training that might allow them to progress in their chosen careers, the Department for Obfuscation replied it was:

“developing credible, high-quality options for students through reforming Functional Skills qualifications in maths and English, to make sure that they deliver the knowledge and skills that employers need, and consequently have credibility and prestige in the jobs market”.

Yes Minister!’s Sir Humphrey is alive and well.

This lapidary statement ignores the quite interesting statistic that 80% of the CEOs of Footsie 100 companies left school at 16, or at best have no qualifications past A-level. Success in business has nothing to do with academic achievement.

A minimum Grade C is obviously required in BLB  (Barely Literate Bullshit) to become a cypher in the Education Department’s underworked press office. I require no qualifications at all to spot that what the DoE is saying is it costs less to teach open subjects badly than to provide specialised technical courses in FE colleges.

I don’t expect my garage mechanic to have a degree in Literature, but you never know.


“What hath night to do with sleep?” – John Milton, Paradise Lost

The first sign that something was up was the number 140 scrawled in white paint on the pavement outside my front gate.

Then, the crumpled note last Friday, shoved through the letterflap. Our road was to be closed from 18.00 pm to 06.00 am, for FIVE NIGHTS, starting Monday. If we had any queries, here was a number to ring.

I don’t suppose anyone will answer it and if they do, so what? They don’t give a fuck. You certainly don’t get an offer of hotel accommodation.

Deep resurfacing work.

It meant that I might not be able to park within half a mile of my house for a week, if I wanted to go out in the evenings. Which I do – choir on Tuesday (19.15 to 22.00). Drama rehearsal Thursday (19.00 to 21.30). And what if I run out of milk? Wine?  It would have vindicated my resolve to sell the car, had I thought to do so when the idea first occurred to me, several weeks ago. Now I’m stuck with it, as diesels have replaced feral children, Romanian immigrants, High Court judges and devil dogs as the bogeys of choice for the insane redtop blatts.

Outside as I write, the jarring sounds of heavy machinery, 12-litre engines whining: massive gritter lorries and grit pumps and hoppers and scrapers and road-drills and generators and tarmacadam firer-uppers whining and rumbling in the street, reversing-vehicle warnings bleeping just 20 feet from my bedroom window – all night long.

It makes a change from speeding cars and huge double-decker, double-trailer slaughter waggons hauling silently shivering sheep by the thousand through the dark to the county abbatoirs, from dusk ’til dawn. But it’s not much better.

They let me through, after I drove around five miles to avoid the Road Closed barrier at the end of the street, only to encounter another barrier at the other end of the designated stretch – my little house exactly halfway between. A nice young man waved me on – they’ve only just begun. And along the pavement, stretched right across my front gate, a security barrier tape.


Luckily I still cut an athletic figure, I’m not some pointless disabled person in a wheelchair. I can still vault a tape. And Hunzi can go underneath. What the couple next door with the five-year-old kid will do, who cares?

I may get out in the day, I don’t know. I certainly won’t get back tomorrow night, should I venture out. Which I may not do if I’ve had no sleep. Nobody will. There are possibly 150 of us living here in the village, trapped in our homes by roadworks and the arrogance of the fuckwit planners to whom our freedom to come and go means nothing.

Why the road needs resurfacing every three or four years is a question I don’t suppose anyone will answer.

So I will.

It’s because the Highways Agency, the Local Authority and the Police are all a bunch of fucking useless retards and budget-cuts-blaming cunts who do FUCK-ALL about the increasing volume of speeding tanker-drivers, Cathedral City cheese lorries and other heavy traffic pounding the cheaply surfaced stretch of the main road that links this T-junction coastal town through our village with the motorway system and the giant distribution depots of the English Midlands.

(Sorry to have a go, but it’s been years.)

A proposal to build a southern bypass was aborted in the 1990s, after some self-interested landowner dumped an entire industrial estate atop the proposed route, which then had to contend unpromisingly with the steep flank of a valley. No-one has had the foresight to create an out-of-town distribution depot to bring goods in by rail; although the perfect site exists. So there is only the one access road for all the commercial and holiday traffic funneled into the town, past my front door.

Ironically, I’ve just been watching a Panorama documentary about how, thanks to iPads and TV, busy working parents and obesity, kids aren’t getting enough sleep to let their brains develop properly. Not sure I am either, what with the old prostate an’ all. In an intriguing experiment, A. Doctor forced the dimwits to take the childrens’ iThings away an hour before bedtime, and hey presto! In a week their cognitive abilities improved by 60%.

From my perspective, at my advanced age I’d like to get enough sleep just to be allowed to die in peace.

Fat chance.

So I’m now on my twelfth whisky of the evening, counted in measures, which I don’t, and shall probably have to sleep in the spare room, which has the advantage of being at the back. Nor am I in the habit of swinging Katz, my tubby cat. Just as well in the spare room, as you couldn’t.

I only hope my grades don’t suffer.

“Look, guys, I twist my ear and a tongue comes out. How cool is that?”

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