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Adventures of a Grumpy Old Man

November 27, 2018

I woke up Monday morning to discover that during the night the fuses had tripped on the plugs in the flat. Nothing appeared to be malfunctioning that I could see so I shrugged and went about resetting clocks and what have you.

Today was a Wet And Miserable Day in High Wycombe so I decided to pull some chilli out of the freezer and bake a loaf of bread.

I’m on a baking kick at the moment and am even trying to build up a sourdough starter and reading Elizabeth David’s ENGLISH BREAD AND YEAST COOKERY to answer the question: what did the Middle Ages do for yeast since they didn’t have the dried stuff? The answer is ‘it’s complicated’ but at least I have learned why a barm cake is called that. (Because it uses ‘barm’ to leaven the bread, which is the yeast froth off beer or wine.)

Anyways when I knocked back the loaf and got it into the tin, I turned on the oven or at least tried to. The main oven was out and that’s when I realised what must have tripped the fuses the night before last.

So I rang up John Lewis Extended Warranty people and they told me to ring Belling. “Why aren’t you ringing them yourselves?” was the first grumpy thing out  of my mouth: I’m usually pretty annoyed after being told for the third time that my call might be recorded. Their perfectly reasonable reply was that Belling were going to need to ask me when I was available. Which in a world of Chinese Whispers was a good point.

Then John Lewis told me I would need to provide Belling with the model number and serial number of the cooker. And that these were on the front of the cooker inside the oven door. Which they were. In a font so small that I had to take a magnifying glass with me when I clambered down and lay  on the floor. My grump increased and I do wonder how anyone in (say) a wheelchair or with a bad back is supposed to do that.

And the really annoying thing? Belling saying no they didn’t need those and the engineer could make a note of them when he came… Which isn’t for two weeks but I can manage until then if I plan properly.

Left hand meet right hand… It’s enough to make me doubt (again) the so-called efficiency of the private sector.

And then I got looking at the problems the US Congress caused with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and reflecting that it  must just be the human race in general.

I can’t help reflecting that  I may be getting a reputation among the  people answering service help lines as a bit of a barm cake though.

I cooked the loaf in the top oven in the end and it came out rather lopsided. Note to self: no tin loafs for the next two weeks. Something low slung when I do the sourdough.

One Comment
  1. Humans are basically broken. There are some very impressive hacks to allow them to deal with more than Dunbar’s number of distinct entities, and thus we have civilisation, but they are hacks and they don’t work very well.

    It’s very easy to find stories of private-sector inefficiency, and ditto of public-sector inefficiency. (There’s usually peculation at the bottom of it, one way or another, because humans.) But this is like retail banking: whatever bank you name, there will be someone with a horror story about it, because all banks generate horror stories. It’s only if you can aggregate people’s experiences and see how often things go wrong that you can start meaningfully distinguishing between them.

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