Do you remember the time when the most important thing in your life was in deciding what games to play with your siblings and friends or what you fancied doing just by yourself? Then later perhaps how you would go about swatting for the next examination? As we grow older our priorities change in-line with what we have to do rather than what we wish to do. As adults there are many more priorities we have to contend with and in which order we deal with problems and situations becomes important. As children if something fails to keep us interested we simply move on to something else. Adults don’t always have that choice, some things require immediate action and failing to act can bring dire consequences sometimes. Other people rely upon our actions too at times and inaction on our part can prove dangerous or costly in some circumstances. We are often under pressure to respond or to accommodate to the needs of others. Even when we think the problems in life have by in large shrunk or have become non-existent we are often faced with unexpected event to deal with. When in full-time work I was faced with all sorts of problems to do with my job and prioritising was simply an automatic thing. Now that I have retired those problems are in the past, or are they? Not really, they are just different and I still find myself prioritising in sorting them out. There is one unique difference though, I get to choose how I prioritise or even if I want to deal with a problem. Well, that’s the theory but I find I cannot often leave the responsibility to someone else unless I really need to. That means I continue to accept the responsibility, the problems and how to deal with them, which all leads me to providing the solution too. I fix things…..if I can. There are few things around the house which I won’t try to fix when they go wrong but in which order do I do them? They sometimes number quite a few!
Over the Christmas period we discovered we had a leaking roof having seen the signs in the room below. We arranged for the insurance company to inspect it and hopefully sanction the repairs. Scaffolding was erected to a height of forty-foot (13 metres) in order to reach the roof as the house is that tall. We heard nothing for a couple of weeks until recently when someone came and took photos to submit to the insurance company. On Friday as I was driving off to do a job I saw the scaffolding company’s vehicle draw up. I phoned E to let her know and it turns out that they had come to dismantle and remove the scaffolding, but the repairs had not been done yet! After they had contacted the insurers to find out what was going on they told E that the works had not been sanctioned and we would not be able to claim for the repairs. I was at work when E informed me. I phoned the guy we use for our roof repairs and he will check the roof and what needs to be done next week. Now then the job I had been to was to install the circuitry for a cooker hood and fit the hood too. First of all I had difficulty in getting a good fixing to the wall but what really annoyed me was the design of the hood itself, the top fixing holes had been placed in such an awkward position as to be almost impossible to get at, just like the one I had fitted at home a few weeks ago. Why do manufacturers make their products so hard to fit? Finally it was in place and I had to channel out the wall for the electrical cable and the control unit. I remembered that there was a gas pipe buried in the wall near to where I had repositioned a power outlet on my previous visit two weeks ago. It had originally been located above the cooker and had to be moved sideways. That is when I discovered the pipe, so I had to be careful when fixing the hood in order to avoid it. I managed to do that but unfortunately forgot the pipe when cutting the channel! I pierced it! I had to dig out the wall and effect a repair using my gas torch and solder which fortunately I carry in my van. I hasten to add that I am not in the habit of piercing gas pipes! So I finished the work, got paid and drove home but I stopped along the way to buy a replacement gas canister for my torch and a special-sized metal box for the fitting of power outlets, switches or other items as I wanted one for installing a twin power outlet and a television outlet on the same box rather than fitting two separate boxes. Electricians will know what I mean. Whilst waiting in the plumbers merchant store for ten minutes I was told they didn’t stock the particular gas canister that I wanted. Why couldn’t he tell me that when I first walked in as I had the torch standing on the counter and it was obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense that I wanted a replacement? That’s the way it goes sometimes. The guys had turned up to continue with the front steps and had started to build up a small retaining wall alongside the new steps but it looked horrible and out-of-place. I had to tell them to take it down and leave it at a lower height and they admitted it looked better but they had been instructed to build it high by E’s nephew, their boss. He should have asked us what we wanted in the first place. I spent a little time with E upstairs in the bedroom as she wanted to finish off the painting of the skirting boards with undercoat. She had been busy doing the work whilst I had been away from home. I don’t know what it is about builders but they leave everywhere so messy. The garage in which I park my van is full of their materials, tools, sheets and wheelbarrows. I shall be glad when all the work is complete and we can have our house back.
A miserable and wet day, typical of most days at this time of year except that of late the weather has been anything but miserable. I am not complaining about the weather, there is little point in moaning about something we cannot change. I am now getting plenty of work, well that which I want to do and it is enough to keep me happy. Today as I write this, which happens to be Wednesday, I am feeling rather tired and worn out even though I haven’t really done much work today but I have been feeling this way for a few days. Notwithstanding the fact that I am quickly approaching my seventieth birthday I cannot explain why I am feeling the way I am other than the fact that my sleep patterns are all over the place. I have a lot of things on my mind and this isn’t helping me getting to sleep and added to this I am sometimes up a couple of times during the night for toilet visits too. I might get lucky and have three hours before I find myself awake once more so I get up in the morning still feeling a little tired. If my mom was alive she would be telling me that all this, the miserable weather and poor sleep was because it is Wednesday. She told me that I was born on a Wednesday, which is true by the way, and she would recite that old rhyme with tongue in cheek about the days of the week where Wednesday’s child is full of woe! Well thanks mom, you always knew how to cheer me up. The miserable weather has nothing to do with whichever day it is, has it? Hahaha..The miserable day is another matter. It has been one of those days where all matter of things seem to have been against me, annoying little things like other drivers not driving as they should, getting stuck in an elevator whilst trying to carry all the things I needed for that small job this morning, all sorts of trivial things. I try not to let things get the better of me but some things are inexcusable and shouldn’t perhaps happen at all. The lady I was working for was nice though and she could make a decent cup of coffee!
Many of you will have heard that saying and understood its meaning but some may not. Before I continue with the theme of this post I will explain what a saint really is. Notwithstanding what the dictionary definition is, a saint in real terms is described in Scripture. When saint Paul corresponded with the believers (in Christ) in the various places dotted about the Mediterranean Sea he began by writing ‘To all the saints in….’. He was addressing them as saints and therefore by the same token all those who are believers today can call themselves ‘saints’. Incidentally, there is no hierarchy in sainthood as some churches would have us believe. They talk about ‘special’ saints and address them using the capital letter ‘S’ but in fact all saints are simply those who are followers of Christ. To be a Christian (saint) is to have among many things, patience and forbearance especially when all things seem to be coming against us.
Over the last weekend I began to feel a tenderness and sensitivity in one of my front (incisor) teeth and after a day or so I began to feel a general ache beneath the surrounding teeth. I knew a visit to the dentist was needed but in the meantime I kept the pain down and rinsed often with an antiseptic mouthwash believing it to be an infection rather than a tooth problem. By Thursday morning I could no longer put off going to the dentist but I had two electrical jobs scheduled. The first one was at nine o’clock and was easy to do so I spent little time there. My next job although quite a few miles distant would take me past my dentist‘s surgery so I called in there to make an appointment. As by now I was suffering with toothache I was fortunate to get an appointment at 2.15, immediately after their lunch break. It was only ten o’clock so I had time to go to my next job and complete it. I drove off but about a mile from my destination and on a country lane I could hear a strange noise so I stopped the van to see if the ladders on the roof were secure. They were but then I looked beneath the van to see the exhaust end box on the road. I could do without a problem like this at that moment for I wasn’t feeling too good, was a little tired and I wanted to get on with the day ahead. It is fortunate that I was in a van carrying electrical cables and tools. A length of earthing conductor and five minutes on my stomach soon had the exhaust box supported and I was on my way. A simple steel strap wraps around the box and is suspended from a flexible rubber band but the strap had corroded leaving no support for the box. I arrived at the house and was greeted by an old lady who after hearing my story promptly made me a cup of tea. I discovered that her husband had taken the dog for a walk but that if I needed a long ladder there was one on the extension’s roof. I was to replace a floodlight but it was at high level. I don’t carry long ladders now for I don’t usually work at such height from a ladder at my age. I made an exception and got on with it but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t straightforward. I will spare you the details suffice to say it was a proverbial pain and just something else to try to rub me up the wrong way. The second light unit I had to replace was at low level and I thought that would be far easier but again there were problems. What else could go wrong? Finally I was able to drive back homeward stopping off at the dentists on the way but I was over an hour too early for the appointment. I found a place to park the van and walked the short distance across the busy main road to the surgery. By now I was in real pain but had to sit it out. I was the only patient in there at that moment and for a while afterward. I was also feeling quite hungry but could I really eat anything before seeing the dentist as I couldn’t brush my teeth? What dentist wants to see a mouth full of bits of food? I could eat later. I was more concerned about the toothache which was getting worse and a newly developing headache. I was a wreck! Finally I was sitting in the chair with the nice young dentist peering into my mouth. He is so nice and has the dubious pleasure of looking after my dental needs. He treated me on my last visit and will remain my dentist as long as he is there. He took an x-ray and five minutes later I was called into the room again to be told I had two teeth which needed filling and I had two abscesses also. They were in separate places and were caused by an infection. He prescribed antibiotics which I have to take for the next few days, My next appointment on the 18th inst. will be the first of five in order for him to do what is necessary. This is going to cost me a pretty penny! At the reception I was to have the prescription stamped and I had to arrange for the next appointment but all I wanted to do was to get the prescription filled out at the chemist store two doors away and go home. There was a problem, I had a bad headache, the phone rang continually, the only receptionist had her hands full with another patient and there were other people ahead of me in the queue. Soon I was in the chemist but they were busy in there too! At last I was sitting in the van whereupon I took one of the antibiotic capsules and a headache tablet I keep in there with the water I also keep in the cab. I could go home but no, I had to visit the tyre and exhaust depot first to see if they could do the repair only to be told when I got there that they no longer hold stock and the part would have to be ordered but that I could drive a couple of miles to a service station who might have them in stock. The drive took me out-of-town in the opposite direction to home. The guy there told me the bad news, no, they didn’t have the part but it could be there the following morning. It would also necessitate replacing the tail box as the strap securing it is now welded to the box! That meant extra expenditure to the tune of £70. I couldn’t have the work done in the morning as I had a job to do so made the appointment for later in the afternoon. When I got home all I wanted to do was sit down and doze off to sleep but I needed something in my tummy and ate some fruit. It was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. The phone rang and it was yet another job request. Now just to rub salt in my wounds I discovered I had problems with updating Norton security on my computer and had also lost the Norton toolbar again for the fourth time. I have had nothing but problems with Norton when using Firefox ever since I upgraded to Windows 10. Once was acceptable, if anything should be acceptable, twice was an irritation, then three and now four times is really not acceptable. However I took in in my stride though in fact wanted to scream. I contacted the Norton help desk and was again connected to an agent who took control of my computer and with great efficiency had the problem sorted in less than thirty minutes. It is reasonable to hope that this will be the final time but who knows? Despite everything that happens in my life I remain patient and unruffled but then I have the patience of a saint.
Tuesday was set to be an easy day as I was to simply install a couple of new lighting fittings. That however couldn’t be done until two o’clock in the afternoon as the caller would be at work until then. I got up early to shower, dress and have breakfast all before eight o’clock after which I spent a little time in the garden before returning indoors to enjoy a cup of coffee. I had just sat down with the coffee when the house phone rang. It was a call from a customer I had worked for some years ago who asked if I was still working. Half of the lights in his house were not working and in fact kept tripping out the supply if they were switched on. I explained that I was still working but that I had a job to go to at two o’clock. It would allow me to spend some time trying to sort out his problem beforehand. I took a sip of my coffee, disposed of the rest then drove to his house a few miles away. The first thing I had to do once there was to refit a light that had come away from the ceiling and which had some of the wiring loose or disconnected. It was one of those little jobs that should have taken only a few minutes but in fact took me about half an hour due to the problems associated with it.
The fault still remained so now it was a case of a process of elimination by gradually working through the wiring system until the location of the fault could be found. That took me about three hours for part of the circuitry had been unconventionally installed but finally I found the fault location to be somewhere in the bathroom wiring, the last section of the lighting circuit! I left that part of the circuit disconnected from the previous light fitting as I didn’t have enough time to proceed any further. I only had enough time to replace the several switches which had to be removed whilst checking for the fault. By now it was well after one o’clock and my next appointment was at two. I couldn’t have gone any further with the bathroom fault anyway because I needed the loft area above the bathroom clearing of all the items stored up there and that would take some time. The guy told me he would clear it all away and then I could return the following morning to hopefully locate and repair the fault. On arrival at the second job I again expected it to be simple and straightforward. Now why would I think that? Everything was against me and every minor hitch became a problem, for instance short wires, poor fixings in the ceiling, new light fittings which needed adjustments and shortening of flexes and chains. To make matters worse there were three lights to fit and not two and immovable beds in the way! I plodded on and got everything done but by now it was after three-thirty and I was hungry, breakfast had been seven and a half hours ago. I drove to my local pub and had lunch there but didn’t get it until well after four o’clock. Whilst I waited I chatted with some friends I hadn’t seen for ages and they along with other family members were slowly getting inebriated whilst celebrating their daughter’s twenty-sixth birthday. After a while they left in a cab to go into the town to continue with their ‘celebrations’ and then my lunch was served. Lunch tastes so much nicer when waiting so long to be able to eat it!
I’ve had a partially busy week during my return to work which as it happens is the way I would wish it to continue. I seem to have reached that point again whereby I am dwelling upon the uselessness of it all. I can’t be bothered most of the time yet I find that when I make the effort my outlook changes. Perhaps it’s my age, no doubt it is. Do you ever feel that life and its problems get the better of you sometimes? Well I haven’t reached that stage but sometimes feel I am headed that way. I survive. Speaking of problems, I’ve had a few of those come my way of late. A couple of weeks ago I made a simple error in signing in to one of my online bank accounts but because I didn’t see my error until it was too late I was locked out of my account. An inconvenience to say the least but was is worse was the procedure I had to follow in order to get reconnected. A change of identity and a new password were sent to me through the post two weeks later and then a further letter containing a security code was sent a few days later. Having painstakingly submitting those details on the web site I found I was locked into a repetitive loop explaining that the details I had entered were incorrect! Resorting to the telephone I was connected to a representative of the bank who guided me through the process. I remained locked into the same loop! Now they are sending me new details in order to go through the whole process again. As yet the result is pending as at the time of writing those details have not yet arrived. I have no such difficulties with my other banks. This sort of thing really annoys me and is probably mostly unnecessary. We had a repeat visit from our utility provider, or rather their agent, or rather another agent carrying out exactly the same survey of our waste water pipe systems as the previous agent had done a few months ago. That’s what I call efficiency, no actually a waste of time and money! The results were exactly the same, everything is in order. What is wrong with this world? Don’t answer that question as it would take you all your life to answer it in detail. Save to say that we, as human beings have a habit of getting the simplest of things wrong at times. Common sense has flown out of our tool boxes it seems. These things are sent to try us they say, whoever ‘they’ are, probably those ‘experts’ we are so often presented with yet never actually see. Life has got to be better than these things and it is. I was reminded of all the good things in life which make all our little problems bearable. As I was writing this I glanced up and looked at the picture on the wall the one you see above. The good things in life far outweigh the trivia. The picture was taken about twenty-six years ago and shows my two young sons. I count my blessings and they are one of them.
It isn’t often that I have to place clients in a queue before I can make an appointment with them but it happened on Tuesday for the first time in a long time. I have been inundated with callers asking me to do work for them which is fine as long as I can space them out and give myself a break in between. It isn’t often that I have to return to a job because something has gone wrong either, in fact that almost never happens but when it does it is usually due to a defective fitting and totally out of my control. Last Friday, if my readers will remember, I replaced a faulty outside light for an old lady as no-one else seemingly wanted to do it. I received a call late on Sunday evening telling me that the light had ceased working properly so on Monday morning I returned to check it out. I reset it and tested it in daytime mode before returning it again to nighttime mode for normal use. On Tuesday evening however I was informed that the light was not working as it should or even at all! This meant that I would have to exchange it for another free of charge as I had purchased it personally. Had my client bought the light fitting I would be entitled payment to replace it as I cannot be expected to know if the light would work or not. One could argue that I could insist on payment to replace the light that I had purchased too but it doesn’t work like that does it? Besides which it does nothing for my reputation if I don’t waive the fee in such circumstances. Fortunately the old lady lives less than a mile from me so it isn’t a problem, though I will have to take the light down first then take it back to my supplier to replace it, when I can find the time of course! It is Tuesday evening as I write this post having spent the morning attempting an adjustment on that light, returning home only to get another call from the next town to do a job there. Later on in the afternoon E and I drove nowhere in particular to dine out only to find ourselves ending up somewhere we hadn’t intended to visit. It was so late in the afternoon that we were grateful to find anywhere to eat and when we did we found ourselves the only two in the dining rooms. I had missed breakfast too, part intentionally and partly because I had to see to that light fitting as early as I could and didn’t subsequently have the time afterwards! It meant I was rather hungry by the time we actually received our meals at the table.
Update: I managed to find time to remove the light fitting on Wednesday and exchange it. I fitted the replacement on Thursday morning. Friday morning I got another call to tell me the second light wasn’t working! I couldn’t believe it! Naturally I went there and carried out the prescribed test once again but this time I discovered that when the control was set fully to the night setting it ceased to work. I backed the control off the maximum and found it then worked. Now to me that is a manufacturing and design error. If I get the opportunity I will tell them so. E had to pay a quick visit to her mum early in the evening so she took me along with her and along the way we went to the apartments where I had fitted the light and I discovered the light was working perfectly. I wanted to make sure.