Friday, 19 November 2010


Alan has taken my advice – plan ahead! prioritise! – and wrapped it up in a super little management mantra: ‘Fail to plan - plan to fail!’ (uh huh!), which he recites to me with the zeal of the reformed whenever we run out of milk.

I’ll give you planning, I thought. So today, I decided to print all my ice-cream labels for the Christmas season in advance. But the computer had other ideas: ‘Oops - you don’t appear to be connected!’ it said. I chortled a little to be polite, and my fingers started trembling. By the time I’d exhausted my self-help checklist (switch off switch on/stare at the screen and cry/whack the keyboard hard) it was time to text Alan ‘THREE COMPUTERS NO INTERNET’ (no pleasantries) but he must have had something trivial on like a deadline so it was back to the computer for round two. I was down in one - the computer was now so infected, it was DEAD - my ice-cream labels were probably being virally annihilated right now!!

I hurtled downstairs and threw myself at another computer: ‘Oops – you don’t appear to be connected!’ It was getting funnier all the time. At least this computer was still allowing word processing (for how long ??) so I began making all the labels again, quick, heart thumping, but the lettering came out all grey! DELETE! DELTE!! DELETE!!! ‘GO AWAY YOU GREY STUFF!!’ I shouted. I texted Alan ‘WORDS ALL GREY EMERGENCY!’

Then the doorbell rang and it was the plumber about our stinky loo.

I hoped he hadn’t heard me shouting at the computer and showed him to the offending toilet, at which point we both started breathing through our mouths. Could he find the leak please, said I? His investigations concluded that somebody had had ‘a little accident’ (‘no offence, Madam, do you have sons?’) and urine had collected on the floor around the base of the toilet.…the cure was disinfectant (ie clean it). Feeling like a clot I forced a laugh as I handed over £45, but boy was this plumber thorough! Just to be sure, we were going to do a ‘controlled experiment’ (scientific!) which was to flush flush flush (that was my job!) but not use the loo (finger-wag) and keep an eye out for ‘fresh moisture’. No fresh moisture - no leak! Brilliant! No sooner had he gone than I was wrapped around the toilet, sniff-sniff-sniff, wipe-wipe, flush-flush, noting with mixed feelings that I was better equipped for solving problems involving urine than software.

That was the successful part of the day. Toilet ‘fixed’ (we won’t tell Alan the full story), it was time for self-improvement, a two-part affair: first, try to switch the TV on, second, watch the news. I retrieved handfuls of remotes from their storage locations on the floor and worked through them all press point press point press point (which was cheating) until one of them switched on our snazzy digital flat screen TV, Alan’s pride and joy, which boasts fantastic picture quality and advanced facilities such as moving pictures on the first Wednesday of the month, but otherwise offers a random light show with sporadic commentary, the missing clauses probably nestling in the underworld somewhere with my labels…MY LABELS!!

I swooned to hear the key in the door. Alan had barely got his coat off and I had him by the scruff of the neck, pushed him towards the computer screen and hissed in his ear ‘Look at it! Look at the stupid thing! The writing’s all grey!’ He did a little lateral thinking, and, with infuriating calm, downloaded the evasive ice-cream labels onto a memory stick from the dead computer (‘it was dead, completely dead!’) during some viral remission advertised exclusively to people who already know what they’re doing. He gave me the memory stick. ‘All sorted – and you should have a back up, anyway: fail to plan – plan to fail!’

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