Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Step 2: A Miracle Happens

I type this blog post whilst sitting at my desk in the spare room of the caravan. Across the narrow passageway, there is a fully functioning flush toilet, plumbed into a state of the art sewage treatment system. Whirring around the air and through my head are millions and millions of tiny, invisible, magic WiFi pixies. They spew forth from a sleek black plastic box in the living room, carrying messages between my laptop and the internet via this magic thing called broadband. Yes, folks, despite all my worst fears and apprehensions, BT have actually pulled their socks up and connected me to the outside world.


Now before we get too excited and dance a merry jig, it should be added here that they were supposed to connect me on April 14, so they are a wee bitty late. Not eleven months late, though, which is why I am so excited about it. And unlike my run-ins with the Welsh and Indian branches of the great lack-of-communications company, I can honestly say that some employees of BT Openreach Scotland deserve a bit of praise.


Actually, if I'm being fair, and since I'm inordinately pleased at the moment I can be generous that way, the last engineer to come and make my final connection in Wales was worthy of praise, and I think I gave it at the time. (That sentence is far too long, by the way, but I can't bring myself to care.)


There is a cheerful fellow in Glasgow somewhere called Benny, who made the mistake of giving me his direct number, and then compounded that error by being helpful when I phoned him for updates. Admittedly the reason I had to phone him so often was because the company he works for had cocked up, but at least he was a friendly voice, and he genuinely tried to help. Then there was the nameless engineer who came out and connected 250 metres of cable from the caravan to the nearest pole. Apparently I was meant to have done this before he arrived (although quite why, I'm not sure, and anyway no-one had told me). He didn't complain, and didn't bugger off leaving me to do it. No, he rolled up his sleeves and did the job himself. Had there not been a fault on the line further up the road, he would probably have got me connected there and then.


I'll hold back on the praise for the two engineers who turned up on Monday, unannounced and unexpected. Yes, they cleared the fault on the line back to the exchange, but this was work that should have been done a fortnight earlier, or possibly a month before that. Or maybe even last year, since my brother reported a fault on the line ages ago. And since they didn't start on the job until three in the afternoon, by the time they'd cleared the fault it was too late to get the final connection done. So they were good, but not quite good enough.


Praise though goes to the engineer who turned up yesterday morning. I wasn't expecting anyone until today, but he came - doing a favour for one of the other engineers, he said. Whatever the reason, I don't much care. Alone, he strung a new line across the road - something I'd been told before required two men. I hope he doesn't get into trouble for that. An hour after he'd arrived, I had a functioning telephone and broadband. Easy as that.


One of the problems with the phone line around here is that it doesn't run from pole to pole coming down the hill to the farm. Instead an armoured cable has been laid down the drainage ditch at the roadside. There are only poles where they need to bring the line over the road into the farmyard. Over the years mud and silt have built up quite a good protective layer, but once in a blue moon* Fife Council roads department send a man out to  clear the ditch. Invariably this results in the cable being severed. 


Yesterday afternoon, as I headed up the hill to cut some celebratory gorse, I found myself stuck behind a tractor with a flail mower cutting the grass verges. Coming back down a few hours later, I was caught behind him going the other way. This is the side of the road where the cable lies, perhaps well buried, perhaps just snaking through the soon-to-be hacked grass. I had images of my nice new connection being severed before I'd even been able to write a blog post, but happily disaster was avoided.


So now I am connected. The world is at my fingertips once more.


Damn. No more excuses for not getting on with everything that needs doing.


* which is more often than you might thing. A blue moon is, technically, the second full moon in a calendar month.



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