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Comments on Friday 14 April 2006:
I am now moved into the house on Raven Street. The downstairs smelled a bit like dog. There was a bin in the kitchen. "Oh good I don't have to buy a bin," I thought, then "oh god what the hell is that?" A creeping black sludge around the edges of the insides, and also half an eggshell and a cork. These are things I am making note of to put on the 'inventory', so if the downstairs smells like dog when I move out that's not my damage deposit, and I can leave sludge in the bin too if I want (new sludge, I cleaned out the alien slime), and the various cracks, off-colour splotches and nails in the walls must be none of my concern.

Also the external base of the bin had even worse sludge on it, as if it had been stood in a cowpat. Hopefully the bin was what was causing the dog smell.

I called NTL, who had helpfully scheduled me an install date a billion years in the future, and got them to shift it up to much sooner, hence being able to post this on these here internets today. I tried to call them before, but the "change install date" number was an 0845 number, that put me on hold for half an hour, which cost about 5 quid. The "you are a new occupier, get NTL!" number I found on the floor when I came in was an 0800 number, and coincidentally didn't put me on hold for any time at all. Who'd have thought, a semi-premium number to a phone company having long hold times, and a not-making-money number having none? Shocking.

I also called the electric people to put my name on those bills and tell them the meter reading. Then I called the gas people. All these calls were from a payphone. Two were 0800. The gas one was... (pause for dramatism)... 0845. They only put me on hold for about two minutes, but that was long enough that my 30p ran out as soon as I started to give details to the person. So instead I have written them a letter (using a pen!) with the requisite details and some invective about using 0845 numbers as moving-in numbers (when people will necessarily be using either an expensive mobile call or a payphone). As penalty they must read my penwork!

0845 numbers are supposed to be the price of a local call, but if they are it's an extremely expensive local call. BT payphones say you get 15 minutes for 30p, but to an 0845 number you get about 3. Skype gives me an hour to an ordinary number anywhere in the country for a euro, but costs four or five euros for half an hour to an 0845 number. Bastards.

In determining whether the house had a phone line for dial-up internets before NTL got sorted, I discovered I no longer had a UK modem-to-wall cable. On my way back towards town to get one, I passed the extremely-local corner shop, and saw scissors and craft-knives and air-fresheners in the window. "Oh, I need scissors," I thought, "and maybe an air-freshener will remove that invisible dog." So I went in and bought those. "You have quite a variety of items for such a small shop," I remarked to the shopkeep, then, mostly in jest, "you wouldn't happen to have a modem cable would you?"

"Oh, I don't think so." He said.

I chuckled. "I didn't expect so, but no harm in trying."

He reached behind himself, "I do have this phone extension cable."

I squinted at it. "Can I see? Hm. That includes the cable I need! You are the best shop ever."

And so it is. (Though the next day it failed me, when I wanted a surge-protector-and-or-power-splitter.)

In other house-related news, getting a 28-inch CRT television up stairs on your own is harder than I expected, and I don't recommend it.

This house is going to be rubbish for guests, with all of everything concentrated in my bedroom. Not that guests can't come into my bedroom in small quantities. No more than one limb at a time.

(Added later) Well, internet got set up successfully after a few false starts (broken hardware given at first, then he came back and sorted that out and I still had to deal with the horrific OS-specific badly-written software to get the network cards registered as allowed-to-connect), but now places seem to be turning down my debit card. It has plenty of money on it, so I can only assume they're either doing "we will not deliver to an address that isn't on the card" and not bothering to explain that, or the card's doing "oh no he has been spending a lot in another country, the card must have been stolen". Either way I'm probably going to end up with no furniture or food for another few days beyond the few days I was expecting. Gargh. [02:10]

Nameless
Raven not to be a pain but do you really think that they (the gas company in specific but the faceless beurocratic they as well) will read your letter? I've found that if the handwritting is even slightly crabbed that employee's throw it into the nearest rubbish bin. If you do happen to get one who is actually doing their job do you think it likely that they will have the power to make things easier for the customer?

A good corner store is wonderful thing I'm suprized that they didn't have a power splitter though my medicore corner store has them.... (surge protectors as well but they are horrendously expensive from there and are obviously extremely ill made surgeprotectors.)

RavenBlack
If they don't read the letter then they won't have the account details they wanted - and everybody wins. My handwriting is easily legible, anyway, it's just a bit drunk-looking.

Nameless
Congratulations, I can say it officially now; "Welcome to England !"

Now, let us know when you need emergency Red Cross food parcels sent ;)

RavenBlack
Pretty much right now, since places are turning down my Australian debit card suddenly with no explanation, and I don't have a UK card yet. Of course, by the time a sent parcel arrived I'd have got my UK bank card and not need it any more. Stupid countries and shops and banks.
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