Tales From the Repair Man Frontline

Spent the morning waiting for the dishwasher repair man (an E3 problem on a Belling IDW604, since you ask). He turned up at 12.30, quickly established what the problem was, but said he didn’t have the right part. “We’re waiting for a new shipment. They’re on a boat.”

Deep breath. No problem.

In the 10 minutes he was at the house he did manage to tell me:

  • In last week’s icy weather, a colleague in Gainsborough got of his van, slipped, banged his head and died. Lincolnshire emergency services took him to the morgue, but forget to tell his next of kin. His wife rang the office the following morning saying she couldn’t hold of him. Work had to ring round to find out what happened. “That wouldn’t happen to me,” says DRM, “my kids ring me at 5 asking what’s for tea.”
  • DRM did get stuck in the snow in Scotland, though. It took him 10 hours to drive the 12 miles from Hamilton Services to his hotel. Kids made their own tea.
  • He missed 27 appointments, but only had two complaints. “And one of those was from a guy whose wine cooler was broken. He said it wasn’t getting to –8. I said ‘stick it outside’.”
  • Back in the North West, it took him 90 minutes to get from Bolton to Glossop, arriving at 4pm. Once there he couldn’t access the customer’s housing estate due to snow and ice. He rang the customer: “‘I could have told you that this morning’, she says to me.”  Much rolling of eyes.
  • From next Monday, company Christmas policy is cookers and washing machine repairs only – dishwashers and wine coolers will have to wait.

He’ll be round again on Jan 4 to finish the job. Santa, bring me Marigolds.


Esquire’s Best of What I’ve Learned

‘When it’s over for a woman, it’s over. You’re not getting an appeal.’ Jack Nicholson

‘The assumption that something is not for you is an assumption that can be undone in time.’ Elvis Costello

‘I can tell a young person where the mines are, but he’s probably going to have to step on them anyway.’ Burt Reynolds

And plenty more on Sex, Parenting, Power, Death, Faith, Aging and Money.

Celebrity Kings of King Street

Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green label has opened on King Street (in the old Joseph pitch). It is opposite Jamie Oliver’s Italian (opening sometime 2011), forming a triangle with Rio Ferdinand’s Rosso.

Happy days for high-profile 30-somethings with a desire to branch out. If he ever fancies it, there will be no shortage of backers for a Gary Barlow sandwich shop. ‘One Chew…Back For Good’.

Avoid Eye Contact, Scan in Silence

Good piece on the ‘internet of everything’ on The Economist. Technology will soon enable ‘the handles of umbrellas to glow when it was about to rain, wine glasses to tell us when we have had enough to drink; sugar bowls to warn us about our sugar intake.’

Exciting stuff, but what will be the social impact of this, the paper asks, and do we really want it? It worries about ‘turbo-charging the automation of the service sector’, pointing to the spread of self-service tills in supermarkets.

“The internet of everything will render millions of people who currently look after buildings or perform low-level medical services redundant. What sounds wonderful for the digital elite could be a nightmare for less-skilled workers.”

Maybe we do want automation, even it when it’s slower and more complicated than dealing with humans. There are two queues at the foodhall in Boots on Market Street on a weekday lunchtime, one for the self-service checkouts, the other for the ‘traditional’ tills. The latter is shorter and quicker, but still people join the self-service queue. It’s no cheaper.

Headphones on, head down, checking Twitter, sending a text…who wants to interact with a real person? For some, it’s scan and go.

Lie Star

Followed a link to the Billy Bullshit blog. I had a schoolfriend who, between 1982-85, could not stop himself from lying. But they were good lies; his Golden Years.

He claimed to have had dozens of 107 maximums on his 6×3 snooker table (it only had 10 reds). In all the years we played I never saw him score higher than a 25, a clearance of green to black.

He reckoned his dad was stabbed in the thigh at the 1983 Milk Cup Final by a Scouser with some scissors. I saw his dad the following Saturday and he was fine; never mentioned it.

He had the world record highest score on Pac Man on his ZX Spectrum. I said ‘how long did it take you?’ He said ‘26 hours’.

His sister’s boyfriend could drive from Crewe to Northwich in 7 minutes in his Vauxhall Chevette. It’s 12 miles, mostly B roads. You couldn’t fire someone out of a canon that quick.

He claimed the rubber butt on a three-piece pool cue I once owned could be used as condom. He’d seen such things in action in one of his dad’s porn videos.

His dad was a leading figure in the Post Office workers’ union, he claimed, capable of calling out a national strike. He wasn’t.

Never dull.

Micropayments & Museum Admissions

The Coalition Government wants to foster “an American-style culture of philanthropy to the arts and culture here in the UK”, according to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Plans are to be announced later today, the Guardian has a decent round-up of links/suggestions here on how they might tackle this.

In simple terms, the Government wants to spend less on the arts & culture (a blanket use of everyone’s money) and encourage more corporations and individuals to spend their own money directly. If that makes people think about, and value, the arts, then it is a good thing.

Admission charges are a bugbear. It seems the options are polar: either free or expensive. I’m a big fan of the Manchester Art Gallery, but why does it need to be free? There is a pricing chasm between free and the cost of a United matchday ticket, or the Royal Exchange, or Bridgewater Hall.

Micropayment technology is common enough (London’s Oyster cards), would it not be possible to make revenue off, say, a 50p admission charge (or 10p for Manchester Council Tax payers)? The system would link to the Lowry, War Museum North, Whitworth, MOSI, People’s History, etc., and beyond.

It encourages data collection (for mapping & analysis), seasonal incentives, loyalty schemes, and puts a value on a museum visit. To an outsider, modern museums seem to put the most effort into their coffee shops, restaurants and merchandising – possibly because they generate revenue. The tail wagging the dog, surely?

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