Earlier this week, I threatened a wifie with a newspaper. And not even anything illustrious, such as the Glasgow Herald or The Times of India. No, this was a real redtop, a Scottish tabloid. In my favour, however, I wasn’t actually whacking it around her nose or skelping her bahoochie. Nothing physical. This was over the telephone. And I was merely threatening to contact the said paper.
So, why had I recourse to such behaviour? And was this unusual for me? When bad weather keeps me indoors, do I spend my afternoons inflicting earache and hypertension on the telephone staff of Britain’s major companies?
Well, no, not every day, but, unfortunately, I’ve done it before, and I doubt this will be the last. I’m not proud of this; even now, having done this several times, I feel guilty, albeit only slightly. But the sad fact is, if a mere member of the public falls foul of any British utility or institution, this is the only course available.
On this occasion, I was reporting a missing, or to be accurate, disintegrated, toby cover which meant there is a tiny, but potentially lethal hole slap in the middle of a popular crossing point leading down to the main town. The weather and public maintenance being what they are, it won’t be the only one in the area, but it’s the one I know about and I knew dashed fine no one would do anything about it, since in such matters, everyone assumes someone else will see to it.
As I type, the hole is still there but, complicated blue squiggles now surround it and a polite chap has phoned, assuring me that it’s high priority. Of course, being a major British utility, with shareholders to feed, “high priority" might mean some time this decade, or this century. If so, at least I have a reference number to quote every time I call to remind them. Which will be at least every week.
How nasty! How rude! Subjecting some puir wee sowel on some switchboard to a verbal lambasting! Consider just how severe the weather has been this winter! Exactly! This is winter, in Scotland! This is when to expect severe weather. It’s not as if we’ve been experiencing -10C in July! No, what recent weather has shown is the inability of our infrastructure to cope with anything ever so slightly beyond the expected. You don’t need a PhD in the Blooming Obvious to realise power cuts and burst pipes often happen in blizzards and low temperatures.
I wasn’t that unpleasant, not really. I didn’t shout, or swear, or even quote an apposite Shakespearean tag. I only stated that, if this continued to be ignored, or if either I or Miss Pupkin injured ourselves because of this little aperture, not only would I sue but I’d contact a newspaper. And I reckoned a tabloid would have more popular clout than a broadsheet on a matter such as this.
The truly unpleasant fact is, like Rhett Butler, utilities and major institutions just don’t give a damn! Mysterious holes are dug, surrounded by makeshift barricades and left for months, gradually filling with rainwater in which floats the detritus of discarded take aways or even sections of the barricades themselves. If a gang of lads did that, they’d have asbos imposed for vandalism. Blokes adorned with the insignia of Scottish Water, British gas etc get away with this all the time.
Similarly, anyone who thinks they’ve done the sensible thing; had the foresight to pay for a maintenance policy with their utility provider, can be fobbed off when, because of the cold, things fall apart as one of those same switchboard minions blithely announces nothing will be done for several weeks. All because said person doesn’t fit any of the criteria required to be considered a priority. Of course, said institution has happily taken payments for years never bothering to elucidate this. Another situation, you’ll agree, where threats from tabloids are the only weapons available.
And isn’t it odd, how these disasters always affect us, Mr Fair Pit Oot and Mrs Trachled? Do celebrities ever have the streets in their neighbourhood obstructed by holes? Maybe, but I bet you a banker’s bonus to an Attendance Allowance the problem isn’t there for very long.
As proof I am not naturally nasty, it’s only fair to add this codicil. By the end of this week, the cover had been replaced! Grand! One less annoyance to jump up and bite, or, in this case, shatter one’s ankle. Does this indicate the efficiency of Scottish Water or the power of a threatening press?