Thursday 16 December 2010

Saeculum Obscurum

Hello Internet Acolytes, I am back. For the past five days I have been forcibly transported back in time to the Dark Ages. On Saturday afternoon, my phone died, and has remained dead until about two hours ago. I was sat on the sofa with everything crossed, praying that England would survive the last few overs of the cricket, when the phone rang. It took a while to register where the sound was coming from. I eventually traced it to a funny white thing with numbers on it in the front hall, and on picking it up my Mother's voice came out of one end. Amazing!! She was blissfully unaware that this was the first phone call I had received in a week, and carried on as if nothing was wrong. "Yes mum",  "Right mum", "Anything else mum?" "HANG UP NOW MUM!!"

The Renaissance has arrived in Wanstead. If the phone now worked, then...... I ran to the computer, switched it on, and THERE WAS LIGHT!! I threw away my chisel and stone, furled my semaphore flags, put out the fire, and got tapping.

Sweet sweet internet. Thank God. I can finally stop actually birding and instead sit in front of my computer. There is a Lesser White-fronted Goose in Norfolk that I have, from a hundred miles away, been itching to spout forth on. An Eastern Yellow Wagtail thread on Birdforum was looking like heading south very quickly, and I had perhaps missed the terminal slide. Gah! And my blog, this blog, what of my Fatbirder ranking?! It was all too much to bear.

The story goes thusly. On Saturday, some pretend workmen set up on the main road near my house, and pretended to do some work. Nobody batted an eyelid. Frankly if there were no cones or piles of rubble nearby, that's when we would start thinking things were amiss. The work they were pretending to do involved 1600 very thin strands of copper, all bundled into an immense cable 160 metres long. Copper is apparently quite expensive these days. If you need some, it is far cheaper to nick it, and two of those strands were mine....


In an instant, my life fell apart. A phone I can live without, what son ever phones their mother anyway? But broadband, whoa there! That's entirely different. A disaster. I was just perusing a popular birding site, clicked to the next page, and....nothing. Nothing at all. I pulled all the wires out and tried again. Nothing. Imagining what a help-desk would advise, I turned the computer off, and then on again. Still nothing. Eventually I made it to the white phone in the front hall. Ah-hah! I made an appointment with BT using my mobile phone. A lady in India said an engineer would visit in five days time. Five minutes did you say? What an excellent service, see you soon! No, five days. Oh, five hours, oh very well then. I'll um, watch some TV. Oh, I can't. Er, I'll, err, hmmm. Sorry, did you say five DAYS?! "Yes sir." Is the engineer coming from India?

Somehow I made it through Sunday, and on Monday morning on the school run noticed a large number of BT vans parked on the verge on the main road. They had a digger, lots of cables, and finally a little red and white tent over a hole in the ground, in which a cold and miserable-looking man was sat surrounded by 1600 little wires in a huge tangle....

Well, they weren't kidding, it has taken five days. I called up to cancel the engineer, but it was too late, his flight had already landed. I had about eighty emails, and was disappointed to see that the Eastern Yellow Wagtail thread had returned to being about an Eastern Yellow Wagtail. How boring.

So, has not having an internet connection been refreshing? Has it been a test of character? How have I coped? I was surprised how much I missed it. If somebody had said to me that I'd be without a functioning computer for a week, I'd have shrugged it off. Ah well, I'll do something else then, I would have said. The reality is much more illuminating. It is amazing how much we rely on the internet. And this is not just me wasting hours reading bird blogs and so on. I have wanted to look at weather maps, I have wanted to look at travel updates, I have wanted to do some Christmas shopping, I have wanted to see if I have any money, I've wanted to get in touch with my Aussie friends to crow.... It hasn't helped that it is December, with no daylight and crappy weather. In May it would have been a lot easier. We've been out quite a bit, but the children prefer to be indoors and warm, and anyway, I can't see birds in the dark.

So have I been productive? Have I done all those jobs for Mrs L that I've been putting off. No, of course not! I've just been moping about the place, trying the phone every hour on the hour. Having no internet has been terrible. After no blog updates for five days, one of my mates thought I'd gone and got a job, that's how bad it's been. I defy anyone reading this to not miss the internet, though the fact that you're reading this suggests that perhaps I have a more prone demographic....

Anyway, enough moaning about my bourgeois problems, I've got stuff to do. I'll be back later to talk about birds, as not having a computer means I've actually seen some real ones.


  1. Yes, I'll bet you were disappointed to see that EYW thread back on track after showing such promise.

    I have to say, I have missed your blog, and am glad it's back. I was suffering such intense withdrawal that I almost went and stubbed my own toe....


  2. Thank god you are okay and some petty thieving was all it was. I was extremely worried that you might have got a job.

  3. LWFG in Norfolk.

    'MEGA-alert' - brilliant!

    Apparently there's eight miles of copper wire in the average car and 632000 feet of it in a jumbo jet.