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A sad farewell

Have been caught by my own writings today. Yesterday I discussed preparing for the unexpected. It is 1700 hours, and this is me just sitting down to write today's notes. They will be rather shorter as well as much later than ever before. Why?

After a week in the south, the return journey went fairly well albeit having to leave at 0715 for the four-hour drive up the A9 and then across from Aviemore to Keith and then home, was rather earlier than I would wish.

During the journey, several text messages came in. I have previously written about how smart the little three-year-old Honda that I got last December is. A prompt comes up to say that the phone has had a text message. A press of a button and it reads it out.

A very welcome message that my god-daughter Darcey made a successful transition from home to school. And thoroughly enjoyed doing so. Mum, on the other hand, is finding that the ergonomics of the kitchen, otherwise known as the office, is fighting her off via the gift of a backache. The chairs therein were clearly not designed for extended periods of their occupant being hunched over a keyboard. I will send her my back-stretching exercises after I've written this day's thoughts.

Other messages were from the domestic telephone answering service to say a voice mail had been left. Attempts to retrieve them failed.

Returning home did not provide the necessary access to the messages left. Lifting the phone merely provided a discordant, scratchy cacophony of random sound from which no semblance of a dialling tone emerged. Attempts to dial out failed, utterly and consistently.

Curiously the broadband, delivered over the same pair of copper wires brought by telegraph poles to our house, worked to exactly the same standard as usual - 5.8 Megabits down and 0.5 Mbs upload. The BT site directs one firmly, and without revealing an alternative telephone number to call, noting of course that it ain't working anyway, to a set of online diagnostic tests. Ultimately it shows what two screws to remove to allow access to a special test socket into which one plugs one's phone. No joy. It suggests booking an engineer to visit - in four days. I suggest otherwise, especially as the continued success of the broadband pretty much proves there is no physical problem at our premises.

So what is the telephone number to call to speak to a BT hooman? Yes, they do exist. Fortunately, herself has an old phonebook hidden at the back of a drawer and - lo! - it gives up the secret number; one may call 0800 800 151.

Fortunately, although we have no mobile phone signal, my Samsung device connects to my WiFi and allows me to make a call using the still working broadband. After only 70 minutes in a queue, a helpful person picks up at the other end. Thunder and lighting have apparently wreaked some havoc in our area. Our number is added to what is apparently quite a list. We are promised a resolution by .. Thursday .. six days away.

So you can begin to see where the time which might have been devoted to writing has dribbled away.

But the effects on our lives of the bad weather are very temporary and minor compared to the loss of three souls yesterday on our rail network.

One, the ScotRail conductor Donald, was someone I met regularly on my train journies. I watched him deal with the many issues which can arise on the line north of Aberdeen in particular, where there are quite a few tourists unfamiliar with our rail system. He exemplified the good humour and helpful approach the best customer-facing people show.

With me, Donald periodically showed a wicked sense of humour. As my employer, he exercised his right to gently wind me up when time permitted. He was well informed and articulate. And even I, as the butt of his remarks, could say he was amusing.

His family and friends will miss him sorely. Many of those whom he assisted in his professional life, will, like me, remember him fondly. To Donald, thank you. To all who loved him, my heartfelt commiserations.

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