Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Advice to the new MSPs

A contribution made to Portland PR 's weekly briefing on Holyrood A new job is a time to look in the mirror and undertake a self-assessment about what one can contribute in a new role. And what weaknesses one may have that could inhibit success. Being elected an MSP is no different in that respect. But very different in many others. One has become public property and every action, or action thought to be by you, will be open to public comment, often unfairly. Silence is often your best response. When one comments on criticism one lengthens the “war” and widens the knowledge of it. Set your own agenda rather than respond to that of others. Who can you trust among your fellow Parliamentarians? Make contact with as many as you can as quickly as you can. And make it a priority to interact with political opponents. The first substantive decision in the new Parliament is the election of a new Presiding Officer and it will be a secret ballot. Understanding the dynamic of other partie

End of an Era 2016-2021

Written for  Holyrood magazine's "The End of an era 2016-2021"  published 07 April 2021.    Neil Findlay is the man who loves you to hate him. As he rises from his habitual place in a distant corner of the Parliamentary Chamber, a snarl as firmly attached to his face as he is disconnected to any symbol of middle-class values such as a tie, tension flows as he selects his target for the day. Is it dapper John Scott? The record-holder for the shortest time between his being sworn in and making his first speech in Parliament; a mere twenty hours. Does Willie Rennie attract his ire? Confession; we went to the same school. Almost anything liberal is bound to attract this Labour very-back-bencher’s contumely. Greens rarely attract his attention but he should remember that John Finnie, another member of this year’s escape committee, can efficiently direct a canine arrest. Now of course, I have sought to avoid any engagement with the fellow. I never, just never, even acknow

Clutter

When big things go wrong, and one feels powerless to do much about them, small things in one's life can become surrogates for one's anger. And there are quite a few big things around at the moment; COVID-19, No-Deal Brexit; A US Presidential Election where the incumbent leads with racist statements. As the end of the current session rushes towards us, many of my colleagues are concluding that they will not be putting themselves forward at the forthcoming election. A couple of our younger colleagues are placing their families first. But most are looking at being in their eighth decade, as I already am, at the end of the next session. When the two leading candidates for the US President are both older than I am - seventy-four in five week's time - it may seem surprising that retirement may be beckoning for me and others a lustrum younger than I am. But it illustrates the profound differences between being a back-bencher in our Parliament and the political life of a US Senator