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Friday, August 24, 2012

Variety is the clue!




The amount of clear swimming that I have been able to do is now reaching disturbing proportions so that I am beginning to suspect that I am part of a Truman style show where some omniscient director orders less fortunate swimmers out of my lane so that I can swim my twenty minutes in an uncluttered fashion.

Perhaps I am going to be subject to the irony of free lanes during the height of the summer and hordes of people emerging during the autumn.  I sincerely hope not as my resolve to swim on a daily basis is tested in inverse proportion to the quantity of sun, warmth and people that are available to sustain my determination!

Talking of determination I have (at last) opened the handbook to the car and attempted to change the date so that the calendar on the dashboard does not read 2032.  This took me some twenty minutes to rectify because the instructions were almost precise enough to achieve something straight away, but only almost – which is why a certain amount of trial and error was necessary.

In “Look Back in Anger” one of the characters asks, “Do the Sunday newspapers make you feel ignorant?”  With the general dumbing down that there has been over the last fifty years (let’s give it some sort of perspective) it is not newspapers that have a humbling effect but instruction books.  They are written so clearly and with such unambiguous line drawings that not to be instantly successful is to have Failed in Life.

This does not, obviously, refer to IKEA instructions where one often has to build the item that one has purchased before one can understand the directions to construct the thing in the first place.  Any couple who can build an IKEA cupboard together and still be a couple at the end of the endeavour has what I call a strong relationship!

One of the many, many dictionaries that I bought had, rather ostentatiously a series of blank pages at the end of the volume which were for words or phrases that one heard during the time after the book had been bought.  The idea was that the purchaser would listen more assiduously to the radio, television and the people who one moved among and write down any possible neologisms.

I got as far as “ambient food” before I lapsed in my newfound enthusiasm for actually writing down discoveries rather than hearing them, rejoicing in the vitality of the language and then forgetting them.  

Oh yes, "ambient food" is food that is sold which does not have to be heated or chilled - like crisps or peanuts for example.

I was reminded of this shameful lack of application when I heard someone use the phrase “a life intermediary” on the radio and felt that I should write it down.  Where did I hear this?  Radio 4, obviously, on one of my Internet radios.  

My confusion was shared by the interviewer who asked the interviewee who was talking about coffee shops what he meant.  He explained that a life intermediary was anything which made life more enjoyable and fulfilling.  Therefore the provision of over priced “artisanal” coffee in high street shops where one could get a good latte was a "life intermediary."

I must admit I liked both the phrase and the obvious embarrassment of the interviewee when he had to put his words into something we could understand.

I began to think that the mere phrase by itself was a little lonely and I wanted to experiment with the addition of significant adjectives like, indeed, “significant”: “a significant life intermediary” sounds like a close friend given to marriage guidance.

Try adding your own adjectives - as well as considering additions like “essential”, “serendipitous”, “arbitraged”, “real” and “red.”  Hours of innocent fun!  When I should really be getting down to my Summer Tasks.

Some tasks have formed themselves during the summer months and have resolved themselves with a minimum of intellectual and emotional effort.

I have, for example changed the ink cartridges in the new printer.  I have fearlessly ordered various essentials from FDC Albums to a One Cup Water Boiler.  And let me tell you buying things is not as easy as it looks.

Take for instance the replacement freezer drawer.

Firstly to get the damn thing replaced I had to find the instructions for the fridge-freezer which gave me the all important random numbers and letters that made up the model designation. 

We then had to phone the distributor to find out how to get a replacement.  That number gave us another number that in turn directed us to another. 

We then had to find out the serial number that was not on any visible part of the machine. 

Going back to the supplier we were told that the nearest distributor to us was closed for holidays.  If we wanted to purchase the item we had to send all the information via e-mail to the supplier which was still open and they would tell us price and availability. 

Having got the price we then had to go to a bank and pay in the amount via a bank draft to the account of the firm and then fax that we had done it so that they could order the part.  [That bit I still don’t believe]  And now, only four emails later I have been told that I have the opportunity to drive 40 minutes outside Castelldefels and pick it up.  Simple?  Not!

The amazing end to this saga, which necessitated a trip to parts of Sabadell that I have previously not visited, was that the freezer drawer replacement was actually the right one and it fitted!  I just love happy endings.

There is only one problem.

The drawer itself was presented to us in a large cardboard box to keep the fragile (obviously) plastic item safe and sound.  What actually kept it safe and sound was a wide range of bubble wrap – both large and also small.  The problem, of course is what to do with it.

The temptation is to keep it on the “you never know when it comes in handy” basis, but this summer is supposed to see me make an effort in downsizing and bubble wrap by its very nature is not (at least not in the quantities in which I now have salvaged it) unobtrusive as it were.  It does take up space.

So, the cardboard box complete with shattered front and useless body of the broken drawer, covered in woefully tempting bubble wrap is now waiting at the top of the stairs for me to decide what to do with it: the bin in keeping with the new minimalist regime or cwtching it away to be used at some unspecified time in the cluttered future.

Always hard decisions.
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