Nuisance Value


The Offending Fuse Box


First there was the washing machine. It was first installed in the Fitrambler Kitchen in 1999, and as I write is now twelve years old.

Unfortunately, as I said to the Pink Lady: “Things just aren’t built to last these days.”

She looked at me and sighed. “Twelve years is good for a washing machine.”

“I beg to differ. My ‘fridge is near on twenty-five years old and is still going,” I said; my fingers crossed behind my back, hoping it wouldn’t join the washing machine.

“Most washing machines these days don’t last more than four or five years, Fitrambler.”

My eyebrows shot up so far they almost left my forehead, fortunately m cap was there to stop them. “Five years! Five bloody years? Is that what I’ve got to look forward to? My next washing machine only lasting five years?”

The stare I got told me what I needed to know. A five year cycle on washing machines whether I liked it or not.

“It’s a bloody con! That’s all I can say!”

“The trouble with you, Fitrambler, is you just hate opening your wallet unless it’s for beer or gadgets!”

“I resent that remark.”

“Then buy a washing machine!”

“I’ll be looking soon…”

“This’ll go on for months just like it did with the bike.”

“Yee of little faith. I’ll get one sorted out. I’ve already spoken to Neatentidy and he’ll fit it for me.”

“You can always get the shop you buy it from to do that!”

“Well, Neatentidy fitted in the other one and will know his way around the connections…”

“You mean he won’t charge you and the company will…”

“You have a suspicious mind. And it’s not strictly true. He designed the kitchen, remember, so he’s better placed to get the new one connected. It’s a matter of trust rather than money.”

The Pink Lady gave me the look that always told me she wasn’t convinced.

When it came to doing the washing I felt sure I’d seen a laundrette near me recently. The last time I needed to use a laundrette was for about six months in 1999. There was a laundrette ten minutes away for many years but two weeks before I needed it the bloody thing burnt down. The one I had to use was just over twenty-five minutes walk away, which meant fifty minutes walking time and just over an hour to do the washing. It was Summer when I began but by the time I was nearing the end – when the new washing machine was due to be plumbed in – it was dark nights, cold or wet and the novelty of the walk had quickly worn off.

So, the following Sunday I looked for the laundrette I was sure I’d seen near to home; although the cynical part of me felt I probably imagined it. However, within five minutes I’d found it and returned home to get the washing.

Once I entered the laundrette the relief was short-lived. First I realised I hadn’t brought any washing powder or conditioner; so straight away was forced to part with £1.50 to buy some from the chap running the place. Then I realise it wasn’t going to be a simple matter, like a shop, going in, get what you want and get out. I’d forgotten about the previous experiences with a laundrette. There’s no guarantee that there will be a washing machine free, the wash takes about twenty-nine minutes and then you’ve got to hope one of the driers will be free immediately after, or the time in there is extended even further.

Needless to say, I had to wait ten minutes for a washing machine which would be big enough to take the amount of washing I’d brought, then there seemed to be one hell of a bigger queue for the driers; mainly due to most people using the place for just the driers after doing the actual wash at home.

I was in there for nearly two hours and parted with a total of £7.50. It wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences and it made me shudder to think I was going to have to go through this every week until I bought a new washing machine.

Still, I’d get the washing machine organised next week…

But I didn’t. Work was busy so I never got around to having a full lunch break so never got time to check the internet and I was getting home in the evenings after 7pm most nights so by the time I’d eaten and washed up, I was too tired to bother.

By the following week I’d agreed to do another job, a change from the usual. From the 28th November I would work at another site 2pm until 10pm. I was offered the 6am to 2pm shift first off, but somehow the thought of having to get up at 4am in the morning in order to get in on time for the start of the shift held little by way of appeal..

The secondment would be for about four weeks and would involve managing a team of Temps. It was also at a site the opposite side to where I normally worked in the town.

The following weekend, I got up early on the Sunday, after I’d decided to Something like two weeks later I got up early on a Sunday morning, I’d decided to get the washing out of the way early. Come back for dinner, wash up and then that left the whole afternoon free.

It sounded like a plan.

I was up around 8am, had breakfast and once finished I idled away time until the laundrette opened. Things went off-plan when I let myself get caught up in shredding papers and sorting out recycling rubbish for the bin men on Wednesday. So involved, that it was around 11.30 that I’d remembered the planned early visit to the laundrette.

I thought about dashing off, then remembered that there was no way to be sure how long I’d be in the place, and the old stomach hated to be kept waiting beyond mid-day for its Sunday feed. So I decided to do lunch first.

A quick meal, fish, sweet corn, carrots and potatoes. I got the stuff out of the ‘freezer and placed the fish on a tray and into the oven. I switched on the oven, the clock light went out, then came on and then went out again.

I shrugged, I wasn’t trying to time the cooking so what did it matter. Then, I realised I couldn’t hear the fan from the over. The light wasn’t on inside the oven either. Strange. So I then tried the hob. No heat.

If it hadn’t been that I’d seen the clock on for a few seconds, I would have thought I’d forgotten to turn on the cooker at the socket. I did check the socket, just to be sure, but it was switch on. The ‘fridge also worked off that circuit, so I put my ear to the ‘fridge to listen for it making a noise. It wasn’t. Great.
But all was not lost. It was, I decided, not a really a big deal. So I got the toolbox out, took hold of a screwdriver and fuse wire and opened the door to the cupboard under the stairs. I could see the appropriate fuse carrying a slight brown stain. It confirmed it. The fuse had blown. Been there before, earlier in the last decade the lights’ fuse went through a phase of blowing. The trouble was, then I wasn’t as well organised as I am now. I did have the right screwdriver and the fuse wire but not in an easily (or indeed known) assessable place.

I took hold of the offending fuse and within split-second of its removal, it fell to bits in my hand.

I wasn’t happy, hence I said out loud: “How terribly inconvenient.” Or words meaning more or less the same thing.

After a few minutes, after the pain in my toe died down – I kicked something which hadn’t seemed all that hard but had been – I decided to take stock. What was the worse thing about the situation?

No Cooker. No fridge. Hmm, well, no cooker wasn’t the end of the world short term. But the fridge was a problem. This fuse problem had hit just after I had filled it up with food and now it would slowly defrost.

Even my capacious appetite would have a problem shovelling that lot down within a few days.

Then of course a touch of common sense intruded on the blind panic. Whereas the cooker was part of the socket itself, the ‘fridge plugged into the socket. So, all I needed to do was plug it into another socket. And as luck would have it , there was a double socket a less than eighteen inches away. Only one plug in use and that was for the microwave.

So, I unplugged the ‘fridge and tried to plug it into the other socket. The lead wasn’t long enough.

A glance to the heavens; thwarted again!

I thought for a few seconds and came up with another solution. I got a spare extension lead. It wasn’t ideal, but I plugged the ‘fridge in and smiled as I waited for the ‘fridge to burst into life…

It didn’t.

I listened but the fridge didn’t make a sound. Great. So the ‘fridge was screwed now as well.

I swore, decided to do the washing at the laundrette, I couldn’t be bothered to deal with it now. Not that I was sure I knew how to deal with it.

I got two paces inside the dining room and there was a shudder and the fridge kicked into action. It must have been trying to piss me off even more than I was already pissed off.

So, a little relieved I went to the laundrette, which seemed more packed out than usual and so it took a record two hours to get the washing done.

I was still in a bit of a mood when I got in, very hungry. So, I decided I’d have to microwave the fish and microwave oven chips instead of the other vegetables I’d intended to have. It was either that or crunch my way through frozen fish and chips.

I was sure that the Pink Lady recommended a nice hot bath to relieve stress. I usually did the bath thing in the evening on a Sunday but decided late afternoon was ok.

So upstairs I toddled and switched on the emersion heater, then went downstairs and looked up the route to the place I’d be working at on 28th November.
I went back forty minutes later and started to run the hot tap, which after five minutes was still pumping out cold water. Oh great! Had the fuse gone on that as well? I opened the cupboard and looked at the light near the switch. It was on so the fuse couldn’t have gone.

The only other cause I could think of was that the element had gone. It would be the fourth in the twenty-five years I’d lived in the house. The water being hard, tends to clog them up, or so I’ve been told.

OK. No bath. Kettle on and a body wash. Oh fun.

Before that another pressing need had to be taken care of. I sat on the thrown (for want of a politer term) and reflected on the day. It hadn’t been one of my best and I was hoping this was the end of it.

I’d just finished the paperwork (being polite again), when the toilet seat broke. It was leaning that did it…

I got up from my undignified position – being on the floor, trousers around your ankles and your arm through a toilet seat – and felt like throwing the toilet seat. The only trouble was, with my luck at the moment, I’d throw it at the inside wall and it would bounce back and go through the double-glazed windows!
I’ve never been must of a DIY enthusiast, I’m more of a GSE person – Get Someone Else…

However, when I mentioned my predicament to Neatentidy, he offered to come to the rescue.

Of course, being without a cooker wasn’t an idea situation. The amount of times I was forced to consume takeaway curries or Chinese…well, it was just torture.


93 comments on “Nuisance Value

  1. To be perfectly honest, GloomLaden, London holds little appeal for me either, but having spent most of last month’s salary travelling to the capital and handing over extraordinary amounts of cash for very ordinary short measures of beer, I’m sure you can understand my need to talk up the day and make it seem worthwhile; if only to convince myself. The necessity of adopting an urbane persona in an urban environment can also be tiresome, but it was essential for me to rein in my more natural tendencies towards bladder-waving, bell-jangling and horn-honking whilst amongst a more sophisticated populace. No; like Thomas Hardy, my body may have been inside Westminster Abbey – albeit only briefly in my case – but my heart lies in deepest Dorset. Etched glass and colourful ceramic tiling is all very well, but I’m happiest when yomping the green hills in search of a basic rural alehouse. My main gripe with London is that it is simply not Worth Matravers or Hanley Castle.

    Or Slad, for that matter.

  2. London holds little appeal for me now; those days are over. Oyster cards, Boris bikes and Islamic extremists not being my cup of tea, I prefer to stay where put. But the appeal of the countryside hasn’t waned, mainly because I can’t get to 99% of it.

  3. A bit of both really. Some of the depressingly named CAMRA ‘heritage pubs’ feel more like museums and are still full of the usual suspects that you know and hate. Because of my interest in pub history, they are still worth a look though, and the architectural fittings can be absolutely stunning. Away from the normal tourist trail, there are one or two fine, genuine locals, with a bit of class and a lot of history. Strangely enough, it didn’t seem too crowded, even in Soho; the trains were on time and I followed a complicated route without getting lost all day, despite drinking much more beer than I intended. My only disappointment was the size of the Thomas Hardy memorial in Poet’s Corner, which is barely bigger than a beer mat. I was expecting a larger than life statue.

    Best pubs: Princess Louise – Holborn; Lamb – Bloomsbury; Star Tavern – Belgravia.

  4. You say that there are excellent pubs in London if you know where to find them. But when you get to these places, is it not a case of looking at the dinosaur bones of what were once fine pubs, elbowing past the druggies and giant tellies to cop a look at some antique mirror? Or did you find any that felt pleasant to be in?

  5. You take your work far too seriously these days, GloomLaden. Be careful, or you might end up like Fitrambler.

    Despite the decline of the Coach & Horses there are still many excellent pubs surviving in London if you know where to find them.

  6. It is horrible to hear of the decline of the Coach & Horses – one of the reasons I don’t go to London anymore. Norman is not dead so far as I know (not far, as I stay where put) but he was a henpecked fellow whose retirement cannot be much fun, so death probably would be a good outcome for him.

    I had to work Tuesday, so couldn’t have gone to Slad then anyway.

    But yes, Robert Robinson is still dead

  7. Actually, having said that, I’m not sure Norman is dead, now I come to think about it. Although, having left the pub, he might as well be. Bob, on the other hand, definitely still is.

  8. In the absence of a decision from GloomLaden on Tuesday, and tired of staying where I was put, I ventured forth to London with the express purpose of visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral and as many of the Hawksmoor and Wren churches as might be unbolted on the day. In case of the need for refreshment, I took with me a long list of some of the noteworthy pubs along the route between Paddington and the City, intending to walk the whole way. After a long spell on the waggon, this was to be no pub crawl though, but rather a church hunting trip. I had every intention of remaining sober throughout the day in order to better appreciate the glorious, ecclesiastical architecture. After a swift half in the Argyll, just off Oxford Street, at 10:50 in the morning, however, I began to feel my fondness for pub architecture coming to the fore and, with plenty of time to spare, I decided to visit a few more of the best pubs on my list before reaching St. Pauls. Thirteen half pints later I arrived at the cathedral just before 2pm, only to find it closed to visitors owing to a private ceremony. Stumbling rather aggressively through the crowds, I retraced my steps back across the City, whilst muttering obscenities which, although not directed at anyone in particular, were almost certainly audible to passers-by. Rattling on the doors of a few of the better churches, only to find them all locked, I consoled myself with one or two more pub stops. Arriving at Westminster Abbey a few minutes before, it too, closed to visitors for the day, I took a hasty glance around Poet’s Corner before making a swift exit through the rear entrance straight into the nearest pub. There followed a long, circuitous hike back to Paddington, via some of the capital’s lesser known thoroughfares and back-street boozers, during which I realised I had crossed off every pub on my list whilst having spent little more than 10 minutes in a church. I really should have gone to Slad with GloomLaden. Or, better still, stayed where I was put.

    By the way, Gloomers, the Coach & Horses now has a young, foreign barman and cutlery and condiments laid out on plastic, red and white check table cloths. They still call it ‘Norman’s’ on the hanging sign outside though, despite the fact that he has been dead longer than Robert Robinson.

  9. I shold not like the regular reader to mistake my failure to reply to Blameworthy’s last challenge for indolence or defeat. Rather, it is a matter of indecision. And not the dithery indecision of an uninformed or flakey individual, but the profound indecision of the philosopher, for which Mr Fitrambler has no sympathy. Stay put or venture forth? The two condending philosophies exist in equibalance, for the while, perhaps for the rest of all our days when staying put will, I suppose, claim victory by default. I leave the regular reader to imagine, perhaps himself or herself cogitate upon, the problem with which I continue to wrestle.

  10. I know you, GloomLaden. If I back down now and agree to go to Slad, your enthusiasm will mysteriously disappear and we will, once again, be regaled with a list of reasons not to go. You advise me to stay where I was put, so I stay where I was put, and then you encourage me to venture elsewhere. So which is it to be?

  11. We’re going to Slad! We’re going to Slad!
    Don’t get in a tizz,
    However it is,
    it can’t be so bad.

    We’re going to Slad! We’re going to Slad!
    In spite of the train
    And in driving rain
    And because it seems mad.

    We’re going to Slad! We’re going to Slad!
    So much to be said
    About Bob being dead
    Or how jazz is best trad.


    – more Michael Rosen than Laurie Lee, but it gets the point across, I think.

  12. Electronic signalling failure near Kemble causes long delays to local services.

    Points malfunction at Stonehouse results in derailment of goods train which spills its load of hospital waste and blocks line for over an hour.

    Micro-biological infection in the Uley yeast leaves health inspectors with no alternative but to close the brewery for a week. Beer deliveries cancelled.

    Landslip in the Slad Valley after heavy rain, blocks the B4070 and many of the local footpaths. Villages completely cut off for days.

    Nesting cormorant in chimney breast at the Woolpack is the source of devastating fire which destroys the bar and most of the roof of the pub.

    Major fracas breaks out in the quiet carriage of the 09:54 Cheltenham Flyer. At least two passengers are believed to be dead and a 63 year old man is being held for questioning.

    It’s good to have you back in the land of the drinking. Now, about that trip to Slad . . .

  14. All is well with the world again Gloomers; I’m back on the beer. Chauffeured by the newly qualified Blameworthy Junior to the Five Mile House at Duntisbourne Abbots at lunchtime. Things look mighty strange from the passenger seat, I can tell you.

  15. Errata: In my last post, when I wrote ‘when’ I meant ‘one’. Though it is as well to pronounce it ‘when’ if trying to pass for upper class.

  16. When Fitrambler tweets that he is watching New Tricks while workng out what stuff to dump, when cannot help hoping Midsomer Murders series 1 to umpteen falls into the dump bin. New Tricks can’t go in, of course, because of Alun Armstrong being an excellent actor.

  17. I sprang from the lower orders, Blameworthy, but so did Noel Coward. Besides,whatever my origins, the point about television still holds.

  18. When you speak of normal viewers, Blameworthy, you speak of those proles habituated to televisual rubbish. Sociological studies show time and again that the futther you go up the social strata, the less time people spend watching telly. And yet it is those in the upper social strata who make television. One can only conclude that, like Rupert Murdoch, they know that giving the lower orders a choice only of pap, they will choose pap.

  19. I have a single rule for all art: that it should aspire to quality. If the folk who write, produce and act in that show were being honest, they would concede that it is not the best they could do, that it is at best watchable rubbish.

  20. You’re the victim, GloomLaden; of double standards. Seems like your whole life is dumbed down where drinking is concerned, but you have a ludicrous and restrictive set of rules for television.

  21. Blameworthy, everywhere is for drinking in! It is only that you have constructed, over the years, an increasingly ludicrous and restrictive set of rules about where you will and (much more often) won’t drink. Bring beer to where you’re put and the circle is squared nicely to my satisfaction.

    Meanwhile, I am toubled to read from Fitrambler’s twitter feed that he now watches Midsomer Murders. Last year this was not the case, but now – alas! – dumbing down has claimed yet another victim.

  22. I’ve been taking your advice and staying where I was put, GloomLaden. And as I wasn’t put in a pub, taking up drinking again is not an option. You can’t have it both ways. Home is for sleeping and eating; pubs are for drinking in.

  23. I used to want to be a stand-up comedian, you know. Still do, in a way. Which is odd, given that I hate social groupings of people. Maybe I should go on tour in a tweed jacket as a Robert Robinson tribute act. I’m sure I’d be laughted at, if not for the reasons I might intend.

    ‘Why did the chicken cross the road? Ah, would that it could, would that it could. Of course, Frank Carson used to say it was the way he told them. Surely, it’s a combination of the tale and telling, as Dr Johnson would readily attest.’

  24. Shouldn’t that be Icelandic? Either way, it matters not; they’re both dead. Frank would have told the joke better, but for real comedy, you need go no further than the Twittering Fitrambler.

  25. Heard on Radio 4 Extra last night in some bygone comedy show:
    ‘Magnus Magnusson? Isn’t that Norwegian for Robert Robionson?’

  26. I tought you weren’t going to resort to Bottom jokes – I suppose, being vulgar, you meant the series with Rick Mayall and Ade Edmondson

  27. Frank Lee Unsavoury does actually sound like one of those 1970s comedians; most likely he would have hailed from some little town on the Essex marshes. The Blameworthy brand is more closely associated with Midsomer Murders than A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

    Had you gone into acting, GloomLaden, I can think of a goodly number of friends and colleagues who would have paid any amount of money for front row seats which would have allowed them to get a good view of your Bottom.

  28. Frank Carson is dead and all Blameworthy can do is make frankly unsavoury jokes about his (not Frank’s) bottom and my hands.

  29. I’m tempted to do a Bottom joke here but I’d be playing right into your hands. Instead I’ll just sound my horn and wave my bladder in the air. Honk! Honk!

  30. I’m more Jacques the melancholic from As You Like It – the one who delivers the 7 ages of man spech – than Lear. Blameworthy is more suited to being one of the rude mechanicals from Midsummer Night’s Dream. Not sure about Fitrambler himself – Prospro, on account of the vast number of books he owns? Or one of those kingmakers from the history plays whose political machinations remind me a little of Fitrambler’s discourses on his working life.

  31. Readers will now picture Blameworthy as a circus clown, constantly squeezing the bulb of his horn to hide the fact that his joke has no punchline. The role of court jester would have suited me in earlier times though, especially if I had been allowed to wear one of those colourful, pointy hats. Or the fool from Shakespeare’s King Lear. GloomLaden, of course, would have played the part of the king

    FOOL: ‘He that hath a little tiny wit, with hey, ho, the wind and the rain
    Must make content with his fortunes fit, though the rain it raineth every day’

    KING: Those days are long gone, fool. We should all be dead!

    FOOL: ‘If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’d have thee beaten for being old before thy time’


  32. No, Blameworthy, I concede the point that they’re not called bullhorns. I meant the sort of horn you found on very old motor cars – I expect Inspector Malmsey’s car has one but only Sewidge would be vulgar enough to use it.

  33. Quick, wave your bladder, Bertrand! And don’t forget the horn; it’s not funny without the horn.

    Actually, Gloomers, they aren’t called bullhorns, are they? Bullhorns are those portable loud hailers that are occasionally used by politicians and the police in hostage situations, or for coaxing those about to attempt suicide down from the roof. I can’t see Frank Carson using one of those, can you?

  34. A: My dog’s got no nose.
    B: How does it smell?
    A: Quite apart from the fact that the question has never arisen,your assumption that the dog would be able to smell itself – let alone be able or willing to offer an intelligible description of the sense data thus accrued – seems dubious. Equally, your question implies that I might have smelled the dog and be in a position to expatiate upon the odour. Smell is the least translatable of the senses, it seems to me, and further enquiries into this matter are likely to prove both problematic and fruitless.
    – from The Bertrand Russell Joke Book (1952)

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