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» DIY Techno-hacks

Murderous Landlady?
My first ever flat! A huge and exciting step in any girl's life! (I had lived away from home before, in a somehow increasingly bizarre series of bedsits / houseshares with lovely or mad or alcoholic or alcoholic and mad people, but those are waiting for QOTWs suitable for vomit in washing machine stories.)

Anyway, the flat was, in retrospect, a severely dodgy propect. It was a huge ancient house carved out very crudely into three addresses. All the bills were included, and the landlady lived in Germany mostly, usually employing a local 'craftsman' (leering predatory halfwit) to oversee the property. But it was cheap and full of sunshine, and a teenage Magenta jumped right in, squeaking girly joyful squeakings.

The bathroom was HUGE, a big selling point to a girl used to sharing one in a cupboard with too many unhygienic people. There was an ancient shower over bath setup, and I had honestly asked when shown around exactly why there was a half stripped wire hanging out of the wall next to it. The landlady airily assured me that there used to be a lit cabinet there (right next to the shower?) but the wire was now dead and not at all dangerous. At all. Really. Right.

A few days later I'm painting happily away in there (the decoration throughout was bizarre, but bright clean white is cheap and cheerful) and nudge the wire out of the way with the end of my paintbrush, which was thankfully made of wood. One huge bang, some sparks and smoke and a lot of weirdly threatening fizzling noises result, plus a distinct lack of electricity anywhere in my flat or apparently the building. This leads to a teenage Magenta sat sobbing on the stairs into her mobile to her grandad the electrician, who arrives post haste and is VERY CROSS INDEED.

The bathroom wire was live mains. Right next to the shower head. Just a little bit dangerous?

When the landlady was contacted, now back in Germany, she tried to tell my grandad that this was common back there, because the mains power was weaker. Not "I'm sorry for nearly murdering your grandaughter." My grandad sorted out the wire. She never did apologise, but did go on to arrive from Deutschland unexpectedly and LET HERSELF IN while I was in bed. Cow.
(Sat 22nd Aug 2009, 11:01, More)

» Banks

This is not a funny post, I'm just chucking it in in case it saves some B3tan's sanity one day....

If you should ever be in the very distressing situation where someone you love becomes very poorly and loses their employment, you can expect for their bank to start getting cross and shouting for money. You will try, because you don't want it to stress your loved one, to sort this out like a grown up. This is very difficult. Hours on the phone become days and weeks. Your phone will ring night and day and you may very well be threatened with the debt collectors.

("But what I'm trying to tell you is, HE HAS NO INCOME AT ALL, he is very poorly. I can afford to give you £xx per month though, just until he's better."

"Tough shit. What we will do is take your paltry offering and continue to harrass and threaten you. Have a lovely day.")

What you cannot and will never be able to understand about this process is that the bank will not tell you THAT HE HAD INSURANCE FOR THIS VERY SITUATION ALL ALONG.

I spent a nightmare 3 months or so on the phone every day, fitting the calls around working, I spoke to HUNDREDS of employees of a very large bank who may rhyme with FARTCLAYS. Only one, an Indian gentleman probably unimaginably far away, had the common human decency to ask me why we had not claimed the insurance for THIS VERY SITUATION for which he'd been paying every month forever. I could have flown over there to kiss him.

Claiming the insurance is a nightmare too, but we're finally there. And all the charges have been waived, reducing the bill from the terrifying, bloated monster it had become. And my loved one is on the mend : )

But. If the worst should happen. If you ever have to try to sort something like this out. ASK THEM OUTRIGHT IF THERE IS INSURANCE ON THE ACCOUNT. Because they will keep taking payment for it.

But it's a secret.

Again, sorry for lack of funny. But if this should save one person the hell I went through etc.
(Fri 17th Jul 2009, 12:59, More)

» Doctors, Nurses, Dentists and Hospitals

Ginger Transylvanian nurse
I had a rough spell last year health wise, it turns out that I have colitis, which I'd never heard of before but means my bowels will occasionally try to explode. Not the greatest news, when I finally heard it, but vastly preferable to the words 'bum cancer' that had been whispering themselves in the back of my mind for months.

In retrospect, I know that my treatment was mostly very good. After all, I'm still here and no longer in immediate danger of exploding for the moment. A couple of things really stand out, for good and for bad:

1. My family doctor, who had been ace up to that point, said she suspected crohn's disease, and that she could not treat me until a series of embarrasing tests confirmed it. Made sense, except that the waiting list for those tests was six months long, during which time I became very, very ill. Couldn't eat. Slept all the time. Eventually I couldn't take fluids, and at this point went to A and E because I really thought I was dying. When they admitted me, the hospital said I was far too ill now for the confirming tests, and gave me the steroids that my own doctor had refused to dish out, but which might have saved me several months of suffering

2. No vegetarian options in hospital. I couldn't leave until I would eat again, but they couldn't feed me. Thank god for visitors and the local Morrisons.

3. The lovely tea lady who sat up for hours with me that first night when I cried through a box of tissues, telling me that other people had the same symptoms and didn't die.

4. The ginger nurse with a Transylvanian accent who asked me about my eating habits. By this point I was size ten or smaller, weight drops off when your body won't process food any more. I honestly replied that I had eaten very little for months. She looked me up and down, sneered, and said "you will see dietician to find out why you are fat." Thanks love.

5. A ward containing two dozen people with tummy and bowel complaints, and two toilets.

The NHS does a really important job and saves countless lives every day, I know. Like my own area of employment, education, it contains breathtaking stupidities, bizarreness in abundance, and mostly seems to work because there are more lovely people prepared to go above and beyond than lazy, rude or just plain thick people. Cheers to all the b3ta medical types out there, from consultants down to cleaners : )
(Sat 13th Mar 2010, 14:16, More)

» Neighbours

He tried to beat up several cars...
Back in my murky student past, I had a flat in a big old creaky house. The house was older than the rest of the street, and stuck out oddly into the road, with no pavement around it. The row of semis leading up to it were set well back from the road, with long drives and a wide pavement. The gentleman next door lived in a state of constant fury over this. You see, it was a very narrow little road, and no-one could stop a car outside our house - it would block the whole road.

This shouldn't have been a problem - no-one in any of the three flats owned a car, and Mr. Fury didn't either. However, occasionally, someone would get a taxi home after a happy evening, or maybe with some heavy shopping in the daytime, and the taxi would pull up in front of his drive. These stops were rare (spend good booze money on transport?!) and very short - how long does it take to pay the nice driver, two minutes?

Each and every time this happened, Mr. Fury would run out of his house, glowing an honest-to-god purple with rage. If the taxi didn't pull away quickly, he would attack it with fists and feet. The sight of the weedy late middle aged man trying to kill their car often mesmerised drivers who could have ripped his head off and used it to decorate their bonnet if they had wanted to.

In the end, I'd arrange to get dropped off at the top of the street, even with heavy shopping, because of the sheer embarrassment factor.

The really tragic part of this took a while to become clear. Mr. Fury (who had a lovely, polite, kind wife by the way) was always yelling that we must not block his drive - even for two minutes - because his son might come to visit in his car. In the eighteen months I lived there, often at home in the day as a studenty layabout type, I never once saw the son visit.

Poor old Mr. Fury : (
(Tue 6th Oct 2009, 20:56, More)