November 27, 2011


Oh, the excitement. I can hardly wait for him to turn up.

A letter from Scottish Water “Always serving Scotland” was delivered to my office. It informs me that, according to their latest review, their records show “the above premises has a connection to the public water and is registered as being vacant.”

Wrong on both counts. And, anyway, why are they writing if it’s vacant? Some “review”, that.

An additional leaflet informs me that business customers can choose their water and sewerage supplier…. To be honest, I’m not sure I want a supply of sewerage. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the letter continues that if I wish to put the proposed disconnection on hold, I can “…contact Scottish water… within the next two weeks.” If they don’t receive a reply within that time, then they “intend to proceed to disconnect the supply to the premises.”

Between you and I, their chance of getting a tinsel-wrapped camel as a Christmas gift is about the same as them getting a reply from me. Oh, what fun.

Now, I’m assuming that their records must be correct. If they say they are supplying the office with water, then there must be taps and a sink at the very least. I mean, they would know, wouldn’t they?

However, I have searched throughout my tiny office – looked behind the blinds and under the table. I even had a rake around in the filing cabinet – but, so far, I’ve found nothing. Not a tap, pipe or sink anywhere. The only water I have in my office is of the bottled variety. But I’m sure the water supplier knows best. After all, they have carried out a review and compiled their records.

And I’m sure the little man they send along with a big spanner to disconnect the supply will be able to show me exactly where the invisible taps and sinks are – maybe even an invisible toilet, too! And oh, what fun we’ll have searching for it.

Like I said, I can hardly wait. Bring it on!

Drew McAdam



November 21, 2011

Maybe it’s just me. Perhaps I really don’t understand how to work a computer. To be honest, I’m certain that’s part of the problem.

But not when it comes to paying bills.

For example; I was recently invited to go “paperless” when receiving my bill from BT. I could “save money”, they said. Seemed fair – except it wasn’t, because actually they were going to start charging extra if I DIDN’T go paperless.

But let’s leave that little swindle aside for a moment.

When the latest bill came in by email, I simply opened the link, typed in my username, password and hit “enter”. Wrong username name or password. Well, it wasn’t the username that was wrong, because that was on the email BT had sent me. So I tired the password again. And again. And again.

Eventually I became so frustrated with it all I tried a flurry of random swear words, and pressing a jumble of keys. That didn’t work either.

This needed a more measured response. “Forgotten password?” Yes. A moment later, a message containing a pin number popped into my inbox. All I had to do was type that in, and select a new password. Easy.

Except it wasn’t, because the screen flashed red with the message: “An unexpected error has occurred please try again later.” So I did. Again and again and again. Each time, having to go through the whole rigmarole from the start. Over and over, continually getting the error message. Throughout the day.

Then I had a brainwave. There was an option to pay the bill without actually registering or logging in. All I had to do was to give them my account number – a 350-digit number. And where would I find this number? On the e-mail? Oh, no, that would be too simple.

According to the instructions, the only place you could find your account number… was at the top left corner of the paper bill. A paper bill which I didn’t have, because BT had forced me to go paperless!

It was nuts. All this nonsense, when I’m trying to give THEM money!

You know, there was a time when I could just take my bill to the Post Office and pay it there and then. Quick, painless and simple. No clerk telling you that an unexpected error had occurred and you would have to spend your entire day stuck in a loop, repeating the same tedious process.

And then I realised. All this palaver with account numbers and screen names and passwords, just so I could prove that I really was the bill holder. Crazy.

I mean, what is the worst that could have happened if somebody had impersonated me and hacked into my account? The only thing they would be able to do is pay my bill for me!

I live in hope.

Drew McAdam


November 13, 2011

If you’re like me, then you probably enjoy Christmas. But you probably also find it odd that Christmas cards are on sale from mid-September, and decorations start making an appearance around the same time.

Here we are, halfway through November. Many of the leaves are still on the trees. If you drive at night, you’ll have seen moths. And clouds of midgies are hovering around in the weak sunshine. Yet it feels like the Festive celebrations are already in full swing.

I like Christmas; but I like it near the end of December where it’s supposed to be. I have always ignored the festivities right up until the last moment – which explains why I’m often seen running from shop to shop on Christmas Eve trying to collect the items on my gift list.

And that’s why I found it all rather disconcerting this week when I was wrapped in tinsel, sporting cardboard Rudolph antlers, wearing a glass bauble on each ear, and singing Slade’s “So Here it is, Merry Christmas” at full tilt.

All very odd. But it makes sense when I tell you that I was being interviewed at a hospital radio station. And we were recording the Christmas show. It’s going to take them several weeks to edit the recording so the listeners can make some sense of my ramblings, then it will be transmitted to the wards along with my three favourite Festive hits on Christmas day.

What makes it all so wonderful is that the radio station is run by volunteers. Not just the presenters, but the people who collect requests around the wards, the admin staff and the technical team. Volunteers, every one of them.

So how could I turn down the offer – even if it did mean I had to break the habit of a lifetime and get into the Christmas spirit weeks before the event?

All power to those who give up their free time – particularly over the holiday period. While the rest of us are having fun, stuffing our faces, opening presents and slumping in front of the TV, an army of volunteers are out there making sure Christmas still comes for those who are not as fortunate as the rest of us.

I take my jingly hat off to them, one and all.

Drew McAdam


November 7, 2011

Mooching around in a famous London department store, I noticed a T-shirt.

It was an ordinary T-shirt, or so I thought – with a Mickey Mouse logo. Now, while the short-sleeved T-shirt might have been run of the mill, the price certainly wasn’t. Take a deep breath… Ready? One-hundred-and-forty-two-quid.

Yes. You read that right. For a T-shirt.

I thought there must be some mistake. But I rummaged through the other T-shirts that were bundled on the counter, and they all cost about the same.

Well, perhaps the red logo was printed in ink derived from the blood of sacrificed virgins? Or the material was hand-woven from special wool, gently plucked from the underbelly of a rare breed of goat only found high in the Himalayan Mountains?

But no. There is absolutely nothing special about this garment – except the price. According to the sales blurb: it has European sizing. It’s white and short-sleeved. It has a Mickey Mouse printed design, and a crew neck. Pure cotton. Machine wash.

That’s it.

It’s a flamin’ T-shirt! Just like one of the dozen T-shirts I have. Identical in every way – except for the price.

Well, as I wandered off I couldn’t help wondering what kind of idiots would actually spend that kind of money on a Mickey Mouse T-shirt. People with more money than sense, perhaps? If I’d bought it I would certainly leave the price tag showing when I wore it, just so my mates would know how much I’d paid.

And I would wander around all winter just in T-shirt and jeans. I mean, why cover it up with a jersey and duffel coat when I’ve paid that much?

Of course, maybe the shop is relying on passing trade that doesn’t understand UK currency. Tourists from distant shores where there are 23million kwingodollars to the pound. In that case, 142 somethings for a T-shirt might sound reasonable.

Or maybe it’s just that there are people out there with loads of money and bargain basement self-esteem who think that the rest of us will hold them in higher regard because they paid a week’s wages for something the rest of us would polish the furniture with.

It’s a mystery to me.

Drew McAdam