Windy City

The minor inconvenience of existing tenants meant that we had to wait a while for our medieval Weaver’s cottage in Norwich. To avoid continual sofa-hopping, we decided on a budget tour of east East Anglia. Our first stop was Lowestoft, England’s most easterly town. We were greeted by blustery squalls blowing in from the North Sea and a large ugly concrete water tower (can someone tell me what they’re for?). Lowestoft itself is a neat but empty little place. The population seemed to have died off from terminal boredom. The only person we noticed strolling along the prom was a bottle-blond Norfolk broad, subtly bedecked in hoop ear-rings, stars-and-stripes lycra leggings and a bubble jacket. We booked a cheap night in a Winelodge. The solitary person on duty was a thin, tattooed boy with retreating hair. He acted as concierge, waiter and barman. It was just as well there was nobody to serve. Our room was a designer postage stamp overlooking the bins. Making a cuppa was a delicate operation: the mini-kettle was so close to the mini-flat screen TV, I thought the steam might blow it up. The only excitement was a power cut at 7am. I had to dump and douche in the dark. The first person on duty fed the meter and lo, let there be light.

We took a drive through Great Yarmouth, a sad and rusty little place with a magnificent beach but its greatness firmly behind it. Despite being Liam’s playground of choice as a slip of a lad, we decided against stopping for a windy trip down memory lane. Apparently, Yarmouth is one of the most deprived areas of East Anglia. The great and good of the county have decided that granting a licence for a super casino will provide the answer to a fed-up seaside resort on its knees. Las Vegas-on-Sea? The entire concept reminded me of Edmonton Green Shopping Centre near Liam’s folks, a tired little enclave where the betting shop is next to the pawnbrokers.


Pontin’s Happy Campers

Crash, Bang, Wallop

Book Tour Intermission

I’ve interrupt the book tour for a heavy weather warning. After a gloriously long Autumn, winter violently thundered ashore – all crash, bang and wallop. We rushed to get old towels strategicaly placed around the house like thin sandbags to stem the impending flood. We’ve learned our lesson the hard way. Once again the street light next to the house blew up like a Roman candle with sparks flying hither and thither. Thankfully, the house lights stayed on but it was touch and go for a while. Light bulbs flickered like a slow strobe until the storm blew over. We lit candles and unplugged the fancy electricals as a precaution. This was on the same day that the water pressure dropped to a trickle. No bracing showers for us. Just a whore’s wipe.

Fried Alive

After a romantic evening of candlelight and cards, we fell into bed and prayed to the electricity fairy for a constant supply. Our landlady returned the next day with the sheepish pixie spark in tow. He fessed up that he was to blame for the dodgy circuit board. It had been completely mis-wired and caused a whole series of intermittent power surges. It was good to know we could have been fried alive in our bed. He fiddled his final fiddle and all seemed well. Sockets and switches worked as they should, and this time, nothing blew up. Our landlady, worried we might move out in a huff, assured us that we were model tenants (if only she knew) and agreed to replace the extinct appliances. The modem transformer was quickly substituted, brand new circuit breakers were supplied and a new circuit board for the water heater was ordered. It’s just as well there was enough sun to supply the solar panels; otherwise I’d have been forced to use a bucket of cold water to flannel-wipe my pits and sponge down my important little places. Another cross to bear in a Moslem land.

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Bang, Bang

Our electricity supply continued up and down like whore’s drawers. Strangely, the power seemed to mostly misbehave during daylight hours when our consumption was relatively light. The main circuit breaker tripped at random so there was no obvious explanation. Once again, our formidable landlady swung into action and sent her little pixie spark to re-check the fuse box. He fiddled with the fuses and re-knitted the wires like a lazy carpet weaver. Progress was slow but steady. He flicked the kitchen light switch. The electric heater fired up. He plugged in the kettle. The air-con beeped. He smiled a satisfied smile and returned to his fiddling. Finally, through a tortuous process of trial and error he concluded that the root of the problem was a power surge in a circuit running along one side of the house. To test his theory he plugged in our modem. Bang went the transformer. He plugged in the TV. Bang went the independent surge protector. He plugged in the bathroom water heater. Bang when the circuitry. As a flume of smoke filled the house, bang went our tempers and we threw the pixie out.

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Wash, Reset and Blowdry

Hanife, our formidable landlady, swung into rapid action to fix our unholy holey roof; she arranged for the leaks to be sealed by the contractor who originally built the house. He was incensed to find that the electricity company had illegally nailed power cables to our roof and punctured the bloody thing in the process. To add insult to injury, the cables were nothing to do with us; they were supplying an adjacent property. Our fuse box was brought back to life by a pixie-sized spark who dried out the box with a hairdryer plugged into our neighbour’s socket. We watched in horror as he perched precariously on a folding patio chair: one wrong move and his ankles would have been snapped off. Liam made tea while I went for a lie down in a darkened room. This is Turkey.

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