Friday, November 24, 2006

Meanwhile, fears of universal disaster sank to an all time low over the world

Well Isaac Asimov may well think that but my insurance company certainly doesn't!!

Six hundred and fifty five quid they want, for buildings only insurance on an empty house! Not only that but the insurance only covers damage by lightning, explosion and aircraft damage? What about the good old stuff like loosened roofing tiles, subsidence and burning down?

I mean, we lived there ten years before we emigrated and I can't honestly remember the house ever being struck by lightning or exploding. These are the kinds of things you'd tend to notice I feel.

And as for aircraft damage, well we are some twenty odd miles from the nearest airport, in a sprawling urbanisation. But apparently aircraft damage is a major concern to the insurance company it seems. So much so that, under the terms of the policy, my parents have to visit the property at least once a week to make quite sure that there isn't a Boeing 747 sticking out of the lounge window.

One assumes that, at such an extortionate price, I at least get salvage rights over any commercial, military or recreational aircraft that should just happen to choose my house to crash into out of the millions of others in the Greater Manchester area!

I'm thinking someone has been watching too much Emmerdale! Bloody insurance? Surely the whole idea of insurance is that they assess the odds and take a gamble? Quite honestly, at nearly seven hundred quid a chuck, I can't see a downside for the insurance company!

Don't suppose anyone out there knows any dodgy pilots do they? Perhaps a retired Kamikaze veteran looking for a quick buck (assuming of course Kamikaze pilots can either be veteran or retired?)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The difference between a misfortune and a calamity is this :

"If Gladstone fell into the Thames, it would be a misfortune. But if someone dragged him out again, that would be a calamity."

Quite a wag that Benjamin Disraeli, but I suppose he has a point.

Let me share with you then, my misfortunes of last week.

The week didn't start too well when Mrs C advised me casually, in passing, that her mother was coming to haunt us for five weeks over the Christmas period. Five weeks!! I only get two weeks off for Christmas and I was rather looking forward to the peace and tranquility of Christmas on the beach. As it stands, I'm more likely now to be stood in the dinner queue at Mount Eden prison for Christmas dinner. She once lived with us for three days and how I held my tongue that long I'll never know - five weeks is a feat of endurance beyond even a saint. To say I don't like the women is perhaps understating things somewhat and it's probably no exaggeration to say that I'd rather have Peter Sutcliffe use our gaff as a bail hostel.

Naturally, when I picked up an e-mail last Friday morning advising me that our house buyers in the UK were dropping out 24 hrs before the date of completion I was very slightly less than gruntled. On the assumption that these things come in threes I was also starting to look carefully around me for the next drama on the horizon, and I travelled very warily to work that day. But then I told myself that it was all a load of guff, nothing else could go wrong and I'd had my quota if such things even existed. I also couldn't recall breaking any mirrors, and you tend to notice doing that.

But I was wrong! I might as well stood under a ladder and smashed a mirror over the black cat running past!

Come 9am I'd just got my first cup of tea and was settling down to my usual Friday turgidity when the phone rang. Not content with already ruining my Christmas, Mrs C decided to twist the knife a little further. "I'm not quite sure how to tell you this.......". Turns out that a mate of Stevie Wonder's had driven his bullbar-adorned 4x4 Schoolrunmobile into our parked car and stoved in the two offside doors. I can only assume he was a mate of Stevie's because there is no other explanation for him failing to see the large, silver family saloon he crashed his front end into as he reversed slowly at an angle out of his adjacent parking space - one assumes the seeing dog in the passenger seat wasn't having a particularly good day and failed to bark his customary warning in time.

Fortunately, the dog had a conscience and scrawled his telephone number on a note (Thank goodness for the dog, because a Braille note from the driver would have had me well stumped!)

Taking a deep breath, and reassured that my third and final piece of bad luck had now arrived, I assessed the damage over the phone and concluded that the car was unsightly rather than undriveable. Surprising myself with my calmness (is there a difference between calm and abject resignation I wonder?) I left Mrs C with the words "Right, I'll deal with it when I get home, but please, please do not phone me again unless someone dies, I couldn't take anything else".

She's a grand wife is Mrs C, very bright and deeply beloved to me, despite having a mother rumoured to be the daughter of Satan. And she followed my instructions to the letter.....until around 2pm, when the phone rang again.

Now you know when you answer the phone and you can tell just by the way people breath that they are about to relay something catastrophic? Well it was like that - shaky breathing, muted sobs and I could definitely detect trembling through the ether. With the words ".....unless somebody dies" ringing in my ears, bile rising in my throat and her "I'm really sorry to phone you" opening gambit, I immediately began to wonder which one of the children's names I was going to hear!

The word "hospital" was all I heard in the next sentence!

Turns out, she'd turned around quite innocently and innocuously whilst helping out at school, and crumpled in a rather messy heap on the floor (probably with her legs firmly closed and her skirt neatly clamped between her knees, because women somehow have this reflex action for falling that way whenever they faint or collapse - or is it just me that notices these things?). Anyway, I digress. After a trip to the hospital, the conclusion is a torn calf muscle, a bill of $80 for a bit of tubigrip bandage, some aspirins and a pack of anti-inflammatories, plus $30 deposit for the crutches, which will be refunded when she returns on Friday for a check up (which will probably cost the returned $30 deposit plus another $50 no doubt!). Now I put this kind of injury either down to old age or playing football....and I don't ever recall seeing her wearing football boots!

So not only was my Friday a disaster of unfathomable proportions, but I had to spend a whole weekend of Mrs C alternating between hopping around like an amateur Long John Silver or shuffling up and down stairs on her backside like a stricken leper.

Regardless of what Disraeli says, I still haven't decided whether all of that was purely misfortune, or whether the quantum of those misfortunes qualifies it as a calamity collectively.
And all of this whilst going through the itchy and deeply irritable hell of a two week old moustache in aid of 'Movember' - an event in aid of Men's Cancer charities. I mention this a) because the itching was already making me bad tempered and b) in a shameless pursuit of cash in a good cause. If anyone would like to sponsor my flowing Mexican moustache, complete with underlip tickler. Log on to the Movember website here and quote my rego number 34760. Leave your e-mail address in the comments section and I'll send you a mo pic to laugh at/stroke/drool over (I currently hold 5 gold "Best Mo" stars, 4 red "Most Stylish Mo" stars and 4 blue "Best Porno Mo" stars to lead the office competition!)

PS, in response to the anonymous comment...Ron Jeremy? Pah. I don't think he can compete on any front! Even Merv Hughes is cacking himself