On Monday morning I discovered that I couldn't go online. I tried all the usual remedies without success. My wife Sheila who, unlike me, knows how to forward emails and everything, had no better luck when she returned from work on Monday evening. On Tuesday morning we rang Virgin Media for help and were told that no technician could get out to our house for a week. A week? There followed one of those endlessly circular "customer support" experiences in which a succession of people pass the buck to each other, each repeating the same irrelevant mantras and declining to put you through to someone more senior.
The remainder of the story is too long to repeat here. Suffice to say that when a senior executive at a high profile communications company receives a personal phone from a national newspaper (not made by my wife, by the way) advising him that the already persuasive case for scrutinising the quality of customer support services at said company is becoming stronger all the time it is amazing how quickly an engineer can be found. One such arrived at my house late yesterday afternoon, and very helpful he was too.
Of course, Sod's Law dictated that the system had started working all on its own less than an hour before he knocked on my door. However, on doing so he revealed that he'd spent his day with several other Virgin Media customers in the E5 postcode area of London, all reporting the same trouble as I'd had. He, not being daft, had worked out that there was some sort of general problem in our patch which had nothing to do with individual modems pegging out, or whatever.
Pity this insight couldn't have been conveyed by customer support to its baffled clients in my part of Hackney. And whatever the circumstances telling any customer they'd have to wait a week for any help is just a joke - the sort of thing that might interest a national newspaper...
I'm going to be away for most of the rest of this month and will be willing and able to blog only occasionally during that time. To fill the vacuum I've timed some posts to appear during my absences. Most of these will be YouTube music film or video clips chosen by Temperama readers. I've invited them to pick songs that remind them of summer. The first will appear later today. Enjoy. And au revoir.
The diplomatic row with Russia over the non-extradition of Andrei Lugovoi is a deadly serious business. Yet even The Guardian can't resist calling up a spot of Cold War spy fiction imagery to enhance its coverage of the Alexander Litvinenko murder saga. This is the photo of Lugovoi they've chosen for their front page today. That's the British for you: bonded to Bond at the slightest opportunity.
I love the way the Right is responding to Conrad Black's convictions for fraud and the obstruction of justice. A fellow Canadian, fan, friend and former employee is still straining to convince us that the Telegraph's former owner hasn't done anything wrong, while in Britain Kim Fletcher, an erstwhile Black lieutenant at the Telegraph, has been popping up here and there to gently urge us to put his crimes into perspective:
"Yesterday's guilty verdicts won't change much. The world splits between those who see Lord Black as the embodiment of capitalist evil, and those like [a] rich friend [of mine] who will continue to see him as the victim of an American show trial."
Is it really quite so neat? The standard insinuation of those who defend the bighead rich is that we who despise them do so out of envy. Nuts to that. I don't despise Conrad Black because he had a ton of money, a haughty wife and a piece of Napoleon's porcelain. I despise him because he behaved as if people like him are simply not required to obey the same rules as the rest of us and dismissed those who dared to contradict him as worthless. "There exists a mile-wide streak of self-righteousness in the man, a glut of self-confidence that transcends run-of-the-mill arrogance," his first biographer once wrote. It is that arrogance that has brought about his downfall. Serve him right.