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Date: 17/05/05

A Day In A Life...

It had it all, in one way or another.

To start with, I got in to work at 7.45 this morning to find that the power supply to the building's computer systems had once again failed to recover from an external electricity failure. Much dashing around pushing buttons and turning keys, with people asking awkward questions, like "What's gone wrong with it this time?"

Succeeded in getting three quarters of it back, but the remaining bit refused to play. At this point, I had to dash off for a hospital appointment, leaving my esteemed colleagues to play 'Hunt The Trip-Switch'.

Up to the hospital for a 9 a.m. appointment with the opth...ophth...ohthp...eye doctor. It seems that one of the three doctors due to hold the clinics wasn't able to come in. It happens - even doctors fall prey to events. This meant that I was waiting until 10 before I got in to see the doctor. Very nice young Indian lady, slightly flustered by the morning's disruption, but charming nonetheless.

After about fifteen minutes of my artificially-dilated pupils having what looked like a miniature arc-welder shone into them, she pronounced herself satisfied that diabetic retinopathy had yet to show itself to any noticeable degree, and I departed with her injunction to "keep up the good work" resounding in my head.

Came out of the hospital. Oh dear. Sunlight. Bright sunlight! Aaaaaargh!!!! Pain!! Goodness knows what anyone made of this shambling, screwed-up-eyed wreck coming towards them. "Huh! Another *^&#ing smack-head!"

Back to the office, to find that the portion of the office which was still powerless (a state with which I can identify all too frequently) remained resolutely so. Not a spark. We awaited an electrician while staff from the affected area were dispersed to wherever else in the building they could get a working computer.

Now, just to explain: I work for a department of the central civil service. A few short years ago, some bunch of desperate bean-counters decided that it would be very 'efficient' to hand over maintenance of our buildings to a private company. This was duly done, and so the job was handed over...to a company based in a tax-dodge paradise in the western Atlantic. They, in turn, sub-contracted various aspects of the work to other companies. They, in turn...well, I call it 'Russian doll' economics (when I'm not calling it 'outright frigging lunacy', of course).

So, the subcontractors' subcontractor turned up. He pinpointed what he thought was the problem, and then tried to prove it by cutting off the electricity supply to part of the building hitherto unaffected (in order to demonstrate that there was no power going through that circuit anyway, despite the functioning of some eighty workstations on it at the time). One of our servers was going up and down like a bride's nightie until he was told to cut it out.

It being lunchtime by now, I trolled over to Sainsbury's to do my weekly shopping. I have formulated a general rule, which has long been strengthened by empirical evidence, that whatever line of products I start buying from Sainsbury's, they stop stocking it three weeks later. Now, it seems, I didn't even have to wait that long. Perhaps my timing was off this week, but there were a number of items I wanted which they simply didn't have (roast beef slices, for one; and their very nice spaghetti carbonara being another. This they'd had on a two-for-the-price-of-one-and-a-bit offer, with the consequence that there was none left by the time I arrived).

With what I did manage to find, I struggled back to work. I wasn't feeling too strong at this point: the eye business causing one of those pressure headaches that make you want to drive a nail into your skull (this being preferable, at least in ethical terms, to driving it into the skull of the person who caused the headache in the first place), and I resolved to finish early (3.15).

By this time the electrician, having failed to rune the mysteries of our completely shagged-out power infrastructure, had gone around unplugging things and then resetting the trip and hoping for the best. It seemed to work.

I got home, had my tea (Sainsbury's chicken chow mein), and then headed upstairs for a lie down. I woke at about 6.30 with symptoms of an oncoming hypoglycaemic attack, and ate the last chunk of a bar of Green & Black's Maya Gold to stave it off.

So, that was my day, chums. I've known better ones. And yet, I glance to my left and see the late-evening sky; clouds off-white shading towards pale lilac, a pale blue sky presaging a drop in temperatures if we're not careful; the branches of the oak tree, just coming into leaf, swaying slightly in a faint breath: I see all this clearly, and consider myself more fortunate than many.