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April 2008 - The Missing Lamp Post

Prior to the commencement of the keyboard bashing for this month's epistle, I decided it was necessary to delve deeply into the archives to check out the details of the November 2005 edition of this wondrous epic.

You might, he says in a dubious attempt to get his viewing figures shooting through the roof at an even more amazing speed, wish to do the same for yourself, prior to enjoying the inestimable delights of this particular edition.

For, as all faithful devotees of Nick Harvey's Comment will already know, research is everything.  Having the background neatly in place before progressing to this month's subject is, after all, a matter of very great importance.

Or should that possibly be impotence?  No, I was right the first time.  I really ought to stop reading all these spam e-mails that keep arriving.  They really are having a very unfortunate effect on my digressions.

And, let it be said, digressions, preludes, preambles and more could well be the order of the month, this time round, as I seem to be in the midst of one of those unfortunate periods best described by the phrase "If it can go wrong, it will go wrong".

Saying that, I feel a bit like Denis Norden on I'll Be All Right on The Night, but it really has been one of those months.

Have you noticed how it's very rare to have just one thing go wrong on it's own?  There's the old saying about bad things happening in threes, isn't there?  Well, it's bloomin' well true at the moment in the Harvey household, I can tell you.

Those of you resident in the southern half of the jolly old United Kingdom will be well aware of the recent inclemencies of a windy nature in our part of the world.  Well, Harvey Towers has been affected, you know!

And while I'm digressing in any case, a bijou secondary digression away from the primary digression, if you don't mind.  If God Save the King became God Save the Queen when dear old George passed away and Lizzy took over, then why on earth didn't the United Kingdom become the United Queendom on the same day?  I think we should be told!

Talk about inconsistent application of the rules!  That's something that gets Nick Harvey rather cross, you know.  I think we need a zero tolerance week to these sorts of inconsistencies.

Anyway, where was I before I so rudely interrupted my own interruption?  Oh yes, the windy inclemency, wasn't it.  Yes, Harvey Towers saw damage in action, you know.

There I am, you see, at about quarter past four in the morning, sitting up in bed, unable to sleep from the effects of the wind, no madam, the unpleasant meteorological phenomenon, not the cucumber sandwiches from the previous teatime, when I hear this strange rumbling-cum-roaring noise from above me, followed by a brief period of silence, followed further by a loud crash from ground level, somewhere at the front of the house.

Upon investigation, it turned out that a large portion of the wind had placed itself between a roof tile and the roofing felt, raised said tile away from said roof, then allowed the released tile to not-so-gently slide down the remainder of said roof, before flying off the bottom at gutter level and depositing itself in the gravel at the front of the house, separating into numerous pieces upon impact.

The only better-than-average part of this sorry story is that the impact occurred just inches away from the rapid racer, parked outside at the front of the house, rather than right in the middle of the roof of said racer.

Mind you, if the roof of the racer had been damaged by the tile, then I suppose I could have had it fixed while they were replacing the exhaust.  Yes, madam, that was the second thing to go wrong that week.

It was good fun for a couple of days though.  It really sounded like a racing car in the period between the diagnosis and the repair.  It was really good to drive through the town, sounding just like Mr Button, or do I mean Buttons from Cinderella?

Then, right in the middle of everything else going wrong that week, the flamin' microwave decides to blow up!  All 'er indoors did was ask it for three minutes; but all it managed was about a third of a revolution, then that indescribable sound known only to those among you who have witnessed a microwave shuffling off this mortal coil.

Quite an expensive week, it has to be said.  Not the type of week when your health and temper are in a state where you want to drive around the town witnessing a load of idiots getting in your way whilst painting numbers on all the lamp posts.

Ah yes, madam, we appear to have arrived at the plot.  Welcome along to the April edition of Nick Harvey's Comment.  I think all the digressions, preludes and preambles are completed now, so we can get on with the matter in hand.

I mentioned, what seems like hours ago now, up at the top, the November 2005 edition.  You didn't go back and read it?  Ah, stand by to get slightly confused then.

I was talking about the National Trust giving all their trees a number, back then, wasn't I?  That one might have been a new idea in 2005, but the idea of numbering lamp posts seems to have been around, pretty well, ever since lamp posts have been around, really.

Well, it is quite useful when you ring the local council to tell them that a particular lamp isn't coming on, or, more often it seems, is staying on all day, that you can give them the exact number of said lamp so they can positively identify it.

A number is a far easier system than trying to describe the third one along the top lane, just past the second farmhouse, a little bit north-east of the village.  So, just for a change, Nick Harvey is in total agreement with the authorities and needs to go on record as thinking that lamp post numbers are a damn fine idea.

So why were these idiots going round painting numbers on lamp posts, some of which have been in situ for the best part of fifty years?  And more to the point, why did they appear to be scraping the numbers off prior to painting the numbers on?

A more detailed investigation was definitely called for.  Lamp posts needed to go under the Nick Harvey, Acme microscope for lengthy, in-depth analysis.

I surreptitiously parked up, opposite number 632B, the next one along the road the painting team were in and the next one they would get to.  I removed the scissors from the glove box and carefully cut two eye holes in last week's copy of the Gazette & Herald.  I then pretended to read, but kept a very close eye on 632B through the holes.

Eventually, along came the team.  Quite why such a large team was required was something of a mystery.  Presumably seven or eight of them were just doing Health and Safety type things.  Either that or September 2007's edition of Comment applies; best to go back and read that one afterwards.

So the scraping and erasing team start work first on dear old 632B, quickly rendering him numberless.  Then the black paint team renew the background panel for the number.

Next the team with the blow-lamp-type device step forward, presumably in an attempt to get the black background dry enough to take the numbers again quite quickly.

Then the white and yellow paint brigade start work to restore him to, hopefully, better than his former glory.  Why is it that the numbers are always in yellow, but the letters are in white, I wonder?

They carefully stencil his number on his black panel.  C-401-J.  C-401-J?  Pardon me?  They've changed poor old 632B by deed poll!  And without so much as a by-your-leave.

Now, Nick Harvey might be on record, from a few paragraphs above, as thinking that lamp post numbers are a damn fine idea, but there's no way I'm going to acquiesce with going round changing a poor old lamp post's number half way through its useful life.

I mean, what would you think if somebody suddenly did it to me without my permission and next month's edition appeared without warning as Bert Scroggins' Comment?  I don't think you'd like it very much and I certainly wouldn't.

No, we definitely need another Nick Harvey campaign.  Lamp post numbers for life!  Especially around the by-pass; October and November 2007 editions apply; you'll have to read those afterwards as well.

Next time I'm passing C-401-J I'm going to call him 632B and express my sympathies.  He'll always be 632B in my book.  I almost hope his lamp goes out soon, so I can ring the council about him and insist he's still 632B.

What a stupid waste of time in any case!  How much of my Council Tax or my last Electricity Bill went on the oversized renumbering team's wages?  How much did all the paint cost?  Most importantly, how much was the office-bound idiot paid to think up the whole scheme in the first place?  I'll bet his title was "Consultant" so he got paid twice as much as a normal idiot.

Give nice, new lamp posts on nice, new estates nice, new numbers by all means, but surely there's no need to waste time, money and energy on renumbering any old ones?  Lamp post numbers for life!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes it did all really happen, roof tile, exhaust, microwave, hundreds of lamp posts; not an April Fools joke in sight.  Only the numbers have been changed, to protect innocent lamp posts!

May Day for the next edition of this load of old rubbish, then.  Let's hope for a calmer and better month in between.  I trust you'll all be joining me, promptly, for that one.  Right, I'm off, where's me paint pot?

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