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August 2005 - Many Happy Returns

Oh no!  Another month bites the dust.   So where did that last one go, then?  Whatever happened to that serious plan to put fingers to keyboard for a new edition of Comment early in the previous month, with plenty of time to spare?

In fact, I'm sure the plan was to exercise the old fingers a couple of times each month, for a little while, in order to get myself a bit ahead and have a few editions in the can, as it were.

I should be eating a large meal at the moment, you know.  The old stomach's rumbling and trying to remind me that it's Saturday lunchtime and, even though there are less than thirty-six hours left before I have to publish this load of old rubbish, the writing can still be left until tomorrow.

I'd better not fall for that one, though.  After all, I've been saying that to myself for, at least, the last fortnight.  If I don't get under way right now, I shall still be wrestling with that spell-checker thing at about five minutes to midnight tomorrow night.

And, Madam, I can tell you that Nick Harvey wrestling with a spell-checker at five to midnight is not a pretty sight.   Why does it always suggest versions of words that look completely wrong, I have to wonder?

So, the rumbling stomach, I shall be forced up with to put, and on with it, I had better be getting; to slightly mis-quote something which, over a glass of wine, was to me said, the other evening.

Don't even bother asking, madam; the reply to that one could cause a digression which would go on for the whole month!

Off we go then, with the August episode of the incredible Nick Harvey's Comment.  Welcome along, dear viewers, and let's see if we can find something with which to enthral you.

Now, you might not necessarily be one of those people who rejoices at every passing year, but don't you think it's rather nice to receive lots and lots of cards on your birthday?

Well, for a person, of the human variety, or some other living thing, like brown chap, leg at each corner, tail at the back, the sending and receiving of cards is quite a pleasant occupation in my opinion.

I shall be sending brown chap a card on Tuesday, as it happens.  Well, he'll be ten you know.  Goodness, that's seventy in human years, isn't it?  I shall have to take him up to the Post Office, as I'm sure he must be due some sort of pension by now.  Then he can pay for his own dog food from now on and save me the odd shilling or two.

Anyway, there can even be those other odd occasions when a card can be just the thing to raise the spirits.  It had the desired effect some years ago, if I remember rightly, when I sent my bank manager a "Now You Are One" card to celebrate the fact that they'd managed to make a complete mess of my credit card details for a whole twelve months.

This last week, however, has rather tarnished the, once bright, idea of celebrating birthdays with those communications of a postal nature.

To explain.  The poor demented souls at Mastercare, part of the Dixons group of companies, have managed to send a letter to our cooker, congratulating it on its second birthday, which is coming up towards the end of August.

Well, to be just a tiny bit fair to Mr Sloane, their Customer Services Manager, for a brief second or two, they've actually written to 'er indoors with the congratulations, not to the cooker, personally.

Mind you, I haven't a clue why I'm bothering to try to be fair to this Sloane Ranger bloke, as he probably doesn't even exist.  He's probably just another of these computerised characters like Mr R Digest or Mr W Book-Club.

I have to say that his printed signature reminds me of a feeble attempt by a seven year old, at a mock-up of the old Ulster Television logo from the nineteen sixties; lots of ups and downs, but no real substance.

So why, I'm certain you're all asking, is Ranger Sloane bothering to mail a missive to our cooker after all this time?

Yes, ten out of ten to that lady in the back row, for correctly identifying that he's STILL trying desperately to get the commission on selling one of his stupid service contracts for the thing.

'Er indoors and I managed to extract ourselves from the Dixons group's Currys store without falling for their ploy two years ago, when we first bought the thing, so why the heck do they think we're about to shell out fifty-five pounds in their direction NOW?

In his lengthy epistle, he drones on about the irony being that "as it gets older there's more chance of something going wrong".  God, he's a really clever bloke, isn't he?  I think he'd have had more chance trying to sell 'er indoors the egg sucking course.

He hopes that he can look forward to receiving our application soon, because, we must remember that "a few minutes now could save you a lot of hassle and expense later".  So what about the flip side of this particular coin then?  Doing nothing NOW, could save us fifty-five pounds NOW!

I doubt the cost of any of the bits that might decide to go wrong with the thing is going to come to more than fifty-five quid, especially if I manage to get them through my "mate in the trade".

As for Sloaney's suggestion that "specialist" repairers can be "difficult to find when you need them most", well, I'm here, I've got my screwdriver in my hand and I can't help thinking that a little matter of taking a cooker apart won't stretch me too far.

After all, I've already had most of the oven parts of the thing totally dismantled and spread around the kitchen to make its thorough spring clean a little easier.

I can't help thinking that this fellow might have left me with a far better view of the Dixons group's customer service if he'd done just a TINY bit of research into to whom he was writing, before he directed his secretary to put fingers to word processor.

They keep enough bloomin' detail about you every time you pay them for something, so they ought to know my views on their service contracts by now.

I've NEVER taken out one of their service contracts in my life.  I never intend to take out one of their service contracts in my life.  I've made it totally clear at numerous and various checkouts at numerous and various stores of the Dixons group that I never intend to take out one of their service contracts in my life.

Yet Ranger Sloane continues to insist on felling more and more trees to make the paper to send ridiculous greetings to a two year old cooker which just happens to still be in the best of health and has no intention of ever joining BUPA, thank you very much.

Hey, I've just had a thought; and that's ANOTHER thought, apart from the one about not starting sentences with "hey", for fear of sounding like Tony Bliar.

Perhaps I did ought to write a nice reply to Ranger Sloane.  After all, his correspondence goes on and on and on and on at incredibly great length, yet is a complete and utter load of stuff and nonsense.   I think I need him here at Harvey Towers.  I reckon I've got just the job for him.

I must contact him to enquire if he'd care to give up his day job and pop down here occasionally to write a few spare editions of Comment.  He'd be JUST the chap.

That would dispose of a couple of birds with one single, proverbial, projectile, would it not?  No more stupid birthday greetings from dear old Mastercare and lots of spare editions of Comment stacked up and just ready to publish.

I reckon I could have cracked this one, you know!

So, it'll be September 1st for the next stupendous edition, then.  I'll probably have to write that one myself, as I expect Sloaney will have to give Dixons a couple of months notice.  Never mind.

There's not much of Saturday afternoon left now.  I suppose I'd better go off and get that late lunch.   Right, I'm off, where's me pork pie?

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