Monday, June 30, 2008

Call me Scarface

A fun afternoon in the pub yesterday with lots of lovely chums, many of whom brought presents or at least bought pints. It’s just possible that at some point in the evening I’d had too much beer. The inevitable gloom of the not-quite-a-hangover today provokes the following self-indulgent whinge.

I seem to have become quite an adult this last week. Having spent since the age of 13 feeling, well, like I’m 13, now I am clearly a grown up.

For example, the neighbour thinks I’m adult enough to discuss the finer points of plumbing. Our bathroom (not that it’s got a bath in it) is leaking into his kitchen, and we spent a happy time on Saturday looking for holes and generally scratching our brains.

The plumber didn’t turn up this morning (well, he says he did but didn’t think to ring either of the two doorbells), so there was some more analysis of skirting boards and the possible routes of water run-off. Those who have met me will be delighted by the thought of my trying to be of any practical use.

Then at noon a nice estate agent popped round to make a judgment on our flat. We’re coming to the end of our fixed-term mortgage and Northern Rock doesn’t want us on their books any more (apparently you’re less handsome to banks when you pay them on time). And we’ve also been having thoughts about converting our loft into a padded cage for writing.

This is quite a daunting prospect, where we might have to remove the ceilings from our existing rooms and even move out for a couple of months. Somehow it all needs to be paid for, so, like wide-eyed lambs to the slaughter, we’ve been trying to suss out the numbers.

And the nice man explained the microclimate of the market, what with the proximity of train lines and the Olympics. It was only when I was writing up this conversation for our nice financial advisor that it occurred to me how grown up and sensible it all is. Or rather, how monstrously terrifying. And how little like I sound like I know what I’m doing when I say we’re going to put off any building work until we’ve got the planning in place. Yet those I’m talking to seem not to have twigged.

Then I rang my dad for some advice about diseases, on the basis of something I was hurrying to finish. One of the beta-readers had politely suggested that it sounded like I made up the science. Yes, as if he expected that this is something I would not do.

So Dad explained the difference between diptheroids and diphtheria (a tickly, annoying throat thing that’s not harmful in itself but the latter secretes a toxin that can stop your heart). He corrected my wobbly understanding of how different diseases can team up together, so you get rare and virulent things like anthrax and small pox only being transmitted as easily as a common cold.

And he explained that though we’ve got antibiotics to combat most bacteria, we don’t really have them for viruses. This is why Bird Flu could be such a problem; it the disease teams up in such a way as to spread quickly among humans, we don’t really have much to fight it. Excitingly, I happened to know the word for a disease that jumps from other animals to humans: zoonoses.

Dad’s one of a number of experts I can rely on to cheat on my homework. But as well as being kind enough to point out which bits I’d got sort of right, he then asked for a favour in return, and asked for a showbiz contact. And I managed to have the chap in question’s phone number. As if the kind of stuff I get up to useful.

Soon after, my boss and neighbour G. emailed to ask if I could help him fix broadband on his laptop, being under the impression I have any idea at all. Only yesterday Nimbos was having to explain in short and simple words that no, it’s not a matter of a new operating system. The PC I’ve had since I went freelance six years ago really has just died. So on Wednesday I am going to have a grown up and expensive day picking out a new one. And I still don’t know what the leaky bathroom is going to cost me.

Joy. I realise why people think I might know stuff. The Doctor’s friend Leela once explained that, “If you are bleeding, look for a man with many scars.” Perhaps I’m the one you run to when things are falling apart.


Le Mc said...

What's the point in being grown up ...

Nimbos said...

It's not entirely that your old PC has died (though it proably has). It's more that it wouldn't meet the minimum spec to cope with a shiny new operating system - especially as it's struggling with the old one. Time to let it go. It's kinder that way.

Rob Stradling said...

A familiar feeling.

What with trying to sell three houses, I have had several recent conversations with serious men in suits involving cortex-dicingly silly six-figure numbers. As you say, they do an awfully good job of playing along, when they must surely be thinking, "Is your daddy home?"

0tralala said...

Le Mc: ... at all?

Nimbos: I shall take the old computer for a walk, shotgun under one arm. "You've had a good innings, boy..."

Rob: That's exactly the feeling. Like I'm suddenly now qualified to play with matches.

Anonymous said...

Mr G, lashing of appologies for being geographically chalanged enough not to be able to buy you said pint. IOU on return to Blighty. Cake is in the post.
Mr O
PS Check for loose mastic or seal of PVC or copper main.