09 October 2016


Why is it that since Joe died everything, well it seems like everything, is breaking down, desk, washing machine, toilet, doorbell, computer, and little old me.

When the door bell recently packed up Karen, my son’s partner, arranged for an electrician to fix it. Karen works for a company that fits doors and windows and the electrician is someone they use a lot. This guy came more or less straight away, which pleased me since I don’t like not hearing people at my door.

The bell was unfixable so the guy replaced it with a new one. Brilliant, I could now hear folk when they visit. It didn’t cost too much, £50 which included labour.

It lasted a few weeks.

There was a strange and rather loud noise that I couldn’t identify. I moved round the house to establish where it was coming from, thinking maybe it came from the loft which housed water tanks, wiring and stuff for the central heating, shower unit and lighting, and finally fixed on a spot in the hall which is underneath the loft area. To say I was worried is an understatement. I had visions of things in the loft (which I have never visited) caving in. It took a guy working at next door’s house to identify the cause. It was, of course, the new bell. The guy opened it and we could see wires ‘shorting’. Sparks everywhere. Disconnection was the only way until the bell was replaced or repaired.

I waited weeks, a bit like the wait for the washing machine repair/replacement.

The guy who fixed the bell seemed to have gone into hiding. No reply on his mobile phone, no response to text messages sent by Karen. He rang when I first reported the matter and said he would get in touch. I began to think he’d forgotten! I visualised having to get someone else to look at the situation, and pay for the privilege. Again!

Then I had a phone call to say he had all the ’stuff’ in his van ready to call but because he lived a distance away he hadn’t been able to get here. He said he would come at the weekend when he had nothing else on. I didn’t get excited!

In the meantime, whilst waiting for the electrician, the toilet developed a
strange habit of rocking whenever I flushed it. I found all was well if I held it steady whilst pressing the handle. The trouble was I didn’t tell Hannah (cleaning lady) to do the same and after her last visit I found one tile off the shelf at the back of the cistern ... and huge cracks elsewhere. The only thing I could think of when I discovered it was that Hannah had dropped something on it, something heavyweight – like a brick.  Wrong, it was the fault of the plumber who fixed new innards into the cistern a few weeks before and hadn’t adjusted the height.  Hannah’s husband, a primary school teacher, was called in to try and fix it. And fix it he did, as well as making a great job of replacing the tiles. So much for qualifications, eh?

Electrician came as promised, albeit an hour later than he said but I admit heavy traffic can have an effect on appointment-keeping. The old ‘new’ bell was removed and a new one fitted, but this time the wiring was checked and a fault found in the bell-push itself. Not the bell at all, would you believe. Thankfully I wasn’t charged for a second bell or anything else, for that matter. End of story? Not even in my dreams!


Because it happened again, late evening. I had just had a shower when I heard the noise again. Not as loud as before but definitely frightening. I couldn’t even reach it and wouldn’t touch it if I could. I definitely needed help and soon. I wouldn’t have a wink of sleep with that noise going on. In desperation I rang a neighbour to ask if he knew an electrician who would come out at short notice. He didn’t, but he knew a man who might take a look. That man was another neighbour.

Five minutes later both men arrived at my door. I felt awful, having just washed hair and wearing nightwear. Ooooh! Oh well, they’re both elderly folk and must have seen it all before.

The more practical of the two disconnected the bell and advised me to buy a battery operated doorbell. Great advice! However, since both men were both going abroad on holiday I would have to find someone else to do it. I ignored this, thinking I would be able to do it myself.

So, I bought the bell, read the instructions and gave up. Later that day my iPad wouldn’t open, well it would open but nothing could be seen on screen. This on top of some agonising days when two laptops failed to work and an expert called Marco had to be called in.

Off to the computer shop went I and laboured the tale to the Marco, all the while wondering if he thought he was dealing with a dumb-cluck instead of a grown woman with intelligence to die for (my view!). While he looked at it I told him about the bell and like all gentlemen he said he would call round and fit it for me. He knew the address since he had so recently had to repair two laptops.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I discovered the update to Windows 10 had completely knocked my printer programme haywire. I didn’t realise until I had to scan some papers and found they appeared on screen upside-down with no way to turn them round. It took me ages to sort it and to discover that it now takes twice as long to scan a document simply because it was somehow updated along with Windows 10. I swore it would be easier to buy a new laptop. 

Things on the computer front took a turn for the worst when I was barred from enjoying internet usage altogether. It was time to invest in new equipment, which I have now organised. All I can say at this point is thank goodness for iPads. I started this post with a struggle on the laptop and ended it on the ipad. Hopefully I will be back to normal by next week.

On top of all this the garden fence collapsed which meant calling in an expert fencer. This was nobody's fault but it was my responsibility to put right. Just another thing to add to the list of casualties. 

So, this is the year of loss, breakages and breakdowns, bust appliances and programme failures and I’m thanking the good Lord for allowing all the kind men to take care of my problems, all except bell fixers and those who supply dud washing machines.   


  1. Oh, dear, not your year ... We have had a couple of them. It's hard to get any real 'skilled' work done by a skilled workman. Seems like plumbers, electricians, etc are 50% weekend warriors that think they can earn a living doing repairs. If I sat down and wrote a list of all the repairs we had done here, it would be very long. If I wrote a list of the things actually repaired? Two things.
    Hire a contractor? He sends his 'helper' to do the job and his former employment was flipping burgers. You still pay contractor prices for a job not done properly.

    Can't hear the door? I can't hear anyone knocking when I'm on the computer, but my dogs do. If you don't want that, put a sign in the window of the door. "PLEASE KNOCK LOUDLY, MY HEADPHONES ARE ON" I've done this when the dogs are hiding because it's raining, gloomy, or they saw a radar ...

    Hopefully nothing else goes wrong!

  2. SJQ, it is reassuring to know these things happen to others and not just me. I had a splendid notice on the door, designed by yours truly and admired by many visitors. It does tell them to knock hard and there is a picture demonstrating the action.... grins. I can smile about the whole thing now that normality has returned. I don't dare question for how long, though I might have a tale to tell when the garden fence is replaced!

  3. I'm really sorry to read about your problems. Usually when one machine goes wrong the rest follows suit. For some reason they all plot together! :-) I hope you can get that bell fixed once and for all.

    Greetings from London.

  4. Well it never rains....but it pours. I currently don't have a door bell as my dogs also act as warning someone is at the door. With our old house we find every few months something gives up the ghost.

  5. I know exactly what you mean, Valerie. I too have had times when EVERYTHING seems to break at the one time. In fact, you and I had the same thing happen to our computers, so I know how frustrating that can be.

    As I was reading about your door bell issue and shorting sparks everywhere, I was thinking, "Thank heavens it didn't spark a fire."

    I've also had some initial issues with Windows 10 and my printer/scanner connection. I REALLY miss Windows 7.

    Hope you're having a peaceful and lovely Sunday, my friend. It's been raining a lot here lately because of the hurricane on the East Coast of the U.S. I'm spending the day inside, watching movies and relaxing.

  6. Of all the things, you would think a bell would be the simplest fix.

    I know I would be lost without Mrs. Cranky, i can fix some stuff, but she is the most capable and I follow instructions.

  7. This is something that needs to be dealt with, and fast, isn't it? I mean the appalling state of technical training in this country. Goodness knows what that so called electrician is doing elsewhere, he could kill someone. I'm really sorry that you're having all this to deal with but it sounds as if your neighbours and family are doing their best to help. And, not being funny but have you considered fitting a door knocker? I would think there is less to go wrong. You always seem pretty clued up about computers but Windows 10 has a real reputation.

  8. I know what you mean, too, Valerie. I have had periods in my life were everything seems to me breaking down, from the car to the house stuff.

    I had to reprogram my printer into my computer with the last update of Windows 10. I cannot remember if I had to do it with initial loading of Windows 10. I overall like Windows 10. I do wish the updates would not reset some settings.

    I hope things stop breaking down on you soon.

  9. On the way home from work this morning, my husband's car over-heated. It's been towed to some garage in Alabama. Luckily, some guy gave DH a ride home. (About 40 miles)
    Must be a flood coming, because it never rains but it pours around our house.

    Glad the sign works! (Lots cheaper than feeding a couple dogs!)

  10. Jenny, I agree about Windows 10. My computer expert explained that different outlets still have Windows 7 on offer so I've gone for the good old faithful. Hopefully today is the day it arrives. Unfortunately I can't fit a door knocker, we have a porch with a glass door and there's nowhere to fix a knocker. It would have been the perfect solution. A new computer should arrive soon, I've gone back to Windows 7! Hallelujah!

  11. SJQ sorry to hear about your husband's experience with the car. 40 miles... wow, that's quite a distance away. Hope everything works out okay in the end.

  12. Yes, Dan, things going wrong do seem to come in bundles. Quite often a bad year finishes and a good year starts straight away. I'm hoping that's still the case.

  13. Ron, Jenny also mentioned the fact that there could possibly have been a 'bell' fire. Oooh, it doesn't bear thinking about. I am pleased I had the presence of mind to send for help, I could have been asleep and not know about a fire. Shivering at the thought! Yes, I thought about you when the laptops started to go wrong. I sincerely hope the awful storms haven't had a detrimental affect on you personally. We see lots of pictures on television about the weather conditions in the US, but your election is the favourite topic of TV presenters!

  14. Oh dear! And here I am complaining about trying to get rid of a couch and a clogged sink. Hoping for smoother days ahead.

  15. Happy to hear you found a win7! I still have mine and when it dies and can't find another, I think I will go to a MAC and have my son teach me how to do stuff. win10 sounds bad.

  16. Oh dear, sorry to hear of all your breakdowns Valerie. I was chatting to my friend yesterday. Her husband passed about a year ago and this year it has been one thing after another for things to break down. She had just about had enough and was throwing her hands up at the latest. I hope this is the last of it for you for a long, long time.

  17. Sorry to hear about all of this, Val. Hopefully this is the end of it because you certainly don't need anymore. Take care and best of luck with everything.


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