Tuesday 13 September 2011

It's all good, really

Today was a rotten day. I woke up feeling groggy and slightly flu-ey and generally under the weather. I felt up to some clerical work and emails just after lunch. A project I've been trying to get through a well-known broadcasting corporation has been delayed again. (other broadcasters are avaialable. At least I hope so).

Then the real fun began. I tried to arrange for a faulty dishwasher at my church hall to be fixed - for I am Church Warden (seriously) and this sort of holy order falls to me.

The dishwasher has a problem closing but is still under warranty, or so I thought. I checked the website of the vendor, by the name of B&Q. I don't know what that stands for. I'm so tired and bored, I can't even think a joke for that (two adjectives beginning in B&Q. Leave comments.) Clearly the idea that one of their products might malfunction is alien to them since there's no information on their website. I phoned a well-hidden number. Ring ring ring ring. Eventually a battery of questions - and then a suggestion I ring the branch where the thing was bought. I didn't buy the dishwasher as it happens. It was bought by the previous church warden. Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring...

I got in the car, realise I was nearly out of fuel, stalled the car, briefly panicked that I'd run out of fuel in a diesel car, which is a real nusiance. Then got going again, refuelled and went down to B&Q in delightful Wandsworth.

And this was where creatively the lousy day was almost redeemed. I walked into B&Q and wondered around looking for someone who could help me - for ages. At one point, it felt like the only member of staff there was the security guard trying to prevent £1m+ worth of good from being stolen. In my foul and furious state, I reckon I could have taken in him on. But that would have made me a common looter (well, a middle-class looter, but a looter nonetheless).

Eventually I spoke to a member of staff, who guided me to a desk where someone was unable to help, who took me to his boss, who asked me questions I simply couldn't understand, who then got the duty store manager, who ultimately said he couldn't help. He explained that the dishwasher was used in a commercial setting (apparently churches are commercial, which is news to me, given the state of our accounts). This meant Indesit wouldn't fix it. That was that. I said that the buyer said at the time that it was for church use. He asked if I had proof. I had none.

I walked away, furious and before I said anything that would bring the church into disrepute. Driving home I realised I had proof - all the delivery notes were addressed to the church. I couldn't go back. I was broken. Finished. But I realised that if I hadn't been so tired and angry, the situation I had been in had comic potential. The eerie lack of staff, the chronic indifference to my plight and the kafka-esque levels of service. All funny now you look at it.

And that is why I mention this mildly dull anecdote. Not because it's especially funny, but because it's an interesting starting point for a storyline. Or a sketch. Or a scene. Or a moment. Back in April, I wrote this about changing the battery on a burglar alarm. This one will go on the list too. It's logged in the memory. That's because sitcom writing isn't just about imagining situations - but experiencing them first hand. And then turning them up to 11 on the screen.

Plus it gave me something to write about on this blog. It's all good, really.


  1. This is why I started carrying a notebook - I am always experiencing or overhearing things I think I can use, then desperately try tore ember the details when I get home to write them down.

  2. 'Abandon hope all ye who enter here'. Surely Dante too had been to B & Q and used his personal experience when writing 'Divine Comedy'. Coincidentally, I notice that his work was translated into English in 1814 by a Reverend Cary!

  3. B&Q stands for Barafundle and Quirm, the two famous polar explorers who when in 1890 they discovered not a single suitable outlet where they could purchse a full range of exploring equipment and lawn furniture, started the now famous out of town, hanger DIY experience.

    Barafundle and Quirm - motto 'If you can't find it for yourself why are you in our shop, Sir?

  4. B&Q Appliances....Befuddled and Querulous. That's how our customer service will leave you. We guarantee it!

  5. Your blog is brilliant sir, many thanks, oh and I will save this quote for future reference: "Sitcom writing isn't just about imagining situations - but experiencing them first hand. And then turning them up to 11 on the screen"