Those of you who read last week’s ‘Life in Laytonia’ (Farewell Methuselah) will be aware that it was uncharacteristically late coming online.

To add insult to injury I began my musings with an addendum.  Ridiculous. You cannot begin with an addendum:

ADDENDUM: Appendix. Postscript. Rider. Afterword. Tailpiece.  Codicil.  Add-on, etc.

I wasn’t thinking straight.  I was extremely stressed.  Realising my mistake, I changed ‘addendum’ to ‘explanation’.  Perhaps that should have been ‘apology’.

I felt strongly, however, that if an apology should be forthcoming, it should have forthcome – a made-up word, I know, but you must by now be aware of my penchant for inventing my own vocabulary – any apology should have forthcome from the guilty party.

Here is a reminder for those who read last week’s ‘L in L’, and for those who didn’t, this was my addendum/explanation/apology, call it what you like:

Addendum:

No, that can’t be right.  An addendum must surely come at the end, after the piece has been read. 

Perhaps, explanation is the more apposite word.

Explanation:

As to why this week’s ‘Life in Laytonia’, intended to be read before the end of Lockdown 2, is so late coming online. 

2 words:  Broadband Provider. 

No, let’s make that, 3 words:  Rubbish Broadband Provider.  No, let’s go for 4, or 5 or even 6 words:

EFFING RUBBISH INCONSIDERATE INEXPLETIVE BROADBAND PROVIDER!!

You’ll be reading about it next week…”

Good!  I trust that has brought us all up to speed – which is more than can be said for my all singing, all dancing, whizz bang, up to minute, faster than Usain Bolt, direct-debited, state of the art 5G Broadband!!

Some weeks ago, I touched upon some of the occupational disappointments that come and go with being a writer: 

A director not shooting a scene as you intended it to be filmed, so irritating.

Something you have carefully crafted being insensitively edited/vandalized.

A sweated-over funny line totally wrecked by the actor transposing it.  No doubt, wearing my actor’s hat, I have shot an arrow into many a writer’s heart doing exactly that.

All the above pales in comparison when it comes to your WiFi/Internet/Broadband going down. 

It is as if your blood supply has been cut off.

In these weekly musings, rants, ruminations on life’s irritations, I always try to put a humorous slant on whatever is ‘doing my head in’.  A waggish tongue in cheek perspective does exactly that – puts whatever that week has thrown at you in perspective.

When your WiFi/Internet/Broadband disappears into the ether, finding anything lighthearted or amusing to say in order to balance what should surely be just a temporary inconvenience, becomes an inexplicably herculean task.  I cannot believe how dependent we have become on it. 

I’ll rephrase that.  I cannot believe how much I have become dependent on it. 

It is completely out of proportion with what is really important in our lives.  I don’t feel the need to elaborate; any parent, grandparent, husband, partner, sibling, etc. knows what I mean.

Why did I allow what should be regarded as an irritating problem that sometime will eventually be resolved, get to me?  Why didn’t I just go off and read a book?  Take the dog for a walk?  Or get on with those chores that I have been putting off, such as sorting out all that end of year tax stuff my accountant needs to avoid the usual 31st January kick, bollock and scramble?

No, I went into a deep, unshakeable depression.  I couldn’t function for days. 

I put it down to guilt.  I was the one, after all, who signed up with our current (non) provider. 

Whilst it was intensely irritating that I couldn’t upload/download/post the latest ‘Life in Laytonia’, the deadline is of my making.  Nobody is directly affected by a delay, or even its non-appearance for a week.  It is just my pride.

My wife, Moya, on the other hand, is a CBT therapist.  She has commitments. Commitments to her clients and to her students.  The only way she can fulfill these commitments during the current pandemic is via Zoom/Skype/WhatsApp.

No Broadband – no Zoom/Skype/WhatsApp.  

In these situations, Moya is more phlegmatic than I.  Whilst she was extremely exasperated with the situation, she was even more exasperated with the way I was dealing with it.

‘George, it’s no good swearing and stomping around the house like a child, that’s not solving anything.  Go and read a book! Take Woody for a walk.  Or get your tax stuff done!  If you go on like this, I’m the one who’s going to need therapy’!!

I continued stomping and swearing round the house, switching computers off and on, pulling electric plugs from their sockets and sticking the end of a paper clip into the router, all in the vain hope of re-booting this fabby-dabby, failing Wi-Fi network provided by…

Names will be named, I promise.  Indulge me for a moment:

When an actor decides that the time has come to move and seek new representation, the theatrical adage is that switching agents is like swapping deck chairs on the Titanic.

The same can be said when it comes to switching broadband providers.

Previously, I was with the dreaded TalkTalk.  A communications company who simply cannot communicate. 

It was dreadful and I had to have regular visits from my Wi-Fi/Internet/TV expert.  Let’s call him Max.

Max was always here for hours, but in fairness, everything worked when he left – until the next time.

Long story short, I’d had it with TalkTalk.  It was time to swap deckchairs.  Max told me about the latest, fastest, high speed broadband.

Max: George, I gotta tell you, this is amazing.  The download speed is amazing.  And do you know what is most amazing?  You don’t need a telephone line, it’s amazing.  You put a SIM card in the router.  Amazing!

It is amazing  – when it works.  The download speed is amazing.  But what good is a fast download speed if the bloody signal keeps going down!?!

And what is the name of this hi-tech, wonderful broadband provider – to be avoided at all costs?  Thank you for being patient:

THREE BROADBAND

Three Broadband talks a good talk but when it comes to walking, they are stumbling toddlers.

One of the key Three Broadband selling points is that the broadband arrives over the airways rather than under the ground.  No need for a landline. No need for an engineer. To receive their broadband delivered via a 4G or 5G signal, you “Just Plug in and Go”! 

When it works, it’s great.  But it frequently fails.

My younger son reminded me that he had advised at the time against going with a broadband provider that didn’t use a telephone line. 

I should have listened.  For the last few weeks, the Wi-Fi has gone down every Monday.  Every Monday!  Within a couple of hours it has thankfully been restored.

But not last week.  It went down and it has stayed down. 

Apart from explaining how to get on the internet by using a personal hotspot from my mobile ‘phone, which is how I posted last week’s ‘Life in Laytonia’ and how I will post this week’s, he also directed me to a handy website called Down Detector. 

Using my personal hotspot, I checked out the Three Broadband status report:

Three Broadband:

We’re fixing an issue with our network in this area.

We’re sorry for any disruption you experience. Our engineers are working on masts nearby, which means the rest of the network is handling more traffic than usual.

Updates on our work will be posted here.  We’re working as fast as we can to build a better, stronger network in your area.                                                                                                                          

“We’re working as fast as we can to build a better, stronger network in my area”??? 

For crying out loud!  They sound like they’re doing me a favour! 

I thought that was what I was paying for – a better, stronger network!

And their Customer Service is a joke.  You get a recorded message:

During the current pandemic, Three Broadband are providing their advisors with special equipment in order for them to work from home.  As a result, you may hear background noise such as children. We ask for customers’ understanding”.  

Click…

After an interminable wait, I was finally connected to an advisor.  Or so I thought.

George: Hello…hello…

All I heard were some pots and pans being rattled and a lady asking someone to pass the washing-up liquid.

It is obvious to me what the Three Broadband problem is, and I must stress that this is only my opinion:

The Three Broadband marketing department has clearly done a great job in signing up masses of customers.  But the Three Broadband Technical Department are sadly lacking. 

They cannot deliver what they promise.

Below are just some of the comments left by aggrieved Three Broadband customers on the Down Detector website:

1.  Network has been off and on now for more than a week! South Birmingham.
Cant get any sense at all from so called, customer service
I’ve got 9 more months of this useless network, then I’m off. It’s shambolic.

2.  No internet in Sheffield for 3 days! You are as useless as Talk Talk, and that is saying something.

3. Absolute Joke.  Internet and signal has not been working.  Try to contact 3 and have spoken to 8 different advisors. They either say they can’t hear me or have cut the call. What do we do? Sit and wait until this shambolic company sort out their crappy service?

4. NW2, 5G home internet speed has gone from around 450mbps to 1.5mpbs.  Apparently engineers are working on the masts, but it’s been four days and no word from Three about this.  How long is this likely to go on for?   It must be possible to supply us with an informed estimate of how long these problems will take to fix?  A couple of days?  A week? Two weeks?  Don’t get me started on the technical support.  Useless would be over-praising them.

These are my people!  They make me feel better.  They justify my stomping and swearing.  And there are plenty more dissatisfied customers where they came from.  Just Google Down Detector and type in Three Broadband.

I am loathe, mind you, to type in the name of the deck chair that I am swapping to.  Who knows what customers might be writing about that broadband provider?

ADDENDUM: I have to fess up to something that happened at the end of the Monday our broadband went down.

At around 8.15 that evening, water started gushing ferociously from under the kitchen sink.  A pipe had burst.  Within seconds the kitchen was flooded.

Having read through this week’s rant/musings/moaning, did this skew, I wonder, the telling of my dreadful Three Broadband experience?  Have I exaggerated the trauma it caused me? 

Not at all.  It was just the end of an imperfect day…