Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Estage agents, and into a flat...

So, my tenancy has begun - I have moved into a flat, for a year at least.

Or, more specifically, I have moved all my things into a new flat. I came home for one more night, to return the car i had borrowed for the move. Today I must cycle in with the final trailer-load of stuff. (two parts practical to one part fun; like a very wet martini).

Our estate-agents, who have responsibility for the flat (as it's a managed property), confirmed my thinking on the estate agent business model yesterday. That is, to turn a profit, an estate agent should do as little as possible while collecting in money. IE, they should use as few staff as possible to run as many properties as possible. This seems to be true.

I'd phoned ahead, asking about my keys, and was told to turn up any time after 12 noon. I left it until 16.00 - and they still were not ready. I think my arrival was what prompted them to get keys organized for me - because i was told that someone had gone, at that moment, to have a set cut. I was to meet said person outside the flat - which I did, after another wait. Perhaps they didn't realize key-cutting is a non-instant process.

That said, the flat itself is excellent. Quirky, with small stairs between the split-level floors. It's laid out not quite all on one level, but with insufficient stairs to call the different bits different floors. Confusing, yes - I have no idea what you'd call such an arrangement, but i like it!

Now, to the bike-and-trailer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

One week pre- new flat...

Hmm, yes - about to start a 12month living in Headington, beginning next week - mildly excited.

I think i might even be ready for it in time, more or less. Am not ready now, of course; that would be premature. But by Tuesday? I should be.

Trying to plan ahead, today, it struck me that the telecoms companies are really poorly geared for what must be a relatively common event. That is, new people moving into a flat, within a larger building, and attempting to set up the phone line, line rental, broadband package etc ahead of time. This is made very difficult. In fact, BT were unable to tell me that the phone line already installed was one of theirs; i deduced this from the non-availability of their competitor, Virgin Media, in the OX3 area.

Or, are my expectations somewhat unusual?

When i arrive in a new house, i'd expect:

- Electricity
- Water
- Heating

all to work from the moment i arrive. I'd expect most people would, too. But to that list, I would add:

- Phone line / Broadband

as a utility, more or less. Yes, I'd expect to need to tinker a little with hardware and settings to get a wireless network up, but in my mind i should have this finished in the first day.

Is this too much to ask? One pointer would be this; when the Education (i think) minister promised a few years back that highspeed internet would become ubiquitous, commonplace, a necessity of 21st century life etc (I'm paraphrasing), going so far as to suggest that government should ensure its provision in every home, the subsequent backpedalling, the U-turn, was an impressive sight.

The sentiment was dialled back. They didn't mean it. That bit about it helping UK industry, about it increasing our competitiveness on the world stage? (paraphrasing again) Oh, that means it can pay for itself. Us? Pay? No...

Ultimately, reliable internet access in the home was classed as a luxury (on the dichotomous necessity/luxury continuum, then being used to assess which items are required to participate in modern society). Except for those families with secondary-school age children, of course; they need it to do their homework. (No, I'm not making this up). The rest of us can go to our local library (9-5, Mon-Sat) and get it for free (really, I'm not).

This might have had some merit, had they not put a TV, and accompanying license therefore (color), firmly in the 'necessity' category. TV would provide an inexpensive source of information on a wide range of things, allowing the citizen to participate in 21st century UK, so the argument went.

So, to be a good citizen, I should have TV but not necessarily internet? I should consume information as it's fed to me, but not seek it out?

Oh dear, my third decade, and I'm still not with the program.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ah, rain!

Finally, the weather breaks. Heat and humidity give way to proper rain. Fantastic.

I'm right up under the roof, my desk up against a wall which follows its slope. So when rain comes, I get the best of it, and the full sound hammers through the slates.

I have vacuumed what feels like a whole worldful of surfaces today, interspersed with logistic driving-my-family-around. The reward is that I can now sit back, all civilized-like, and read or type under the slate roof. A luxuriant way to end the day.