One of the problems with living in a village is that utilities companies tend to ignore you as you are not as profitable as a town or city. The mobile telephone network is perhaps the most obvious example of this. If you have seen the film Hot Fuzz you might remember the bit where Simon Pegg’s character walks into the village and his mobile phone signal completely vanishes, never to return. You might think this would be an exaggeration for comic effect but it’s not; in many British towns and villages the mobile phone network is in the same state as it was in the late 80s. For technophobes and Luddites this would seem an ideal situation, but in Europe and America these days you are expected to own a mobile phone. If you sign up for Facebook or Google these days you have to verify your account with your mobile phone (presumably to check you’re not a spammer) and some computer peripherals like modems now require your mobile phone number to text you an activation code for the product (although why they can’t just write it down on the manual like they used to I don’t know), so nowadays a mobile phone and a half decent signal is as essential as a landline.
The worst example of underinvestment is from power companies, though; as far as I know Woolsery has no mains gas supply, and our electricity supply is shockingly unreliable. Despite having to be turned off during the day for about three days in a row to ‘upgrade’ the electricity system, a few months back (you may remember my blog posting back then of the trials of keeping tropical fish tanks warm all day) we continue to suffer from power-cuts.
In the last few days there have been three separate power-cuts. Thankfully none have occurred when we have been writing books or articles on PCs or all unsaved progress would have been lost (and when the power surged back into the wires there would have been a chance of damaging the computer), but there have been several problems caused by the power cuts: four lights in the aquariums have broken and the heating light for one of our turtles. Thankfully it would appear the filters and heaters are made of sterner stuff, but aquarium lights do not come cheap and with money being as tight as it is at the moment for the CFZ, replacing aquarium lights that can cost £15 a time in some shops is an expense we really could do without. This is especially annoying when it is the electricity companies’ fault they blew by operating a quite frankly shoddy and unreliable service to people in rural communities because they think that they can get away with cutting corners as there are fewer people around to complain in a village than in a city. However, we still have to pay the same for our supply as in cities so it is not fair that we should have a substandard supply and be forced to pay extra money to replace items broken because of them.
I spend every morning tending to the CFZ’s animal menagerie and I get very annoyed when things like this conspire to interfere with that and cause potential harm to the welfare of the animals. Whenever anything gets my goat I have been known to utter the words “Oooh, I shall be writing a strongly worded letter to my MP about this.” Of course, usually I say that after a siphon has gone haywire and drenched me with half a tank full of water with snapping turtle poo in it and I’m not entirely serious about writing to our local representative in parliament about that, but this time I think I will.
Not that it’ll do much good I suppose….