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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Of Internet Loss, Not Getting To Edinburgh, Poorly Child, Wounded Cat and Two High Spots

I just wanted to say a huge sorry for being so absent this last couple of weeks. We have lost our Broadband connection, having asked for an upgrade. BT agreed to try to improve our service when we found the Internet was slowing down a lot in the evenings. The day they carried out the upgrade, we lost the connection completely. I have spent hundreds of hours on the phone waiting in queues or talking to engineers who all say they haven't a clue what to do and will elevate our case to the next team. We have been elevated so much I feel as if I'm perched on Everest waiting for the next call/visit. It has still not been resolved, but my husband has found a way of giving us a bit of Internet with a mobile Broadband stick. We can't do big downloads or watch videos, but we can at last catch up a bit.
While this has been going on, our kitten has been spayed (and is recovering well). One of our adult cats has been wounded by a bite of some sort, as well as developing a dreadful infection in his eye (he is on the mend, but requires dozens of different tablets and creams). So I have been ricocheting between the BT people and the vet's surgery.
My middle daughter fell ill with headaches and dizziness during this time and we went to the doctor for appointments and blood tests as well as to the optician for eye-sight checks. (She has low blood-pressure and her eyes are travelling in opposite directions, so she needs glasses with a prism in the lens.)
I was hoping to travel to Edinburgh on Monday. having been invited to an awards ceremony. I had a story shortlisted in the Scottish Association of Writers' competition. As you can already imagine, I wasn't very well placed to be travelling from Gloucestershire to Edinburgh at this particular time, so had to let them know I wouldn't be able to come. They were so lovely and understanding. They sent me an email the next day (I hadn't mentioned we had no Internet), but luckily my husband checked my inbox for me while he was at work and was able to let me know I came second in the competition. And the lovely judge read out my story too. So that was a welcome and unexpected high spot in an otherwise trying time. I was really pleased and the people I was eventually able to email back when my husband's android phone allowed us a bit of temporary Internet were so sweet. 
There was a coincidence too. My story was called The Biology Lesson and featured a biology teacher, perhaps not surprisingly. One of the other entrants, incredibly, had once taught a girl called Joanna Campbell, who went on to become a biology teacher. 
So, apologies for not being able to keep up with all your lovely blog posts, but hopefully next week will be calmer and there will be some Internet too. I didn't realise how much I depended on it. I only use it for blogging and emails and news. I don't use Facebook any more. But I do look up various pieces of information for research, particularly for my novel. 
The good news is that while I was waiting for men to call or stroking cats with large patches of shaved fur, I was able to read the whole of Frances Garrood's wonderful book Dead Ernest. I loved it so much and couldn't put it down. So that was the other high spot of my week. Thank you, Frances, for keeping me so well entertained.


  1. Sorry to hear about your Internet difficulties. It's so frustrating isn't it. I think we have all come to rely on email so much that when we are without it, it seems a huge loss. It's ridiculous, really, how such a relatively new invention can come to dominate our lives.

    But congratulations on your second prize! I hope your daughter and cats will soon be back on top of the world.

  2. What a horrible time you've had! It's amazing isn't it how once things start going wrong, it seems to escalate. But it sounds as if things are calming down now, thank goodness and I hope all is well again soon :-)

    Congratulations on the prize :-) x

  3. So glad to see you back, Joanna (and hope it's not too temporary a situation!). We had a horrendous 3 weeks without Internet a couple of years ago so I know what it's like. I saw you had won 2nd prize (on FB) so very well done!

    You also won an Amazon voucher at my launch party last week, but I don't have your email address - could you please email me at ros_gemmell(@)hotmail(dot)com

    At least you got to read Frances's book while you waited!

  4. Joanne, thank you. I always thought I didn't really use the Internet much, but it's very hard now to be without it. It really is extraordinary how something so relatively recent can become so essential to many of us. x

    Teresa, thank you. Life has this habit, doesn't it, of storing a few things up and delivering them all at once. I wonder what next week will bring? x

    Rosemary, many thanks. I'm thrilled about the competition! I really enjoyed the launch party and glad I had just long enough on the Internet to attend it. x

  5. Well done on getting 2nd prize for the competition! And love the Biology Teacher co-incidence:)

  6. Many thanks, Vicki. I was very surprised to get that far in the competition.
    I think it might be my own favourite of all the stories I've written so far, so it felt extra-special. x

  7. I've found your blog through Frances' which I follow regularly. So looking forward to following you too. Hope things improve and you are back on the internet with full access soon.

  8. Thank you, Maggie May. I'm really glad you found me and welcome to the blog.
    Thankfully our Internet is back and working well now. Poorly cat and daughter are both doing well too, but getting the antibiotics and eye-drops in is very stressful and results in much yowling and scratching. That's the cat of course, not the daughter. Mind you...

  9. Congratulations on your story prize and hope everyone's feeling better. We've been having a similar few weeks -- must be something in the air!

  10. Many thanks, Martha. Thankfully things have settled this week, but I keep having that nagging feeling that we're not out of the woods yet! My husband says I frequently feel like this and it's probably a safety-valve that prevents me getting too uptight when inevitably things start going awry again! x

  11. Congrats too, Joanna. Hope daughter, especially, and cat feel better soon. Gosh, I do sympathise about the drops, though - I dread anything like that with our cats. They even make a fuss about their flea/worm drops on the back of their necks. It's like a point of honour for them really, because it can't possibly hurt.

    1. Thank you, Biddy, and welcome.

      The drops are proving to be a nightmare now the cat is getting stronger. He really struggles and I now have to pick him up with oven gloves on! At least this is a sign he's feeling better, I suppose!

  12. I hope evryone's okay. Sending hugs.

    So sorry you didn't make it to Edinburgh - but huge congratulations on coming second.


  13. Thank you, Suzanne. I think everyone's on the mend now. Ironically, my eldest daughter went on a two-day break to Edinburgh with her uni friends the following week and had a wonderful time sight-seeing. Wished I'd been there too, but it's good to have things settling down at home. x