Pete’s Law

Experience has taught me to live by this simple law.


Yesterday, the new washing machine was due to be delivered and installed. Things started well, with a phone call at 9 am to let me know the men would be here between 1 and 4. I took Ollie out early, so I could make sure to be around when they turned up. After a decent walk on a cold bright day, I arrived home and waited.

As promised, they arrived just after 2:30. The procedure was to remove the old one first, then while they unpacked and prepared the new machine, I could clean out the space that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. The water supply was turned off, and they used a special ‘slidey mat’ to move the heavy washer out into the main part of the kitchen.

Seconds later, ‘Pete’s Law’ applied.

It turned out that the guy who had installed that machine in 2011 had ‘hard-wired’ the electrics, using a junction box, and isolator switch. The new machine has to be plugged into an existing socket, and there wasn’t one at the back. There wasn’t one in range of where the machine was to be installed either. The men from the shop are not allowed to connect the machine by hard-wiring. That has to be done by a qualified electrician. In this case, it is now apparently illegal to wire a washing machine like this anyway, as it is not ‘waterproof wiring’.

The men were sympathetic. They made phone calls to the shop. But nothing could be done until a proper socket is installed in the space, and the previous ‘dangerous’ wiring removed. They put our new washing machine back on their van, and said they would return on Sunday, as long as I could get the electrics in place by then.

I was now faced with having to get our (very good) electrician to come and do the job in five days at the latest, and of course have to pay him for that work too.

After two phone calls and two emails, he has agreed to come tomorrow morning, to do the required work. Meanwhile, my wife has to drive 28 miles each way to her daughter’s house later, with two bin-bags full of washing that cannot wait until the weekend. And I am left wondering what further electrical issues might be discovered on Wednesday.

Is it any wonder that I am a pessimist?

A Domestic Positive

Unusually for me, I have something very positive to write about.

On Wednesday morning, we were due to have the carpet fitted in our living room. This has been outstanding since March, as we were waiting for the decorating to be completed.

Given the recent trials and tribulations on the home front, I woke up with a sense of dread. Would the carpet arrive? Will there be numerous issues?

Will it even be fitted?

Things didn’t start off well. One man arrived, and there should have been two. It’s a pretty big room, 25 by 15 feet.
He wasn’t aware that the room would be full of furniture, so I had to help him shift it.
(Not a simple task for me, given my age, and physical ability.)

Then he realised that we already had very good carpet underlay in place, much like the £248 worth he had on board that I had paid for.

Frantic phone calls to the shop later, he spoke to them and told them that there was no need to replace perfectly good underlay with exactly the same thing.
As well as that, it would save him a great deal of time, and as he was a self-employed contractor, that was a good thing. The other good thing was that I got the £248 refunded to my account, and he took away the new underlay that was no longer required.

After a cup of coffee, he set to the job with obvious skill. I had to help him shift heavy and large items of furniture back and forth, reminding me how weak I am now, since Statins ruined my arm muscles. But his thirty years of experience showed, and before too long we had a perfectly-carpeted living room, with the old carpet cut up and taken away for removal.

Once he had packed up and left, we were able to tidy up, and by 4 pm, the room was restored to how it used to look, albeit with different coloured walls, and carpet.

After all the decorating, the washing machine breaking down, and various other niggles, I was finally happy to sit and relax in what once again felt like home.

Life can be bad sometimes. But not always.

More domestic irritation

Monday, 25/11/2019.
(Yes, my American friends, that is the right way round)

Just when I thought it was safe to start feeling positive…

The decorating is finished, at least until the kitchen is tackled next year. On Wednesday, barring Acts of God, the new carpet should be fitted in the living room. Everything has been paid for, and anything unexpected is covered by savings. I am hopefully approaching the end of my awful cold, and although Ollie’s fur continues to refuse to grow back, at least he has no sores or itches.

Could all finally be well, in the world of Beetley?

You guessed it. Not a chance.

After a load of washing finished at lunchtime, I went to the machine to get it out. My usual routine is to sort out what can go into the tumble drier, and after that is loaded, I hang up what cannot be tumbled on a clothes airer. As it is winter, nothing can be hung outside, for fear of rain and cold.

But everything in the washing machine was still soaking wet. Wet enough to drip copiously over the floor as I tried to take it out.

Undaunted, I closed the door, selected ‘Rinse and Spin’, then pressed the button. Other than a constantly flashing red light, nothing happened.
Wash it again, I thought. I set the dial to a 40-degree wash, pressed ‘Start’, and waited. Nothing.

Try ‘Spin’, my mind informed me.

I set ‘Spin’, and pressed ‘Start’. Nothing.

Hmm… It is over eight years old, bought in summer 2011. It has earned its keep, and decided to ‘die’ gracefully.

I can go to the shops today, and buy a new one. Though I would sooner not have to spend up to £400 this close to Christmas.

But will it be delivered and installed this week? If not, we have a problem.

And Houston cannot supply the answer.

Spaceships and Curtains

With the current upheaval in my living room occupying my attention, it has made me stop to consider some of the small niggles in life.

For one, why is it that we can put a vehicle on Mars to show us images of that planet, yet we have never thought up a better way to hang a pair of curtains?

Poles, end-caps, rings, supports. Assorted screws in different sizes, some so small you can’t even actually see them, and have to fix them by touch.

Rings with clips attached that have to be threaded through some eighteenth century needlework. Miss one, or get one through the wrong hole, and you have to take them down and start all over again. Curtains haven’t changed in my lifetime, or even in my grandmother’s lifetime. Or her grandmother’s. It’s as if there is a joint conspiracy by the Guild of Curtain Manufacturers, and the Association of Pole and Ring Crafstmen. Not to mention the Federation of Annoyingly Small Screw Makers.

I have a vision of them all meeting in secret, examining any new invention in curtain hanging, then contriving to kill the person that is trying to patent it.

We have the ‘Dark Web’, and ‘The Deep State’, but they cannot compare to the ‘Curtain Conspiracy’, believe me.

I am not very technical, but in an age of a life lived online, mobile phones that can do almost anything, and a ‘Digital Assistant’ that can check your fridge stocks and order food for you, I flatly refuse to believe that there is no better way to hang a pair of curtains.

I was going to continue about three-pin plugs with fiddly terminals that have to be wired up, but I am too upset about the curtains now.

A Domestic Update

After my recent post about being disrupted by the arrival of the painter today, it seems that the disruption was not as bad as I anticipated.

With everything piled into the middle of the living room and covered in dustsheets, I have been exiled into the office since 8:30. That meant an early trip to the supermarket, to get out of the way, and a slightly longer dog walk for Ollie after that.

Julie went into the bedroom to listen to music on her phone, and I was unable to sit and watch the midday news whilst eating my sandwich, as is my habit.

Otherwise, we have no curtains at the windows until later this week, and will probably be spending more time in the kitchen. Whether or not I will be able to get anything on the TV later, after having to disconnect the aerial, that remains to be seen. I had forgotten just how many wires sit unseen behind the unit that the TV stands on. Moving it right out this morning, I was actually surprised by the amount of cabling required to be able to watch stuff. There is the TV of course, then the Blu-Ray player. Add to that the streaming box, the PVR cabling, and lots of extra bits for a device that boost the signals, and there is enough electronic gadgetry there to facilitate the 1969 Moon landing, I’m sure.

One family member was very disrupted though. Poor Ollie the dog had his world turned upside down. His toy box had to be stored in another room, and he was unable to lie against the wall until we went out, as he usually does. Having to go out of the front door, along the side of the garage, then back in through the kitchen door confused him completely. Every time he followed me outside, he thought we were going out for our walk.

His frequent disappointment had to be seen to be believed.

This evening, I have to get at least one sofa out of its covers to sit on, and try to get something working on the TV. I suspect a very early night is in the offing.

But the main job will be trying to keep Ollie away from the walls, without shutting him in the kitchen. If we did that, he would think he was being punished for something, and wouldn’t understand.

The painter tells me he might have to give the woodwork a second coat on Thursday, so only three more days to go…

A little domestic upheaval

Next Monday, we are having the painter back, to paint the living room. It should have been done in the summer, but other stuff got in the way.

This means clearing cupboards, shifting furniture, and some cleaning before he starts. All being well, he should be finished by next Thursday morning, ready for the new carpet to be put down soon after.

The only reason I mention this domestic drudgery is that I may not have the usual amount of time for my blogging routine.

So if I seem to have ignored your posts, forgot to comment on something, or missed thanking you for commenting on mine, that will be the reason.

The same applies to my current serial, Russian Sector. If the next episode is late, or doesn’t appear, don’t worry. It will follow on soon.

And if everything gets done on time in the house, you might not even notice much difference.

Best wishes to everyone as always, Pete.

Home Improvements

I am reblogging one of my earliest ever blog posts here. It has hardly been seen by anyone, since 2012. It made me smile, as the jobs mentioned are either still waiting to be done, or have been done by someone else! 🙂


In the U.K., we know this as DIY (Do-it-yourself). I am not a person who has ever naturally taken to this concept. I did my job, and if I needed a plumber, I called someone who had chosen that job as their career. To go to work all day, get home late, and have two precious days off, only to spend all that free time working on my house, did just not compute in my brain. Besides, I had never learned those skills, I had been too busy pursuing my own chosen career.
My Dad had tried to teach me. When I was about 12 years old, he would have me holding car tools; strange spanners, grease guns, and other oily, hard objects. I had to pass him brushes as he hung wallpaper, stir paint, standby with the correct size screw, or hold a torch steady, whilst he was upside-down…

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