Monday, 2 September 2013

In praise of 112

In case you didn’t know, that’s the number to call if the emergency doesn’t quite warrant a 999, or if you’re not sure.  The reason I now know this can be summed up in three words: anxiety, panic, farce.

Around midday today, Bee phoned me to share a problem regarding her broadband, which was that, after moving house, it didn’t exist.

What should have happened was that, once her physical line proved to be working, she’d call her ISP, who would then get her logical broadband connection switched across.  So that’s what she did.  It took a while, but eventually it transpired that, instead of doing this, BT (for it is they) had cancelled the link.  In other words, a request to provide a new service had been interpreted as a request to cancel any service.  Easy mistake, happens all the time doesn’t it?

Even more interestingly (and I know you’re now glued to the screen; bear with me, it gets better), it proved impossible to reverse this wee error (i.e. doing the opposite of what you’ve been asked to do).  Literally,  physically impossible.  So BT cannot, it seems, correct their own F*ups. 

The only solution, it turned out, was to set up a new ISP contract.  This obviously required some research, which nowadays can only really be done online, which … you get the picture.  So she phoned me for help. 

I had nothing better to do, and I actually thrive on an interesting research project, so I got stuck in and after a couple of hours identified what I felt was the best fit to her needs.  So I phoned back to pass this on. 

No answer.

We now move from anxiety into panic

Bee lives on her own, though we’re very close and share everything.  But we’re 25 miles apart.  She’d told me that she’d be spending the afternoon painting her study, but would have the phone by her side. 

After the first couple of tries, I started to worry a bit.  After three hours, I started to panic.  She wasn’t answering her mobile either.  What should I do?  I imagined all sorts of things.  Has she fallen off the ladder?  (Possible.)  Has she had a heart attack?  (Unlikely, but not impossible.)  She definitely won’t have gone out without telling me.  Should I drive up there?  (I almost had my shoes on at 6.30.)  Then I thought “this feels like an emergency.”  So I looked it up and called 112.

The police, to whom I was immediately put through, picked up on my concerns at once.  After taking the basic details, the first thing they said to me was “an officer is on the way up there now.”  There were loads of supplementary questions, but that at least took the wind out of my panic sails.

Here comes the farce bit.

Thirty minutes later, the phone rang.  It was Bee.  She’d been anxious because I hadn’t called back with the broadband info, then the police person knocked at the door.  Turns out that, in spreading the dustsheets for the decorating, she’d accidentally dislodged the phone connection.  The police person was very nice about it.

I said: “Can I call you back in five?  I want to pour myself a very large gin and tonic.” 

Which is what happened.



  1. I tried many times to phone Russell this evening. I rang his mobile and the home phone. No answer. "Idiot," I shrugged.

    What a difference forty years makes.

  2. We had a similar thing with BT when we moved in and cancelled one of the two lines serving the house only to find they cancelled both. Did get compensation in the end though.

    You could reduce a lot of the stress by sharing the same house?

  3. You been watching Brian Rix again?