Telephone problems mastered

BT master socket, next to a double power socket.

Jesus said “You cannot be the slave of two masters!” (Matthew 6:24). BT said exactly the same this morning when they discovered that someone had tried to wire a second master socket to our original master socket.

At 08:30 a BT OpenReach engineer turned up at the door — not the cheeriest engineer that I’ve ever met — and got to work testing our master phone socket in the hallway.

Open(Reach) investigation

A few minutes later he asked if we’d installed our own Sky TV box. “No,” said I, “Why?” He showed me that someone had wired an extension socket into the back of the master socket, and that it was done in such a terrible way that it was clear to him that it hadn’t been done by a qualified BT engineer.

We assured him that we’d only been living here for five months, we didn’t have Sky TV, hadn’t been poking screwdrivers and wires into the back of the master socket, and that all we had connected was a telephone, the router and an answering machine.


It turns out that the problem was our answering machine. It turns out that the problem was our answering machine because whoever had wired in that rogue extension socket had wired in another master socket (at least that’s what I think he muttered) and that it had short-circuited our telephone line and completely knackered our answering machine in the process.

So now we have a phone line again, but no answering machine (other than the invisible BT 1571 service in the sky … but not Sky, because, as I’ve already established, we don’t have that).

We’ll just have to wait now to see whether we’re charged the £110+ call-out charge plus £99 per hour for someone else’s poor telephone wiring. But if we are and it goes any way towards solving our poor broadband connections — and allowing me to blog about something else for a change!! — then it will be money well spent.

A lovely few days

Geeks on the sofa

A fine couple of days in the company of good friends Steve and Lisa. Of course, I could have posted photos of our beautiful walk through beautiful St Andrews on a beautiful sunny, spring afternoon yesterday. Or outside church in Leven this morning.

But no, I chose a photo of them geeking out on the sofa this evening, while we watched Manchester Passion on VHS (taped from BBC2 last year).

The big questions asked this weekend have included: Why has Sir Cliff Richard not rewritten the lyrics to Mistletoe and Wine for Easter? There are plenty of songs come out for Christmas, but why not for Easter too?

Probably because it might end up something like this:

Easter time
chocolate and bunnies

Children singing “it’s Easter egg time!”
With eggs on the menu and type two diabetes on the horizon.

A time to rejoice he was nailed to a tree.

Yeah, probably wouldn’t be quite the commercial success that the Christmas version was.

I honestly don’t get the whole Easter bunny thing. Rabbits don’t lay eggs! And our cats brought in a rabbit the other day — hardly the picture of new life and resurrection that one might hope for at this time of year.

Anyway, it’s been quite a lovely couple of days, with much laughter, plenty of good music shared, and the least amount of chocolate I’ve ever consumed at Easter. And on the church front, I felt quite blessed to take the service on Maundy Thursday and then again today at St Margaret’s, Leven.

Here is re:Jesus on the real meaning of Easter.


Old red telephone with the receiver off the hook.

Well … I’m really quite speechless. Literally! Our telephone line is now not working.

We, quite remarkably, have a broadband service — 8 Mbps no less — and a broadband talk service — that’s VoIP to you and me — but no landline telephone.

So I went online and reported the fault at BT Faults. We’re now waiting for them to get back to me, via text, to tell us that they’ve fixed the problem and we can make calls again.

Complaints procedure

Printed on the rear of every bill from BT is the following:

Our commitment to our customers:

We aim to give you an excellent service and our Code of Practice (available on or on request from 0800 800 150) sets out full details of what you can expect from BT.

If you have a complaint:

Please call 0800 800 150 (a free call) for the quickest response. If you decide you want to write to us, the address is BT UK Business Accounts, Providence Row, Durham DH98 1BT.

If you are unhappy with our response you can ask our Complaint Review Service to investigate. This specialist team will work with you to find a solution.

If we do not answer your complaint within 12 weeks, or if we write to you saying that we cannot agree an outcome, you can ask Otelo, the Office of Telecommunications Ombudsman, to investigate. The address is Otele, PO Box 730, Wilderspool Park, Warrington, WA4 6WU. The website address is or you can call 0845 0501614.

You can also download a version: BT Code of Practice (PDF, 325 KB)

I shall be reading that document and I suspect writing to complain.

Update (22:14)

Here’s what it says on the BT website that is tracking our fault:

The problem is likely to be in your property.

It could be an equipment problem that you can solve yourself or it could be a line problem, which we’ll need to fix for you.

I strongly suspect that it’s a problem with the line, or at the exchange, because we’ve changed nothing and our broadband is working. And I get nothing even with the corded BT phone plugged into the test socket on the master socket.

This is just not good enough. This is by far the worst experience I have ever experienced from a communications company. And that makes me sad because I wanted to believe that BT cared for their customers.

On the off-chance that we wake up in the morning and discover that BT have “done the double” and we’ve lost our broadband connection too, if you don’t hear from me for a while you’ll know why, and I’ll fill you in on what’s going on when I return to work on Monday!

Day-trip to sunny Dundee

Ninewells Hospital
Ninewells Hospital (Image courtesy of the University of Dundee)

Today’s big adventure was a trip to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for my six-monthly renal appointment. (For new readers, I have an inherited kidney condition: autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.)

I’m always a little nervous at renal appointments — too many experiences of doctors shouting at me and telling me that I’m going to die (I kid you not!) — but I needn’t have worried. The doctor I saw, Dr Henderson, was lovely. He listened to me, treated me like a person and told me lots of exciting developments in the treatment of polycystic kidney disease. It’s always nice to be seen by someone with a real interest in both the medical condition and the patient.

Six months ago I was told that unless I lost weight, which should also help reduce my blood pressure (bp), I would have to go on pills (possibly for life) to ensure that my bp was reduced. I stepped nervously on the scales today and discovered that to my delight I had lost 6.2 Kg (0.976 stones) since my last visit. My blood pressure was almost normal.

The one thing that did concern the doctor, however, was the recurring UTI and related epididymitis. So, leaving Jane and me in the consulting room he popped down the corridor for a moment and managed to get me an impromptu appointment with a urologist.

Thirty minutes later I was sitting in front of another doctor, who asked me a few questions, prodded me for a bit and then prescribed me my third antibiotic in as many weeks; this course, however, would last four weeks — none of this five days nonsense as with these last two drugs.

Jane drove me home under the late afternoon sun, like a warm summer’s day (18°C) and a world apart from the other morning’s -2°C. Now I simply have to get well again, back to work tomorrow (at last!), and hopefully soon back on my bike and back to weights. I have (at least) another 6 Kg to lose.

Postcard from Egg (1987)

I found a box of old postcards today. Expect to see them appear on the blog through the coming months.

For starters I thought I’d share with you this postcard from my school friend Alasdair — who was always known to us as “Egg” back in the day — from a holiday he enjoyed (?) in France in 1987, the year of our ‘O’ Grades.

Gouffre de Padirac (Lot)
Above: Gouffre de Padirac (Lot) – 1. Lac de la pluie (Lake of the rain)

Just in case you wondered, “Zen” was our Staffordshire Bull Terrier (a dog with a mind of its own!); named after the computer in Blake’s 7.

Dear Gareth,

Travelled to France overnight and now staying on campsite in Dordogne. The British courier on our site sits drinking outside his caravan, informing everyone who passes on his views on immigration and Arthur Scargill. Have spent much time in caves. Yesterday was Bastille Day. A very painful experience for the Royalist. The weather is extremely hot. Regards to Zen.


I particularly like his seamless transition from Arthur Scargill to caves.