I have a proper confession. I suffer from a 'mail opening' disorder. It stems back to the days when money was seriously tight, and opening mail would invariably propel me into a panic as to how I was going to give this person the money they were asking for and that I didn’t have. (I have been a student of some kind for over half my adult life. Enough said.) And so I developed a habit of just, well….piling it very neatly in the corner and ignoring it until its presence became too much to bear.
Now the mail is much less scary but the habit persists and I still have a monthly opening ceremony. (All of my professional mail goes to my office, which I open immediately and sort out straight away. See, I do know how to do it. I am not completely stupid.)
Last Monday I had a ‘mail opening’ day. The euphoria of having beaten the pile into submission is short lived, as each opening session generates a list of things to do. Last Monday generated a list of 13 things that required my URGENT ATTENTION. Nothing life threatening, you realise. Just Things That Need Doing. I spent this Monday URGENTLY ATTENDING to the pile of Things That Need Doing.
Most of them were easy to deal with and very, very satisfying. Oh, the joy of filing a piece of paper that has been dealt with. Its almost too much to bear. A couple of them required me to part with money. I went on-line and checked my bank balance, peeping between my fingers with only one eye open. I cannot deal with the things that Require Me To Part With Money until I have some money. I calculated that this would be March 21 2008. Back on the To Deal With Later pile.
Final piece of paper. A solicitor’s letter from British Gas demanding that a woman that I have never heard of pay them money for gas that she has apparently used at my address. This woman does not live in my house, unless The Husband has her tucked away in the under stairs cupboard for his fickle amusement. The woman I don’t know of has surely not been using gas in the under stairs cupboard?
I rang British Gas. It took me 20 minutes to get through. Their goddamn ‘hold’ music was so quiet that I couldn’t hear it on speaker phone, and so had to carry on with my chores with the phone tucked under my ear. I happen to know that this is dangerous and can cause a stroke. I briefly drifted into a fantasy where British Gas had to compensate my son with millions of pounds, thus allowing him to grieve in a luxury home in Florida, because his devoted and adoring mother dropped dead whilst waiting for them to answer the f***ing phone.
Eventually I got through. Lots of talking. It took them 25 minutes to tell me that it was a mistake, a fact I was already aware of when I rang them up. I told her that I was already aware of said fact. She proceeded to explain how the mistake had been made. I drifted into oblivion for a while. She assured me it would be rectified, and we would not receive any more threatening letters for people who do not live with us.
This wouldn’t be quite so bloody annoying, were it not for the fact that this is the third time this has happened in the three years we have lived in this house. And each time the threatening letter has been addressed to a different person, at my address. Do British Gas think that I am running a safe house for people who don’t like paying their gas bills? Yes, that must be it. I am running a safe house and they are on to me. It can’t possibly be that privatisation has left them unable to run a piss up in a f***ing brewery, because we all know it is the public sector that is inefficient and poorly managed. Privatisation brings only milk and honey for shareholders and increased efficiency for the rest of us. Yes, that must be it. I must be running a safe house. Now, let’s just check that under stairs cupboard….