Water bunch of tossers

It all started just after 7:30 this morning when we heard lots of raucous shouting outside our house and thinking there were a group of hooligans rampaging down our street we looked out to find that the hooligans in question were from Southern Water and they had come to fit water meters in our street. The shouting continued and then on the dot of 8am the drilling started. They were using a pneumatic drill and a cutter to cut open the area around the stop cock outside houses in order to gain access to the pipes to fit the meters.

http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F19957292 Southern Water digging up the street at 8am by deadheaduk

Sarah wasn’t best pleased about this and rang Southern Water to complain. Their attitude was simply that they were sure it was perfectly legal for them to start drilling at that time. Sarah pointed out that whereas it might be legal it wasn’t very considerate especially given that it was the school holidays. The customer service person said that the complaint would be noted and passed on to the relevant place (probably a round receptacle next to her desk!)

When I left for work I could see that they had cut a hole in front of a number of houses in out street – the hole was roughly the same size as the opening to each property and effectively cut off any access to the house. They had surrounded the digging area with blue fences which had signs asking pedestrians to use the other footpath. I could see this would be difficult as they were digging on both sides of the street. Anyone in a wheelchair or with a pushchair would most likely have to walk in the road or zigzag their way down the street crossing from pavement to pavement.

So then they reached our house and cut the same big hole in front of our gateway – in order to allow you to visualise this I will explain that while the hole was there the only way to get from the street to the front door would be to climb over the wall! Common courtesy would expect that the workmen would knock on the door, explain what they were about to do and how long it would take them, check if anyone in the house had access needs etc. However this wasn’t what happened – the workmen just walked up and started digging a hole. If anyone inside had been in a wheelchair or had mobility issues and needed to get in or out urgently they have been stuffed.

No way in, No way out!

So why exactly are we having water meters fitted? Well according to the side of the vans it’s to save energy, save water and to save money! The posters and the website will tell you further that the South East has been declared a “Water stressed area” and that is why the compulsory water meters are being fitted. So, I wondered, who did this declaring and it took me ages to find the answer to that question. I tried Southern Water’s site, I tried OFWAT, I looked it up on the BBC and Google’d it but to no avail. Eventually I did find an answer and the declaration came from DEFRA. I have to confess that the term water stressed bothers me in this context – it conjures up thoughts of the Sudan or Ethiopia rather then the Garden of England (especially as it has rained pretty consistently for the last few weeks and it’s meant to be summer). I suspect the term is designed to cover the real problem which is one of huge population growth and under investment in the water supply. The country as a whole isn’t water stressed so rather then come up with solutions which, for example, pipe water in from areas with high rainfall the companies will install meters on the pretext of  saving water but will no doubt in the long run lead to higher water charges for families and higher profits for the company with minimal effort on it’s part – I’m sure the shareholders will be very happy. But I digress…..

July 2011 - seems to be plenty of water

So there we are with a big hole outside the house and there are lots of people standing round it. There’s a great deal of discussion going on, people scratching their heads, havin a fag and generally doing very little. Then suddenly they’ve all gone leaving the hole and a huge cutting tool unattended outside our house. Sarah goes out and is asked by a workman up the street if our water is back on yet. She informs him that she didn’t even know if had been off and points out the cutting tool. “well they need that to dig the holes” is the curt reply. After she goes back inside she can hear the workman complaining about her to his mate so she makes the second phonecall to complain.

The workmen make themselves comfy on next door's wall

This time the customer services person is more understanding, yes they should have told us they were going to start work outside our house, no the cutting tool shouldn’t have been left there. They admit that there have been a number of complaints and that the comments will be brought to the attention of their contractors (Balfour Beatty).

And now for the punchline!

Due to a technical issue they have been unable to fit a water meter to our pipe and will have to return in the coming weeks to do it again!!!!!!

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It’s all in my head!

I’ve been to the Doctors three times in the past few weeks and each time it has been for a different aspect to do with my head!

The first problem is quite straight forward – the pollen count was very high a few weeks back and it caused my nose to run constantly with the over the counter antihistamines having no effect on it. The Doctor gave me some stronger tablets and a nose spray but they seem to have had little effect. I’ve often joked with Sarah that I didn’t have these allergy problems until I met her and that maybe it was her I was allergic to. However something the Doctor said today made me think about that statement. The Doctor commented that Gillingham has been put forward as the allergy capital of the UK. Tesco says that it sells more anti-allergy drugs in it’s Gillingham store than in any other store in the UK. This made me think that as my living with Sarah also coincided with a move in the direction of Gillingham and eventually to Gillingham then my comment about the allergies starting when I met her may have some substance. Obviously she’s in the clear and Gillingham now stands accused – wonder if there has been a study to see why this should be and what causes such high levels of Hay Fever in the area.

The second visit to the Doctors was to do with sleep problems. I had found myself waking up far too often during the night and hence wasn’t sleeping too well. Sarah also pointed out that I snored a lot and that there were times during the night when I appeared to stop breathing for short periods which worried her. The Doctor suggested that I may be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea and as such has referred me to an ENT clinic for further investigations.

The third visit this week was triggered by the return of my periodic headaches which I have blogged about on numerous occasions but most recently here. They started on Friday night and by Sunday morning I had been up three times during the night with pain. Luckily for me they so far haven’t reached the “wanting to rip my eye out of it’s socket” stage and I would say that at the moment they are about number 6 on this scale I found today. The problem is, like the issue of the Sleep Apnea, is the lack of sleep. However with the headaches not only do I lose sleep I find that I don’t want to go to sleep as I fear being woken up an hour or so later by the tell tale signs of the headache. I started taking the anti-convulsants on Sunday night but as yet they haven’t given me any relief. The more I look into it the more I’m convinced that the problem is a condition called Cluster Headaches which is very similar to Trigeminal neuralgia which is what I originally thought it was. It could be that the anti-convulsants might not work this time which could mean that I’m in for a rough ride – I hope not!

I’ve also been chasing up the Doctors who were supposed to be referring me to a Neurologist but as yet I’ve heard nothing from the hospital. It also transpires that there have been recent studies that suggest that a percentage of people who suffer from Cluster headaches also suffer from a sleep disorder such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea which would make sense. The headaches seem to come on about a hour after going to sleep which is roughly when I was waking up feeling like I’d had a who;e nights sleep and which triggered the aforementioned Doctors visit. I will mention the problem when I see the ENT specialist on Monday.

It has struck me as funny, yet annoying, that for the best part of fifteen years I have described my symptoms to a huge number of Doctors (including a previous ENT specialist) and not one of them has even mentioned Trigeminal Neuralgia or Cluster headaches but as soon as I mentioned during my last attack in November I’m told “oh yes those are classic symptoms” – obviously not classic enough without a prompt! It should also be noted that despite the suspected Sleep Apnea no connection was made between that and the cluster headaches!