Gill Smith
Gill Smith - Comedy Writer & Performer

Gill's Journal, Issue

Quarterly magazine of The ARM Club the Leading Independant
RISC OS Computer User Club.
It's been a tough few months for getting time to write a journal for you. Somehow there just hasn't seemed to be a free minute to sit in front of a computer and type an article. Of course, Toby has managed to spend a little more time with his computers, but still hasn't had much time to do anything useful.
Gill Smith finds and unpacks her computer and sits among the boxes to report on the trauma and perils of moving house - and electric storms.

That's the trouble with moving house - we both seem to have spent a lot of time doing a lot, and we're still partly in boxes and haven't time to do all the things we want to. Leaving the old house, things went pretty smoothly. This is Toby's eighth address in just five years - including several that he didn't stay in all-year round - and what with his experiences exhibiting at Acorn shows, I am tempted to enter him for a new competitor sport of computer packing. I have visions of your committee being entered en-masse as the British team and getting gold! They could make their fortunes working a few hours a week for a manufacturer, packing their boxes!

One minute there he is with the Acorn, networked to the PC and my laptop. The Acorn is complete with printer, scanner, external extra HD, modem, external speakers and zip drive, and Toby is surrounded by large boxes. Like a caring wife, I disappear off to make him a coffee - all that work; he'll need it! While the kettle's boiling I slip a few kitchen utensils into boxes (do we still need the cheese grater accessible, when we're going to call for pizza tonight anyway; we can probably cope without it!) I fight my way to 'the computer room' (as opposed to the study - we own too many desks!) and find Toby is still surrounded by boxes, but is now in the process of taking the desk apart. I can only assume that the electronics are all already boxed - it's either that or he's thrown them out the window, and I didn't hear any loud crashes!

Then there's just a pile of boxes in one corner, and a pile of wood, and metal desk sides in the other. Even the (much prized) six-way has gone into a box somewhere, and the strange stuff that 'covers' the cables - by making them bright orange, naturally - has gone away somewhere. The room looks strangely empty, in spite of the huge pile of boxes. Perhaps I'm just missing the faint green glow of the zip drive that never gets turned off, and the power light of the scanner.

I think the removal men, who arrived bright and far too early, must have rather impressed Toby with their handling of some of our other stuff, as he did allow them to pack the computers onto their van and whisk them off for us. I'd been a touch worried that the traditional keep-your-kettle-accessible would be over-ruled by the need to fit a 17" monitor, along with all the computer other boxes, into the back seat of our little car. So all that went into the van, in an amazing tardis effect; I thought we had a lot of stuff, but it packed in like a dream, boxes of glasses carefully stored protected, and cushions stuffed into gaps. The computer boxes were placed in various levels of safety based on how many times and in what large a hand Toby had written 'Fragile' on each box!

Normally, we're pretty organised, and we had, as ever prioritised what we needed to unpack, in order to make life easier. So we'd kept the picnic set out to ensure that we had some plates, mugs etc. Take away can be so helpful, but it is nicer with a plate to put it on. My parents came up, and suddenly we could see the kitchen floor again! We put the desks together, but were surprisingly relaxed about the computers. That was scheduled in for a day when I was safely back at work, and Toby could rearrange the cables to his heart's content, without me bothering him with odd questions like where we should keep towels!

For once, Toby is prepared to concede that having not got the computer out was a really good thing. A few nights after we moved in, it rained pretty heavily. You can guess where this is going. The dorma window leaked, right above the desk. Right on the bit of the desk the Acorn normally sits on. If we'd been any quicker at unpacking, my poor husband might have been the first ARM club chair to not own a working Acorn!

Of course, that wasn't the end of all the fun, when, several days - a moved desk , and 3 quotes for fixing the roof later - we discovered that the phone line wasn't working. We knew it had been after a long chat to a BT engineer, and after dialling up once in an attempt to stop the demon account exploding. After trying out all sorts of re-wiring the lines off the main box, and many accusations of being constantly on the phone, we worked it out.

One of the storms - in that week where we had about three, just before the twisters in Selly Oak (where we used to live!) - had fried our modem, which is now not an awful lot of use. Fortunately, due to being able to work on this in my lunch hours, (as if I got those without my boss finding me plenty more to do!) I've been able to get some of this written. Now, due to a colleague of Toby's having a spare modem (like you do!) we are connected again, pending buying our own when we have a little less other stuff - like roofs - to fix. So now I can get this off to Peter for editing, at least within the same month as he asked for it. I bet this is the longest excuse for a contributor being late that he's ever had!

Written by Gill Smith. Published Autumn 1999. Reproduced with permission.