Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I'm a busybody

I was just walking along minding my own business going over in my mind my plans for the rest of the day when I noticed something being dropped from a window across the road.

Little boy had thrown a toy out from his first floor window.

The ground was strewn with soft toys and books. Next a framed photograph was hurled out.

I thought his mum is not going to like that.

Maybe she does not know that this is happening. So I crossed the road and rang the bell, and knocked.

It was a house that had been converted into two flats so maybe no one heard me.

I asked the boy in blue pyjamas where his mum was, was she asleep, was she not well, etc.

He attempted to give answers but they were not very coherent.

Maybe she's lying unconscious and needed help.

The boy indicated that he wanted back something he had thrown out. The window was not secured at all and there was every possibility that he would climb out.

Immediately my training on child protection, etc. kicked in.

I told him to stay where he was and I would get someone to get the stuff back to him.

Rushed home (about 50 yards away), rang the police (while putting my shopping in the fridge) and decided I must get back to the boy.

I nearly died: He was now standing full length/height on the window sill.

"Sit down! Get down from there! Someone is coming to help you."

He seemed pleased to see me. Very friendly.

Meanwhile I tried getting information about his mum. Again incoherently she had taken the car out over there ... Didn't make sense.

"You have lots of books," I said, "You like reading?"

No answer.

My objective was keep his feet on the floor as I heard police siren approaching.

Saw the patrol car and waved it down.

Two young male officers (men in uniform!) arrived. One stepped out immediately and I said I was the one who reported the case. Immediately he spoke to the boy to reassure him and then checked for an open window on the ground floor.

Did I say 'open window'? It looked like an open window several feet above ground, nose height for me. In fact there were no hinges. The officer simply removed the 'window'.

He decided (being the "slim one") to stick his head (much of his upper body) in and managed to open the front door.

But we were then confronted by two locked doors and we did not know which one it was.

Meanwhile a supporting police van had arrived. Officer said he had the equipment to bash the door down.

No need for that. I don't think the neighbours will be pleased.

After a lot of shouting (talking to the boy) and banging on doors, and checking the back garden, finally an adult face appeared at the window.

Then minutes later a woman finally answered the door and sounded surprised at the mess in the front of her flat.

I didn't see her face. I did not wish to see her face. She was not aggressive or anything, but I know this case (if the police are doing their job) will be passed on to Social Services. And she's not going to like that.

Why did it take so long to rouse her? How often has this kid been sitting/standing by the unsecured window unsupervised? There was a fold-up walker in the porch area. Is there another baby who is also at risk?

I stood behind the bushes where I hoped she had not seen me. The officer from the van shouted to the other two if they might wish to take details of "the doctor".

I replied that his colleague on the phone already has the details.

I am a bit distressed that that little boy might have been distressed. (You should see his face when the police car drew up. But the officers were very good at reassuring him.) And I hope and pray that his mother is not prone to leaving him to his own devices like that.

I hope, for the sake of the boy, the police officers had entered the house to check its condition to suss how the two (or three or more) are living in there. I hope somebody would fix that window fast or the next time the boy might be in real danger.

Little children deserve better than that.

This is your busybody blogger signing off.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Repairs and Renewals

We were very late in getting our accounts to the accountant for tax purposes this year, largely due to husband's drawn-out illness.

I really hate the time of year when we have to do the trial balance for the business. As my friend, who's really more into these matters than I, says they don't call it a TRIAL balance for nothing.

One item that came up was "Repairs and Renewals".

It got me thinking as we've had so many this year in the house.

Son tore a large-ish hole in his pyjamas, "But they are my favourite!" So Mum (ie me) ended up mending (ie repairing) it.

There was one week several items of textile (I can't remember what now) needed either repairs or buttons sewn back on, etc.

I was actually quite proud of myself: instead of chucking these items out, we (ie I) repaired those.

The washing machine went wonky. Do we buy a new one or have it repaired? It turned out that husband has bought insurance cover on its repair. Great! One phonecall was all it took to arrange for someone to come sort it.

Meanwhile we had to re-acquaint ourselves with the workings of a launderette. (Eg. it is useful to have lots of change, and please bring your own soap powder, and a good book.)

Someone came and replaced a part. Sorted. We did not need a new machine after all.

Next up, the dishwasher. It had been making funny noises and we realized that the hot steam that is supposed to escape was not doing so and we opened it each morning to water pouring out of these ventilators. No problem. We learned to place a bowl strategically.

Then we found yukky water at the bottom of the machine. It was not draining properly. Then it would not start.

Do we buy a new washing machine or have it repaired? It turned out that husband has bought insurance cover on its repair. It's the same policy, actually. How very useful.

One phonecall and the visit was scheduled.

They found a cherry stone blocking some tube and something else was clogged up with limescale. Anyway the dishwasher is now sorted.

The conservatory roof was letting rain water in. Ah! Do we install new roof or have it repaired?

More crucially, whom could we get to repair it. Folks are quick to sell you windows and conservatories, but few are inclined to do repairs.

One company actually sent out a person who looked and said he'd send me a quote, but didn't, despite my chasing him up.

It was not a serious leak so do we just put another bowl in place to catch the drips?

Eventually we found one company who were keen to install laminates on our roof. It is a south facing conservatory which is baking hot in the summer and stone cold in winter.

This chap came, brought out his mountaineering gear, climbed onto the roof, took photos and told us we needed to have some bits cleared out. The people who built the conservatory did not do the best possible job and yes, he is happy to have the leaks seen to and put right whilst his men are installing the laminates.


Weeks later, we had a cool conservatory. (It became so cool my clothes would not dry, but that is another problem.)

Some months later, it rained, and it leaked again, somewhere else. Phoned the company who sent someone out. He climbed up on the roof, sussed that something had slipped and needed a filler, sorted it on the spot, and that was that. No charge. (Well, alright, we had already paid for the repairs. But some dodgey businesses won't bother once they've got the cheque.)

Yay! So no new roof required.

If you need the name of this company, drop me a note. Otherwise there are people who provide repairs for white goods and they use a repairman near you. Eg:

We are pleased that we have avoided adding to the landfill. Choosing the repairs route also means we are keeping alive the skills of many more people and small traders in the country.

Many won't find employment MAKING washing machines and dishwashers in this country. But if we at least give them a chance, they can be gainfully employed to repair these machines.

Meanwhile I am looking forward to some repair and renewal come Christmas and New Year.

A butler for Christmas, please. Actually a butler is not only for Christmas. Is it?