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Slowly does it – Normally new, post-lockdown life 2020

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

We all know that the bribing and corruption of the youth of today is totally wrong, don’t we?

I mean, offering financial incentives to achieve your own gain; actually dangling much-desired prizesunder the nose of desperate children to win their engagement.

Honestly, what kind of a parent would stoop so low?

Guilty as charged; driven to adopt desperate measures in a bid to redress the penalties of a brief moment of madness - the consequences of which rippled throughout the household and next few dayswith alarming effect.

I refer, of course, to changing broadband supplier.

Gaping hours of lockdown life encouraged a cruise through the dazzling array of internet service providers, each offering attractively competitive deals. With a quick flick of technical mastery, several hundred pounds and a few million extra megabits could be gained. Where do we sign?

So far, so easy.

Carefully avoiding collision with the switch-over moment and online school timetables’ demand for seamless internet flow, I smugly assumed that a couple of USB-ports and HDMI cables (“supplied”) would find us zipping through endless labyrinths of Disney+, Netflix and National Geographic’s offering.

It would be inappropriate to name names because, in fairness, efficient arrival of both informative emails and various boxes of exciting technical pieces lulled us all into thinking that this would be a smooth and untroubled journey onto which we’d all embarked.

And it got off to a good start. Routers were quickly rerouted, a cheery little light pulsating to signal thatall was well in WiFi-land.

Alas, the same could not be said for either the telephone landline, office computer or printer. Hours of cable-wrestling and frayed tempers followed;YouTube consulted.

Could they be sued under the Trade Descriptions Act for daring to use the phrase “A simple guide!”

This is where child-labour comes in. Suddenly, having teens who’ve devoted much of the recent incarceration to matters technical, was a massive advantage; a skillset to be fully embraced.

But there’s no such thing as a free broadband connection, even within today’s family ‘bubble’, and the negotiated terms of contractual fulfilment included a much-coveted trip to McDonald’s Drive Thru, a treat and location not indulged since well before Covid.

My heart sank. “Really? But how about (insert several possibilities)?”

No budging. That was the “Last and final offer mum!”

Perhaps Boris should send teenagers to Brussels to negotiate with Michel Barnier..?

Now, I know that many take Maccy-D’s in their stride. It’s a rite of passage for every child and,really, we all need a bit of fun-chow from time-to-time.

It’s not the food I object to, rather the process of the purchase. And now there was a twin-headed monster with which to contend.

Firstly, ‘Anticipation anxiety’, ie. sitting with a car-load of kids, trying to focus, drive, remember orders, adjudicate, order, stay pleasant, find purse, remove dog from lap, drive, again - enough to bring on a heart attack even before you’ve downed several pints of fizzy liquid and salty fries.

Secondly, being massively out of practice after a four-month hiatus.

“This broadband better be worth it,” I snarled, feeling panic rising in my gut as the living room turned from calm oasis to a sea of recycled wires and aged adaptors.

Sadly, for my liking, the teen task-force completed assembly all too quickly. Every computer, iPad, mobile and landline sprang into life, perfectly dovetailing with feeding time at the zoo, leaving no room whatsoever for delaying the promised trip.

But I needn’t have worried. Phase Three McDonald’s was - for me anyway - a streamlined pleasure: “We’re serving a reduced menu,” welcoming posters announced, “please have your order and card payment method ready.”

Fantastic. Even the seven vehicles ahead offered no obstacle to this enhanced efficiency.

There was no car-bound quibbling over side-orders of this or that or spicy do’s and don’ts or microscopically detailed discussions about gherkins or three-thousand different ice cream flavours.

Don’t get me wrong, they were all there, the usual suspects, and boy did they go down a treat, just less of them so the normal preamble of combative negotiation through vast choice had been removed,making the whole meal taste so much sweeter.

So, thank you then Golden Arches for a very pleasant night away from kitchen eternity. Less choice is to be applauded and I only wish I had applied the same theory to broadband supply. Life would have been so much simpler, even if it was a little slower.

Mairi Fraser

10 July 2020

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