IF you can say that your life runs fairly smoothly then imagine what it would be like if your telephones (we’re talking landline and mobile) were taken off you and, well, having the internet is questionable too.
Oh, the stress of it all...
Back in 2006, we had thought that, as we had put in our request for a telephone two years before we arrived to live in Galicia, northern Spain, the telephone would definitely be in place when we got there.
The Spanish telephone provider (for anonymity, I will refer to them as STP) had no evidence of us registering an interest and we had to apply again.
And all of this done in the most difficult of circumstances.
I had to stand in a telephone box, keep the concertina-style door shut with one foot, support the telephone hand-piece between my chin and shoulder, steady the paper with my left elbow and both write and insert more money with my right hand.
My O-level Spanish had been lifted down from the shelf I placed it on some 17 years earlier but I hadn’t a clue what the woman was saying on the other end of the phone.
Try again. Okay, so we needed to register again and wait.
Later, our neighbour Carmen managed to get across to us that we should gather the names of all of our neighbours and present a petition to the mayor in the nearby village.
That was very easy as, although we are three villages very close together, the population at that time, including us, came to 13.
Two hours later, we returned home with 11 names, our bellies full of white wine, a bag of fresh eggs and some home-made chorizo sausages.
We sent this list and an accompanying letter to the mayor, the ombudsman (not a good start for us) and STP.
Ten days later, we had a phone but apparently not from the second registration but the first.
They said they had no record of the later registration (this was indeed to prove a powerful indication of things to come in the future).
The phone worked by some kind of digital system, as there were no telephone lines nearby.
Another ten days later, the phone wasn’t working.
Once again, I pressed my foot against the phone box door and asked for help.
I had no idea what she said but, two days later, a man arrived.
Yes, he was right, it was raining but could he mend our phone please?
“It’s raining” once again. Yeah, yeah but please mend the phone.
Could we take a photo of him? On asking why, he said that it would show him working.
Hey, if it would make the phone work, why not? An hour later and we were back in the real world.
Two weeks later, it was raining and yes, you get the drift. The same man arrived, changed the “unsuitable” digital box for another one and we were up and running again.
Could we have the internet? Ah, well, that depends but no, no we couldn’t.
As we lived in a valley, there were no telephone lines (not profitable, you see) and, no telephone line meant no internet.
Still, at least we had a phone.
Until the storm happened.
Getting wired up to the real world was so stressful but we were sure that things would get better.
They would….. wouldn’t they?
And where was the Spanish sunshine …..?
Galicia 0 Hartlepool 2.
In Hartlepool, whoever your service provider is, the service is usually performed to your satisfaction and there doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming relationship between the telephone system and the weather.
The Spanish telecommunication system proved so difficult in the first few years and daily visits to an internet café quite a few miles away shaped our lives.
However, a later strange turn of events would bring us close (but not all the way) to “life as we knew it” in England.
Find out more next month.