AT LARGE: Daisy, daisy...

AT LARGE: Daisy, daisy...

I'm having something of a crisis. About a week or so ago, there was a fairly impressive electrical storm in Sydney. I'm not usually one to comment on the weather (such being the start of many a very dull conversation), but this was rather comment-worthy weather. Lightning flashed, the heavens boomed, torrents flowed. At the end of my street, a warehouse collapsed, apparently overawed by the spectacle of nature's wrath. I would not be surprised if someone, somewhere, began building an ark.

As is my wont as a resident of a highly advanced city such as this, I was inside enjoying warmth and shelter during the entire proceeding. Not for me, braving the elements. Tragically though, I was enjoying warmth and shelter away from my own home. When I got home, several of my consumer electronics were behaving erratically for reasons I could not fathom.

My CD player, for a start, issues nought but a disturbing low rumble when turned on. If I switch on the Dolby Pro-Logic, this changes to a high-pitched hissing - hardly what would qualify as home entertainment. The set-top box for my cable TV stubbornly displays a mean red light, as if warning me against even trying to turn it on. I have tried to turn it on, of course, but it would do me no good.

You see, my television set - tireless companion, bringer of light and babble - has ceased to proceed. Gone to meet its maker. Joined the choir invisible. It is an ex-TV. Not, I am afraid, pining for the fjords.

And here is where I meet my crisis. As you may be aware, I regard myself as something of a techie geek sort of person. No electronic engineer, of course, but knowledgeable enough to tell the difference between IEEE1394 and IEEE1395 (a surprisingly common confusion). As such, I am unafraid to fiddle about in the innards of my computer should anything go "asquiff".

But with TV sets, I am at my limit before I begin. I've tried the usual troubleshooting starters: unplugged it and plugged it in again; pushed the power button a few dozen times just in case; changed the batteries in the remote; whacked the side. None of this has worked and I can think of nothing else.

My local TV repair place (at the end of the street, two doors down from the inverted warehouse) has two small black and white sets on display in the window. I get the distinct impression that they would suggest whacking it again. So I have gone somewhat further afield, to a not particularly local but "authorised" service centre.

I love that word, "authorised". For all I know, the guy who owns the shop got permission from his mum to fix TVs on the weekend so long as it doesn't interfere with his school work. Who authorised the service centre and on what basis? I don't know. But it's "authorised", so it must be good.

At any rate, demand for the authorised services of this centre must be high, because as of this writing I am still waiting for my scheduled service call. Presuming that the person sent to repair my TV (and also, hopefully, the CD player) is able to work some magic and call it back from the realms of the unliving, I will have been without music or TV (and therefore DVDs) for a week and a half. Eleven entire days without Lennon, Joplin, Kurosawa. I've missed two new episodes of South Park - I'm going insane.

Were I to show up in a hospital emergency room with some complaint or other, I would at least have the benefit of some variety of triage. I would gladly wait my turn, knowing that those before me must necessarily be worse off. And those behind me in the queue would appreciate that my woes outweighed their own. That is a civilised system.

TV repair is uncivilised. I am being made to wait what seems an eternity simply because other people called before I did. Do they have CD players in working order, to entertain them until the TV is fixed? Probably. Do they have a second TV about the place? I'll bet they do. There is no appreciation for the gravity of my plight, and no allowance made.

Of course, you might say that I could listen to CDs on my computer. Indeed I could. And you might suggest I can watch DVDs on my laptop. This is also true. But it is also true that you can poach an egg in the dishwasher, if the water's hot enough. Doesn't make it a good idea.

At least there's the Internet.

Matthew JC. Powell enjoys coining words while he tetters on the brink of total mental collapse. why not e-mail him for the origins of asquiff,

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