I’ve had one of those extraordinary days when, try as I might, I’ve achieved absolutely nothing, apart from going round in circles not of my creation: circles I didn’t want to go round.

Actually, I’ve had a few days like this recently.

About a week ago my laptop was hacked and all my incoming emails were redirected to a bogus email address.  Over the course of a few days, and after many calls to BT and much puzzlement, the false email address was laid bare and deleted (it took two goes to get rid of it).  During the course of these goings-on, the BT login panel refused to believe that I existed and, once it had been persuaded that I did, kept telling me I had failed the security question(s) despite my being confident that I knew my mother’s maiden name and the manufacturer of the first car I owned.  Eventually my BT helper rescued me by telling me the answers, which seemed to defeat the object of having security questions.  Passwords (ugh!) were another problem.  I’m on my fourth password now and trying to remember it and forget the previous three.

Yesterday a young man who lives in one of the flats below, rang our front door bell.  Not, you might think (and surely you’d be right), a gripping thing to relate.  However, it prompted the realisation that it is a very long time since anyone rang our door bell: many months in fact.  If the bell had a battery it would have conked out by now.  Our front door is on the 4th floor, not at street level where  I’m assuming front door bells get rung more often.

The young man wanted to borrow the key that opens the door leading to a cellar where the water meters live.  Since I’m the chairman of our residents’ association (ho, ho) he assumed (correctly) that I’d have a key.  We stayed two metres apart as we chatted about Thames Water and the blind spot they seem to have about the existence of our water meters.  The young man wanted to read the meter for his flat and query the bill he had received demanding £700.  I told him I had the same problem.

A short encounter, but my wife rebuked me for not wearing a mask and told me, ‘Your bonhomie will be your downfall’.

Anyway, bonhomie or not, today I decided I must sort out the problem I have with Thames Water.  Just like the young man who lives in the flat below, they have sent me a bill that ignores the fact that we have a water meter and that I dutifully submitted the reading back in June.

I rang Thames Water but a recorded voice told me to visit their website and, having failed to find a FAQ sufficiently tailor-made to my problem, I decided to have an online chat with one of their agents, Monika.  Having provided the account number and confirmed my name and address (I felt sure she would say I didn’t exist or lived somewhere else!),  Monika asked me how she could help.  I told her we have a water meter but are being billed as if we haven’t.  She said that was because we don’t have a water meter.  I told her we do have a meter, that I’ve read it and submitted the reading.  She said the account doesn’t say we have a meter, hence being billed as if there isn’t one (see what I mean about going round in circles?).  I asked her what I should do and she said the best thing I could do was to apply for a water meter to be fitted.  I said this seemed a bit daft since we already have a water meter.

End of online chat with Monika – apart, of course, for a follow-up text asking me to rate the helpfulness of the help I’d received.

Anyway, I have done as Monika asked and applied to have a water meter fitted.  An email has arrived: ‘We’re delighted that you’ve requested a water meter.  Water meters are the fairest way to pay and can help you use less water and save money on your bills’.

Yippee!  Apparently I have only 14 days to wait.

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