‘Estimated’ bills

This character will be calculating your next electricity bill

On Friday week I received my first electricity bill from Eon. On it was the ‘estimate’ from its super computer telling me how much power it thinks I ought to have used for the first three months of my tenancy in my new lovepad in Crouch End.

Now, here’s a thing. Unless my flat was the venue for an impromptu night-time Olympic Games for a week, I would suggest that the Eon computer has, how shall we say, ‘over-estimated’.

Power companies have a tried-and-failed way of calculating your bill. Every three months your address appears on a computer that prints out a random selection of digits based on a very precise set of factors. Then they hand the printout to a Capuchin monkey who eats all that information with the help of an overripe banana and then it is invited to randomly poke at a Casio calculator for a few minutes. The figure that ends up on the calculator screen is recorded, and a bill is sent to your home.

Then you, assuming the Capuchin monkey knows what it is doing, agree to pay a stupidly ridiculous sum of money simply to avoid an hour-long conversation with an Eon telephone ‘advisor’ called Michael.

Notionally, the power company accepts there are a few flaws associated with this method so, having bankrupted you once, it will then Capuchin monkey-adjust, and then send you another hopelessly it’s-not-even-in-the-same-vicinity-of-realistic electricity bill. Dejected, you’ll phone Michael for an explanation and, in his soft Irish tone, he will tell you that you are, indeed, a moron.

He will then spout, from a pre-rehearsed cribsheet, that there is a more accurate figure based on previous Capuchin estimates on its way and, as a result, you will be a satisfied customer. A week later another account-emptying bill with a stratospheric number of digits on it will drop through your letterbox.

Within hours you’ll get a Facebook friend request from Michael.

I never trusted any of this, even before I had left my family home. I saw my parents weeping when a brown envelope marked Southern Electric popped through the door. I realised that this was wrong and asked my parents: ‘Why don’t you just pay for what you use?’

The orphanage wasn’t too bad and soon I learned to take care of myself, but during that time I still couldn’t quite grasp why electricity companies employ this monstrously arcane billing system.

Now I am older I realised it’s because it’s too sensible and it’ll also call time on a technique that gives power companies licence to continue sending unreasonable demands for cash. I don’t believe that the recent riots are the result of an marginalised underclass, or a societal breakdown, I think unreasonable electricity bills are the cause. The bills arrived two weeks ago so, for me, this isn’t a coincidence. For too long the need for a quiet life has dictated this process so, sadly, the more aggressive, 32-inch flatscreen, trainer-seeking types took to the streets.

I know I am not alone in my pain. Everyone I know just pays up, knowing full well that if they do take the trouble to phone NPower, Eon or whoever it is, they’ll waste large amounts of time arguing fruitlessly with an underpaid individual whose main task is to get you off the phone.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though: after a period of 10 years of constant adjustment and a total accrued payment of around £4 million of your hard-earned money, the power company you have selected will get your monthly usage just about right. At that point it’ll be time to move and the whole frustrating thing will start all over again.

Molotov cocktail anyone?

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Beetroot – the devil’s vegetable

Never ever put this stuff in your mouth

According to a new investigation from Exeter University, beetroot is good for you. In the study veteran cyclists, who drank about a pint of store-bought beetroot extract, suddenly felt Cocoon-like benefits. No longer did they have to book erections a week in advance and reports of sexual harassment at the local chutney society increased ten-fold. Stocks of Harley Davidson fatboys have been wiped out in all Exeter-based motorcycle dealerships.

It’s a new phenomenon. Researchers say high levels of nitrates in beetroot juice provide the health kick. When beetroot nitrate turns in to nitric oxide in the body, it reduces the amount of oxygen compulsory to perform exercise and thus a lunchtime legs, bums’n’ tums workout for Gandalf doesn’t look quite so unrealistic.

I care not for the benefits of the beet, though. Beetroot is a deep red colour and there’s a reason for that: it’s been created by the devil. Saturday Kitchen regularly features beetroot as its chosen ‘food hell’ and it’s difficult to argue with that. Debonair chef James Martin tells us that beetroot is a wonderfully versatile vegetable that’ll keep you skipping around like a gay lambkin on spring day. He is, of course, lying his arse off.

A beetroot spends most of its life underground and that, quite frankly, is where it should stay. St Lucifer’s henchmen dig beetroots up and sell them to supermarkets and restaurants expecting payment when what’s really needed is the services of an exorcist.

Beetroot is, literally, the root of all evil – you can try to mix it with walnuts, stilton, rocket and a chutney but it’ll still turn everything blood red and make everything taste revolting.

Camels, cows and birds are the only creatures on God’s holy earth that can conceivably be given sanction to eat beets because they can regurgitate at will. Under no circumstances must you give beetroot to babies – if they don’t vomit red, they’ll turn their nappies into a scene from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Beetroot should be undiscovered. We should ban it from civilised society and any ‘underground beetroot society’ that forms as a result should be dealt with in the strongest way possible. Remove limbs if necessary. That may turn everything blood red too, but it’ll rid the world of this most unnecessary ingredient.

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Closer, Reveal, Star

New news! Pamela Anderson sells soul for mags like Closer

I work for a publishing company that produces the weekly magazine Closer. That very fact hurts me because if you do actually take any trouble to flick through Closer and look at the pictures you’ll realise that what you are getting isn’t actually ‘closer’ at all.

If it’s a bona fide ‘pap’ shot that isn’t set up deliberately by some C-grade celebrity, it’s likely to be taken from quite a distance and the result is a fairly unflattering picture of somebody’s cellulite, bingo wings or sweaty armpits.

A Closer ‘scoop’ is usually a picture of Jude Law with a piss stain on the front of his trackie bottoms. If you think about this at any great length you realise that you haven’t got any closer by looking at low-grade images of supposedly famous people doing normal things like going across the road to get a pint of milk from Londis, having not shaken their penis enough during an earlier trip to the loo.

And so to Reveal. Honestly, have you read anything remotely revelatory in Reveal?  I’ll give you a million pounds if you have. Then there’s Star, which is surely a contradiction, more a platform for pond-life journalism featuring no ‘stars’ at all.

This summer Channel 5 will regurgitate Celebrity Big Brother, which is a thoroughly depressing prospect. During this summer-long bilge-fest you can expect to see people doing ordinary things, then arguing a lot. However, the programme makers will reason that for us, the viewers, that won’t matter because we’ll be looking at ‘stars’ doing stuff and that’ll be fodder for the Closer, Star and Reveals of this world.

I can’t stand the fact that Closer even exists and if you do think that anything coming out of Big Brother is a ‘star’ then, sure, this journal is for you, but let’s face it you’re lucky if you’ve ever heard of half the people in this half-arsed mag.

According to gossip from publications, sitting squarely in the genre of General Tittle Tattle Pamela Anderson will be appearing in this year’s Big Brother. 

God help us.

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