A working Christmas
The real truth is that it has been a bit of a working Christmas for me, apart from the day itself. I still haven't finished the copy-editor's corrections for my laughter book. It's all a bit like Zeno's arrow -- however much closer you get, there always remains some distance to travel.
And it's a funny mixture of emotions and reactions too: gratitude-cum-self-flagellation. Each error spotted by the editor produces a huge sigh of relief (phew, thank heavens, Juliana spotted that I had a) omitted Silk et al 2014 from the bibliography, b) typed 1968 instead of 1986 . . .and so on, and on), followed by a stomach churning, "how-could-I?", sort of feeling. Am I really capable of using one edition of Terence for the quotes in the text, and another for the quotes in the notes? (Answer: yes, but it's been fixed).
But Christmas work is, however, gratifyingly different from the usual grind. Apart from the occasional emergency dash to the library, I've been settled in at home, in a comfy chair, in front of the fire -- with the occasional glass of wine (carefully calibrated to aid resilience, but not effect concentration; yes, it's tricky).
One consequence of this routine -- clearly out the fire at 8.00 a.m., laying it again by 8.30 (with a profligate use of firelighters to make 100% certain that it's roaring within minutes) -- is that one gets extremely hot after a few hours.
Which raises the other issue, in second place on the work agenda over the holidays -- accounts, bank, tax forms etc. In an effort to find out what we had spent on the energy (apart from the coal and logs, provided at very reasonable cost by D. K. Till and son-in-law), the husband went on to the E.ON website. In order to get to the figures, he had to go through a "socially responsible" page, which helpfully informed him (in a slightly finger wagging way) that our energy bills were 157% that of average of similar properties in our area.
Hang on, we thought, how do they know what our property is like, and what is similar? Fortified in our puzzlement by a drink or two, we emailed E.ON to ask exactly that: how the f*** do you know?
A bit surprisingly, we got a reply. They had obviously had questions like that before, because this is how the "one we prepared earlier" reply went:
Hello Prof Beard and Prof Cormack. Thanks for asking about the Similar Homes Comparison. Our goal is to provide you with a comparison that is valid and meaningful to you. Currently, our report comparisons include a group of similar, nearby, occupied E.ON customer's homes that we think have similar characteristics such as building type (Detached, Semi-Detached, Apartment, Bungalow etc), number of bedrooms and occupancy.. Our research shows that, for almost all residents, this provides a good indication of typical usage. However, there are some factors for which we don't account for, such as your personal circumstances - for example where you are at home all day or work full time, or how limited you are for making energy saving improvements due to the age of your property. To help make your comparison more accurate you can provide additional information about your home in the 'About My Home' page. You can find this by clicking on 'Tell us about your home' on the Home Page section of the Toolkit.
That was just the beginning of several more paragraphs that finished by advertising its great new tariffs, including the special one for the over-60s (which seems to have been designed to be specially expensive -- surely I must be misunderstanding something here..?)
"This tariff is especially designed for people aged 60 and over. Age UK Fixed 2 Year protects you from price increases for 24 months, subject to VAT and regulatory changes, and has no exit fee. Prices on this tariff are more expensive than our standard variable price tariff, E.ON EnergyPlan (As at 18 January 2014)."
Anyway, never mind the senior tariff, we decided we would go and visit the "About My Home" section and fill in some details, and see if we could get a bit closer to the average that way... trouble was, we couldn't actually find the "About My Home" section.
So back to the correx.