Mad as a fish

I was clearing out some old paperwork and came across the documents I had printed off when I used the aforementioned ‘Mad as a fish’ as my Internet service provider (ISP).

For the benefit of anyone under 30 struggling with the concept of what paperwork means, back in the day when you subscribed to or contracted with any kind of service you always got a pile of paperwork. It’s worth adding that all but the most diligent wouldn’t actually read it, but dutifully filed away…or for the less organised, shoved in a drawer somewhere.

I can’t quite remember why I signed up with them back then. I have long since moved on through quite a few other ISPs but not with quite such ‘off the wall’ names. It might have been the quirkiness of having a slightly strange e-mail address such as ugly.ocean-monster@madasafish.com . Although cyber crime and phishing e-mails (no pun intended!) weren’t really widespread then, even in those days it would have been a warning sign to get a random e-mail saying Dear Ugly Ocean Monster, it appears that your car tax Direct Debit has failed, please connect to this site and give us all your personal data so that we can hack you etc. Let’s face it…how many Ocean Monsters have cars, or can drive?

As I wrote on a previous blog, call me baked potato I am actually a big fan of having a random e-mail address or two to use when you are absolutely forced to give a contact e-mail for an unfamiliar on-line retailer or booking service even though deep down you know at best this address will be spammed with rubbish and at worst there will be attempts to scam you.

In fairness to fish, and using the context of ‘don’t get mad, get even’ rather than any kind of Mad Professor behaviour or other suggestion of not quite being in line with everyone else; most fish I have come across have been pleasant and very even tempered and if I recall Mad as a fish were quite good on customer contact and service. Glad to see that they still seem to be around.

These days many people tend to sign up with mainstream providers – in the UK it is often Sky, EE, BT (the original and largest fixed line and phone service provider) ; in the US it’s Comcast and Verizon and a whole host of other big names. If you live in China I think its just two providers . That’s some duopoly!

However in Switzerland , amongst the advantages of living in a country that is very good at Chocolate, Mountains, Trains that run on time and watches that are on time too but have eyewatering price tags, they had a start up ISP called Twifi which generously offered free WiFi for 18 years for anyone who named their child after the company. If you had a daughter is was to be Twifia, if it was a son, Twifus. All you had to do was send them a verified copy of your child’s birth certificate.

Such offers don’t seem to be available in the UK much to the relief of children whose parents signed up with Cuckoo Internet!

Our children were from an earlier era, and it was really just energy providers that were proliferating.

Thankfully for them such marketing campaigns hadn’t existed from the providers we had signed up with, otherwise we might have been proud parents of Octopus and Bulb..the big name providers of the time!

China in my mind

The 1980’s band T’pau had a very successful hit with China in my hand, despite most of the millions who bought it (yes they didn’t download back then, they bought some vinyl with a groove cut into it…) not really having a clue what is was about. In case you want to know, it was actually about how if you held a china cup in your hand it was translucent. and you could actually see some kind of ghostly image behind it. Strange title, but anyway, it made Carole Decker and her band some money and fame. This is actually all quite irrelevant, but please store the fact away in case it ever comes up in a music round of a pub quiz….or more likely at the moment a Zoom Quiz.

I actually have China on my mind, not on my hand. Why? Well , I occasionally look to see where my blog is being read using a clever little App that I have, and I have noticed of late that I have an increasing readership in China. But lets not get carried away here..I only have a couple of hundred subscribers through various media and historically these have been people in the UK and a few other European counties and the USA , Canada and Australia where I have both family and work connections…and these are English speaking countries and in many cases, expatriots from the UK. I have freely written about UK life and probably more specifically Yorkshire life, happy in the knowledge that it resonates with the reader either from personal experience, TV or some other connection.

But for some reason, the Chinese search engine Baidu seems to have found me and delivered my posts to people in China. I have only been to China once, and just scratched the surface of the vast country…but learnt enough from that short visit to know that my world is very different to theirs.

So to all of you reading this in China …thankyou, and I trust I have not baffled you completely and yes, what I right is really true.

The internet is truly a wonderful thing (when used wisely and carefully) and I often ponder what my late departed parents, only one generation back from me would think of the truly amazing means of sharing and communication open to us all.

And then there were three…

People seem to like things in threes. People expect a third bit of bad luck after two disasters befall them. I am really not sure if I subscribe to that way of living myself, and would actually be more than content with just two bits of misfortune!

Footballers always want another goal after their first two so they can get a hat-trick if they get a third. And for those who are not followers of football (soccer) or possibly, polo or handball…the term may not mean anything to you.

This really weird term originated in cricket when a cricketer, Mr Stephenson won 3 wickets in a row and the crowd were so pleased with him, they took a collection for him and he bought a hat with the proceeds. Quite why he bought a hat rather than just a large round of drinks, history does not seem to say.

Get involved in any wager, and for the losing participant, if things aren’t going well, then a plea of ‘best of three’ is often called for in the hope of grasping success from the jaws of failure.

And so on….

Anyway for me at the moment, I too have things happening in threes….

I have my own game of three parts going on at the moment just to indeed endorse that everything happens in three’s.

As I am reasonably tech savvy, by some co-incidence I have been requested by 3 completely independent individuals at this one time to help them migrate to a new internet solution.

What could possibly go wrong?

The first one went like clockwork, actually like Swiss clockwork!..router arrived on time, line enabled and all working like a dream.

The second has been the biggest fiasco ever and 10 days on still no connection, formal complaints raised and hours of my life gone…on hold to a contact centre!

The third one, well the jury is still out…maybe will be ok?

I know you can’t always expect all three to be perfect…ask Goldilocks that when she did porridge sampling at the three bears house, but even so, this just getting an internet connection, not putting a man on the moon, neurosurgery or writing a best selling novel.

Having said all of that, we do now take our telecoms in the home and all that it gives us totally for granted.

As a child in the 60’s I remember phone calls outside of my local area being treated as one off and expensive events. You had to ring the operator and tell them you wanted to make a trunk call to London for example (we lived in Glasgow). The operator in Glasgow would have to liaise with the London operator and join everything up and then call you back!

I can’t really recall the actual changeover some years later to what was then called STD calling (self dialled trunk calls) but thinking about it, it must have been a real revolution. And don’t forget this was still in the days of telegrams and businesses using telex…or even phoneboxes!

For anyone under the age of 50, you will probably now need to ask best friend google to explain these…..