Posts Tagged ‘electricity’

The Anglezarke reservoir

It seems a while since I made it out, the past few weeks having been spent sheltering from an oppressive heat. And even though today is much cooler, I didn’t fancy a hill, so we’ve settled on this circuit of the Anglezarke Reservoir, just to get us back into the swing.

It’s a cloudy-bright sort of day, still dry, with barely a drop of rain in ages. The paths are pot-hard, and wearisome. We’ve left the little blue car on the causeway, at the southern end, and are now approaching the halfway point, along the Heapey fold Lane. It’s an uninspiring stretch, all barbed wire, straight lines and miles of that electrified white tape the horsey people use, whether to deter horse or man is open to debate. As for the reservoir, it’s very low, as most of them are now, and, thus far, we’ve had only a few glimpses of it as the path veers shy.

There’s something wrong with my GPS tracker. Every time the phone goes to sleep, it forgets where we are, only to pick us up when I wake the phone again. Which is why our track is as the crow flies, and about a mile long, instead of all wiggly and about two. It’ll be something to do with how Android manages background apps, but this isn’t the time to be sorting that out. I know how far round this walk is anyway: Four and a quarter miles. Flat. Why I think I need the phone tracking us in the first place is a mystery, but we persuade ourselves it’s interesting to know these things, then all we end up doing is fiddling with the phone instead of absorbing properly what the walk has to offer.

We’re late season now, second half of August, and we have several trees along the way showing heat-stress, crisping up for an early autumn. And there are blackberries in the hedgerows, looking plump.

Just here, there’s a fine ash tree, and a good place to settle for lunch, before we plunge into the woods below Grey Heights, and Healey Nab. Heinz mushroom soup today, £1.40 a tin! I fancy the energy bills at their Kit Green factory must be getting on for the GDP of a small nation. I was also saddened to read the Coppull chippy, “Oh my Cod“, is to cease trading, due to the price of energy. I imagine many chippy’s are in the same boat; cafes, coffee shops, too, all victims of the killer watts.

Speaking of which, I’ve been trying to run an energy calculation in my head, one that’s vital to my own well-being. So: if it takes four minutes to boil water using a three kilowatt kettle, and electricity costs 28p per Kilowatt hour, how much for a cup of tea?

It’s taken me a couple miles to come up with the answer: 6p. Now, how many times do I brew up in a day? A lot, for if in doubt have a brew, and I am often in doubt, so let’s say six times. And six sixes are thirty-six, so thirty six pence a day! Times three hundred and sixty-five is,… em,.. calculator on the phone,… 13140. That’s pennies, so divide by a hundred, and we arrive at around £131 a year, brewing up. So, where I’m going with this is,… if we halved the number of brews?

No, wait a minute. Economies like that – like sitting in the dark – won’t even touch the sides. Anyway, when a man has to think twice before brewing up, he no longer lives in a civilised country, and I’d sooner preserve the illusion a while longer.

I’ve been sitting quite still by this tree, and maybe that’s why the ladies’ rambling group comes by and doesn’t notice me, or at least no one thinks to say hello. They’re a fragrant, and colourfully Lycra clad party, and very noisy as they enter the wood, sending up a flock of outraged pigeons. Which all goes to show, when you’re out with your mates, you’re not thinking about how much it costs to brew up, and maybe I should join a rambling group myself. Except, I never notice anything when I’m with a group, and I’m self-conscious lingering over photographs.

Anglezarke Reservoir, August 2022

Built between 1850 and 1857, the Anglezarke reservoir is perhaps the most attractive of its neighbours. But the best walking is along the east bank, where we’re closer to the water and get that lovely dancing light. Today we’re short of water, this northern end in particular, being shallow, emptied early, and is now green with an entire season’s worth of wild grasses and flowers. There’s just this narrow channel snaking down towards the southern end, which retains the appearance of a reservoir. Here, though, the land is reverting to its pre-1850 aspect. I venture down below the winter water-line, back in time, so to speak, to take a picture of the Waterman’s Cottage.

Waterman’s Cottage, Anglezarke reservoir, August 2022

Built in the mock Tudor style. It used to be one of those places I’d dream of living. It’s looking badly neglected now, though – sorry if you live there. But then everywhere’s the same, nothing heading in the right direction any more. It always made for a good photograph, reflected in dark waters, but is now suspended over a sea of green.

Waterman’s Cottage, Anglezarke Reservoir

Just past the cottage, we pick up the path below Siddow fold, and follow the pretty eastern shore towards the Bullough Reservoir. The views open out here, and we can see the deeper, southern end of the reservoir, where it still makes a good show of catching the light. This is the best section of the walk, even when we pick up the Tarmac water-board road, with the sparkle of water coming through mature plantation. Then we meet Moor road, where it snakes down from Lester Mill. The spillway of the Yarrow is dry, of course, and looks like it has been all summer, judging by the vegetation sprouting out of it. Then we’re back at the causeway, where we pick out the smile of the little blue car, waiting. A long four miles, somehow, and ready for a brew.

So we peel back the top, open the flask and enjoy a cup of sweet tea, relaxing in a cooling breeze coming off the water. Sixpence, remember? Or rather no,… forget that. Forget how much it costs to brew tea, for therein lies madness. A quick burst of data on the phone, allows the notifications to catch up. There’s one from Amazon letting me know they’ve dropped off my folding solar panel. That’s to keep my powerbanks and charged for, when the power-cuts begin. It’s another economy that’s not going to touch the sides, but it makes you feel like you’re at least doing something, stealing sunshine. So long as we can walk and write, all will be well. Less so, I fear for others. There is a real sense of teetering on the brink of something awful, but so long as you’re in the mood to read, I’ll be posting my way through it. And I might even finish that novel, before the year runs into Yule!

Thanks for listening.

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Photo by Jem Sanchez on Pexels.com

Why creativity matters now, more than ever

My energy company tells me today there’s good news and bad news. First the good: based on current estimates, I can lower my direct debit a fraction, so I’m only paying twice what I paid for energy, compared with this time last year. The fact I’m also using half the energy, due to drastic economies, takes a bit of the shine off this small concession, and points to the damage caused by the first phase of our so-called energy crisis.

The bad news comes when we factor in what we know about that mysterious body ofgem, and their arcane ruminations regarding the price cap, and its upward trajectory, kicking off in October. The energy company illustrates this neatly with a graph, which has my balance going off a cliff, unless I double what I’m paying again. This applies to me, and everyone else in the country, but even more so to those who have shirked on economising. However, given the scale of this next price hike, I venture that any economising – short of requesting actual disconnection – is futile.

I can pay, though the bill for the year will be the equivalent of the purchase of a used car. Many will be unable to pay, indeed are saying they won’t, or that they will have to enter loan arrangements they’ll be a long time paying off, while still afraid to switch the lights on. It seems insufficient then to call it an energy crisis. It’s more of a social emergency, and our political system seems, at best, unable to avert it. At worst, it seems callously unconcerned by it.

Opposition politicians have been vocal this week in calling for the price cap rise to be scrapped, that massive profits should be investigated, and monies redistributed to hard-pressed consumers. But they can be as vocal as they like, when not in power. Even if we have a mild winter, it will be the coldest for generations, as the thermostats are dialled back, and the cold creeps in. The most sought after lifestyle bloggers and vloggers, will be those offering advice on how to keep warm on zero kilowatt-hours. If only we could bottle up the excess sunshine of this current heat wave, and warm our homes with it when we need it, later on!

In a broader sense it points to a collapse of the privatised energy market, as we enter territory that was predicted by those economists of a more statist bent, decades ago, this being one of runaway high prices for a utility no one can do without, while profits soar. And a service that is too expensive to use already, while becoming all the more expensive, is effectively broken. But where is the repairman when you need him?

These are strange days, impossible to make sense of. We seem to have lived through one crisis after another, for years now – and all of it is very unsettling. I walk through my home village after sunset, and the houses are mostly in darkness, people perhaps thinking to economise by not switching on their lights. Yet I hear the sound of TVs. Such economising makes no sense, given that even a bright bulb of the contemporary LED variety requires six watts of energy, while a big screen TV requires a hundred. Better to switch off the TV, turn on the light, and read a book.

This tells me the rules of the material world have become so opaque to people, we are no longer capable of saving our own skins. Who among us knows the wattage of their fridge freezer, their toaster, their kettle, their ceramic hob? Who among us knows how much their electricity actually costs – answer, in my case, 28p per kilowatt-hour. Such things will have to become second nature.

But much as it surprises me to have reached six hundred words already, the state of the energy “market” is not what I wanted to write about, and I present it only as an illustration of the paucity of warmth and meaning, and the diminishing returns we get from indulging our purely material natures. We surrender our well-being to the market machinery, to politics, and to the chattering of the billionaire presses, at our peril, but only if we believe in the totality of the materialist paradigm, and only if we believe we are robots made of meat.

We are more than that. There is an immaterial side to us, one we explore through the imagination, though this immaterial side is one we seem increasingly reluctant to indulge, indeed one we are even discouraged from exploring. Imagination, we are told, is for children, and something to be outgrown as quickly as possible, then we can take our place as reliable citizens in this rational, material world, in this “real” world.

Of course, imagining cheaper energy bills isn’t going to bring those bills down. But that would be applying the imagination to the level of the gutter, when what we’re going to need over the coming autumn and winter, is a means of rising above it. Anyone who writes or paints, or is into crafts, lives to explore the world of the imagination. They bring the inner world into being. They grant it expression, and are rewarded for it in intangible ways.

Politicians will not solve the coming crisis, and, materially we’ll all be a lot poorer this time next year. That seems to be inevitable. But you needn’t let it take your spirits down too. To this end we are better reading a poem by Blake, and pondering his meaning, than by scouring the Guardian for rays of hope amid the million useless facts of the material world.

Anyone who writes stories, goes out into nature and writes it up for others to follow, anyone who crochets and blogs their patterns, anyone who writes poetry, makes pottery, takes photographs, paints pictures, I beg you to keep doing so. Indeed, you must redouble your efforts. You are each a warrior wrestling the zeitgeist back from the materialist monkeys who have delivered us electricity at 28p per kilowatt-hour.

This is not as futile a fight as it might seem. It all depends on how you define victory. Those materialist monkeys might be raking it in, but they have already paid with their souls, and that’s not really a victory at all. Let’s make sure they don’t take the rest of us down that path with them.

Thanks for listening

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coinsGot a utility or home and car insurance bill recently? Don’t just pay it, query it. It’s expected of you!

Finances in the Graeme household have been coming under scrutiny recently. I’m constantly being told by TV pundits and politicians that the financial crisis will involve lots of “difficult” decisions, and that  we’re all in it together, which I interpret as meaning the state we’re in is is as much my fault as those artfully dodgy bankers and other financial types, for being so wasteful and spending above my means. I’ve therefore been looking at my bank statements ans scrutinising my monetary inflows and outflows, so to speak – dull, I know – but in the process I think I’ve discovered something rather shocking.

The reason my coffers have been dwindling  isn’t my profligate ways at all!  In fact, I’ve discovered to my relief I’m rather frugal. No, the reason my finances are so stretched at the minute is – well, I can hardly bring myself to say it.  While I’ve been busy with  my nose to the grindstone, my coffers have been raided by a sophisticated kind of  – well,…


It’s complex, widespread and totally bamboozling, and it’s hiding under this smokescreen of austerity – that times are hard and it’s only right and proper that we should all be feeling the pinch.

Let me explain:

I  took out a house insurance policy in 2000 and have never queried it, just kept paying the premiums year on year. And those premiums have been creeping up at a rate way above that of inflation. The last four years in particular I thought I was probably paying far too much, but I let it go because I was busy with other things. I queried it this year because I thought £1400 was definitely a mistake, that my suburban bungalow had somehow been misclassified as a country mansion.

But it turns out it wasn’t a mistake at all, just that my “product” was rather old, “sir”. However, the telephone salesperson hastened to reassure  me there was  another “product” that gave me the same insurance cover for £600, saving me £800 a year.

Just like that!

It was a hassle sorting all of this out – expensive phone calls on the mobile in my lunch hour at work, but it was obviously worth it. And this was not achieved by threatening to change insurer, or by losing my temper, or projecting any other emotion that attracted negative energy back at me. I simply queried it. Precisely how and when my insurance “product” became “obsolete” eludes me, also the reason why it should have become incrementally so much more expensive over time. I can only conclude this is the modern reality and we have to get used to it.

Fraud a bit too strong a word perhaps? Well, I’ve been searching for a less pejorative noun, but I can’t find one, and fraud is still the closest fit to the facts as I see them. Taking money for a service, and not telling me I was paying way over the odds for it, relying on my ignorance or reticence for change to query it? I think that’s fraudulent, or at the very least dishonourable – the kind of sharp practice you’d expect from a street hustler or a payday-loan shyster, not a respectable stock market listed company staffed by graduates with degrees in Business Studies.

Sometimes I think I’m the most gullible and trusting person on the planet, but even my easily won trust has been broken, and when ordinary citizens like me lose trust in those institutions that are supposedly the bedrock of our existence – for a family man cannot live without house insurance, any more than he can live without food or water –  then what of society at large?

Gas and electricity bills are another area where this sharp practice is rife of course. Again, it’s an area I’ve been reluctant to meddle in because it’s so complicated and I don’t want to end up getting my energy supply cut off because of a clerical error. My gas provider has eight different tarifs, none of which I understand. They’re also constantly on at me about providing my electricity as well, just as the electricity lot want to provide my gas – but that’s equally complicated, so I’ve never bothered.

You think about doing it every time you get the bill, but then something else comes along competing for your attention, so you set it aside. But my gas and electricity bills have been creeping up to around £2000 a year, so something really had to be done this time, because I’m heating and powering a suburban bungalow, remember, not a mansion or a factory.

I finally got to grips with this over the Christmas period and switched to a company who buys gas and electricity from the utility companies who actually generate and pump this stuff, yet by some weird financial trick this third party company who generates and pumps nothing can sell it to me cheaper. I’ll save £350 a year if it all works out as planned. I don’t understand how this works, and my instincts tell me only a fool would sign up for something he doesn’t understand, but £350 will cover the next service on my car (I hope).

And speaking of cars, vehicle insurance has yielded similar significant savings  –  50% on my own vehicle. Simply by switching insurer every year, there’s always been a cheaper deal to be found. But the irrational nature of this business was brought home to me when my good lady’s car insurance became due for renewal. I’m a named driver on her policy and since I had the misfortune to pick up three penalty points on my licence for speeding, I reminded her to inform her insurer that she had a bad ass husband who was obviously a risk to life and limb. Common sense told me it would probably increase her premiums, and that if it made a big difference, then she should take my name off her policy, that it wasn’t worth it for the number of times I drove her car.

It did make a big difference – it made it cheaper.

Clearly there’s is no real logic to any of this, other than the fact that if you don’t constantly query what you’re paying you’re rendering yourself vulnerable to this systematic fraud – one where you do not get what you think you’re paying for, and one in which you pay incrementally more, way above the rate of inflation, for exactly the same thing you’ve always had, unless you say: “Hang on a minute!”.

Whether we have the nous or the energy required to plunge into this impenetrable jungle of financial double-speak is another matter, but it’s expected of us now – it’s built into the system. Refuse to join in, or can’t be bothered and you’re like a lone cowboy out in the desert with the indians circling. And as citizens of a free-market and totally de-regulated economy, we are unprotected from this kind of merciless predation. There is no government cavalry coming to your rescue. Indeed in many ways, these financial predators are the new government, setting the agenda for the way the world works, and how we all fit into it.

None of this is personal of course. It’s just business.

What could possibly go wrong?

The troubling thing is, these are not luxuries. They are things we either cannot do without, or they are legally required of us, yet I’d say by far the greater proportion of us lack the awareness or even the basic confidence to challenge the system.  I was lazy. It took me a while to wake up and do something about it – and I groan at the prospect of having to constantly keep doing something about it every time a bill appears in my inbox. I’d rather be out walking, or writing, or contemplating my navel. I can do it, if pushed – and I’ve definitely been pushed in recent years – but for many this game is simply too complicated, and they’re vulnerable.

It takes time keeping one step ahead of this game, and I think most of us would rather be doing other things. It will be a sad day when the only satisfaction any of us get is bragging about how much we managed to save on our utility bills. Really, life’s too short. But it’s precisely this attitude the direct debit leeches seek to exploit, bleeding our bank accounts, growing fatter and fatter on our indolence.

So wake up!

It seems altogether the wrong vision for society. Utilities and basic financial services are the bedrock upon which we build our lives and strive for greater things – they should not be so conspicuous in our lives that dealing with them becomes our raison d’etre. In the long ago, the providers of these things were few and trusted (rightly or wrongly), but anyway costs weren’t so great they caused us to tear our hair out in frustration. At eighteen I could easily afford to insure my own car, but my own eighteen year old son cannot. At eighteen my mother’s house was warm enough on bags of coal to keep its heat until late into the night. Now my own modern home is so expensive to heat, we knock the heating off at nine and creep to bed when the January chill seeps into our bones. So this free market free for all, this culture of endless consumer choice, and cut-throat competition, isn’t providing the efficient and all-enabling service to society it so often claims to be, but is in fact slowly crippling it.

Surfing the tempestuous waves of this shark infested free market ocean always leaves me feeling soiled. It seems to insist I declare war upon it, or be eaten. But I am not a soldier, and I still dream of Shangri-la.

Graeme out.

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(ruin: collective noun – a flock of geese, a bunch of grapes, a “ruin” of wind-generators)

I seem to be coming down ever more firmly on the side of those who are against wind generators, which are being sold to us as something of a panacea at the moment. The right-brain argument goes that if you’re against wind generators you’re against the planet. They’re a form of “green” energy, so you’re anti-green if you don’t like them. What I would say is that I don’t like them because they spoil the view, which sounds a bit weak I suppose, when the alternative is a coal fired power station belching out plumes of CO2 that’s going to ruin the planet. In my defence I can only argue that I place a very high value on the way the planet looks, and would sooner reduce my consumption of electricity and thereby obviate the need for these contraptions, than spoil the look of the planet, in order to save it.

Like anything else industrial and privately owned, power generation is about making money for shareholders, and it’s about squeezing the public until the pips squeak, and if anyone thinks that windmills, or any other form of privately owned eco-freindly energy is going to to reduce your power bills you’re sadly mistaken. The only way to do that is to stop burning it, and quite frankly, I don’t think the energy companies want you to do that, at least not until they’ve found a way of generating it for nothing while conversely charging you ten times more for it than they do at present.

But going back to the view, and its ruination by wind-farms:

Imagine a little old man, living in a quiet country cottage. He’s lived there all his life. It’s not a big place and he only has a small patch of land at the back, but it looks out over open farmland and he’s grown used to the simple beauty of it – the pastures, the trees, the creatures, and the changing patterns of nature though the seasons. The light pouring in from this pastoral scene fills his house and colours his life. Then, in his eightieth year, the farm goes bust and the land is sold to an insensitive bastard of a developer who decides to build a massive warehouse right up to the boundary line, dwarfing the old guy’s house and casting it in permanent shadow. When he looks out of his back door now, all he sees is a massive grey wall and it’s like his house has been moved overnight into the middle of the industrial sector of a city.

To the old guy, this is not merely an inconvenience, a minor loss of amenity, causing a dip in the monetary value of his property. It is a shattering of the psychical continuity of his life, and a brutal assault on his senses, as unforgivable as any mugging or robbing of his life’s savings.

Openness and beauty, uncluttered hills, green pastures, sparkling lakes and ponds, centuries old trees, the chatter of clean water running in our rivers and our streams, and the unobtrusive, unlittered paths that wend quietly among them are of inestimable value to human beings on account of their peculiar propeties that are capable of restoring a sense of well being into the hearts of anyone who cares to visit them. Like our planet they cannot be returned to us once they’re spoiled, and they tend to be spoiled when someone with an eye for a profit begins to weigh them up with the peculiar blind sight of the utilitarian economist. If no money can be made from beauty then an insensitive society will feel no loss at covering it with concrete, power-lines, or wind-generators. I can only trust that I do not live in that kind of society, but increasingly I’m beginning to wonder.

Over the last twenty years, China has spent its time powering up and becoming the all purpose manufactory of the world, exporting to us the goods those same utlitarian economists decided we could no longer afford to make for ourselves. But along with their computers and their clothes and their children’s toys and their fireworks, I’ve also partaken of the history of China’s pre-revolutionary culture and also some of its philosophical exports. In Daoism, for example, one of China’s major religious and philosopical traditions, there is a recognition of the power of nature to give expression to a formless and entirely intangible phenomenon called Dao.

Without Dao there is nothing. You can’t see it, touch it, smell it or sell it but you can feel it, and you feel it most strongly in unspoiled nature. Certain combinations of natural form give rise to a greater sense of Dao than others. You’ve all felt it. No matter how beautiful the country you walk through, there is always a special place that comes to mind. These things are subjective and reflective of something in ourselves as well, so they’ll be different for each of us, and often very subtle. It can be as trivial as the way a tree’s branches hang down over a stretch of shallow water, or it can be in the way the light hits a mountain ridge at a certain season of the year. It fills you up with something that makes life all the more worth while. It is one of those priceless and indefinable things that makes up your life’s reward. Yet many spend their lives in ignorance of it.

It’s Dao that tells us a natural forest of native hardwoods is beautiful and uplifting to walk though while a commercial monoculture of Sitka Spruce is butt ugly and depressing. It’s Dao that tells us a stream of water splashing over little stones and tumbling down in silver cascades is pleasant to sit beside on a summer’s day – Dao that tells us that to take that same stream and divert it through a concrete conduit – although it serves the same purpose of moving water from one place to the other – would be a stupid thing to do.

A dozen wind-generators sitting on a hilltop might generate enough power to light the homes of the little village sitting at the bottom, but it’s Dao that tells me I’d be better reading my book by the light of an oil lamp, and gazing out of my window by day on an uncluttered hilltop, than on a scene of utter ruination.

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It’s a rare thing, having the house to myself. Wife at work, kids at school, and here I am already a couple of days into my end of year break. It surprises me though how many people actually call during the day in order to disturb my peace, and usually at the most inconvenient times, such as when preparing a meal, or having a shower. Most of these people are after money – the milkman, the window cleaner, someone collecting charity envelopes I can no longer find. Then there’s the postman, twice – once with a sack load of junk mail and then again with the inkjet cartridges I only ordered the day before (thank you ink2U). And then I had the energy man – not to read the meter, but to doorstep me and apply all manner of psychological techniques in order to get me to switch my electricity supply to his company, rather than the one I’m already with. The conversation went something like this:

Energy man, jovially: “Would you be interested in saving some money on your energy bills?”

Me, suspicious:  “No.”

Energy man, feigning incredulity: “What? You’re not interested in saving money?”

Me, feeling like I’d been interrupted once too often that day: “Look, I’m not interested in switching.”

Energy man, confidently:  “There are lots of savings to be made at the moment, you know?”

Me, wanting him to get the message and go away: “I’m not interested.”

Energy man, beginning to look less sure of himself:  “But it only takes five minutes to change.”

Me, feeling myself becoming coldly obstinate: “I’m not interested.”

Energy man, one last attempt at confident joviality: “You’re really determined not to save any money?”

Me: “I’m not interested in changing.”

Energy man, crestfallen: “Well, can I leave you some information then?”

Me: “No.”

The energy man eventually got the message that my answer was “no” – as incredible as this might have seemed to him. Had he persisted though, and continued to wind me up, then asked me why I was being so obstinate, I might have told him the truth, that it was nothing personal, but that I viewed all the vendors of gas and electricity as potential cheats and liars, and that I didn’t trust him or anyone else who doorstepped me to have my best interests at heart.

And therin lies part of the problem of our rocketing energy prices. Since the deregulation of the energy business here in the UK, we, the consumers, have been granted  good deal of “choice” which is supposed to be good for us, in that it encourages the suppliers to be competitive, lowering their prices as much as they can afford to in order to win our business. That’s the theory, but it doesn’t seem to be working out that way.

If I go into a shop looking for, say a TV, the choice is obvious. I can read the specifications of the various TV’s, look at the quality of the picture, and the price tag, then make an informed choice. I can still get ripped off – especially if I take more notice of the salesman than the evidence of my own eyes and ears, but essentially the process is a simple one, and anyone can understand it.

When you’re buying gas and electricity though, it’s different. For one thing, I don’t understand how such basic commodities can be bought and sold at different prices – how for example, electricity can be generated not twenty miles from where I live, yet be sold to me by a company in a completely different part of the country. It’s a mystery. I do not understand it, so I hesitate to meddle with it in case I leg myself up, and for the sake of saving a few bob I end up in some technocratic/bureaucratic black hole which results in my supply being cut off.

Really, it’s a mystery how prices can possibly vary between companies, when the quality of the electrons or the gas molecules is determined by fundamental physical laws, so to my simple mind the variation in prices has to be some sort of economical trick, which again I do not understand, just as I do not know what the sub-prime market, or a derivative  is – they were tricks too – and they’ve turned out to be very bad, because it turns out nobody else understood them either, least of all the people who were dealing in them.

And then there are stories of people who went through the changeover process, and succeeded in saving a few bob, for a while, before having to switch back because their old supplier was suddenly much cheaper. So, many of us don’t change. We dig our heels in, become grumpy and obstinate and though we probably end up paying more as a result of it, we sit there gnashing our teeth and lamenting the loss of those far off days when we had no choice whatsoever, and yet, paradoxically, our energy bills were an insignificant proportion of our outgoings.

Still, on the bright side, I’ve just found a letter I received a little while ago, from another energy man – the one I’m currently with. He was very concerned about the high cost of energy and the effect it might be having on his poor customers. But help is at hand, he explained,  and all I had to do was sign on the dotted line, and they’d freeze their prices as their current levels for a few years.


Do I trust him? Afraid not. It sounds to me like prices might be coming down*.

*They did, about 3 weeks later!

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