Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I have just about got over a bout of that Norovirus thing. When I heard about hospitals shutting down wards and closing hospitals to new admissions, I just thought it was the media trying to "talk up" a minor event.

Then I started to puke and realised that it is an extremely serious illness. It is Re. Lent. Less.

I have a packet of Buccastem which should have dealt with the vomiting, but the sublingual tablets which have to dissolve in your mouth slowly whilst pressed between the upper lip and the gum, only work if they stay in your mouth. They never had a chance.

I started to feel a little strange on Saturday (9th February). I was at work and trying to keep up with the rest of the team, taking orders and data inputting, but I was sliding badly. I was "off" all round. I couldn't remember the bread codes, couldn't keep a number in my head before I could use it in a sentence and was generally dizzy. The feverishness started that evening and I was in full "Puke Monster" mode by Sunday.

I got a meeting with a GP on Monday and got all the usual prescriptions (lofepramine, cetirazine, fluticasone, erythromycin, sodium cromoglycate etc) and he told me what I already knew, really. Stay at home, drink plenty of fluids (if you can keep them down) and get plenty of rest.

So I did. Of course, this being the twilight world of the temp, there is no sick pay. Only the holiday pay I've accumulated since the beginning of January.

I was okay - ish by Thursday but I work in a food production facility, so I have to be completely well before I show up for work again.

I got a chance to try and fathom the security light ouside my front door. It's been broken since Christmas.

It's a light sensitive gidget which switches on at dusk and switches off when it's light enough. Some days it never switches off. I'm scared of heights and I'm working during the week. I need daylight, good weather and sufficient get-up-and-go to get the ladder, climb it and unscrew the cover to access the bulb.

So. On Friday, I found the three step ladder and brought it outside with me. And took it back inside when I realised I needed the five step ladder. I brought out a cross head (Philips) screwdriver and had to bring that back in to replace that with my Allen key set. My fingers froze as I undid the cover and wrestled with the lightbulb inside.

The outer cover had a small sticker which read 21W. There were two further stickers inside that also said 21W and then there was the lightbulb itself which didn't want to come free. It's shaped like a television aerial with the connector in the centre of the bulb which appears to plug in to a socket in the middle of the light fitting.

Could I get it free? No, of course I couldn't. It's been stuck in there for years and I didn't know in which direction to pull it. I washed the cover and replaced it.

I had another go on Saturday. Freezing, I finally managed to get the thing free to be confronted by four brass prongs sticking out of the middle of the bulb. I went on a walking tour of the three DIY stores in Wolverhampton. Homebase, Wickes and Focus. Not only did they not have 4 pin bulbs, they didn't have 21W bulbs. They all had 16W, 28W and 32W.

I rang Screwfix. Yes. They did have 4 pin bulbs in all three wattages - 16W, 28W and 32W.

It turns out that not only are my window locks a special type, so's my security light. 21W lamps and bulbs are not standard. Let alone 4 pin types.

Just once, I'd like to walk into a shop and buy what I need without the blank looks of poorly trained DIY store workers who look as if they've been asked to provide me with gold plated bricks or if I do try somewhere specialised, a sharp intake of breath and being given a long spiel about how they used to have them but they're not being made now/not a standard fitting or the only place that does those is out of the country and only sell wholesale.

So, having arranged yesterday off weeks ago, I wrapped my bulb up in a scarf and toted it around all the specialist electrical stores around Wolverhampton. All one of them. I had a look in Yellow Pages where some of the local stores were listed as Bridgnorth, Cannock and Stourbridge.

So I took my wrapped up light bulb into the Lighting and Bathroom store to be told that a 16W bulb will do in a 21W lamp - it's fine, just as long as you don't try putting a bulb that exceeds the wattage of the lamp. Did he have any? No. But he could order some for tomorrow. That was fine. By now, I had the bit between my teeth and wanted the job to be finished asap.

So. Today, I rushed from work to get the two bulbs I ordered (one for use and one for spare) and paid £12 for the pair. I plugged one into the lamp in the failing sunlight and was pleasantly surprised to see the lamp shone more brightly than I'd ever seen it shine before.

I then rushed to start connecting the computer with the Internet and, three hours after I started that job, once I had it all arranged and plugged in, I fired it all up.

The first thing I did was type "21W 4pin 2D" into Google.

Well, I'll know for next time.