Published: Thursday November 13, 2014.

The Monday I lost my mind

It’s something of a tradition in St Gennys that residents submit photos for inclusion in a yearly calendar. All submissions are collated, the best of the bunch are selected and a calendar is produced for sale. This is the second year in a row I’ve been involved with the production of a village calendar, and on both occasions I’ve told myself it’ll be the last time I play a part in it.

Last year I was ripped off by a 3rd-party printing operation (company details available on request, naturally), effectively losing all the profit that was going to fund the local parish gazette. In the end I found a good printer with a quick turnaround, good quality and prices to match (again, details available if you ask). Save for a later-than-expected launch date and some residents bickering (two photographers had more than one photo in the calendar and one came from an actual tourist visitor to the parish – the horror, etc) it all seemed to go OK.

Fast forward to this year. No-one else stepped into the breach and volunteered to design and produce the 2015 calendar, so I offered. It’s not completely altruistic, I am doing it as an exercise in becoming more well-known in the area and, frankly, I’m probably one of a handful of people that can drive a computer well enough to make a calendar from scratch that will print out nicely. And that’s OK with me.

I used the same (good) printing company as last year and submitted the artwork mid-afternoon last Friday, having spent so many hours finagling it that I was glad to see the back of it. For a Friday artwork submission, I should expect delivery the following Thursday. I’m writing this on a Wednesday afternoon with crossed fingers that the barely-sociable Parcel Force guy delivers tomorrow and I can undertake my weekend plans without having to sort another calendar print run at the eleventh hour.

The artwork supplied on Friday needed a bit of extra work. The printer noticed that some of the dates were close to the inner margin and should be moved. It’s much more preferable to have this spotted and rectified before thousands of sheets of paper go chuntering into a digital printer, only to be spit out the other end and end up in the recycle bin or shredder. I received the request to tweak the margins on Friday afternoon, which I duly did, and I resubmitted the artwork later that afternoon, before the 9pm deadline for a Thursday delivery.

I didn’t hear back on Friday as to whether these changes were good enough to make it into print. The printing company, while having this 9pm cutoff for so-and-so day orders, weren’t actually open at that time. Rather, they weren’t contactable. No website chat, no email response, no telephone response. Nothing. I was, perhaps understandably, getting a bit antsy about whether I’d hit the deadline or whether I’d have to redo it. Again. If I missed Thursday, it’d be a Friday delivery, and I wouldn’t be around, and that would have a knock-on effect with an event happening at the weekend, and so on.

Last weekend wasn’t fun. There was no word from the printer. I made more tweaks just in case I was asked to resubmit it on Monday. I was secretly hoping I would get the chance to resubmit the artwork, but it was hardly a big deal if not. My grid spacing wasn’t perfect, and if anyone complains that their Friday/Saturday bounding box is 0.5mm out of whack I’ll give them a refund out of my own pocket.

Put all that to one side for a moment. At the end of August, I placed an order for winter fuel. I ordered 960kg of sawmill briquettes and 160kg of kindling. Buying a bunch of wood in August is a masterstroke of forward planning because demand is low and the prices reflect this. I could store it safely in my garage and use it piecemeal as the weather dictates. I also get to unload and repack the 960kg of shrink-wrapped briquettes in the daylight when it’s not raining. This is smart.

Only it never happened that way. There was, I’m told, a delay in the production of said briquettes and I wouldn’t have them for a while. September came and went, and each time I asked for an update I was told that I’d already been emailed about the status (I hadn’t) and that I’d be contacted again when there was a better idea of the delivery window. October arrived, and so did the rain. No briquettes. Another enquiry later, I was told early November. Reading between the lines I was also told to stop asking. November arrived. Still no briquettes.

Let’s jump back to the calendar/printer story. It’s Monday, and I have not been able to confirm whether the artwork is OK to print. I am losing my mind. I mean, Monday was a tough day mentally-speaking, but I absolutely lost control. There were copious alcoholic beverages consumed, which is actually rare for me. The mind-losing aspect of Monday triggered a switch in my brain and I got in touch with the briquettes supplier with an ultimatum: I want delivery in the next 14 days or a refund. I was then told that my ordered would be expedited and I could choose the day of delivery. How ‘bout that.

I was going to write about how Amazon Prime has ruined me because I expect to have things delivered on a given day and have appropriate communications in the meantime, even at the weekend. Then I thought about the absurdity of Wednesday half-day closing in some areas of the UK. And then I thought about how quaint Sunday trading laws are. But mostly I just want my briquettes delivered.