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Letter to America: Shrouders On:2022-05-20 06:19:38

My Dear Americans,
    We just got a visit from [pause] the Shrouders.

Shrouders: [pause] now that's a name that should belong to a mysterious and powerful cult, the sort of people (if they are actual people rather than, say, lizards1) who make the Illuminati look like the Girl Scouts of America but with better cookies.

Shrouders: [pause] it's the sort of word that should be whispered round the village in terror "Arr! Shrouders be a-comin'. Lock up your'n daughters... Oh an' the sheep"

Shrouders: [pause] shrouded in mystery not to mention shrouds.
Though actually they aren't all that bad, the only weird thing about them is that they are electricians, not that that's weird in itself, but that they are electricians sent by British Gas, and that's "gas" in the British sense, not the American, you know one of states of matter along with Ionized Plasma, Quark-Gluon Plasma, Bose-Einstein Condensate, Fermionic Condensate and so forth, and so forth, oh and of course Liquid and Solid, and certainly not to be put into your cars as you complain about the price rising (though the price of this sort of gas is soaring too ...).
You see we get our electricity from British Gas (and no! we don't get our gas from English Electric) and as we finally, almost, nearly, get to the end, more-or-less, of our renovations our attention has been drawn to our chimney, a chimney that has often been compared to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, though never favourably. The fireplaces that the Victorians relied on for central heating having not been in use since the 1950's, it hasn't either (apart from by the odd suicidal bird, which I do not want to talk about2) and we are in desperate need of an emergency partial chimney-ectomy (sort of like a vasectomy, only much, MUCH higher up) to chop the thing down to a safer and more stable size.
To do this our contractor said we would need scaffolding, and the scaffolder said that the ancient power cable bringing electricity to our house from a nearby pole and via an attachment to the Leaning Chimney of Beccles (or LC of B as it is widely known) was dangerous, possibly lethal and, wait for it, we would need shrouding before he could start!
So we symbolically locked up the daughters and the sheep (not that we actually have either in the house at the moment) and called British Gas to make an appointment, only to discover that they aren't Gassy people after all, but a species of infrastructuralists, UKPN: the apparently well known United Kingdom Power Networks, who own and maintain the electricity cables around these parts, so we called them and made the appointment.
And so we just got a visit from [pause] the Shrouders.
They arrived, a team of guys in hard-hats and an enormous cherry-picker-truck that turned out not to be enormous enough, and after some very thoughtful and thorough checking and consulting told me that we would need scaffolding.
I did point out that this was where we came in3 and that things were becoming impossibly circular, but it turns out that they laugh at dangerous, possibly lethal cables so that would not be a problem, plus they could run a brand new modern cable and could do it to the gable end of the house, entirely avoiding the LC of B. However there was the telephone pole that British Telecom had sited in an inconvenient location when telephones were first introduced, almost certainly with malicious prescience. There appears to be little love lost between UKPN and BT, especially since BT somehow managed to get the authority to attach their cables to UKPN poles without any reciprocal rights. I don't know the details as I wasn't prepared to risk distressed or angry Shrouders by pressing them further.
[Sigh!] We would have to have another appointment. Not till August! Two and a half months (as of writing). Oh well, can't be helped, and the contractor has other things to attack.
So, again, we will have a visit from [pause] the Shrouders, the villagers will have to put up with their sheep complaining and their daughters baaa-ing from their respective bedrooms under lock and key again.
And, rather ironically if you think about it, the new cable won't need shrouding.
Kindest regards,
Richard Howland-Bolton
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
from me!


1 See here.

2 See Official Report of the Dig at the Front Room Site, 2021 in the 'Side Project additional 2" section or here.

3 Showing my age. Time was when a movie was screened over and over and patrons could enter at any point and watch the movie starting at any point in its story-line watch to the end, then maybe there'd be some shorts, and finally see the beginning through to the point at which they would say something like "this was where we came in" and then leave, or not...
From Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana Texas 5 december-1935.

And the exception that, if not proving*, certainly illustrates the rule:

*  My misuse of 'proving' is absolutely, definitely intentional: see Proofing Ground.

Finally (mid Octoberish) all done!

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