Friday, 11 April 2014

Ecce beatam lucem

There have been days when I thought the entirety of volume II of The Venice Project would be dedicated to my seemingly endless battle with ENEL, the state electricity provider. It took nearly two weeks to get the supply reconnected after the previous tenant moved out. It was taking so long I briefly considered getting in touch with the two employees I taught business English to, nearly eighteen months ago, in the hope they might be able to move things along. And then, one blessed evening, I turned up at the flat, flipped the trip switch on the fuse box to the 'on' position, more in hope than expectation, and...the lights came on. I heard the opening bars of Also Sprach Zarathustra running through my head...

It didn't end there. ENEL refused to believe that there was, or ever had been, a gas supply to the flat; but they switched it on anyway. Nearly there then, except the cooker needed to be connected. The previous tenant seems to have bought a spanking new gas cooker and never used it. The landlord seemed surprised it was there, and didn't even know if it was electric or gas.

Now, connecting it up appeared to be straightforward. Just connect the gas pipe to the rear of the stove and that would be it. But, even in Italy, you're not supposed to install gas appliances yourself. So a man had to come out.

This was a stroll in the park compared to the struggle with ENEL. Nevertheless, it took a couple of days to organise. One afternoon, I found myself leafing through the instruction manual. It really did seem very easy. Surely even I could manage this? Connect the pipe to the back of the cooker. Switch gas on. How hard could it be? And then I thought about the possible consequences. Incorrectly installed gas appliance. Dozens of other residents. In the middle of an historic city. I shook my head. I badly wanted a cup of coffee...but not that badly.

Still, it's installed now, and my special cooking trousers can be pressed back into service. All that remains is to get an internet connection. Except that Telecom Italia refuse to recognise our address. Their help page is on Facebook. That's right, to register a problem with the state telecommunications company, you use a social networking site designed to allow people to post photographs of their cat.

Still, I'm not grumpy. It's been fun finding new places to eat. The daily commute is so much easier. The flat, once sorted, will be great. And I'm looking forward to cooking again...