For the past four years, I have been involved in a dispute with a utility company over a sum that ultimately amounted to several thousand pounds. The company will remain nameless here because, today, thanks to the intervention of the relevant government watchdog, we finally settled without having to go to court. It is a classic Damian Counsell life-disaster story: because of his scrupulous chopping-off-his-nose-to-spite-his-face honesty, the Geek sentenced himself to half-a-decade of consumer hell.

The first of many bizarre facts about this dispute was that it resulted from my trying to pay the bill for my own use of their product, rather than the much lower use of another, non-resident, consumer at my premises, and from Nameless Utility Co doing its damnedest to stop me from doing so.

The last bizarre fact was that, last month, when, after all these years, an amicable agreement finally seemed to have been reached, and all that remained was for me to sign the relevant documentation authorizing payment, Nameless Utility’s representative in the negotiations (and apparently one of the few competent people in its employ)—let us call her “K”, for that was indeed her first initial—suffered an acute life-threatening viral infection that put her in a coma for a week. Nameless Utility’s replacement negotiator reviewed the relevant documents, declared that their representative had acted without proper authority, and ripped up the deal. It’s both depressing and funny that her colleagues at Nameless Utility were puzzled by my behaviour when I began my telephone calls to them by asking about her well-being.

I had to threaten legal action to get them to negotiate this new position. They returned to the table—and confirmed the original settlement. I am merely worse off now, but a hell of a lot less badly off than if I hadn’t fought my corner. K isn’t fully recovered yet, but better, thank goodness. Still, I’m not counting on this tale having reached a final resolution until I’m escorted to a quarry for execution.