Ah, the lazy, hazy days of summer. Even the staunchest, most sclerotic Englishman born and raised under slate-grey skies relaxes and fluffs out out like a hen in a dustbath. The sun is high, the sky is blue, and the curious Mediterranean habit of the siesta becomes quite tempting. It's only a shame my cable modem has similar ideas: like Coward's crazy canines it goes out in the mid-day sun. No sooner does the temperature outside go above twenty-five degrees than the connection drops and the poor little thing sits there spinning its virtual wheels and flashing its lights. The bits only come back when they can float in on the cooling breeze of evening. Hm. As the interior chez Goodwins has a fairly constant climate, I diagnose a thermal problem in the cabinet on the street outside, perhaps a dodgy connection between me and it. All those black cables ensure maximum cookage, and the cabinets themselves run much hotter than seems sensible. Telewest is surprisingly responsive, and following a quick bout of inconclusive diagnostics over the phone at the weekend ("Yes, of course it's working. The sun's gone in.") an engineer turns up today. The connection is, of course, behaving itself perfectly and my suggestion that he hangs around to catch some rays is not taken seriously. In fact, nothing I say is deemed worthy of consideration, or even registers. He mutters something about low gain, rearranges the cabling in the front room, removes the attenuator that the last cable guy swore was absolutely necessary, tweaks the maintenance page of the modem's configuration utility, and exits stage left. This may prove to work, either because the extra gain masks whatever's drifting away outside or because we get no more serious heatwaves this year, but something tells me that he'll be back before long. Complaining seems churlish, given the extreme difficulties people normally have in getting any action whatsoever from so many customer service lines, but nobody likes to be ignored. Some sympathy is needed, though. When I was fixing televisions as a holiday job in Plymouth, one of the first skills I learned was how to deal with punters who knew exactly what was wrong with their sets, and weren't having any nonsense about it. "Nothing much up with it," they'd say as they handed over a box whose only response to mains was a loud thrumming noise and a faint reek of tortured Bakelite, "just needs a new valve." You'd invariably find that they'd swapped the insides for half a stale pork pie and a copy of the People's Friend from 1954.