Nobody from Fulcrum came back on Friday, but I did have a phone call saying that it would cost me an extra £147 to get the "riser pipe" put up to the first floor. Apparently this requires scaffolding etc., rather than just a ladder - health and safety regulations strike again... I still think it's a rip-off, since their surveyor should have identified this before I got the previous quote (£313). However, I think it's simplest if I pay the money now, so that I can get this work done, then argue about a refund later. The earliest that they could install the pipe is Wednesday, but it has to wait until Thursday because the person who would be here to let them in is off to Azerbaijan for the football match. (Nothing wrong with that, it just amuses me as an example of how increasingly bizarre this is getting.) That means that I won't be able to get the meter installed until Friday at the earliest, and then my plumbers won't be able to connect that to my pipes until next week (18th onwards).
Speaking of the meter, once I realised that it couldn't be installed on Friday, I asked Fulcrum (the guys digging up the road) whether they'd tell British Gas about this, to avoid them having a wasted trip. They said no, because the two companies don't deal directly with each other. So, I phoned British Gas myself, and they said that I needed to talk to Transco. So, I phoned Transco, and they said that I needed a different department. I phoned the second department, and they said that I needed to speak to Fulcrum. It's wonderful to live in the age of communication... At that point I just gave up, and told my builder not to bother hanging around. I got a card through the door from OnStream (a Transco company) with a British Gas logo, saying that people turned up to install the meter but nobody was here, so I'll talk to them tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I phoned EnergyWatch, to bring them up to speed on recent developments. I had a letter from them earlier in the week, saying that they were still waiting to hear back with an installation date (evidently they didn't get a copy of the letter that was sent to me), i.e. they're still chasing their two-week deadline from August (which the gas company did miss). I couldn't get through to the person who's dealing with it, so I left a message for him. The person I did speak to told me that their current plan is to wait until 12th October for a reply, and then if they don't hear anything then they'll chase British Gas again and wait until the 20th. Wow. It seems to me that an effective watchdog should be able to do more than just "roll over" and "play dead".
Fulcrum did come back yesterday, and made an even bigger hole, but they have now found the gas main, and put a short pipe outside my building (for the riser guys to extend). They can't fill in the hole, because new regulations say that they can't just dump back in the rubble they dug out - it needs to be permanent rather than temporary. I'm not quite sure what that means, but in the short term it means there's going to be a big hole outside my front door. One irony here is that the gas main turned out to be under the pavement rather than under the road - if they'd known that at the start, they probably could have done the work sooner, since they wouldn't have needed the council's permission to interfere with the flow of traffic.
On the plus side, the broken window has now been fixed, so it's not quite so cold here.
Anyway, this should hopefully all be finished by the end of the month, so I'll be inviting people round in due course. My current plan re: flatwarming is to have a few small parties rather than one big one, until I get an idea of how many people can comfortably fit into the flat.
Meanwhile, my flat is apparently up for sale again. Well, actually it's the flat above me, but the estate agents have got confused and put the sign outside my window, and the wrong floor in the website info. I've emailed them, so I'll see how long it takes them to sort it out.