As Victor pulls up at Howling Wind Farm, rain pelting down, he finds the farmer, Harry Bellweather, leaning on the five bar gate, waiting for him.
Harry doesn't look pleased.
The call came in first thing that morning, Harry venting a string of expletives into poor Magda's ear, until he stopped, breathless.
'I cleaner,' she said. 'No fix computer.'
Of course, Victor should have been there to take the call - after all, he is on earlies. But a pair of Nike Air Max 90 Premiums took his fancy the previous weekend and, even at ninety-five quid, he couldn't wait to have them. Besides, Touchwood is only a couple of miles out of his way. It wouldn't take more than ten minutes.
If only the shop wasn't crammed for the sales . . .
'Forget desk duty,' said his boss. 'You can go and sort Mr Bellweather's little problem. He gave me an earful this morning.'
'What's the matter?'
'Problem with internet connectivity. I wanted to run some questions by him but I didn't get the chance, the air was that blue.'
'About bloody time, son. I'm losing money hand over fist, thanks to you. C'mon, follow me.'
Harry swings open the gate with a meaty hand, then storms off across the yard in the direction of the byre. Victor looks down at the ground, a mush of mud and cowpats, and curses. Why did he leave the Nikes on? Now he'll have to spend hours picking out the unmentionable from between the treads with a matchstick.
Inside the byre, Harry is holding a netbook in his hand. 'Here, have this before I take a hammer to it.'
Victor takes the netbook (he's never seen a pink one before), balances it on top of a bale of hay and fires it up.
Except it can't find a wireless network.
'Well?' The farmer's face is inches from Victor's. His breath smells of fried egg mixed with whisky.
'Where do you keep the router?'
'The router. It's like a box with aerials. Connects to your telephone socket.'
'If that's an excuse to flog me something, you can beggar off right now.' He clenches his fists. The vein in his neck is standing out like a rope.
'No, no . . you can't access the internet without a router. Didn't they tell you that when you bought the netbook?'
'They never mentioned anything at IT IS US. I said I wanted a cheap laptop and they said this fitted the bill. Look,' he points at a label Wireless Enabled. 'That means it connects to the internet, doesn't it?'