For most of yesterday Mr B and I felt as if we were living in an Ice House. It wasn't a pleasant experience and not one we are keen to repeat in a hurry.
In short, our
new boiler - installed a few months ago with great ceremony and, regular readers will remember, detailed updates on the Gasman's Progress in the esteemed Daily Blog - packed up. Mr B happened to be downstairs at stupid o'clock in the morning and therefore
witnessed the unhappy moment when the boiler breathed its last and the radiators cooled down. By the time I rolled downstairs, quite a lot later, he had been dwelling on the problem alone for several hours. He was not a Happy Bunny. He was also a Chilly Bunny.
At least my arrival downstairs meant a problem shared. Which, in this case didn't equate to a problem halved but at least we could shiver in company.
I couldn't help sounding off on the basis that our Trusty
Old Boiler had kept us warm and able to access hot water for the best part of eighteen years without ever going wrong. We had only replaced it because British Gas warned us that at any moment it might give up the ghost and leave us in the cold in the depths
of winter. Rather like our brand new boiler in fact. Mr B said this was correct, but unhelpful. What we needed now was a Helpful Engineer and he was prepared to hang on the phone until it was answered by somebody who could send one out to us.
Apparently British Gas TV adverts claim that 98% of emergency calls receive a visit from a Helpful Engineer the same day. But when Mr B finally managed to speak to a person at the other end of the phone, he was told we would
have to wait until the following morning for a visit. Trust us to be one of the 2%.
To be fair, we did have a gas fire in our living room and our cooker is electric - so it could have been worse. We would
have to adopt the Bulldog Spirit, I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. Mr B growled. That wasn't exactly what I meant by the Bulldog Spirit. I meant that we could boil kettles and saucepans full of water - We Would Overcome. Mind you, we almost
had to resort to throwing a dice to determine which one of us left the living room and ventured into the chilly kitchen to put the kettle on, to peel the potatoes for dinner, or to cook our meals. In just a few hours, every other room in the house, apart from
the living room, just got colder and colder.
Now our generation is used to cold rooms from our childhood. I still remember the ice on the inside of the bedroom window and gingerly putting one foot out of bed
onto the cold, cold linoleum every winter's morning to test the temperature. No carpets in my early childhood home. Mind you, the presence of linoleum covering every floor presents a precious childhood memory. My dear Mum would smear polish on the floors,
then my sister Maggie and I would each don a pair of our Dad's football socks and set about the polishing. Except that to us it wasn't polishing - we were skaters extraordinaire, swooping over our linoleum "ice". Figure skating, dancing on ice, spread eagling
around our dining room "rink"- it was just the best fun. Nobody else in the whole street could have had a floor as shiny as ours.
The first house Mr B and I bought together in 1969 did not have central heating
either. However there was a coal fire in the back living room which heated the boiler up in the bedroom above where the children slept. During the winter, those two rooms were toasty warm, even if the rest of the house was chilly in the extreme. So much so
that when we moved to a house with central heating, our young'uns complained bitterly that it wasn't such a warm house as our old one.
Towards the end of the afternoon, a welcome phone call. There had been
a cancellation, would we be at home if a Helpful Engineer paid a visit in twenty-five minutes or so. We didn't have to think about it for too long.
An hour later and the boiler was working and the radiators
were heating up beautifully. I checked this out by sitting on them and can testify that the warmth was slowly returning to our home. For my part, I was heating up splendidly.
The previous night, while Mr B
and I were sleeping, all blissfully unaware of the problems ahead, a team of volunteers from Worthing Churches Homeless Project slept out in the freezing cold, to raise awareness of the plight of homeless people. "I couldn't sleep a wink," one of the intrepid
volunteers told me today, "but I knew I could go home to a warm house and a warm bed. Just think if you have nowhere to go. Think of being cold all the time."
It certainly put our Chilly Sunday into perspective.