This week I have been feeling a bit grumpy. It started last Saturday when, just as I was getting ready for bed, my wife discovered bulging walls and dripping water in the kitchen. Cue late night telephone calls to insurance company and British Gas (who maintain our hot and cold water systems). Also cue switching the off the water supply (after filling the kettle and a couple of buckets) and turning off the boiler. The electrical controls were in the same wall as the leak, as was the plug for the fridge freezer. Eleven o’clock saw two short, middle age women trying to re-position a large electrical appliance until the (surprisingly short) cable could go into another socket.
On Sunday the very nice man from Dyno-rod (on behalf of BG) came and found the source of the leak – the hot water tank in the airing cupboard. He managed to isolate it and restore running cold water to some parts of the house – all appropriate places, thank heavens. Since then we have had no central heating and only cold water from the taps. Hence, me being in a grump.
This morning, lying in bed under a warm duvet with extra heat generated by two dogs and one of the cats, I finished reading ‘My Name’s Not Friday’ by Jon Walter. It reminded me a little of ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ by Solomon Northup, but with a lot less violence and a lot more religion. It was a good read. I put the book on my bedside cabinet and pulled my chilly hand back under the covers, tugging them up over my slightly icy nose, and had a serious word with myself.
I am not the first person not to have central heating. We certainly didn’t have it when I was a child. When I had my first home, heating was from a very dodgy gas fire and only in one room. Later, we only put the heat on when we could afford it. Now I am lucky enough to have the luxury of heat at the touch of a button and hot water whenever I turn the tap. Samuel and Solomon would have been delighted to have any sort of soft mattress or warm blanket during most of their stories. The idea of a full larder and a well stocked fridge-freezer would have been miraculous and heaven-sent. The freedom to visit any of those wonderful things without permission was a prospect only to be dreamed of.
You only have to turn on the news to see people who struggle to live their lives without things we in the western world consider to be basic – running water, fresh food, warm shelter. I walk the dogs and have time to enjoy the spring bulbs showing their faces to the sun without scanning the sky for planes carrying bombs or searching behind every hedge for aggressors with guns or knives.
So today I have given myself a swift kick up the mental backside, thrown on an extra layer and got on with things. It’s much easier to keep warm when you are doing something than when you are sat on your bum feeling sorry for yourself. With luck, this time tomorrow we will have heat and hot water back on tap but, if we don’t, I’m determined not to let Grumpy Kim back in.