At New Year, I started writing a 'review' of 2020, basing it on the photos I'd taken, but I gave up because it was so boring. Anyone want to see the new slippers I got on 7 July? Anyone?!
I'm still planning to post some of the more interesting bits, including the story of my epic trip to the Beardsley exhibition, in London, last August, which was like being in an episode of The Walking Dead -- actually, more like World War Z, because they moved so fast -- but in the meantime...
About ten days ago, I thought I noticed a faint smell of gas in the cupboard under the hob. (It's where I keep the saucepans, so I usually open it several times a day). A couple of days later, the smell seemed a bit stronger so I went online and ordered one of these
from Amazon Prime. (And, I have to say, it's my new favourite toy ;-)
When it arrived, I decided that the tester itself was probably quite safe -- that is, untouched by human hands for some time -- so I tipped it out of its packaging, washed my hands, fitted some batteries, and set about testing for gas. You have to switch it on in a 'clean' environment -- meaning gas free, I presume -- so I switched it on in the sitting room, carried it through the dining room, where it started to buzz, then poked it into the cupboard under the hob, where it went berserk.
I phoned British Gas, and they sent two blokes to investigate.
The two blokes found a leak in the joint between the pipework and the hob and quickly repaired it but, when they tested the gas flow again, they 'got a fall of three millibars', which, in English, apparently means they'd detected another small leak. Since they were the Emergency Squad, 'all they could do' was cut off the gas, tell me I needed to find myself a GasSafe Engineer, and helpfully give me a web address to aid me in the search.
I phoned my brother, P1, who is in the building trade, and he recommended two companies. The first could do nothing for two weeks, the second sent a
YOUNG LAD: How old was the other engineer?
ME: About fifty.
YOUNG LAD: If I know a boiler like this has a pilot light, he has no excuse!
It turned out that my boiler, being over forty years old, has a problem with its pilot light and a slight leak in its 3-way valve, and that new parts must be ordered...
The young lad cut off -- as in chopped off -- the valve, and blocked the end of the pipe, then turned the gas back on, which restored the hob but not the heating nor the hot water.
So now everything is cold. Everything. The air's cold, the walls are cold, the floor's cold through my famous slippers, the teddies are cold to the touch, EVERYTHING is cold! Water from the tap is icy cold! It hurts to wash my hands!!
My home is like Elsa's palace without the pretty blue.
And, to be honest, with no hot water for washing up, the hob isn't much use. I have learned the best way to wash up using water from a kettle, though:
1. Stand your pots in the sink.
2. Squirt some washing up liquid into each pot.
3. Pour boiling water into each pot.
4. Boil more water.
5. Pour boiling water into each pot.
6. Boil more water.
7. Pour boiling water into each pot.
8. Boil more water... etc, etc.
9. Add some cold water to each pot to avoid scalding yourself.
10. Wash each pot.
11. Repeat steps 3 - 9 to rinse.
(Trust me, if you pour the boiling water straight into the sink, it just goes cold).
At Christmas, I'd decided to keep my decorations up until Candlemas because I thought I still needed something cheerful about the place, and I was planning to take them down at the weekend but, instead, I spent the mornings in bed under a duvet and some blankets, and the rest of the time sitting in front of a draughty fan heater, wrapped in a rather nice poncho
(also from Amazon) and some Christmas throws. The decorations will just have to wait until the house is warmer.
The gas company is going to phone me when they know more about the parts (which, unfortunately, means I'm having to answer, and check out, all the nuisance calls I normally just ignore). If I haven't heard anything by Wednesday, I'm supposed to chase them.
But the cold isn't the worst thing.
The worst thing is that I'm already a bit anxious when P1 (who's my support bubble but also supports several other people*) comes to help me with a minor emergency. Over the past week, I've had to let three strangers -- two of them, it has to be said, with quite sketchy ideas of what social distancing means -- into the house for long periods. And, of course, there will be more coming. It's proved to me that feeling safe and comfortable in the presence of at least one other human being is an absolutely basic human need, on a par with needing food and water, and acts as an anchor for your interactions with the rest of humanity.
*Bless P1, it's because he can't say no to anyone, but I don't think he realises how risky it is.
Please God, let the gas problem be fixed on the next visit.
If I had a camel, I think its bloody back would be broken.
(Famous last words, of course).