It could be worse.

I was woken early this morning. Not earlier than usual but early enough to make a day off morning seem a bit sudden. I had been up on a cliff edge I think, and part way through abseiling down. The chap at the top was from work and I was anxious, not because I was abseiling but because I had forgotten to pick up my shoes before starting my descent. Shoes it seems were the binding theme but I have no idea why. I’ve had worse dreams. I’ve also had better. That’s almost irrelevant but it sets up the fact that I was woken from my dream this morning by ‘the wife’ who wanted to tell me that there was no hot water in the shower. That meant the boiler wasn’t working and that really is something to be anxious about.

So I slung my body out of bed with a groan and had a good scratch. It goes without saying that both of us are experts at all things plumbing and boilers so we then leapt into action. I ran the hot tap for a few minutes but nothing remotely hot ventured forth which my insider knowledge told me meant the boiler was still not working. Then I tried to put the heating on and the boiler continued to not respond. Now, most people would assume that everything was just dandy at this point but my razor sharp, gas fitted instincts gave me the tip off that nothing could be further from the truth.

Fortunately before I could work out my next move ‘the wife’ kicked in to action. After all she is the real talent in our house when it comes to central heating malfunction troubleshooting. By pressing every single button in sight and in a dazzling range of sequences she was quickly able to establish that the boiler was still almost definitely not working. And yes we did turn it off and on again. And it still didn’t work. Definitely. So now we temporarily have no heating or hot water. Which is a very third world, first world kind of a problem.

However, all is not lost. For a start I am off work this week which means that anything than can get done should get done because the idea of letting a stranger, even one who can plumb, roam around the house on their own is not an idea worth entertaining. We are also lucky to live next door to a gas and boiler fitter. He is a generally nice man though he comes with various flaws which don’t sit well with our desire for a quiet life. He is also about as reliable at ‘the cat’ but I’m pleased to say he is starting to show some signs of rehabilitation (‘the cat’ is not making any such effort). He came in at 6.30am and had a quick look and he promised he would return and he did. He then disappeared to get some ‘bits’ and, again, he did. He said he could ‘fix anything’. Which is never a solid gold guarantee.

The other factors that smile on us are that we are members of a gym and therefore have access to a hot, if slightly inconvenient shower and also that this has happened before and I am finally getting used to dealing with crises when it comes to household machines and their lack of forward thinking co-operation. In the last 2 years the fridge/freezer, oven, dishwasher and washing machine have all died and if there’s one lesson I’ve learnt from these episodes (other than that integrated appliances are a huge rip off) is that what appears to be a big problem usually turns out to be a small one. Certainly so in relation to the day to day existence of a remote Amazonian tribesman or a Siberian fisherman.

The plumber did return and now we’ll have to wait for repairs. ‘The wife’ will wash her hair at the gym after yoga tonight and I’ve got not great plans for tomorrow so who cares if I smell like a toilet. Sooner or later our boiler will work. At worst we’ll need a new one which will most likely cost us more than half the people in Africa earn in a year, and that’s pretty stupid really. Either way I certainly won’t have to worry about catching scorpions for dinner or sewing feathers into my testicles to ‘prove myself’ and I won’t have to walk for miles in sub-zero temperatures for more battery acid to make the vodka last that little bit longer.

If the bottle opener broke? Now that would be a proper problem.

G B Hewitt. 30.05.2018

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