They don’t even sell plums.

So today we are having our boiler replaced. I cannot ever remember having a rosy relationship with a boiler. From the moment I first lived away from home the boilers in my life have been, to put it mildly, shit. When I bought my first flat the boiler there would tick over for ages before it finally kicked into action. The boiler in our current house has flapped about for ages and now it seems to have given up altogether. Or so the boiler man says. And I have to believe what the boiler man says because I haven’t got a clue about boilers. Obviously.

Fortunately our direct neighbour is a boiler man. In any other world I doubt very much that we would get on. But he’s alright in a round about way and we actually get on fine. He is, however, almost supernaturally unreliable and his sense of time is beyond appalling. This morning he said he would be round at 8. He called at 9 to tell me that his gang would be here by 11. On further enquiry this was reconfigured to 1pm and then at 1.40pm 2 big men turned up and now they are exchanging boiler related terms with wild abandon.

To back track – our neighbour fitted a new pump to the boiler a few months ago. We woke up one morning and there was no hot water, an event, or rather a non-event that span me into a wild panic. Being off work I waited for Mr Neighbour to leave his house and beckoned him in. He said he’d return later that day and in fairness he did. He identified the problem, mentioned something about the boiler being old and throwing good money after bad etc etc, ordered the pump and came back the next day to fit it. He charged us the cost for the pump and not a penny for his time. I have to keep remembering that when I consider the empty space the last 6 hours of my life has been.

And then on Monday night we had a power cut. A 4 hour power cut. The energy company texted us both (‘the wife’, not the neighbour) several times to explain that some overhead cables had been damaged but as we sat in the dark and the cold, illuminated by fluttering candles like a couple from a Charles fucking Dickens novel it occurred to me that I’d rather be told the name of the brainless arsehole who had done all that damage and ruined our evening. When the power came back on it must have done something rather intrusive to the poor old boiler, which was happy to heat the house but not so much the water. Awkward sod. It was 5.25am by the time we realised this and so I phoned someone with the same name as our neighbour who did not sound overly pleased to be woken at such an hour by a bumbling twat he didn’t know. Normally I would care and be embarrassed but our boiler was broken and so I didn’t really give a fuck.

And once again, sounding very bleary our neighbour said he would be round later that day and so he was and he suggested possible repairs but the writing was, just like the boiler, on the wall. Once again I could have grumbled about the time I’d waited in for him but since he didn’t charge me for a call out and he temporarily fixed the problem I didn’t have a leg to stand on. And now here I am sitting in the living room, the cold and damp of a grey winters day creeping slowly into my bones as a persistent dribbling noise comes from the kitchen. I assume they’re draining the system but for all I know they could be pissing in the sink.

I have come to the conclusion that living with an old boiler will always be a double edged sword. There is no pun in there, in case you were looking; I’m referring to the heating device and nothing else. They cost a fortune and are far too complicated for the likes of me. I’m more likely to master Chinese algebra before I work out the insides of a boiler. Or the outsides, come to think of it. My neighbour may have a front garden full of rubbish and cardboard (I’m beginning to think there might be a refugee in there somewhere) and a young child that squeals itself into a frenzy every night. For him time might just be something other people use but when I think back on it that’s pretty much plumbers across the board. Our 2 have hit complications (of course they have) but I think they’re back on track. I’m getting chilly sitting here but sooner or later I’ll be cosy and warm and for all my moaning I’ll be very grateful for that.

G B Hewitt. 24.11.2018

Mind you even at ‘mates rates’ it’s still costing a fucking fortune. Bloody bastard boilers.

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