There’s nothing like listening to the radio announcer say that tomorrow is going to be a ‘snow day’ and likely to hit sub-zero temperatures whilst at the same time I am dialling the emergency plumbers to come repair my boiler that has packed up. It serves me right. The cost of a new boiler is about £3,500 and so I’ve been putting a plaster on the thing every 6 months for the past couple of years instead of replacing it. The last repairman told me it was on its last leg. ‘Would you like me to get someone in,’ he said. ‘To give you a quote. You’re probably looking at £2000, probably more.’
‘That’s OK,’ I said. ‘Just fix the problem. When it goes for good, I’ll get rid of it.’
In an ideal world my boiler would pack up in mid-July when I could get away with no heat for a week or so, blagging showers off my friends or at the local gym. But of course very few of us live in an ideal world so it’s hardly surprising that my dearly beloved boiler has chosen the coldest day of the year to say farewell, leaving me standing in my kitchen wearing my jacket, 2 pairs of socks and sheepskin slippers.
The plumbers have come and gone, shaking their heads and murmuring something about it being difficult to get parts for such an old boiler and the only parts supply shop being on the other side of London, a journey that will take them the same amount of time as a one way flight to Germany. There has been 5cm of snow and the roads are treacherous, although for the first time in 30 years I’ve actually seen trucks come out and grit. That’s progress for you.