Yesterday the gas man came round to service my boiler and look at my radiators. We always have good times, the gas man and me. Him with his outlandish "gas tools" and me with my paralysing fear that he will tell me my house has to be knocked down because of "gas problems".
This year's visit was a rollercoaster of emotions. Oh dear, says he, your boiler should not make any long term plans that involve a continued existence. From what I could tell, its insides are all twisted up (like Gollum's, perhaps). But this was expected. That thing had one yellow tooth left and a walking cane the day I bought this place.
Then, then came the best bit. I decided, as a treat to myself (and as a tribute to gas) to have my living room fire serviced. It is an exciting fire that produces hot, Bunsen burner-like flames that you can admire. I imagined the gas man would clean out a few tubes and nozzles, compliment me on a handsome and fiery appliance, then go on his way, whistling. Things did not work out like that at all.
John, he said, this thing is a death trap. You are lucky not to be dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. Your chimney is a non-functioning disgrace and you should seize every day because frankly, each one is a precious gift ill-deserved.
But, said I, see the pretty flames, how they dance! At which point he disconnected the offending heat-maker, tucked it under one sooty arm, and took his leave. It was probably for the best, thought I, gazing upon my ravaged hearth and checking for short-term memory loss.
I bought an electric fire today, which I thought would have led to some nice anecdotes about how I drilled some marble and knocked my house down, but sadly it took longer to extract it from its box than install it. The nice thing about the new fire is that you can turn the faux flames on without generating any heat.
I shall let the faux flames lick all decadent summer long.