Central Heating

Maybe this is what growing up means. Spending one thousand pounds on fixing a boiler, instead of buying an Oculus Rift. God. A thousand quid. Now I’m sitting in my flat and the ambient temperature is pleasant. Pickle is happily roving rather than finding a soft bit near a heater and camping out. I have nothing flashy to show for my money but Brian, Mel, Pickle and I will be warm, and maybe this will help me to deal with this worrying cough that I’ve started developing.

It has been a long time coming, this fix. Almost a year. Now my flat is not an apology-zone. Although my bedroom still needs some work. But everyone works better when they aren’t freezing. It’s time to turn my room into a sanctuary for Al, where I can collapse into something that makes me smile. That’s the next step. Homemaking.

Dean the plumber came round in the morning. Brian and Mel let him in as I was out early, day-jobbing for peanuts. Dean had been working for about 4 hours by the time I got in at lunchtime, and he was looking very low status. I like Dean the plumber, and I trust his integrity, but he was ducking and diving physically when I got home, making brief eye contact, evasive. He had been running into multiple obstacles. It was a bigger job than he’d anticipated. He was worried he wouldn’t get it working.


He asked me almost immediately: “Did the heating ever work in this flat?” “Yes, mate. It worked for years. I had Australians living here. They used to turn it into a sauna.” Brian helped me remember that, having paid Dean Christmas, I needed to get my money’s worth. This job needed to be finished. He wasn’t going to have to work half as hard as I did in December, but being compassionate to his lack of understanding was not going to help get the job finished. He’d been paid handsomely to do it. I needed to see it done. As the man said, “A grand don’t come for free.”

Two tense hours later, he had it. I was trying to pretend not to notice him worrying, whilst batting off all his attempts to tell me it was an impossible job. He had gone into Brian’s room to make a surreptitious panic call to a friend as far from me as he could, and I pretended not to notice but listened. He then unjammed the diverter valve. And from that, it all started working again. Phew. Down the line I might need a new diverter valve. But A: I know that now. £350. And B: I had a hot bath, and emerged from it into a warm flat. God it’s making such a difference. In all honesty, I’m expecting it to blow up in my face. But maybe it won’t. Maybe it won’t.

Back into the fray now. Time see if the universe can find a way to solve the boiler expense. I have no doubt that it will, if I keep myself open to possibilities and continue to work hard to make chances. Meanwhile I’m going to have a warm night’s sleep.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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