My stars this week should have said something like: ‘The practical problems in life will loom large. You will be spending a lot of time at home. Plumbers are retrograde.’
It has been a week of waiting. I have waited in for the gardener. I have waited in for the roofer. I have waited for the plumber. On more than one occasion.
The heating and hot water has been problematic for some time. We have had leaks. We have had drops in boiler pressure which have led to either no water, or too much water, or the wrong kind of water. We have had many, many boring incidents which are too tedious to recall, being as they were aggravating, but not dramatic enough to make anything like a good story out of. It’s been a bit like having one of those dreadful head colds where you feel ill enough that everything is a massive ball ache to do, but not ill enough to be able to take to your bed and demand ‘soooup’ in tones of woeful anguish.
We have established that I am least likely person to become a domestic goddess – so you can imagine how much these times try my patience, which is never brilliant anyway.
The day before yesterday I waited around for the plumber. He came to see if he could figure out why the pressure on the boiler was dropping, and to service it.
It transpires that the pressure dropping is due to a leak. It may be due to one that we thought we had fixed but which it turns out was only faking. It may be due to another one, hiding somewhere, waiting to cave the bathroom ceiling in at a moment’s notice. He fixed the leak we knew about. Now we wait to see if the pressure returns or whether I have to go on a leak hunt: ‘Shall we go over it, shall we go under it? etc’
Then he serviced the boiler, and went on his merry way.
Yesterday morning I staggered out of bed at my usual, horrifying 6.00 a.m. After the ritual ablutions I barged into my dressing room to excavate some clothes.
The dressing room is also where the boiler is (do not ask. I did not design the house).
There was a fairly pungent smell of gas as I opened the door.
There is also an automatic light in the dressing room, which goes on as soon as it is triggered by the motion of the door opening.
When there is a gas leak, the first thing they tell you is not to turn on any light switches, as the sparking of the switch can blow you to kingdom come.
Luckily, I did not get blown to kingdom come, but I did have a moment of ‘farkinell’ which left me feeling rather wobbly and distrait.
I roused Jason, who was about as happy to be woken up then as he was when I was convinced there was a ghost in his sock drawer.
I went downstairs to panic away from the smell of gas.
I paced about the kitchen thinking: ‘I could have died!’ and wringing my hands.
Jason came down moments later. He has never done gas leaks before. I, however, am an old hand at this sort of thing.
Before I could say anything, he said:
‘We should leave the gas on, so that when the man comes, he will know we have a gas leak.’
He was opening the French windows to have his ritual, morning cigarette at this point.
I went slightly insane and hopped about demanding that he a) put his cigarette out, and b) went and turned the gas off immediately.
He did both, at which point we proceeded to have a small but intense row where he accused me of being rather melodramatic, and I was rather melodramatic. I believe I said: ‘I could have died.’ several times. I think I also said ‘blown to kingdom come’ now and again. He said:
‘I don’t know why you are getting so upset. You’re still alive.’
To which I said at a rising pitch:
‘But I could have DIED.’
I think it was at this point that we reached impasse.
It would have been a terrible shame to have killed each other after I had survived death by gas explosion. We parted ways.
I went to make coffee, which I felt might help me feel less like I needed to emigrate at half past six on a Wednesday morning.
He went to Google gas leaks.
He trailed back into the kitchen as I hunched over my cup with an ibuprofen chaser.
‘Apparently you have to turn the gas off’ he said. ‘It seems to be quite important.’
This, I choose to believe, was his way of saying sorry.
I nodded and peered into the cup while he phoned everyone he could think of who might come and fix things.
I planned what songs I’d have at my funeral – I was already in a morbid frame of mind ( Burning Down the House by Talking Heads on this particular day).
Jason had to go to work while the children and I waited for a series of gas experts to trail through the house.
It turns out that the company who had come to service the boiler had omitted to make sure that all the pipe work was adequately sealed before they went home the day before, and this is what had caused the leak.
The house is now safe. The boiler company isn’t.