Today we were visited by the gasman though I suppose I should be polite and refer to him as an engineer. A pleasant enough young man, he was here to check our gas appliances for safety, a legal requirement on our landlords, the Council, that we are happy to cooperate with.
Last year, the gasman, I mean engineer, who was carry out the same task never appeared, despite my waiting in for him and readying the special radio bell we use when expecting visitors because the built-in one doesn’t work. The fact that this one turned up at all was therefore a cause for celebration. This was not to last.
“Where’s your boiler?” he enquired brightly.
I looked at him narrowly. “Er, boiler?”
“Yes, your gas boiler.”
“We don’t have one.”
It was his turn to look at me narrowly. “No boiler?” Then, with an air of gotcha in his voice: “How do you heat your water?”
“Electricity,” I replied. “Immersion heater. Under the sink.”
Any triumph on my part was short-lived. Before he had even made the slightest gesture towards examining the gas fire, he said “Open gas fires are not allowed in bedrooms. I’ll have to disconnect it.”
I think I have already explained that we live mainly in one room precisely because it is the only room with any heating. In winter, what passes for the bedroom with its 7-foot by 7-foot window which cannot be replaced or double-glazed because it is ancient and therefore protected, becomes like a refrigerator. Living like Eskimos, er I mean Inuit, in an igloo is the sensible strategy.
“Let me get this straight,” said I thoughtfully. “If the bed were in the other room there would be no problem.” He agreed that this was so. I did think of suggesting he come back another day after we had moved the bed – temporarily – to the other room but it all seemed too much trouble somehow, especially as we are awaiting surveyors to discuss refurbishment with us. No doubt I will regret it come the winter.
“Anyway,” he continued cheerfully as he cut the gasfire’s jugular, “being without heating makes you a priority for refurbishment.” I think I was supposed to look cheerful at that point, instead of which I looked even more doleful. Refurbishment means moving out for the duration and paying to move our possessions and what passes for furniture while they install gas central heating that we don’t want, and heaven knows what else.
It is now nearly 3 pm, well after the surveyor’s appointment time of 1 pm and he has not appeared. (Perhaps he used to be a gas engineer.) Tigger has taken an afternoon off work so he’d better come or they will be hearing from us.