(Written April 1st)
Now I know it is April Fool’s Day but really – can this be right?
It is definitely NOT ‘A Gas’.
You may recall that we had a lot of trouble with our central heating boiler last December and again after Christmas but you may not know that the problems dragged on well into January when British Gas decided to flush the entire system. This didn’t happen immediately of course because they cancelled the appointment twice. February dawned before an engineer finally arrived to do the job.
After being without heating for so many weeks we were ecstatic when the boiler burst into life even if it had taken an entire day to sort. The house grew warm.
We breathed a sigh of relief, noticing our breath no longer hung in the air like mist. We could finally abandon the outdoor fleeces.
In March, the weather grew warmer. We didn’t need the heating on all the time. We turned it off.
The radiators continued to blast out their heat.
Mystified, we turned the thermostats down on each radiator and pushed the switch to ‘off’ – to no avail.
A Gas engineer arrived in due course and decided a valve needed changing. We thought that would be ‘job done’. It seemed to work.
Last week, we noticed that the radiators were heating up regardless of whether the main switch was on or off. Sound familiar? At the same time we were having a new work-top fitted in the utility room which houses the infamous boiler. The work-top fitter informed me that he could not do the work that day because the boiler was leaking.
How could this be?
I looked and yes, water was pouring out of a pipe attached to the boiler. This was not good.
The Gas man called again.
“Needs a new valve,” he told me. “There are two and one is leaking. It could be the one the other engineer replaced or it could be the older one. I’ve done a temporary fix but I will replace both.”
He ordered the valve and promised to come back on Friday – today, April 1st.
He arrived at 8 o’clock. His apprentice arrived shortly after.
It is now 1.15pm. The day has not gone to plan. The valves they brought with them are the wrong size. They could not get to the necessary pipe in the airing cupboard beneath the floorboards – at this point they were camped on the landing with tools spread out on a tarpaulin. The apprentice was sent out to collect some ‘parts’ that would make access easier.
This was some time ago. Since then, there has been a lot of high-pitched drilling and banging, pipes groaning and creaking and radiators clanking.
The experienced Gas man comes and goes at intervals, opening and shutting the five bar metal gate to access his van which is parked in the lane. Keano, he of nine and a half years and self-appointed guardian of the house, barks ferociously at this apparent ‘newcomer’ each time he re-appears until he recognises him afresh.
The barking, screeching, banging and drilling continue.
As I write, a new face appears in my house. He has somehow managed to walk right through the front door and on into the living room without being attacked by number one Dog.
Oh Keano, you have let us down. Or have you just given up?
The man is speaking but I cannot hear what he says due to the noise from upstairs. I usher him into the dining room which is relatively peaceful though currently houses a fully laden clothes-airer and is being used as my office today. The dogs follow us.
Aha, this man is a Quality Assessor. He carries out random checks on the Engineers. To what do I owe this dubious pleasure then?
Apparently, he phoned the apprentice who told him he is working with ‘Jack’. (I have to wonder if this is the infamous, ‘Jack-of-all-trades’.) On hearing the details of the job, the QA man wisely decided he’d pop in and give the two some pointers.
He asks to see the documentation for previous visits which I am able to provide, having a husband who meticulously files everything. (I once misplaced a wall hanging plate-clock that had fallen from its nail and found it in the filing cabinet under ‘C’ for clock.)
QA man is up there now, giving the two engineers some pointers.
The smoke alarms have just been set off – apparently they were welding something in the airing cupboard. My ears are still ringing.
At least we know the smoke alarms work.
So, it is now 2.45pm and there are three British Gas Men on my landing, a hose stretching out of the back door from the boiler and a ringing in my ears.
Anyone want to place any bets on whether this will fix the problem once and for all?
My attention is really elsewhere of course. Our second grandson is now five days late and I am on stand-by as my daughter would like me to be there for the birth. If I disappear from the scene suddenly, you will know why.
I only hope the three Gas men can cope by themselves if I am called away. I shant stop for anyone!
Oh dear, the smoke alarms have gone off again – I do hope the house isn’t on fire…