It began last Wednesday evening. I’d covered a mediocre ice show for the local newspaper, written and filed the review, drunk a cup of cherry cinnamon tea (try it – it’s delicious) and was in the bedroom climbing into my PJs when the gentle sound of cussing floated up the stairs. Husband was down there, performing the nightly ritual of garbage-carrying and door-locking. Except one of them wouldn’t. Lock. The door, I mean.
The next half-hour was filled with language inappropriate for most ears, so we’ll gloss over it. But you may like to know that if your door won’t lock, a stool set against it and piled with heavy books to a level which prevents the handle from moving is a useful makeshift way of discouraging opportunistic burglars. Not that we heard any, but I’m sure it would have worked.
A call to the house insurance company next morning brought a locksmith hotfooting before midday; apparently our household emergency cover includes not being able to lock the door, on the grounds of keeping the house secure. He replaced not only that lock but also the one on the other door, which had been temperamental for a few weeks and would apparently have played the same trick on us very soon, possibly next week, which would have been far more of a pain.
All’s well that... except...
Cut to Sunday.
Mid-afternoon was when we noticed it, sitting with the weekend newspaper mountain and post-lunch coffee. Not very warm in here, is it, said husband. He’s thin-blooded and feels the cold, so I thought little of it. But a little while later he decided to tour the house – and found that every single radiator was stone cold, and the green light which tells us the central heating boiler is working was on a no-glow.
The temperature dropped quite fast after that. Cue childhood memories of ice on the inside of the windows, and crossed legs because visits to the arctic bathroom were as infrequent as possible.
Our friendly local plumber was with us next morning, within an hour of the desperate pre-breakfast phone call. I love that man. Showering in the now-arctic bathroom was delayed till he’d found the problem, got the system running again and given it half an hour to take the chill off.
All was well again.
Husband, never the most optimistic of souls, began to wonder what would be the third breakdown. I tried to tell myself, and him, that two was enough, and there was nothing else to go wrong, but I don’t think I was really kidding either of us. These things always go in threes.
And sure enough...
One of our least favourite domestic chores used to be defrosting the deep-freeze. So a couple of years ago we invested in a deep-freeze which is supposed to defrost itself. Mostly it does, but occasionally, like most technology, it stamps its little feet and demands attention. We went to the supermarket this morning, tried to pile some stuff into the deep-freeze, and—
Ice builds up behind the back panel, the panel bulges outward and the door won’t close. Needless to say, the panel is fixed and can’t be removed. The only solution is to defrost the damned thing. And it’s the holiday season, so it’s full to bursting.
He emptied it while I sought out every duvet, sleeping bag and other insulating item I could lay hands to cover the contents, then I was banished to the computer, since there’s only room for one person to aim hot air at that back panel. Last time it happened the built-up ice was still melting six hours later.
What is it John Lennon said? Life’s what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. (Which reminds me – I need to make my list of those last-minute tasks that make Christmas happen in this house.) I suppose we got off fairly lightly; at least none of the above happened during the Great Seasonal Shutdown. I still want to scream, though.
And finally, an apology for my ignorance, as evidenced in last week’s post, and for which Jeff C soundly and justifiably berated me. I always thought you spelled it Hanukah! It’s not a word which crosses my path too often, especially not written down, and when I’ve heard it spoken that’s how it’s always been pronounced. And when my daughter’s primary school class were given the task of researching the winter festivals of different faiths, she got Diwali. I can spell that.