Friday, 15 December 2006

First day back

We wake up, jet lagged, to dark, dark days and long, cold nights. We also come back to a broken pump on the downstairs toilet, a watery carpet from a leak in the bedrooms, mould crawling all over the car's interior, and the gas man, who arrives to change the meter at 9 am. We're all in our pyjamas and Dig has no trousers on.

For some bizarre reason, when the gas man rings the door bell the whole family disgorges into the hall. Now the hall is not big, and we have stacked up boxes along the walls in a sort of way which I like to think of as a rather stylish storage solution, so there's not much room. The kids are pushing each other to see who's there; I'm pushing them out of the way to get to the front door, and Dig, without his trousers on, is pushing everyone. It takes nearly five minutes to get to the door. I try to make light of it and say the postman knows us all quite well now. Dig says the gas man's comments are unnecessary and he should just change the meters.

Changing gas meters doesn't seem as simple as British Gas might make out. The gas man asks to see the oven, which I'm not too happy about, because I've never cleaned it since we got it in 1993 when the sales man said it was self-cleaning, so I assumed it did it at night or at some point when I wasn't looking. I retaliate by asking to see his identity card. This takes him five minutes, looking for it in the van. He's called Asif. He then wants to look at the boiler, which I agree to, because it's under the eaves and there's a low beam that every gas engineer I've ever known has bumped his head on.

While the gas man's here I embark on opening the mail. Apart from several letters from British Gas telling us to get in touch so they can come and change the gas meter, there are the usual bills and junk. There are no letters from debt collection agencies, no letters threatening county court judgments, and no final warnings from Powergen about the £486 they once tried to screw out of us for an energy saving light bulb in the hall that had not been turned on for three months. Everything is going very well. I feel smug and organised, and go off to find a paint stripper to scrape the mould off the car seats.

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