Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Two requests from avid readers dealt with today here on the blogging equivalent of the long missed Radio Two show Family Favourites.

The first is a mention to a regular visitor to the blog, Mr Greentree of Blandford in Dorset, who wants me to play Theme From 'A Summer Place' by the Percy Faith Orchestra for the best mum in the world, Mrs Olive Greentree of Blandford in Dorset. She is an amazing 87 years old today and bangs on and on about how Neville Chamberlain didn't have the mettle to lead us through the war, and good riddance to him. Happy birthday, Olive, you sound like a right battleaxe!

Unfortunately, I can't find a suitable download, but as compensation, Olive will be able to find out anything she wants to about Percy Faith here. I particularly like the "screw today's corporate radio culture" rant. Anyone who has had the misfortune to hear the Chris Moyles show will surely agree.

* * * * * * *

On another note, a request from Mr A. of Weston Super Mare who wants to know about my dealings with British Gas. I will attempt to keep it as brief as possible and will try not to use much of the foul language which has been polluting these posts recently. It is going to be difficult though.

In the past few days there have been a number of young men in the house fiddling with the clapped out old boiler.

Anyway, I won't go into details about the fun I have been having. Instead I will talk about the problems we have had with the central heating system.

Just over a week ago the heater started to make ominous clunking noises which we tried to ignore, mindful of all the reports we have read about the outrageously expensive new "combi" boilers which not only sound like something on the menu at a Harvester but which tend to break down every few months. Apparently they have been introduced by law as a way of curbing global warming. It has been suggested by one sarcastic journalist that the petrol used by all the vans sent out by gas fitters on their way to repair combi boilers will undoubtedly cancel out any benefits to the environment.

As our heating system is now about 15 years old, we were obviously on borrowed time, even though there had been no problems before.

The clunking noises got worse, and of course the hot water started to get more and more tepid. Time to call in British Gas.

Jason and Jason's apprentice Bill turned up. The puzzling thing is that Bill was a teenager, but had the name of a man in his 60's. They managed to get the heating working, after a fashion, but Jason would have to come back the next day to finish the job off. Oh well, fair enough.

The next day, Jason finished the job. Almost. Apparently, the air valves "came apart" in his hands, which sounds like rubbish fifth form poetry, but it is supposed to be "very common in this particular model". Of course, he couldn't get any replacement valves until after the weekend.

Lo and behold, a weekend of tepid water and shallow baths involving kettles and saucepans full of boiling water. Perhaps 87 year old Mrs Greentree will remember that sort of thing from the war!

Seriously though, as modern day spoilt brats, we take everything for granted, with our increasing reliance on electricity, comfort and convenience. I managed to grow up in a home without central heating and it wasn't a problem, why do I have to behave like a spoilt brat now because I have to do without hot and cold running water and lovely steaming bubble baths?

Anyway, Monday would surely be the end of it all.

Jason turned up with a multitude of Things, including valves and a bottle of Something Or Other. Ten minutes later, Bill turned up again. Ten minutes after that, Dan the engineer turned up. There were now a fleet of British Gas vans in our road.

No one could understand what was wrong with the system. Jason had virtually taken the system apart and re-assembled it, and still it wasn't working. Bill was dispersed to somewhere far away to get an electrode. Dan "had to shoot". To his credit, Jason was doing a fair whack in difficult circumstances, and finally the system seemed to be working.

Of course, after he had gone, the boiler started playing up AGAIN. We arranged for another British Gas visit the next day.

No one turned up by the evening. I had to prepare to go out to a restaurant. If the engineer turned up just as I was getting ready to go out, what would I say?

"Well, of course, I normally sit around watching Sky Sports Extra and eating a tv dinner while wearing a burgundy number and sling back stilettoes".

He would obviously think I was on the game.

"It's amazing to think anyone would pay for a bit of old like that" he would reckon.

We got back from the meal to find a note in the door to say he had turned up 5 minutes after we had left.

At the moment the husband is making enquiries about the very expensive and unreliable combi heaters.

In the meantime, I am losing the will to live.

if i may enter middle age for a moment, i had a combi boiler for five years at the ex's house and there's one at surly towers. both have been utterly reliable in the delivery of piping hot water on demand. plus they make lovely comforting whooshy noises every so often...
I wouldn't call whooshy noises from a combi-boiler comforting, I'd call it time to phone an engineer, thats the sound os steam being suddenly produced as the water displaces an air pocket in the system over the burner.

Anyway , thanks for sharing Betty, nice Double Entendre display ;o)
oh fuck.
Wow, anybody would think Aginoth knows what he's talking about!

we spend lots of money on that British Gas insuarance thingy that means they have to come out and fix things for free as soon as they go wrong, just so Mr A doesn't have top put up with me yelling at him when I'm cold (we spent two years living in an unheated flat & I swore never again).

Of course, we don't actually buy our gas from BG, but the insurance is worth it.
We have the very expensive insurance so that British Gas can fix the boiler when it breaks down for free.

Except they don't seem to be able to fix ours.

That's enough about central heating.

*bangs head against wall repeatedly*
No Betty...

Bang your head against the boiler, it might make it work...

Trust me I'm an Engineer as well as a Civil Servant
s'curious innit, all these teenagers with the names of septegenarians*...and babies are getting in on the act now too

if i had a shilling for every alfie, archie and reggies i knew under the age of 2, well, i'd have to get a decimal converter and tell you how very rich i was

* if i hadn't been born in the year of decimalisation, i'd be able to spell this word proper, like
UC, I'm looking forward to the time when girls are named after char ladies - a generation of Mauds, Beryls, Idas, Elsies and erm Bettys wouldn't go amiss.
Boilers really piss me off. They're a monster bill waiting to happen. You feel better off, thoughts of cars and holidays permeate your thoughts, life is good. Your boiler goes, and so do all your dreams. I cold measure my life in boiler break downs. Only the other day I ... text too huge for comments box. Blogger Administrator.
Tell me about it Mike ... at the moment my life is being measured out by whether or not I can get the boiler to work for long enough to get hot water for the rest of the day. We now face having to get a new one before the threatened coldest winter on record starts. You have to get your priorities in order - who wants luxuries like holidays, consumer durables, not having to beg on the streets, etc, etc.
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