Right, I’m afraid it’s game over as of this Christmas. I can no longer delude myself that I am some young fit sporty type who can get away with scuffing about in boots and a hoody and scoffing at old-person concerns like pensions and proper jobs. Let’s face it,when you’ve arrived at the stage where you’re getting all excited about the fact that your parents have given you an electric blanket for Christmas, you might as well start looking at zimmer frames and those unspeakable pink things you see in the windows of medical accessory shops. Though I’m looking forward to a mobility scooter, which I fully intend to customise with jacked up suspension, chrome bits and an enormous exhaust before riding it down the pavement like some old bat out of hell. In fact I might have that written in metal studs across the back of the fringed leather biker jacket which I will certainly be wearing at the time.
In mitigation, I should point out that we haven’t got any of this newfangled central heating gadgetry, our single glazed windows are all slightly smaller than the window frames, the insulation consists largely of whatever we happen to be wearing at the time (usually three layers of some kind of high tech fleece plus some cats) and the temperature outside has been lurking around -12°C for a fortnight. If you want to get some kind of a feel for this, ask your local butcher if you can camp in his walk-in freezer for a couple of nights. Obviously under other circumstances I would poo-poo the electric blanket and demand champagne, book tokens and a spangly new beanie, but it pays to know which side your bread is buttered, especially if you don’t want to have chilblains all winter. Again. (Chilblains, I ask you. How 1940s is that?)
I’d be fascinated to know how the previous proprietor managed, given that he had even less heating than we do. Mind you, he didn’t have anything normal people would call a kitchen either, and his bathroom consisted of one of those third world squat-and-drop arrangements with a shower head positioned over the top and a strategically placed metal grille designed to prevent the soap falling down the hole. I’m all for multi tasking but really that’s just taking things that little bit too far. I see the old buffer round the town now and then – you’d never have clocked him as the sort of loony who showers while standing in the toilet.
It could be argued that all this freezing to death in your own home because it’s built like a bothy and you’re too tight to turn the convectors on is good for you in a Nietzschean what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-strong kind of way, but quite frankly it’s hard to derive any comfort or even sense of occupying the moral high ground from this when you’re standing there naked and shivering in the bedroom, trying to muster up the courage to get in between sheets whose temperature is hovering somewhere around zero. And don’t even think about suggesting a nice warm nightie – that’s a step too far in the direction of cat wee and compulsory Horlicks even for me.