What’s next?

Believe me dear readers, I do not ask for much out of life. I have given up on the notion of holidays, home or abroad. I am content to pass my time in retirement, writing my blog, spending time with Julie, and walking my dog Ollie, in all weathers, usually bad. I volunteer in the community, and give my time freely, to help the disadvantaged, and local children. I try to be a good neighbour, and to support local businesses and endeavours. I do not claim to be a saint, far from it, but I do try my best to be a decent person, and to have a social conscience.

So, why do things keep going wrong, and mysteriously so? Is it bad karma, from a previous life, or retribution for forgotten bad deeds? Do I expect too much, from my relatively simple life? I rack my brains constantly, to try to imagine what would cause me to be plagued by such a run of bad luck, and misfortune. This may appear to be perceived, but there is plenty of tangible evidence to support my contention. I don’t like posting these ‘woe is me’ articles, I really don’t. However, I feel the need to share all this, in the hope that problems shared are somehow reduced in importance. Of course, I am well aware that many others, perhaps most others, have greater cause to complain than I do. I am not suffering from a serious illness, struggling to pay debts, or looking for employment, in a world where that is almost considered to be pointless. My life seems comfortable, compared to many, and my niggles and complaints no doubt appear to some to be churlish, and whining. None of this helps unfortunately, as the impact of these small events, running one into the other, has no less effect on me than one far more serious occurrence would create.

Earlier this year, I posted frequently about the rash that plagued me. It did diminish eventually, but never went away. It seems this itchy condition will stay with me for the remainder of my life. I just stopped writing about it, as there seemed to be no point going on about it. More recently, I wrote about bad luck with those things that make life more bearable, such as not having floods in your shed, and having a heating system that worked. On Tuesday, the engineer will return once more, in the seemingly endless quest to solve the riddle of my radiators and boiler. Meanwhile, we continue to burn expensive oil, to heat only two of the seven radiators, and to provide hot water. We have replaced almost all the parts that can be replaced, spending even more of our rapidly diminishing savings, to no avail.

We woke up early today, as the archaic practice of putting the clocks back one hour was once again enforced. To our surprise, and immediate concern, we saw water on the top of the wood burning stove. This is not inside a hearth, or fireplace, but free-standing, with extensive pipework going through the ceiling, and out via the loft. We had this installed, again at considerable expense, in September 2012, so the work is out of guarantee by twenty-eight days. Scrabbling around in the loft space did not show anything untoward, but there were discernible drips on the outside casing of the pipes visible in the living room. With precision irony, the wood we had ordered locally then arrived. Half a trailer load, enough to last the winter, supplementing the (not currently working) heating system. This was unloaded onto the driveway, and had to be manhandled piece by piece into the back garden, to fill the log store. The spare wood that was left over was stacked into the back of the garage. It was all spit hardwood, cut to size to fit in the burner, so we thought it a good deal. The local supplier even agreed that I would drop the money off next week, an example of trust in a small community.

After a couple of hours spent sorting the wood, I got changed, and took Ollie for a walk. the weather was dry, despite storms being forecast, but the strong winds made the long walk wearing and tiresome. By the time I got back, I had a bad headache, not helped by Julie’s report that the heating system seemed to have failed completely during my absence. I checked the stove once more. The water seemed to have stopped entering from its unknown point of origin, and I had the (very bad) bright idea of starting a fire in it, in the hope of drying out any water left inside the chimney pipework. Within moments of the wood catching, the room began to fill with smoke. It could be seen issuing from the joints in the pipes, and even from around the well-sealed door joints. As the fire took hold, the smoke got progressively worse. I shut down the valves and dampers, hoping to kill the flames, and eventually put the fire out. The living room was so smoky by now, that we had to open windows to clear it. So, now the wood burner isn’t working either, and we have a house that smells as if we have been in a fire. I have to spend tomorrow trying to chase someone down who is capable of fixing it, or at least diagnosing the problem. We now have no source of heating, and a forecast for the worst storm since 1987. The piles of newly purchased logs can rest easy, as they will not be consumed by fire anytime soon.

On Tuesday, I will stand watching the engineer struggle to come up with a solution to the main heating system, hoping my back isn’t too itchy, as it is embarrassing. And I will undoubtedly cast a glance at the stove, dominating the room as a centrepiece, a cast-iron ornament awaiting costly repair. I might even consider that the installation cost as much as Julie’s car, or that it failed one month after the guarantee period. I will hopefully have got rid of the headache, and the buzzing noise in my head by then as well.

But perhaps not.