Friday, June 08, 2007

Too many Mars Bars.

I am still in my dressing gown when the doorbell rings.

The children have all gone to school and hubby has just left for work.

My blog calls. I need to see my comments.

I have a cup of tea in my hand. I am just engrossed in reading what people think about my Piers Brosnan lookalike doctor...

I answer the door.

"Oh, I am so sorry. I forgot.

Can you give me ten minutes?"

"No problem, they say." Realising that this is a large job, worth a lot of money, they are prepared to give me time to compose myself and at least clear the kitchen.

I throw myself into the dishwasher and throw the cereal bowls into the bath - or something - do a whistle stop tour of my make up bag and throw a cloth around the work surfaces in a wand like fashion.

The rest of the house still looks like a bomb site, but at least I can invite them into the kitchen.

Enter Mr. Gas Man one and Mr. Gas Man two.

I make coffee and try to look hospitable.

Of course, as we are talking about a new boiler, which means assessing all the radiators, they want to see the whole house. So we walk past very untidy piles on the stairs, very full washing baskets, many untidy piles of clean washing, into bedrooms with unmade beds. Well, some beds are made. Thankfully I seem to have a Pavlovian instinct to always make my own bed first thing as I get out of it, and by chance I made Tinkerbell Mushroom and Gymnast's when I woke them this morning.

Up to the top floor, to the teenage area. I am met with my worst nightmare. Towels and dirty washing on the floor, and rooms that look as if they have been ransacked by burglars. ED, who is still on study leave having just finished her AS levels is still asleep. ESOS's room is just too smelly to mention and even Sensible's room looks bad. Very bad.

"No you can't go into that room" I say, "my daughter is in there", steering them away from ED's room.

Is the loo flushed I wonder? Slip into the bathroom, quickly pick up four or five towels from the floor, flush the loo and close the lid.

Why do I prefer blogging to cleaning I moan to myself? When people come to the house I want it clean and perfect.

Although of course perfect is a relative term. When you need to spend vast sums of money on said house to make it come up to the standard of early 20th century modernisation, let alone early 21st century, it does leave much to be desired, even when at its cleanest.

We go downstairs. More coffee. I note to myself that despite being an addicted tea drinker, I drink too much coffee when other people are present.

They play computers for the next hour and a half and look at the cellar.

We need to relocate the boiler, because where it currently sits is now not legal. The cellar appears to be the obvious place.

Only thing is, that in order to place a flue on the exterior of the building, we need planning permission. And listed buildings consent.

"What happens if they deny it", I ask?

"There's nothing we can do. You will have to have electric heating."

So, let me get this right. The Government have decreed that all houses must be more efficient. But, to have efficiency we must move boilers to more efficient locations. If the Government department locally however says that the placing of your new boiler makes your building look ugly, then so be it, you can't have a new boiler there. You can't have it in its old place, because that is illegally inefficient, and so you are left with even more inefficient electric heating and hot water...

Gas Man one looks at me. "Are you over sixty by any chance?"

"Do I look over sixty" I ask.

"No, I just have to ask, because if you were, you would be eligible for a grant, and sometimes we are quite surprised by people's ages."

"I'm not over sixty." I reply.

"Would you like me to prepare the quote in Hubby's name?" He asks

"Why?" I say

"Because you will have to give me your date of birth if it's in your name."

"I don't mind giving you my date of birth." I say.

He's clearly convinced that I am hiding the fact that I surely must be over sixty. I mean, I do realise that I am no longer in my fist second or even third flush of youth, but I still have quite a few years to go before I become a silver surfer.

The quote to do our massive system is huge. Too huge for now.

What's more, placed on a finance system it would cost more than double that huge cost over ten years. In fact over one hundred and twenty months, you could probably buy forty thousand mars bars, and even more creme eggs Enidd will be pleased to know, with the amount that it will cost. Am thinking quickly as to how I can do 20,000 mars bars worth of voice overs or writing between now and September.

"That's a lot of money." I say. "We will have to have a bit of a think about it," say I, making the understatement of the year.

So you don't want to sign up today then?

I look at him. There is a hint of amusement in his eyes I am relieved to see.

No thanks. I say.

Just then I see a small mouse appear in a hole by the old boiler in the kitchen, just near the cat bowl. First evidence of rodents for months. The pacifist cat, who obviously thinks that he should be retired, has clearly allowed said animal to share his food, instead of pouncing on him. I quickly bang a chair into place so that my two guests don't catch sight of it, and make a mental note to deal with unwanted animal guest later on.

It scurries back into its hole.

I thank my other guests for the very large quote and wish them a good day.

Thank goodness it's still summer.

p.s. I now have my birthday photo back. As you can see, I don't look a day over sixty five.

p.p.s. Subsequently spent the afternoon having a serious clean and tidy up. House looks great. British Gas would be delighted. But we've now lost the dog's lead....


Asha said...

LOL @ the gas man's question!
You don't look 60 at all.The guy genuinely trying to help with the old age discount!;P
I remember Mars bars but don't like chocolates much!!

Sally Lomax said...

Thanks Asha! Actaully, if the truth were known, I love chocolate - but much prefer Green and Blacks or Thorntons, and definitely dark chocolate!

Lisa said...

The guy must be very young,because they have no clue about what someone looks like at any age!
I actually thought the picture at first was taken years ago, as I don't have much to compare it to, not your birthday picture!
(You look great!)

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Lisa

Thank you!

Ironically he was about 50......

I have to admit that it's agood photo. I have to pose and be made up to look like that on photos nowadays, but even so!

hubby said...


(What was the expression ED used the other day?)

Akelamalu said...

60? Was the man mad?

New boilers cost the earth, we had one installed a couple of years ago, buy the chocolate instead - much cheaper! :)

john.g. said...

If you had left the makeup off, left the hair alone, and stayed in your PJ's, you might have got a grant!

*Right, I,m off sharpish*

LMAO!! xx

meredic said...

So those are all your own teeth then Sal....?

michele said...

The email address that you submitted for blogging chicks didn't work so if you want to join you will have to email me.

Sally Lomax said...

Ak - Thanks! I know. On a bad day I look older perhaps, but not fifteen years older!
Hubby - Thanks!
John - Ha ha! LOL
Meredic - Yes they are! Haven't I done well?!
Michele - Have emailed you. Thank you for perservering!

Karmyn R said...

I love your picture - what a great necklace.

I hope some money falls from the sky for you guys!

Sally Lomax said...

Thank you Karmyn. I sort of hope some money falls from the sky too. You never know!

The necklace was a present for my birthday from my friend. She lives near me and writes as Headless Chicken. I love it too!

Anonymous said...

Nope, you don't look sixty at all!

Good luck fighting bureaucracies in getting your heating fixed --- and keeping the house historically appropriate at the same time.....

Anonymous said...

Oooops, I meant to say that you don't look a day over 45 at all --- if that! Not looking 60 could be much worse!

headless chicken said...

Hi Sally
Nobody will call at your house while it's tidy - they never do,only when it's at it's messiest will you have guests! Well, that's what happens with me anyhow.
Bless Sid for being the pacifist hippy-cat that he is. I think a few live mice are preferable to having endless mauled rodents scattered throughout the house!!!
Talking of dirty laundry, I answered the door the other day and didn't realise until afterwards that Smiler who I was holding at the time was clutching a pair of knickers he must have taken from the pile on the floor beside the machine,waiting to be washed. And they were mine!:o
Your birthday photo is gorgeous!:)

belle said...

Oh gosh, I know what you mean about outrageous quotes! Our house is early 20th century but late 19th in style - It isn't listed but we are trying to repair 13 years of neglect before we bought it.

Because the ceilings are high and the windows large, everything costs 4 times what you would expect. Plus we are trying to do everything 'right' and conserve any original features still surviving.

As you know the roof is the latest in the ongoing saga, completion of that will involve rebuilding the chimney stacks, replacing window timber, repainting and some other nasty we haven't even thought about yet!

I suppose he was the blind gasman! How could you possibly be 60!

pierre l said...

Hi Sally. Thank you for sharing that lovely picture with us. Your smile and the necklace are both lovely.
I do hope you find a solution to your boiler problem, but what a well written description of the Gas men's visit. I am definitely in favour of you writing on your blog (or working on your book); it is much more long-lasting (especially the book) than cleaning the house (having said that, I suppose there is a minimum that needs to be done).
And it is a lovely picture!

Alice Band said...

Have you ever seen A Room With a View when the spinster aunt comes to stay with Lucy Honeychurch's family because of the boiler. Maybe it was the gas man's favourite film! Must be said you look a darned sight better that Maggie Smith much as I love her..

Sally Lomax said...

Anonymous - Don't you mean 21?
HC - That's priceless about the knickers that smiler was holding!
Belle - I sympathise - and thank you for your nice comments!
Alice - I saw A Room with a View, but can't remember much about it other than the fact that Helena Bomham Carter was in it and that they spent time in Italy - I think it was...Isn't Maggie Smith about 80 now?

Ignorminious said...

65? 35 more like! You look great in the picture, regardless of what the gas people think. I suspect I'd die without heating during the winter. If it is cheap to do so, it might not hurt to get the planning permission now, that way if you do ever find the cash, you will be able to get started right away.

ChrisB said...

Sally you look fantastic in your birthday photo; obviously keeping busy and being stressed keeps you looking young!!

Anonymous said...

Of course I meant 21... but I understand that you and your hubby are of a similar age, and he does look more like, well, lets just say a little older than 21. It's a giveaway. Just like the fact that you have 17 children is a giveaway that you are older than 21 too:-)

Anonymous said...

Ooops. When I said "17 children" I clearly meant that you have 5 children, but it feels like you have 17 children.....

Keith said...

I moved into my house 10 years ago. It was, and still is decorated in the ‘Early Slum’ style. The only heating was (and still is) two open fireplaces. Coal and logs, remember them? No, of course not, you’re too young. Council said “Smokeless zone now, no more fires!”. Gave me a grant (cos I’m and old git living alone). Central heating installed. Works fine.

Problem: My income (Old Age Pittance) does not cover the cost of the gas heating and being able to eat and pay council tax. Solution: Don’t use it, no loft insulation anyway. Winter: Wear lots of warm clothes around the house and have a log fire when the Council aren’t looking! I get my logs free because I have a tree-surgeon friend, who works for the Council, believe it or not.

Sally Lomax said...

Ig - Good idea about the pp. We are following that through. Often though, to be fair, for things like this the council doesn't always charge, because it's different to needing pp for building and stuff... Thank you too for your very kind comment. And Happy Birthday!!!! (Someone who is really 21!)
Anon - Of course:)! (BTW Are we allowed see your name or at least pseudonym?)
Keith - I do know about log fires.... We currently use our log burner in the winter to keep ourselves warm, and another open fire too. And in out previous house we had solid fuel heating when we first moved there's a tale or two to tell one day. Can you not use smokeless coal where you are?

I personally actually like open fires - when you are not relying on them!

I do hope you get a windfall for next winter though, so that you can use your heating too:)

Keith said...

Forget to mention the photo. That's a beautiful picture of a beautiful lady.

Pamela said...


we could trade houses... the cat, the mouse, the blogging instead of doing dishes. loved it loved it loved.

ps: get a heat pump

Sally Lomax said...

Keith - You are too kind.

Pamela - What a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Well, for various reasons, I like to tell people
you can call me Al.

Lori said...

You tell such a good story! You really had me laughing. You don't look anywhere near 60 and your picture is great!
P.S. Good luck with your boiler situation.

Sally Lomax said...

Ok Al.......

Thanks Lori! It's really nice to hear that I write a good story..
I was forty five in May, so hopefully I won't look sixty five for a while yet either!

dl said...


Long lost pal, eh?

DaveM said...

There's always the old joke about the gas man who called and said "do you want me to fix your boiler, or what?"

Sally Lomax said...

Dl - now now..

DaveM - Indeed!

Sally Lomax said...

Chris - What a kind comment! Thank you!

The Gymnast said...

I didn't know you had SUCH a busy
KU-ku KU-ku!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HE he HE he HE he xxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

DL: no... more like "why am soft in the middle now?" and "Mr beerbelly ; beerbelly", I fear.

Rhea said...

I'm over 40, too. Please come to visit!

Sally Lomax said...

Welcome Rhea!

la bellina mammina said...

lol - that was really a funny story...Thank you! It's 9.30am here and I'm still in my robe drinking a cup of tea, reading comments on my blog....;-)

Debs said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog. Very entertaining. :) YOU don't look 60 at all or anywhere being 60. :)

There are days I feel 60 *LOL* of course that is when my kids say,"mama you are old."

Sally Lomax said...

Debs - I have those days too..