Wednesday, April 23

The boiler.

Ah, yes, the beast!

We got to some warmer weather, so I turned the central heating off. The next morning, we had no hot water in the cylinder either. I went down to the basement and found the pilot light on the boiler had gone out, and it wouldn't re-light. It look me two days to organise my life enough to call in a repair man. This boiler is about 15 years old, rusty, obsolete, no spares available. However, he got it going, just as a pilot light, but then hung a red sign on it saying that it was "At Risk" owing to potential leaks of water and gas, and that it would be an offence (i.e. breaking the law) to turn it on.

I committed an offence.

But feeling vaguely guilty, not least because when my son is back from university that basement room is his bedroom, and I didn't really want to gas him, I decided that we do actually need a new boiler.

So it took me more days to organise for people to come and give me quotes for a new boiler, with appointments spread over two weeks. Now ours is a big house, with 25 radiators over four floors, and two bathrooms. Rules have changed and technology has changed since our original one was installed. So of course the estimators all came up with completely different ideas, ranging from:

A: "You need a non-vented cylinder in the basement and a 42KW boiler (£4500)"


B: "You can't have a non-vented cylinder because your main supply is not big enough. You need a 42KW machine in the loft, with a new vented cylinder and a larger cold water tank (£6600)"

And various in between suggestions. In the end I asked B if he could do the same job but with a less branded machine, and he offered me a 35KW one of a cheaper brand, dropping his estimate to £5250.

After more delays checking with competitors, we went with B's revised offer.

Meanwhile, having had a largely empty house for months, we had delayed things so much that our three boys had come home from university and wanted quiet in their bedrooms so that they could sleep till noon and then study all pm. No such luck! We have had major disruption in the house for two weeks, with the men turning up to work at 8:15am each day.

Of course on the first day the guy that did the estimate arrived with his boss, who promptly said the scheme would not work: the push-fit radiator pipes in the basement would not stand the pressure form a boiler in the loft. He agreed to give me a top-brand 42KW machine in the basement for the same price. So they lost a day going to get the new boiler, but I have ended up with a better product.

So the last few days, while they have been testing the machine, the house has been much hotter (25 degrees C)than I feel comfortable (17 degrees C), but I can turn it off again now that they have left.

I am now much poorer. Since I no longer have a credit card I have had to use the money stored in my company for the corporation tax bill, so I have managed to pay for the boiler, but it will be interesting to see what happens when the tax man comes for his money. Hopefully the new boiler will be so magically efficient that it will pay for itself in that time, but I doubt it.

Back on the blog

I have been silent for some time on my blog for three reasons;

1) I have been mad busy with having to replace my boiler, which failed unexpectedly. Long story - I'll do another post on it later.
2) My wife has been having ongoing problems with the church requiring extensive support. I can't yet give you details but expect to do so in the next month or so, as it is a life-changing situation.
3) following from this, we just has to have a break at easter, travelling to the opposite side of the country to get away from it all for a few days.

Friday, April 4

Kids' talk

As we drove past the park this morning my 5 year old daughter said
"Dad, when you're in a park like this, where do the squirrels have their disco?"

Tuesday, April 1

Gay Wedding Musical

I managed to catch the end of the Gay wedding Musical on Channel 4.

It was very good in many ways, with obvious emotion from many participants, not least the happy couple. Let's be honest, the music was not outstanding, and a harsh critic might say some of the performances could have been improved. Being even more honest, I am in no position to set myself up as judge in these matters. But the overall impression was very good. I think that despite these apparent shortcomings, this event will become a classic. it would be unique to perform any marriage as a musical, let alone a gay marriage, let alone one of the first eve such marriages at the very beginning of this new era.

So I suspect that this musical will be played and re-played many times, perhaps adapted to new gay weddings or perhaps as stage shows in theatres, pride events, and the like.


All the desks around me are currently empty.

Is this linked in any way to the severe flatulence I suffer after eating fruit? (It was a very tasty conference pear)

Monday, March 31

Christian fellowship?

My office prayer meeting was quote difficult today.  Having had discussions on the theme of poverty for weeks, we are looking for a new topic, and someone said we should do Gay Marriage.

Some very strong views expressed on this topic, with me being the only one in favour, so I felt very beleaguered having to defend my position with no time to swat up my case.

It ended friendly enough, but who knows how out will go next time?


Even though mrs ate her meal alone, and told me where to pick her up after, I still had to pay to park and go in to the restaurant, because they rejected her bank card, even though there was plenty of money in the account.   But when they also rejected my card, we started to get worried.  After much hassle it emerged that the problem was worth their card reader, not our cards.

Later I went to buy petrol.  Filed up, went to pay: no card!  Frantic search of pockets and vehicles.  Phone calls to ask places visited in the day.  It's gone.  I had to lane my IDeas and sign all sorts of documents before they let me go to get my wife to pay with her card.

So I have canceled my card and ordered a new one, but it will be an uncomfortable few days waiting for a new one.

Sacked for mothers day performance

I arranged to take my wife out for lunch on Mothers day.

Since she is currently attending a church in the nearby city nominally as research for her MA, we had to make pure way there individually.

I least my church a bit early and after doing a couple of essential tasks sent her a "where shall we meet?" text and set off.

She replied that she was already at the table.  I still had an hour drive top get there.  So she ended up having her Mothers day meal on her own!

So I am sacked.

Her story is that I knew she would be there sooner and should have left my church earlier; In fact I should have gone to her church.  Also she had expected a queue and gone early, but had then been taken straight in.

My story is that she wanted me to go to our normal church so that I could report back to her everything that happened, and that she knew what time that church finished and how long the journey was and she  should not have gone there without me.

But who ever wins this kind of debate with his wife?


Our cat, Cappi, passed away.

I was on the way home from my mums ashes ceremony when I kept getting phone calls from home.  Eventually stopped on the hard shoulder of the motorway to find out what was happening.

Initially it was "Cappi is ill", then "I don't know if shes going to make it"  Then "I'm sorry Dad, shes gone"

So I have another garden funeral.

My eldest daughter is the one most upset, as it was technically her cat.

How it went

It went as well as pouting your mum's ashes in a plant pot can.

Those of the family who had been permitted by their wives to attend gathered around the plane plot in my sisters garden.  I day garden-
- it's just a small yard, with some other scruffy plant pots containing scraggy plants and a lot of weeds.  The plant plot they had chosen for my mums ashes was just a fake plastic one.  Admittedly a good fake, but plastic none the less.

We troweled in some compost, then a layer of mum, then the plant itself, and more compost.  The urn provided by the crematorium was also plastic, though it came in a nice velvety bag.  Inside the urn was my mum, wrapped in two plastic bags.  So I felt that they could have provided a bit more dignity.

The plant was a rose bearing my mothers name, so that is nice.

My brother-in-law then asked me to say a prayer, which I did.  Having not been particularly emotional until then, that was when the tears flowed.

So that is it: the end of an era.

She was a very good mother.  She never felt particularly maternal and it was always an effort for her (it was always Dad that played with us), but I would day that she did a fantastic job.  She will be very much missed.