Thursday, 31 December 2015
Thank God for British Gas and my maintenance contract.
The temperature in the sitting room is now up to 58 degrees and climbing.
How very lucky we are in the West to have such comfort within easy reach.
Not that I am doing anything about it but at least I can now acknowledge that a New Year begins in a few hours time.
May it be a happy and healthy one for as many of you as possible.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 4:15:00 pm
Doing my usual busy-bee activities in the kitchen I reached up to switch on the water-heating part of my boiler and realised that it was ominously silent.
It is not a very noisy boiler but its background hum is part of the soundtrack of my daily existence, and this morning there was nothing.
Finally it dawned on me to feel the radiators - stone cold.
Deep joy. There was a time about 10 years ago when my central heating would regularly break down in the middle of Christmas or New Year holidays. Recently this hasn't happened and I have become complacent.
I have phoned British Gas emergency helpline and the best they can do is get an engineer out to me between 1.00 and 6.00pm today.
Luckily this is a warm house and I am unlikely to freeze to death before that time but, today was supposed to be big laundry day.
I don't like doing any washing or household chores on New Year's day so had planned to get everything done today.
As Robbie Burns almost said "The best laid plans of mice and men have a habit of going wrong",
I can't take my usual shower as cold water showers are not really my thing, so a hasty wash and a day cleaning the house looms instead. Well I have to try to keep warm somehow.
Compared with those affected by the floods mine is a very small problem and I am grateful for the freedom from the tyranny of overflowing rivers etc, but I can't help thinking how puny an individual human being is in the war against the apparently inanimate.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 8:01:00 am
Thursday, 24 December 2015
As a child I loved Christmas Eve, the atmosphere, the unrealistic hopes, the dizzying prospects of what might be.
As one of four children in a family very close but also very impoverished I knew that most of my dreams were just that, dreams, but it in no way diminished my excitement on that special evening.
Over the years, varying experiences caused me to love Christmas less and less, until finally in middle age I regarded it as a break from work at best.
As I have blogged many times before, my Communist atheist upbringing did not include any part of the Christian view of Christmas time, but was still celebrated whole-heartedly as a secular event.
At the age of 75, a few months after my husband's death I found a new way of life was christened and confirmed and joined the choir of my local church.
Starting to sing again after a break of 24 years has produced some odd results.
Once a first soprano I am now an alto (not a mezzo) and am taking great pleasure from all the church music especially Christmas and Easter with its dazzling choice of lovely music.
Slightly less appealing for me is the fact that Midnight Mass involves my leaving the house at the time i would normally be going to bed. This year (today) I was not anticipating going out into the very strong cold wind at 11.00 pm but was otherwise happy about the prospect of this lovely service.
Just a quarter of an hour ago one of my lovely neighbours came and rang my doorbell.
"Are you singing in Midnight Mass" she asked, "if so we will give you a lift"
A small thing some might say, but for me, a massive difference in the way I view this evening's trip to church.
The greatest benefit to come from all my new experiences since I lost John has been the astonishing kindness and thoughtfulness of all my new friends, in church and most particularly, in the 'Close'.
In 2008 my mother died on Christmas Eve and a few months later I lost John, yet Christmas Eve, however tinged with sadness as it is, has brought a whole new meaning to my ;life.
Merry Christmas to you all.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 9:06:00 pm