Heating is something that Alan and I love to scrap about, along with whether background music is absolutely essential throughout your waking hours, and which way round you put the toilet paper on the holder. ‘I want the heating ON!’ (stamp) ‘Well I want it OFF so ner!’ (stamp).
So when the boiler packed up after Christmas, we were united in getting it working again so that we could carry on scrapping.
It’s been on the blink for years, but being sensible responsible kind of guys we had to spend most of our cash on ballet lessons and unenjoyable holidays so not much left for fancy stuff such as hot water and heating. We’d already put one new boiler in - shouldn’t some grown-up fix it for us this time?
We did purchase (1 Star) boiler break down cover (‘Patch It Up Plumbing’) a couple of years ago. The gloomy personnel of that particular outfit said dolefully ‘sludge in the system’. Bowing to the experts, we were chemically de-sludged, at a cost of £400 (not covered by the insurance obviously) in exchange for half a teaspoon of sediment. This treatment (surprise, surprise) made no difference to the heating, only to the children’s pocket money, nor did their other idea, on the second and last page of their training manual, which was to change the pump once, twice, three times.
Patch It Up got the thumbs down, so when the boiler died we gathered recommendations, first up being Pipework Paul. ‘He’s not flash, but he’ll have a really long and careful think about your pipework’ (ooh, pipework!) ‘and then he’ll diagnose’ (the master – he’s going to get it right!). I asked Alan to stay home so that he could have a man to man and explain that the heating doesn’t work better than me. Pipework Paul arrived and was treated with due reverence (‘Quiet children! Let the man think!’). He diagnosed a leak in the nether regions under the house, said he’d send a quote, then disappeared off the face of the earth.
Next was Andy Ape, assisted by his skinny scared son (‘Fucks sake you twat get yer arse up ‘ere’ – never done a days work in his life’ says Andy Ape). ‘The whole shyshtem’s clogged innit?’ said he. I explained haughtily that we had been de-sludged already (you’ve obviously got this wrong dear fellow). ‘Na na na’ says Andy Ape, ‘You need the power (‘pa’) flush – snot cheap mind you – ball park five hundred quid - I’ll send a quote from the Canaries.’ We shivered and shook for another week, by which time we had decided Andy Ape was not nearly grovelling enough and too rich.
It was Divine Providence as it turned out, for Boiler Barry then came into our lives. ‘Barry loves solving problems’ (an intellectual!) ‘and he won’t say you need a new boiler if you don’t.’ Boiler Barry marched quickly through the house – mind if I go straight up to the boiler Miss Pyett? (tick!), diagnosed the problem (tick! tick!) and fixed the boiler in a day (tick! tick! triple tick!). Boiler Barry, you’re my first, my last, my everythang…