Our boiler broke down last month – on the day that the snow finally came to Winwick, of course! An engineer came out and pronounced the burner beyond help and told us we would need to order a new one, which would take two days to arrive and fit. No heating or hot water for two days isn’t the worse thing that’s happened in our house, but it’s certainly not something we would have wished for.
“Is it really dangerous to have no heating?” asked small daughter, anxiously. Big daughter reassured her that it was fine. We have an electric shower, a coal fire and an Aga to cook on so with a few extra jumpers and a hot water bottle at night we managed without too many problems.
But big daughter’s reassurances started me thinking. No, having no heating wasn’t dangerous for us, but it is for many people. What about those who are old and won’t put their heating on for fear of huge bills? What about those who are too sick or too poor to pay for the fuel that they need? Having no heating might literally be a life and death situation for those people, and as the long, damp winter drags on and on, many people must have spent months feeling that they were never going to get warm again.
I don’t know what the answer is for those people (and clearly, neither do the Government but that’s another argument), and it brought home to me yet again how fortunate we are to have other forms of heating when our main source is unavailable. In a comment last year, Lord de Mauley from the Department of the Environment said that “the poor must learn to go without.” Going without shouldn’t mean having no heating or hot water but that is the reality for more people than there should be in this country.
I don’t want this to become a political rant (my husband always laughs when I say I am not interested in politics because anyone who cares about other people, hospitals or education can’t fail to have a political view) but I do feel very strongly that what was an inconvenience for us shouldn’t be a way of life for others.
Unfortunately, our heating took a bit longer than two days to be fixed as the burner didn’t arrive in time, but thankfully the engineer was able to fit a temporary burner for us over the weekend and our neighbours kindly lent us a Calor gas heater to help keep the chill off. When the new burner finally arrived the next week, there were cheers all round and it was a joy to feel heat in the radiators again. It served as a strong reminder to me to be grateful for what I have, because it could always be so much worse. I am very grateful.