The Christmas of Multiple Malfunction

All within the space of a few days …

1. The shaving mirror light. Not the end of the world – the main bathroom light casts enough light to shave by, even if I do have to probe the razor into the deeper crevasses of my rugged features guided by little more than guesswork.

2. The boiler pump. Considerably more tedious: a trickle of warm water into the hot water tank and nothing at all into the radiators. But we have enough electrical heating devices to keep us warm, even if it does mean we can’t move about in a comfortable ambient temperature; rather, nice warm room through sub-arctic hallway into nice warm room again. And it inspired us to work out how to bleed the flat’s ancient and idiosyncratic system of wainscot radiators.

3. The renewed living room leak. Very, very, very, very, very tedious indeed, not least in its sense of timing – first detected by Bonusbarn shortly after midnight on Christmas Day, meaning he never got to see the end of that classic slice of festive cheer, Scarface. Just like in the glory days of a couple of months ago when the builders were battering and clattering in the flat above, thread-like streams of water were trickling down the outer wall of the living room. From previous experience, this means they will also be trickling down the wall of the kitchen in the flat above, but invisibly, behind the plasterboard and newly fitted cupboards. Most baffling of all was that it had rained heavily the previous day (and many times over the last month, of course) and nary a drop; now, out of a cloudless crystal sky, it came. A bit like those horror movies where the walls inexplicably start weeping blood, only in this case it was water. After baffled wails of “why now?” and putting out the buckets and towels, I emailed the flat’s owner in the childish hope that he would read it early on Christmas Day and have the rest of the day spoiled, which is exactly what happened, so there. Rather satisfying was his response: he’s also baffled, and annoyed because he has recently paid off two roofers, arf. My current theory is that the freezing weather had undone something that they did. It leaked again overnight between Christmas and Boxing Day, and is now in full trickle as a result of 24 hours of sleet and rain.

The Daily Bread Bible notes for Christmas Day concentrated, perhaps a little predictably, on the birth of Jesus as recorded in Luke 2. I liked the point they made that Mary, having been so obedient in everything according to the divine plan, might reasonably have asked why she now had to travel 100 miles on donkeyback and give birth in a manger – but, she trusted. Things like this help you trust if you’re open to learning. I hope we’re learning. I think we are.

But apart from that, a lovely Christmas, thank you. The main meal on the 25th was mostly vegetarian, simply because of the large proportions of vegetable: roast potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips, plus a very large helping of stuffing provided by Ex Mother in Law in Law, and Delia Smith’s red cabbage and apple recipe, which Delia says feeds four but neglects to add “for a week”. And of course the Christmas pud, set alight with the help of Tesco’s Three Barrels VSOP brandy, which is one price tab up from Tesco Value Brandy and does at least come in a proper brandy-shaped bottle. Then to my parents and now back here again, finally settling into one place so we can do things like call electricians and gas engineers.

Before setting off to my parents we put aside the new DVDs received for Christmas, so that even if we returned to an uninhabitable living room we would still have something to watch as we moved into hotel accommodation / in with friends /whatever. And that, I think, is what we will go and do now.

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