The Joys Of Modern Life
36. Wood Fires
Tuesday 09 March 1999
That's the trouble with real fires around here. You're not supposed to have them. You are meant to be satisfied with boring old smokeless fuel that comes in regulation-size lumps. In the heavily boundaried life of the city, sending your fumes over to your next-door-neighbours is considered as impolite as encouraging your tomcat to spray their front door step. Smokeless fuel simply does not have that rural authenticity, essential for those of us who live in shoeboxes, but who imagine ourselves in a country pile. That fire is the poor man's Aga.
I caught the bug young. As a child of the three-day week in the early Seventies, I still pray for power cuts and fantasise about burnt sausages cooked over an open fire. My dad is another evangelist. As children, when we returned from Ireland on holidays and everyone else's car was stuffed with booze, he filled our boot with turf. Our street smelled like a sodden hamlet in the Aran Islands. Sadly, they don't sell turf here. In any case, I couldn't support the stripping out of the Irish bogs and all those spring flowers and heather. So wood has to do.
There are plenty of downsides to the illicit fire. Asthma, for example, and the endless trips to the petrol station log pile to fuel the little monster. However, the joys are many. Of course, it's illegal, but that is part of the attraction. A proper fire is a friend, better to look at than the telly. Who, with any sense of romance, could resist lying on the floor in the dark beside the dying embers and that empty bottle of Jameson?
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 4 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 5 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
Cannes Film Festival rejects women from red-carpet screening of pro-LGBT romance 'Carol' for not wearing high heels
Game of Thrones rape scene criticised as 'disgusting' by US senator Claire McCaskill who says she's 'done' with show
Beyonce angers fans by pouring expensive champagne into hot tub in Nicki Minaj 'Feeling Myself' video
Mad Men, TV review: Perfect harmony? Not quite, but an enlightening finale for Don Draper
Theresa May accused of seeking to introduce state censorship of the media by Cabinet colleague Sajid Javid
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland