I am writing this sitting in bed, clutching a hot water bottle, wearing a coat within the tight cocoon of my duvet. Typing is a rather more laborious process than usual. This is partly because of the hot-water-bottle clutching and partly because my fingers are so stiff with cold that it’s hard to press the right buttons. Also, it’s quite hard to check for typos, on account of the thick clouds of my own vaporised breath between my eyes and the screen.
As you will know, it has been snowing, and I’m pretty sure it’s the coldest day of the winter, but I can handle a bit of snow, especially when I’m inside. The trouble is that my boiler has chosen today, which, as I think I said, I’m pretty sure is the coldest day of the winter, to pack up. A man has just come to have a look at it. I stood next to him nodding a bit and sucking my teeth at what seemed like the right moments without understanding anything. Despite the tooth-sucking, the boiler still appears to be up the spout. And hence the hot water bottle and the short break I am about to take to find my gloves, which will slow things down still further, but may at least act as a temporary bulwark against frostbite.
I am not ordinarily a superstitious person, but I am starting to feel a bit got at by the new year and I’m wondering if the figure “13” in the date has anything to do with it. Last week, it was the excitingly varied vomiting routine of the norovirus, about which I will not tell you, since you might be eating your breakfast. Now it’s the boiler, which is related to quite a major damp-proofing issue that looks like it might necessitate the remortgaging of my right arm. Is this how the year is going to go? What will happen next? Can I look forward to a February spent having my toes hacked off with a rusty spoon? Or will the boiler spring back to triumphant life in the middle of August, turning my flat into a convenient Turkish bath?
Actually, on reflection, I don’t think the year is to blame. I think it’s the winter. Some people say they like it because you get to stay inside and watch box sets, but what they don’t realize is that you can also do this in summer by the simple expedient of not worrying too much if everyone thinks you’re a really depressing person to be around. Unfortunately, since I am congenitally incapable of growing a beard thick enough to keep me warm, I do not have any obvious solutions up my sleeve. Still, I live in hope. Please excuse me while I suggest to the boiler man that he replace the infernal contraption with a time machine and set it for three months’ time.