At the time it seemed like cruel irony. With the comfort of hindsight, it was just one of those things that comes to us all in the end. After many years of faithful service, the signs of old age were beginning to show – the creaks got more noticeable, waking up in the morning became more difficult, the coughing and sputtering grew ever louder. And then, one fateful day, it simply gave up the ghost. The cold feeling was unshakeable.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my boiler died. In the tradition of cop films, I’d like to say it was just two days from retirement. The truth is, though, that if I could’ve eked out another couple of winters, I would have.

To cut a long story short, I was without heating for the best part of three weeks, during which time it got pretty chilly. During a cold snap, it’s advisable to wear more clothing. During a cold snap with no heating, it’s advisable to wear more clothing to bed too. This, it turns out, is a bit of an issue. Three jumpers and a winter duvet are liable to cause overheating. And much like an old, inefficient boiler, you spend hours cycling between too hot and too cold without ever settling at comfortable for more than a few minutes. Being hot, of course, causes you to ‘glow’ (to use a popular euphemism). Some people have been known to glow profusely. The upshot is that you get up in the morning craving a shower. At which point, it’s probably worth mentioning that I was the proud owner of a busted combi.

One guy I spoke to said he always fits an electric shower if he’s installing a combi. Sadly, there had been no such foresight in this case. In the end things got so bad that I joined the gym just so that I didn’t have to boil the kettle hundreds of times to wash.

There’s no doubt this is an ordinary tale of woe, one that befalls many people every day. And in the grand scheme of things, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that a lack of hot water from a tap or in a radiator is very much a first world problem. The relief of having a new, fully functioning boiler was palpable though, and having a considerably more efficient unit should make a significant difference to the gas bill – which might help to offset the spike in my electricity bill from overusing the kettle. Now, I must remember to cancel that gym membership.

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