Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Isn't it cold?

Well, no, obviously it's not at the moment. In fact it's worryingly unseasonably mild. But 'Isn't it cold?' is the first question everybody asks when you say you live on a boat. To which the answer, of course, is 'Only if you let the fire go out.' The second question they ask is 'Doesn't it get damp?' To which the answer is 'Only if you let the fire go out.' Living on a boat full time it's a lot easier to keep it warm and dry than it is if you're a mere part-timer, like I was. It does take a bit of time to warm up.

I would arrive in Huddersfield Monday lunchtime, and go straight to work, getting back to Andante at around six in the evening. Assuming it's the depths of winter, I'd rake out the fire and empty the ash (I could put it in the bin as it would be stone cold by now), and lay and light a new one before taking my coat off. Once I was sure it was burning OK, I'd go off to Sainsbury's (just across the canal) to do my week's shopping. By the time I got back, it would be warm enough to take my coat off. Andante's stove was small, and not very pretty, but very efficient. After dinner I'd pull my folding chair up to the stove (the light was better there too) and sit and read and listen to the radio, singeing my slippers and on one occasion scorching my pyjamas. The fire usually managed to stay in all night, but I let it go out during the day, as I'd be out for a good eleven hours. So every evening the first job when I got back was to light it, but the boat didn't cool down to Monday levels in the course of one day.

There was only one winter evening I didn't light the stove. It was the night of West Ham's FA cup semi-final, and having spent the early part of the evening in the Albert, I went round a colleague's flat to watch the second half. By the time I got back to Andante, I was just ready to fall into bed. Big mistake. I have never been so cold for so long (I have been very cold for shorter periods of time, like when I was young and misguided enough to watch Sunday football on the South Downs), and I wasn't going to give up the - extremely relative - comfort of my duvet to get up and light it a fire in the middle of the night. I was also too tired/shivering/drunk to be trusted with matches anyway.

The moral of that story is, quite possibly, don't support West Ham. Or light the fire before you go to the pub.

No comments: