Of course I knew this day was coming. After all it does come every year and at around this time. And yet, as happens when the clocks move backwards or forwards it still took me unawares this year.
It’s a sad day I suppose – it marks the passing of another year and the beginning of the argument season – which started this year on 30th September. Some of you will have deduced already that I am referring to the day when the house heating is switched back on.
Nikki had been agitating for this for a while. The tell-tale signs were apparent, like wearing her dressing gown over her clothes and in the middle of the day – the only thing that can remove said garment is a delivery driver. A dressing gown is not like a vest – it is hard not to notice and yet I pretend to so that the heating could remain off. But the pressure was unrelenting and my hopes for mid-October faded fast.
Now that the heat is finally on, our roles are reversed with me walking about the house half naked to demonstrate how unnecessarily hot the house is. But it’s a battle I lose every year. My suggestions that a brisk walk will get the blood flowing or even doing star jumps is met with derision. Nikki is a lady of a certain age – and stage of life where temperature regulation is a marked issue – and so is water retention, I might add.
And so she wins. Again. Nikki runs the house and the thermostat – which will remain on until she can survive at an ambient temperature again. My hope is April but it’s more likely to be May and possibly even June.
Lying in bath as I contemplate this marital conundrum, I am surrounded by ornaments. A range of African arts and crafts collected over our two trips to Kenya and Namibia – two countries where arguments over the heating, I imagine are less likely.
Anyone who has been to Africa will understand our collection of artefacts. A twofold need; to have memories from the holiday/s of a lifetime and also (I hope) to support the local craftsmen and sellers.
This is why I have little empathy with the tourists who like to barter. That you are on holiday in Africa means you have cash. And considering the elephant carving on sale has been made by hand and it must have taken a skilled man many hours to complete. Perhaps even an entire day and has an asking price of only £5. And from here, certain types like to strike out for a deal, perhaps to demonstrate their business prowess and acumen – against someone who lives in a hut and who can’t turn the heat at night on with just the flick of a switch.
In Nairobi, where The Brothers Trust provides some support via The Lunch Bowl Network, the people of Kibera are not allowed to access the natural gas reserves as a source of fuel. They are confined to burning wood and charcoal on open fires/stoves for their warmth and cooking – the fumes from which drastically reduce people’s life expectancy, not to mention the frequent accidents, burns and fires.
I think about this in my supposedly relaxing bath. I think about the late September ‘heat back on’ date and how it might be much later in the year if our heat came with more risks than just a hefty fuel bill.
And I look at my elephants also. There are three nellies in all plus a rhino and some sort of horned bovine creature also. An onyx maybe?
And I smile because as well as paying a fair price to the people making and selling such wares – what the prospective purchaser must always keep in mind when choosing a particular carving…
…Is that no matter how carefully they are wrapped and transported home, it is always wise to imagine what it will look like with less tusks than it had when you bought it.
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