Posted by / Category London /

I must admit something: I had completely overlooked a key player in my household: my boiler. Guilty as charged.

Let me explain: London is quite cold right now (did you hear the British understatement here?). In fact, I am freezing (that’s more like it). It’s this time of the year, I suppose. And it’s dark after 4pm. But I digress. This Saturday, I ran another Parkrun in West London. When I came back home, I quickly realised that we didn’t have any hot water. Zilch. Nada. To make matters even worse, the heating was, at best, patchy.

I tried to call my husband and then my father but couldn’t reach them: one was still sleeping somewhere on the other side of the world, while the other was repairing a fence in a remote part of his farm. Where are men when you need them? After some frantic googling about ‘what to do if boiler breaks down’, I ended up turning the boiler off and on again. Quite a few times. It didn’t help. So much for technical progress and all that. What to do? I booked an appointment with British Gas, but the earliest slot they had was four days later. Four days? How were we going to survive four days in arctic temperatures? The thing was, when they said that they would come within 48 hours, it didn’t include weekends obviously. Whatever happens, don’t you dare having a problem during the weekend in London. Lesson learned. Maybe that’s why they all have country houses over here? I wonder.

‘Mum, there is no hot water.’

‘I know, I know. What do you want me to do?’, I thought. I wished I had a magic wand to sort everything out but I didn’t.

‘Mum, I am cold’

‘ Don’t worry Darling, we still have Internet’, I replied. Not that it is of much use against the cold, but you know, I wanted to point out one of the positives of the situation. See, it could be worse and all that. Come to think of it, we also had electricity, food, and water. That’s just me: I am a glass half-full sort of person. Or maybe I have just become British. But it was still cold.

I was time to start organising ourselves. We eventually found an electrical convector heater, and wrapped up. That was the best I could do in the short term. We stayed on one level of the house and tried to maintain a liveable temperature there. My house is an old Victorian house, hence full of steps, which meant that it was easier to heat one level and not all of them. In the Corporate world this is called strategic thinking. In my house this is called Mummy is doing what she can. The children were still complaining. I took comfort in the fact that they would complain even if the heating was on. Because that’s what teenagers do. For once they had a good reason to. Still, it was cold. Maybe it was time to find some alternative accommodation? Beg for hospitality from friends? Book a hotel? I wondered. It’s amazing how a broken boiler can make you feel so vulnerable so suddenly. The glaring absence of warm coziness was starting to get to me. Despite many cups of tea, I must say. Maybe I have remained French after all.

I was, once again, incredibly lucky: I received an unexpected phone call from British Gas the following day, after a cold night spent trying to find the best places to put the electrical convector heater without risking to put the whole house on fire. One of their technicians was in the neighbourhood and could come over to have a look at my boiler if it is was OK. Of course it was OK, could he please hurry up? Yes, he would be half an hour or so. YAY! Crisis over soon.

He turned up a couple of hours later and I was insanely happy to see him. I am pleased to report that all is sorted now, the technician repaired everything. It took him quite a long time to change the sensor and reset the whole thing (At least I think that’s what he did. I wouldn’t know, we were keeping warm downstairs wrapped in all the duvets we could find while he was working in the cold). You wouldn’t believe how nice it is to have a warm house again. A boiler breakdown makes you appreciate more the little things in life you take for granted, and I was (and still am) very grateful for BG timely intervention.

I will never underestimate my boiler again. That said, I am glad I showed it who’s boss. It clearly picked the wrong target. Be better, boiler! Because we Mums are the unsung heroes who have to deal with most life crisis. We just take it in our stride and move on. As if it were completely normal. We can’t take a day off. That’s just who we are. And I’ll renew my contract with British Gas anyway. Just in case.


Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. My boiler really broke down.