I read yesterday that 1st October is ‘Central Heating Day’ because it’s the day when many turn their central heating back on. Now I must say, if that’s true, I don’t understand that kind of pedantic thinking. Yesterday was glorious and I had the windows and doors open all day, (clearly no point in sticking the heating on just because of a calendar date then) but I’m only too aware that tomorrow may bring eskimo chills, with winds whipping down from the north. Then I’ll have no hesitation in flipping the switch for a bit of warmth blasting throughout the house.
There is a trend to make people like me feel a little guilty about seemingly unthinkingly flipping the central heating switch. I have to say, however, you’re not going to easily persuade me to go around in ever increasing layers of woolly pullies as the winter sets in, rather than basking in a generally gloriously warm and welcoming atmosphere. My home is insulated, doubled glazed and I’ve just gone and ordered some new thickly interlined curtains for the cold months ahead. I feel I’m being a pretty good citizen therefore and, more to the point, I’m old enough to remember the days pre-central heating and dearly hope never to have to live like that again.
Sure, you can sit around with extra layers on and even blankets over your knees, but when the atmosphere of the whole house chills down things start to become damp and inhospitable. Getting ready for bed becomes a question of superquick timing to get under the covers as quickly as possible and then curling up like a pill bug until the bed warms up. On top of that, those bed covers can, in themselves, be slightly damp if you are unlucky enough to live in something like an old granite building (as I once did). Going to the loo in the night has to be done at speed, so as to not lose too much body heat and getting up in the morning? Well, there is the real killer. You’re all toasty under the covers but the almost numbing cold on your nose tells you that ‘out there’ is a different matter. If you think it’s bad getting up to a 6.30 alarm on a cold winter’s morning now, trust me, that is pure luxury compared to hauling yourself out of the warmth of bed, into the the cold and then stripping off for a wash in an even colder bathroom. As a child I developed a technique for blasting through to the bathroom for as quick a wash as I could reasonably manage, positioning myself as much as possible under the small electric ceiling heater, and then hopping back into my hopefully still warm bed to put on my school uniform. Yes, that’s right. In the very coldest months I actually dressed for the day in bed.
Worst memory of cold winters gone? That’s a toss up between the damp sheets on the damp bed in the damp granite property I just mentioned and a mercifully short stint in a big empty guest house during the bleak winter months where it was so cold that my breath steamed just standing in the bedroom.
So, it’s October now and very shortly I expect to see articles telling me that I rely too much on central heating. Maybe so, but you know what? I feel I’ve done my cold-damp-apprenticeship and I’d like to enjoy a few more winters in the welcoming warmth of my home … before my pension fails to cover my fuel bills and I’ll be full circle, freezing my buns off again.