Monday, 6 October 2008


Our area is being fitted with new gas pipes, both the mains pipes and those running into individual houses’ gas metres. Yesterday a man knocked on the door to ask what time it would be convenient for them to have access to our metre cupboard today. Knowing our usually-hectic Monday morning schedule, I said 12 noon and a note was duly made on the gas man’s list on his clipboard.

At 7.45am this morning, there was a racket directly outside our front door as a section of our block paving was ripped up and a hole dug. The soil from the hole was flung on top of my new plants, completely burying them. The loose bricks were hurled against the base of a shrub.

“There weren’t any plants there,” was the first response to Richard when he flew out to complain.

“Well my wife didn’t plant invisible plants, did she!” growled hubby.

“Oh, we didn’t see them,” came the next lame excuse.

When the spade-wielding man scraped back the soil, the somewhat squashed remains of my three new heucheras peeped limply from their resting place. The man squinted at them as if they were microscopic and said, “What, those little things?”

“They’re small because they’re new,” I said, biting back a sarcastic retort about young plants generally starting off small. They get bigger later on. It’s the usual way with all things young. (Sarcasm might be tempting, but it rarely helps.)

Anyway, then another man wanted to come inside to turn off our gas supply. This meant no one could get a shower. Richard had to put the kettle on so he could get a shave at least.

Then I looked out of the window to see what was happening, only to discover one of those portable barriers had been set down on top of the very same plants! So I marched out of the house—no workmen in sight otherwise many fleas would have been deposited in many ears—and put it back on the pavement outside. There was absolutely no reason for the barrier to be in the garden anyway, the hole having been filled up again by then. The paving bricks have not been put back.

Late in the afternoon, the gas supply was turned on again and our appliances tested. So there’s this bloke, the size of a modest barn, staring at our new gas fire and telling us it needs a flue. The big open chimney behind it is surely flue enough—two other Corgi gas fitters, both independent of the other, have said the fire is totally safe and it also has its safety certificate. Neither of them mentioned it needing a flue. Even Barn Man said it was safe and worked fine, but it would be “better” with a flue. Hmm, does said Barn Man happen to install flues, I wonder?!!

A similar rigmarole will occur tomorrow, too, as the gas company wants to replace the pipe which leads from our metre to the supply pipe. So why didn’t they do that today, while the metre was disconnected? According to the letter (which I saw being posted and just managed to catch as it blew away up the garden, the genius who tucked one tiny corner of it inside out mail box apparently being oblivious to the phenomena of wind) our metre might be disconnected until 8pm. Ooow, hubby is going to luuuurve that when he comes in from the studio…

Meanwhile, I’ve put bamboo cane wigwams round my poor, battered plants. Here’s hoping they survive tomorrow’s activity.

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