Brrrr

My talents are many and varied but something that is currently beyond me is the ability to know what you lot are all looking at when you take a peek through the nearest window. If you are, like me, in the northern hemisphere, chances are when you look through your window today you will be seeing a cold landscape into which you are reluctant to venture.
Currently I am experiencing a rather blustery day. It is very wet. It is very windy. It is really quite cold. I also have no heating.

In rural Ireland, we don’t have sensible things like a mains gas supply. Instead we have LPG canisters available from the garage to run the hob from and a big tank of kerosene to run the boiler. The problem with this is the necessity of remembering when the last time Seamus came to fill it up for you was. I am not terribly good at this.
To be fair, the tank was checked before Christmas when it was half full but then there was a cold snap and now the tank is almost empty and Seamus won’t be able to come by with his tank of liquid until he has visited the 64 other people who have got themselves into an identical situation.

Fortunately, I have a backup plan. I have a plug-in oil filled radiator borrowed from John Who Knows Everything and a fire lit in the sitting room. Or at least, that’s what I was aiming for.
You see, flagrancy is not one of my many and varied talents. For many years I paid close attention to Ray Mears as he demonstrated how to burn half a Rainforest down armed only with a pointed rock, three blades of grass and a small aubergine. I nodded sagely as Bruce Parry showed me how to peal an armadillo and bake it in an oven built from its own intestines. Why then, do I remain unable to set light to a small pile of prehistoric compressed plant fibre?

The fault, I feel, lies not in my own inability to control flame. I believe it lies in the ancient hereditary regard of warmth as something frightfully decadent. Warmth is akin to comfort and comfort sends you straight to hell.
In order to prevent this eternal suffering, Brits invented firelighters. Firelighters are small lumps of white stuff saturated with a strong smelling flammable liquid. You put them on the fire and set light to them. They burn merrily for eight and a half minutes taking all the kindling with them before leaving you with a pile of smoking, unlit coal. Thus heat remains uncreated and as we wait for the hypothermia to set in, we comfort ourselves with thoughts of the everlasting joy which shall surely be our reward once death overcomes us.

Cold I can cope with, anyway. Cos can’t. Even before the heating went off she was sitting huddled on the sofa with eight jumpers on and yet she lives in a part of Canada that is covered in snow for 7 months of the year. If she can’t cope with the puny Irish winter, how does she manage over there?
While I can cope with cold, it turns out that my poor beleaguered flesh can’t. I am well used to having lavender fingernails and digits which don’t move properly but as long as I can still touch my thumb to my little finger in less than two goes, I don’t worry about it. My feet are another matter.
Being, as they are, far from my head and on the other side of my lovely lady lumps, I don’t see them that often. When I do they tend to be a worrying grey colour which I am sure is either dirt or very poor circulation. It’s probably a bit of both. A couple of weeks ago I woke up to find that my feet were their usual worrying grey but that the centre toe of my left foot was red and swollen and that if I spent 10 minutes poking it, also quite painful. I decided I probably had joint ill, which is what calves get, and thought no more about it. Several days later the experience had spread to all of my toes and was accompanied by strange itchy lumps on the undersides.
I complained to Strider who recommended I stop using James Herriot books as a diagnostic tool and look up chilblains on the interweb instead.

Chilblains are ulcers caused by exposure to cold and humidity which damages the capillary beds in the skin. Redness, itching, inflammation and blisters all feature. Sticking your frozen feet next to something hot in order to thaw them out is one of the worst things you can do to set them off, apparently. This probably explains their manifestation in my life. I have a habit of walking around outside on the decking in bare feet because I can grip with my toes and not fall over, bang my head on a chair and require 6 stitches.
Due to the chilblains, I am now required to wear either socks or slippers at all times that my feets may remain at a temperate level and further outbreaks avoided.

So, while I may have Chilblains, a complaining relative in situ and no heating, my carbon footprint is diminishing rapidly.

If only I cared.

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