The husband is in trouble.
Several weeks ago, I asked him whether he could check the levels of the oil tank as I was concerned it was getting low. This is the sole source of any heating or hot water in this house, so as you can imagine, it's quite vital that it's fuelled up at all times. To give you some idea, this was about the same time that I asked him to pump up my tyres, and refill my washer bottle in my car. Both of these jobs were done by me two weeks ago, so perhaps I should have checked the oil tank at the same time? Mind you two leaking bathrooms and a boiler service were also on the list of 'things to do' so there is no way I was expected to be the one ticking them all off the bloody list.
On Sunday, I reminded him again - now I know that there are some of you reading this who would call this nagging. I would say it is more of a gentle reminder, as I fully appreciate the stresses of his normal workaday life... Yes, alright, I was nagging, but this time he actually did go and check the oil tank, returning five minutes later with a look on his face which I can only describe as terrified.
'We need oil', he said, 'pretty quickly actually'.
Fortuitously, I had just received an email from a company about to place a group booking order, so I grabbed the husband's credit card, ordered up our oil and printed off the receipt for him.
'The 11th of February!' he shouted. 'We can't wait that long....'
So his way of dealing with this is to switch off the heating just as he leaves for work at 7.00 in the morning. This is fine for him, but for those of us who are here till 8.30, and who can do with a warm house to come into after a forty minute run around a wet field with the two fuzzballs, it's not so good. It also means that I can no longer drape various items of clothing over the radiators to dry, in the absence of a temperature outside exceeding freezing. I don't have a warm towel after my shower in the morning, nor can I have toasty clothes to put on afterwards (hot drawers- the ultimate luxury).
Daughter number one has left the building for a few days as she really does feel the cold. Even having two living hot water bottles spooning her overnight isn't enough to keep her here. Son number two and ELL are concerned that there might not be enough hot water for their showers in the morning. I think I'll have to go and buy an old tin bath and let us all share it, one after the other like in the old days. They don't know they're born these kids...
So I have reintroduced the electric radiator into the kitchen, and yesterday afternoon around 5.00, I switched the heating off until the husband and various kids all got home a couple of hours later. You should have heard the moaning when they all walked in last night. The temperature was lower in the hall than it was in the drive allegedly, and you would have thought that I had killed Father Christmas and the cutest of his elves the way they went on at me.
But sacrifices have to be made if we are to have enough hot water over the next ten days (fat chance). I put on extra layers of clothing in the house yesterday, and cooked dinner at a higher than required temperature, but with the oven door ever so slightly open, the lovely heat gently grilling my shins as I stirred the peas.
While I am on the subject of kids not knowing that they're born, I might pull a fast one over them tomorrow and be sitting in the dark with some candles, and pretend the electricity has gone down when they walk through the door.
Oh what a wheeze that would be...