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Tuesday 2nd January 2018

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So I intended to do some light writing work this morning. I am still really taking these two months off to be a stay at home dad, but I need to get a few bits and pieces done, as well as book the new series of RHLSTP which is somehow only a month away. The main thing is that I can do the stuff I need to do from home and can be around at bath time to either wash my filthy kids or make some leguminous meal for my wife and I, as we slide dangerously close to returning to vegetarianism or even worse sliding further into veganism and not being able to eat cheese. Please don’t let me live out my final years that way.
Anyway, I thought I’d sit down in our little snug room and light the fire and write my blog and think about the storylines for series two of Relativity (all I know is that someone is going to be eating lip balm at some point - though will it be Ken? Has he survived series 1?). I had a fire all set up and ready to go. All I had to do was light it.
I lit it. The smoke from the burning paper seemed to be coming out into the room a bit, but maybe it was because it was right at the edge of the fire. I’d built it beautifully and the whole thing quickly lit up. But I was aware that there seemed to be a bit of smoke in the room, which was unusual, as the other two or three times I’ve lit it I’ve been impressed with the draw. And then the room was full of smoke and I had to open windows and doors and put the fire out. My wife suggested sand (later admitting that she’d got the idea from watching Paw Patrol, so the programme might save your life), and it took me a while to find the sand for my daughter’s sand table (yes, that one that Yodel failed to attempt to deliver). I got back in the room, now choking from the thick smoke and wondering if my house was going to kill me. The sand worked a bit, but it was slipping through the grate. Then I remembered the two big red fire extinguishers sitting by the fire (oh the previous occupants had taken the fire grate, but left those). I doused the embers with water and then rushed outside to breathe some country air. How had it all gone so wrong?
Luckily I didn’t immediately email the people who’ve been working on the house. So much has gone a bit wrong or been delayed and I was annoyed that they’d claimed to have had the chimneys swept, when maybe, it seemed, they hadn’t. But I thought it was possible that something had fallen in and blocked the flue, and I didn’t want to start throwing around accusations. I asked on Twitter what people thought it might be and the general consensus was that on a day without much wind, with cold and damp conditions and being in a valley, it was possible that the pressure wasn’t there to draw the smoke up the chimney. A few people suggested holding a sheet of broadsheet newspaper over the fire to create the updraft. I suddenly remembered my dad doing this in the fireplace of the cottage we rented for the holidays we had on the Isle of Arran.
I thought having a real fire was easy, but not only do you have to scavenge wood like some kind of nature thief, you have to learn all kinds of tricks and signs and work out atmospheric pressures or risk having your house stinking of smoke and damaging your lungs.
I didn’t get any work done.
Why did I leave the city where they have central heating and BT Infinity?
Oh apparently we can get BT infinity now. And my wife tells me we do have central heating. There’s a reason that we left real fires and face to face conversations behind. The countryside is OK.


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My new stand up show, Oh Frig I'm 50 is at on tour from February til June 2018. There's also a new series of RHLSTP with recordings every Monday from February 5th to April 2nd All details of shows here.
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