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Monday 9th December 2013

I had hoped to get near to finishing the first draft of my latest script Chedwood today, but wasted most of the morning trying to work out why our central heating had stopped working. My best tactic of turning the boiler off and then on again seemed to have worked initially, but the house wasn't getting any warmer and when I checked again the radiators were freezing.

I thought it was unlikely that I'd be able to fix this myself, but remembering the embarrassment of getting an engineer out in 2004 only to discover that my thermostat was turned down to zero, I wanted to investigate further. I started with the thermostat as apart from turning the boiler on and off that was all that I had. I noticed that it had a little battery symbol flashing and using my vast technical expertise concluded that maybe it needed new batteries. I was surprised that the thermostat even worked on batteries, assuming it was plugged into the mains. I don't think I've ever had to change the thermostat batteries before, though this one was relatively new (I had the boiler replaced a few years ago, but then had to get a new one again in my recent renovations). But how did I change the batteries? It wasn't immediately apparent. There seemed to be a couple of compartments at the bottom that wanted to shift, but I couldn't get them open. I noticed there was a screw holding the unit to the wall so I unscrewed that and the unit loosened. I tried to remove it from the wall, but alas something had still been attached as there was a snapping sound.

But at least I had the thing off the wall, even if I wasn't going to be able to get it back on I investigated further and now managed to open those compartments to reveal that it took 4 AA batteries. I searched the house for new batteries but after 15 minutes I had only found three. I either had to get out of my dressing gown and go to the shops or take a used battery out of a remote control. Thankfully I finally recalled that there might be a couple of batteries in the bathroom cabinet and I was proven correct. I had the requisite four batteries and had only spent an hour on the problem so far.

From there on in it got a lot mre complex.The batteries didn't seem to squarely fit into their space, or at least everytime I tried to slot them into the unit they would fall out. And then the inside bits of the unit fell out of the casing. I had a circuit board and the + and - buttons strewn across the table and then the inner, spongy octopus buttons (I believe that is the correct term for them) fell of the circuit board and proved incredibly difficult to reattach. One I had the unit back together it no longer lit up and the + and - buttons were in the wrong slots. I tried again and the octopus buttons fell off again.  I was pretty sure I had fucked the whole unit and wasn't even convinced that this was why the heating wasn't working. It took me another fifteen minutes to work out how I needed to slot the battery compartment in to make it work and by then I had snapped off at least two more bits of plastic. This time the display lit up but when I tried to put the heat up, it immediately went down again. The negative internal octopus buttons was clearly being pressed continuously. I had one more go at it, slightly sweating from the stress and exertion and got it all together effectively except that the negative button was in the right slot but at a 90 degree angle so it was an l. But it was working and so was the central heating.

When I tried to fix it back to the wall I realised that the snapped off part now made that impossible, but I put it on a shelf instead and it seemed to make no difference. It had only wasted most of my writing time for today. I still felt like quite a successful and masculine beast for having sorted out our issue alone. Don't employ me to fix your central heating, but I am available to come and tell you what I think might be wrong. Get in touch via the usual channels if you wish to employ me on this.

Only one entry to try and guess my weight on 31st December 2014. I will give a nice prize to whoever gets closest. I like turning myself into some kind of village fete competition. Guess the weight of the gonk. I've lost over a kilo already. Entries in by the end of 2013 please to

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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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