Wednesday 13 January 2021

Rotten in the State

 A few [Jaysus, it's six years] years ago, the central heating (of our rubble-in-courses granite farmhouse) blew a gasket and I came back from work in the dark to find a puddle under the stairs. Our tame (and always available) plumber isolated that circuit, so we now have rads upstairs, fan-heaters downstairs and hot water on demand. Up until pandemic, we were out and about for much of the day, and fixing the central heating was not completely straight-forward, so we've allowed this issue to mollock along without resolution. It's not without its protestant positives: a life of easy comfort isn't going to fast-track me to heaven. And the challenge of finding hot-water bottles creative solutions to the core body heat problem is a bit of a game. I find that I can type away for a couple of hours in the morning at 12°C but I know that's not sustainable for the whole day. My threshold for sedentary sweater comfort indoors is 15.4°C = 60°F: I can go  the whole day on that with sufficient hot tea. But let's be clear: for me it's a choice.

Tuesday, I went down to the kitchen to fix some lunch and caught the tail end of a Newstalk phone-in from Rachel a 21 yo student working from home in Co. Mayo. She's living at home with her Mum, working from home also, because Covid: and it's too cold for either of them to function properly. Essential toolkit for Rachel to do her studenting is a blanket, a scarf and . . . a candle (because it's hot enough to help unclaw her hand to write notes). That home qualifies for a fuel allowance but with lock-down that's not enough to heat her sub-standard accommodation: the windows don't close properly and so forth. Suggestions flooded in from well-meaning listeners: about the St Vincent de Paul and various grants for upgrading the housing stock. But those solutions require the dispossessed to have enough spare capacity, spare calories, to think straight and that's damn difficult with endemic fuel poverty. Several people, presumably living in Co Mayo, had solutions specific to Rachel. They weren't given airtime but you can imagine someone like me (with a full woodshed) offering to deliver a trailer-load of logs to Rachel's gaff. But what about Rebecca's gaff, and Robert's and Romero's? No woodshed is big enough to cover for a systemic failure to look after the have-nots of our society.  A more equable distribution of wealth is required.

1 comment: