Saturday, October 19

Andrew Kay: Baby it’s cold outside

- March 26, 2013

Oh how I‘m craving a change in this awful weather. It’s been a cruelly cold winter, certainly in comparison to recent years when summer, autumn, winter and spring seemed to have merged into one continuous stream of dull. Late snow in March has certainly been the icing, forgive the pun, on a season of chill drabness and prompted two things in our lives.

Firstly we booked a proper holiday – in the sun. Last year we went nowhere for a proper rest and that took its toll. A week in Turkey we hope will put the sunshine back in our lives – and this time I plan to do nothing, no sight-seeing, just a week of reading on the beach and eating stewed octopus and grilled lamb.

Secondly we turned off the heating. Since moving to the smart end of Kemp Town, Sussex Square, we have laboured with a power supply that is dependent on us remembering to top up a card and a key. Apparantly the previous tenants could not be trusted with a quarterly account and we have inherited that system. It takes me back to my childhood where there was always a panic when the lights went out and mum had to search for a shilling to put in the meter – a shilling, how that dates me.

When I enquired about having it changed the two suppliers wanted me to pay a lot of money to have a conventional meter installed. I asked if the meters would then belong to me, after all, I was paying for them. It turned out that I would not be the owner, just footing a rather inflated bill that would make it so much easier for both the supplier and us to use the electricity and the gas.

“I plan to do nothing, no sight-seeing, just a week of reading on the beach and eating stewed octopus and grilled lamb”

Well as you can imagine, I was not impressed, an overall bill of around £300 was not allowed for in our budget. I was so cross that we turned off the heating (it was a mild moment so there was no real impact) and funnily enough we hardy noticed any difference. It’s an old building so I reckon that most of the heat we were paying for was flying out the windows, up the chimney and through the gaping holes in the bungaroosh.

Of course the late snow changed all that and I had to resort to the small heating manual, printed in tiny type and using jargon that a techie teenager might understand but that had me baffled, to try to get heat back on.

In the space between turning it off and on again our fuel consumption had dropped and our range of warming knitwear had been fully exploited. But within an hour of switching it on, the fuel cards ran out and I found myself, once again, trekking to the local Coop to recharge the card and the key and then struggling with the tiny print manuals once again to get the boiler to accept that there was now power available.

To compound all this misery I have discovered that I have gout. I suppose that with my rich lifestyle gout is the medical condition I deserve but what a nuisance.

I immediately looked online to find out what I could and what I could not eat. The general concensus is that I can eat nothing. One gout website had three lists of foods that were organised as A. avoid at all costs, B. avoid wherever possible and finally C. avoid as a general rule but not too bad if eaten on the rare occasion. I studied them and discovered that not only were some of my favourite things prohibited but also so many foods that I have eaten regularly because they are marked as being healthy.

Given that I can no longer eat anything, except for celery seeds and cherries, I should at least start to lose a little of the excess weight that I have gathered over the years, although rapid weight loss is discouraged by several gout related websites. It’s lose, lose, lose…

I have to go now and put on another layer of winter woolies, fill a hot water bottle and read another manual in tiny print, this time for the precribed anti-inflammatories.

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