Breezy Curtains, Vermont, 1975

There is a much hackneyed phrase applicable to the stereotypical English winter. It goes, ‘It is cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey’ although my father’s adaption thereof used to be, ‘It’s that cold they’ll be laying men off at the brass foundry son’.  Either phrase fits this specific winter, one that has lingered a little longer than usual – in short it remains well below 10 degrees and is cloudy and overcast most days.

Such inclement weather has coincided with our move to our Victorian home – one that is ‘new’ to us, yet very old to the world. That the place is insulated and double glazed should mean it is warm and snug yet ten days into our occupancy with central heating blasting away on the highest thermostat setting and both my wife and I clad in a multiplicity of thermal clothes and woolly jumpers we were frozen to the marrow. Also we had returned to active service a myriad of old electric blow heaters salvaged from our office when selling our business back in 2008 yet still we froze. Indeed some days my fingers particularly turn a horrible shade of distraught mellow yellow and I cannot not feel a single thing – not that my Shirley would let me!  There came a point just a couple of days ago that I began to doubt the prudence of purchasing this place to reside in.

At the top of the property there are three rooms that constitute a flat. Our son George has taken up residence there. As an impoverished musician, not that long out of university having gained a first class degree and seeking to start his own production business we thought that he needed both space and privacy as plainly a place of his own is off the agenda for the foreseeable future. He has a large attic room as his lounge, a rather tasty bedroom with an en-suite plus a spare room he is presently converting into a sound proof booth for recording purposes. He likes the place and we leave him to his own devices save for meal times when we all, as families should, get together around the dinner table.

Yesterday I had cause take some post up to George. Upon entering his quarters I noticed not just the doors opened wide but his widows also. I located him up in the attic room, dormer windows ajar as far as their mechanism allowed, clad in a t-shirt and shorts, barefoot strumming away on his 12 string guitar lost to the world in thought – we are very similar in that regard!

“Here’s your post…aren’t you cold?”

“Cold! You must be joking I’m so very, very hot I can’t think clearly…you haven’t got an air conditioning unit I could have anywhere have you?”

Then it dawned on me. Then I knew just where all the heat had gone. The bastard!

“Stuff me George with everything wide open I’m paying the utility companies a King’s Ransom to heat the fucking sky. It is little wonder that I’m freezing and have to swallow hard every time I feel two lumps in my throat. What on earth are you playing at mate?”

“Well you might be cold but I’ve never been so hot…well not since the Loire Valley in 2012.”

“Fucking Ada.”

Following that brief chat we reached an accord. He could have his windows open as wide as he likes on the basis that henceforth he keeps his doors shut tight.

All is well in the Steeden home once more. In point of fact Shirl and I were even a tad too hot last evening!

“Shirl what with it being so unbearably hot don’t you think you’re a tad overdressed…you know you might want to shed one, or maybe two garments…or more even…I don’t mind if you do, honest I don’t…I mean if you felt so inclined to take the lot off I won’t be offended or anything.”

“Don’t push your luck just yet sunshine,” her cruel and selfish riposte.



    1. Survived! Freezing cold; still got toothache and the back is giving me jip…plus I’ve run out of wine so am off to France in the early morn to replenish the cellar we don’t have here!

      1. All that heavy lifting, you see… you should have left it to your Shirley 😉
        Hang on there and I’ll get the shopping list put together… 😉

      2. Mike, this is your admirer from Rant of the Betrayed. Sorry I was suddenly taken ill more than a year ago and could not keep up. Sucked. Gave me two days to live but I beat that one. Not going to do my blog any more but I shall continue to admire your drivelings. Terribly sorry dear friend. Did not know how else to get in contact with you. The tale of my illness is a good one although I do not know if I’ll broadcast it. Stories from ICU are generally rather ill-received, tubes running in and out of one and the lot. A man at his worst when pretty nurses gad about. Sigh. Anyway I’m on the mend and I terribly missed you sir.

      3. Funny you should comment as only the other day I was driving about in Belgium and, unusually for that country I spotted a bloke in an Arsenal shirt whereupon I wondered what might have happened to you! Bad news on the health front though – the body is a bastard vehicle to keep serviced and up and running…still glad to hear you’re on the road back. Maybe you should, when the mood takes you, pen that tale of yours whereon I will share it far and wide if you want. Right now I’m late for the Eurotunnel train so have to shoot – me and the missus use this email address so contact us on that – I’ll get back to you regardless. Best of luck…trust you took one of those nurses home with you!

  1. ahh – home sweet home at last – George reminds me of my grandsons who come by to shovel my pathways after each snow – I watch them through the windows and they’re dressed in tee shirts while I in my heated interior am clad in two sweaters and fingerless gloves

    1. That is a very good point Paul. As a youngster through to early adulthood I cannot recall ever being cold. Now though I have a draw full of thermal wear (including leggings my son has christened ‘Billy Elliot’s’)

      1. True although while he and I were shopping in France/Belgium today the bloke turned up to start building his sound proof booth section yet was dismayed the ‘plan’ G was supposed to have drawn up hadn’t been done yet!

      2. Only use the ferry when the sun shines! We tend to prefer the Eurotunnel for shopping. Belgium is just 30 mins from Calais then it’s back to Cite Europe for shed loads of fine wine at half the UK price which more than pays for the trip…and yes the bloke must return again…young G thought just buying the soundproofing and leaving it to the bloke would be sufficient! Is there any hope!

      3. Eurotunnel – just 35 minutes and you are on the French motorway network – it is the best way to travel if, say you want to go inland and take lunch, or shop or even begin a holiday. You just drive your car on and drive off at the other end!

      4. You have to sit in your car whilst on the train. There is a regular passenger service also known as Eurostar that runs into Paris out of London. The Eurotunnel merely gors from Folkestone to Calais.

      5. A few years back one of my son’s friends came up to stay and she thought the Channel Tunnel would be a glass tube from which one would she the fish etc – wouldn’t it be great if that were true!

  2. *LOL* Surprised you didn’t tell your son to play outside in the cold. Love the little sayings
    “cold as a witches tit” = when it’s cold
    “sweating like a whore in church” = when your hot and sweaty
    “Busier then a one legged man in an ass kicking contest” = when your busy
    Sorry read your post and it’s got my stuck on funny sayings. Loved the post.
    “snug as a bug in a rug” = when your comfortable

    1. ‘Sweaty as a glass blowers bum cheeks’ is a particular favourite of mine or one I coined myself that a marketing chap nicked some years ago and used in a radio play, ‘As much use as a eunuch in a brothel’ – I do rather like such sayings. Thanks for the ones you identified here. Best of luck

      1. I like those! Never heard of them before. “Shy as a fox”, “tickled pink”, “lying like a dog”, “drunk as a skunk”, “dumb as a box of rocks”, “shooting the bull”, “treated like a red headed step child”,
        Yes, love sayings. I know I’ve got 1000 thousands more since half our normal talk is sayings. But it’s amazing when you stop to try to think you go blank. It’s just makes you “throwed off” = crazy.

        Thanks for the new sayings. Let me know if you have any others. What a eunuch?

      2. At school many years ago when suffering the then compulsory religious education classes a rather weak, shy teacher was reading from the bible a passage that contained the word ‘harlot’. Boys being boys one lad just had to say, ‘What’s a harlot Sir?’ knowing full well what it meant. An exchange took place; back and forth until said teacher gave in and eventually said, ‘Whore…no I meant prostitute’! I’m guessing here that your doing the same with ‘eunuch’? Good fun!

  3. A Victorian house? Did no one warn you? We lived for nigh on 30 years in this gothic pile above the River Tay. It was always warmer outside than in. Indeed the bedroom was often minus degrees. Our heating bills were worse than a mortgage. Even in the summer we required to heat the house for two hours a day/ Not that I am being the bearer of bad tidings or anything…..
    Now we live in an Edwardian upper half…. Having someone downstairs is very useful in terms of heat.

    1. Why did you have to tell me that! A cruel woman you are! Seriously I think this place will have some high running costs. Our handyman bloke is presently getting rid of masses of unusual redundant pipes about the place – we have been told that it was once a guest house! Some of the ceilings look a bit iffy as well – woe is me. Still saved a fortune shopping in France/Belgium this day!

      1. Mike..we were not only a bit like Shackelton going to the loo, ‘we are going outside now and we may be some time’. we got togged up like him too. Say nowt re pipes. Once, when we were off on this remote Greek island to escape the place AND having paid good money to escape…we came home. We came home to the guy we had paid over the odds to put in the bathroom and there he was on the roof having a breakdown re the pipes about the place going nowhere —oh and the resident ghost who had bedevilled his every step apparently. Ceilings? Well there were many times we fought the elements to keep the one over oor heads.
        So?, Guest house? Fawlty Towers by the sounds? Bottom line? YOU will get there. And then you will laugh. Mike, being you, of course you will xxx You will write wonderful poems and prose about it too

      2. That I’ve taken to wearing (had to go out and buy them of course) pajamas’s says it all. When the mood takes me I can be a bit like Basil Fawlty. I need to get my act together today as a plumber is arriving with a builder to take the roof off a so called ‘sun room’ and thereafter replace a thing named a wrought iron, likely to ‘explode’ – their words not mine – ‘soil’ pipe which doesn’t sound very nice…£500 later by about 4pm this strange endeavour should be done and dusted. Oh the pain of spending money. The second it gets warm somewhere in the middle or south of France is on the agenda.

      1. I’m developing more faults even as I type for the builder/plumber chaps have all the doors and windows open it seems…the feeling in hands and brain has almost gone…I was in the middle of a half decent story as well!

  4. “a horrible shade of distraught mellow yellow” Yes, been there. Who has not? Oh ye can turn a phrase dear Mike.

  5. Oh by the way Mike I published a book on Kindle: Tales from the Psychiatric Ward. If you ever have a slow day and want a laugh or six, give it a shot. It’s about my adventures as a psyche nurse, I think it is published in the UK version of the Kindle or whatev. I’m not good with the dynamics of this stuff. Just to let you know, sir.

    1. Interesting – is there a hard copy available as I cannot get on with Kindle. They got me a tablet thing but it does my head in. I’ll check on Amazon UK for the paperback version – I’ll get back to you on this one.

  6. How wonderful that you all sit together and have your dinner! I usually have to do jumping jacks in front of my son to distract him from his XBOX long enough to hand him his plate, and once I handed him an empty one and 15 minutes later he thanked me for ‘the lovely dinner’! Glad you are settling into your new abode. I’m sure once it is summer again Shirley will swap flannel for lace (but that might be even more torturous for you)

  7. OMG, that’s hilarious! As I was reading, I thought “heat rises… no wonder they’re cold… George is sucking all the heat.” I had no idea he was literally sucking all the heat from the downstairs into the atmosphere above your house! I’m so glad your new old house isn’t defective. I can’t wait to see it! 😀

    1. Having said that it’s still not the warmest house I’ve been in and we can’t work out why. The central heating pumps out, it is double glazed windows/doors, is insulated! Just cold in the mornings. We are still fighting a leak in the little sun room roof to no avail and had plumbers out this week yo replace an almost deceased waste pipe. Just lots of nuisance jobs to attend to that are outside of Shirley’s skill set (I am hopeless by the way) so we have to rely on others. Wish you were here…she’d have you dismantling old sheds and digging trenches in the garden. This last point worries me for she has been digging a trench these past 2 days…do you think she plans to murder me? What with the trench and the missing electric saw I’m a tad worried! Your best selling book recounting my sad demise might just be around the corner you realize!

      1. LOL! I don’t think she’ll murder you just yet… at least not until all the shopping is done. Did you check the insulation AROUND the doors and windows? If you hold a lighter or candle and it flickers, you’ll be able to tell if a breeze is getting in somehow. When I moved in this house, everything was insulated except one side of the weatherstrip around the front door, and that made all the difference in the world once I replaced it.

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