Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A Tale of Horror

This is not a terribly spiritual post, but perhaps an illuminating one. I have apparently not been the only child traumatised in their early life by a clip from a Keystone Cops movie (which nobody seems able to identify) showing an actor called Charlie Murray, after a fight with James Finlayson (Laurel & Hardy's cinematic nemesis some years later), tied up next to an imminently-exploding boiler, shots of which are intercut with the Cops 'coming to the rescue' in their usual incompetent manner. Absolutely terrifying, and not the last time in my life I would be plagued by boilers. 

Two years before I arrived in Swanvale Halt, my predecessor's husband had concluded the installation of a new heating system for the church, a matter which had taken years and cost quite literally blood, sweat and tears. It didn't take long for the beautiful new system to start playing up and over the intervening years there has been a tediously growing number of repairs and firms of engineers of varying degrees of helpfulness and competence. Eventually the firm that put them in admitted that that particular model of boiler had had continual problems with it and advising that they be replaced. We decided to use some legacy money we had available to do this, though we employed the services of a different company to carry out the work.

Meanwhile, one of the congregation who is a plumber had been investigating some damp areas in the hall which connects our big meeting room with the church, kitchen, toilets and office. He discovered after much excavation that when the heating system for the hall (which is separate from the church's) was installed in 1989 the pipes had not been properly lagged and so were now falling apart. The pipes had been buried under the floor, which looks very neat but makes replacing them virtually impossible, so the old system in its entirety would have to be sealed off and a new one put in. We all gulped and got a set of quotations, eventually giving the job to the same company that was replacing the boilers. 

So that was all done, very efficiently. The replacement of the boilers was delayed a bit after the engineers discovered that they were missing a vital component which the suppliers hadn't told them they needed, but eventually all the piping was replaced and the new boilers were humming away nicely.

The plumbing company boss came to check over the work. He prodded the gable wall against which the boilers were mounted, and found that it was a bit, what in the trade is called live. In fact one of the breeze-blocks could be shifted with a firm finger. The wall wasn't strong enough to support the boilers (apparently it's not unknown for gable walls not to be constructed particularly strongly), and so a girder was rapidly mounted against the rafters further into the roof to brace them. One of our long-suffering churchwardens wearily called the architect who came and checked over the wall, and who, to our unimaginable relief, was of the opinion that it was probably OK and we should just keep an eye on it in case it moved. 

So all was well. Except it wasn't, not quite. Last week the heating system in the hall stopped working. It turned out that the timer had failed and had to be replaced.

And, so far, everything seems to be working. Until it gets really cold, probably.

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