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Happy New Year

After a good Christmas which means getting to the end of the holiday without drink fuelled arguments or falling out due to being confined together at home, plus the added bonus of having happy children (Guitar Hero 3 went down a storm) who also didn’t argue, the New Year has not started well. First the dish washer packed up, I know not a major tragedy, we have a sink, hot water and rubber gloves well maybe not the gloves. £100 to fix. Then our oven decided not to work unless you bang the door shut. It’s an old oven not worth fixing so a new oven will cost £300.00.

Finally our central heating and hot water, during the coldest winter for years, gave up the ghost. Luckily we have a maintenance contract with British Gas which means they come out and fix it and we don’t have to pay again. Right? Well in theory if the problem is covered. However we have sludge (bits of metal and dirt) in our system which has clogged the pump that pushes the hot water round the system and to get the sludge out we need a Power Flush which is not covered by our maintenance contract - £600.00 (not including the cost of running expensive electric heaters). I’m more than £1,000 down and I’m only 10 days into January, £100.00 a day, if this carries on I’ll be bankrupt by the end of the year.

I don’t know if in countries where they have lots of snow and it is really cold in winter, like the USA and Canada or even our European neighbours: Germany, France Italy, Russia, have the same problem with boilers and central heating i.e. that they stop working when they are most needed or is it only the UK? Speaking to the engineers from British Gas they have been inundated with calls and are working flat out to fix problems, many caused, so they tell me, by shoddy workmanship, from jobbing plumbers and electricians.

Again I don’t know if other countries suffer as in the UK with poor workmanship and dishonest tradesmen, if Joe the plumber in the USA can be trusted where as John the plumber in the UK can’t. I bet most people in the UK have a story to tell of being ripped off by a plumber, builder, mechanic or electrician. It is a sorry state of affairs where people want to get paid as much as possible for doing as little as possible and where there is no pride in their work.

We have TV programmes dedicated to exposing the scams and rip offs but nothing is done to protect the public. It has become so accepted over here that it has become a joke where a firm of builders can call their company ‘Ripoff and Scarper Ltd’ or an Asian company can have as its logo ‘You’ve tried the Cowboys now try the Indians’ (Cowboys as in ‘cowboy builders’, a term for poor workmanship.) I must say that not all tradesmen are dishonest; I have had plenty of good service over the years but finding a good plumber, electrician, builder or garage is hard work.

Despite the cold in my house it’s good to have snow in the south of England for a change. Everything looks picturesque and we all have an excuse to miss work and play in the snow. ‘We couldn’t possibly get to work with six inches of snow, far too dangerous and anyway the emergency services have told us to stay at home.’ It is acceptable behaviour as heavy snow is such a rarity in the south and letting the child inside us out to play is good for us.

There was a little thaw in the weather today which is just as well as I still have a week before they Power Flush my system and get it working. I hope my bad luck will also thaw and that my New Year improves from now on and I hope that your New Year has started better than mine.

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