Just before I left the house for the evening last Tuesday, my housemate drew my attention to the smell of gas in the kitchen. We sort of hemmed and hawed for a bit, not knowing exactly who you’re supposed to call when you suspect a gas leak. And really? A gas leak? I mean, how often does that happen? Where are we, 1856? It was probably nothing, we agreed. Then we rather rapidly rethought this position as the smell grew stronger.
Eventually we worked out what number to call (it’s 0800 111 999 for the National Grid, people reading this who suspect they have a gas leak!) and they gave us various bits of advice about not smoking or turning on anything electrical. Perhaps unwisely, we chose to interpret the fact that there were already several electrical devices going and yet we had miraculously not blown up as a sign that we could keep the lights on, and we just shouldn’t turn anything new on. (As I am sure you can surmise, we did not blow up. Though possibly much of that was down to luck.)
As I already had plans I decided not to wait around until the Gas Man Cometh, and pointed my shoes towards the Fitzrovia Radio Hour. (Yes, I went a second time. Drawn like a moth to the flame of hilarious sound effect props.) If there is one thing I can say with a certainty about that show, it is that it definitely beats sitting around fretting about a possible gas leak. I mean, personally I feel strongly that if there is even the slightest chance my house is going to explode I’d much rather be at the theatre.
Just as the house lights dimmed for the first act I got a text from my housemate confirming that we did, indeed, have a gas leak. Also that we weren’t going to have hot water for a few days. I thought of this ruefully as I listened to the Fitzrovia Radio Hour sketch titled It Came from the Black Abyss that begins, “Listeners! We hope you have recently bathed, for after this next harrowing tale, you may never want to go near water again!” (or words to that effect.) Indeed I had not recently bathed, and had been counting on a functional hot water heater for that evening’s nightly ablutions. (Fear not. There was residual hot water in the tank when I got home.)
Having shaken off my cares with the help of the skilled Fitzrovia Radio storytellers, I returned home with a heart full of optimism and even, dare I say it, gratitude. Nobody had died. Nothing had caught fire. Home was still in one piece and I still lived in a rather sweet little flat dead in the centre of what is really a very exciting and wonderful city. Granted it was for the moment an unheated sweet little flat in which there was no hot water or working stove, but we’d faced a problem and overcome it, and all would soon be right with the world.
Unfortunately making all right with the world has involved removing part of our living room floor. This has yet to be repaired. And yet, what with not dying in the gas leak and everything, somehow I am content.