MORE HOT WATER

We all live very close to the edge of a big hole. This hole should be labeled the unknown. It is a scary, dark place, full of boogey men, and other things that go bump in the dark. We can fall into that hole very easily if we are not lucky.

 

When I was a young boy my father wanted me to understand his past, where he came from, and how far we had all traveled. He had been born poor, his father a tailor’s presser, living in a small house in London’s Soho district. This was then more like something Damon Runyon might have imagined than the place it is today. Soho was then very heavily populated by two main constituent parts, the Jewish and Irish immigrant populations who had arrived in the 1890’s through to the 1910’s. They lived in hard working poverty.

 

What set apart my early childhood in Hackney, and later in West Acton from my father’s in Soho, was running hot water. Dad would delight in telling me the tales of his family having to travel to the communal baths, once a week. The tiny houses they inhabited had outside toilets and no bathrooms with running water. I was never aware of such deprivation, as I had been born into a world of limitless hot water on demand. Dad remembered, and told me with relish, his tales of visits to these communal baths. This was a big building in which there were literally rows of baths in separate cubicles for privacy. Each customer would visit each cubicle, and he recalled that there was always some old man who would call out in a middle European accent, “More hot water, number twenty two!”

 

Today I have my own children and grand children and these passed on memories are even more distant and foreign to them. However, very recently I had reason to recollect them. We have a form of home insurance that covers all our utility provisions. It guarantees that, in the event of their malfunction, they will be immediately fixed. To prevent problems the contractors make annual visits to maintain all the systems in good order. We just had the last such inspection. All went well until the guy inspected our previously lovely boiler. He found a fault, although I still don’t understand it’s exact nature, and he turned it off, for three weeks whilst we have to wait for the necessary part. He further informed us that the boiler could not be turned back on until it had been fixed.

 

The result is that there will be no heating or hot water via the boiler in Klinger Towers for nearly a month. Luckily we have other, back up heating and hot water systems, and it’s warming up weather wise. However it did make me realize how close we all are to that black hole we’re all so scared of.

 

This is a wonderful metaphor for how close our economies are to the edge of an abyss. Everyone, after Brexit began considered tightening their financial belts, and cutting down on their spending on big and small ticket items. What we need to see is more direct, visible help from our governments and banks to the same end.

 

We need to see positive steps by our leaders in the opposite direction, away from the big hole, After all, if we fall into the big hole, we will all fall into it together, as we are all linked. We don’t want a future in a communal bath where we hear the words, “More hot water, number twenty two.” Do we?