How far into autumn can I get before I put the heating on?
- Credit: citizenside.com
It is THE big question.
Not 'will America go to war with North Korea?' And not 'should Teresa May resign?'
It's not even 'brown or red sauce on a bacon sandwich?' (Brown is the answer, by the way.)
The really big question is this: 'When should I put my heating on?'
Thankfully, it's not a problem for those of you who retired early with a fat pension. You can flee the frost by flying to find some winter warmth.
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You might spare a thought for the generations that will forever be trying to work off your debts, but it's highly unlikely (unless the thought is: 'A bit of hard work never did me any harm', while sipping a G&T and patronising a waiter).
Those of you who choose to remain in England and brave the weather deserve our respect, of course.
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If the ultimate hell descends and the underfloor heating fails in your detached, double-glazed, insulated house, you could always use your £300 winter fuel allowance to light a fire.
But enough of the justifiable bitterness, back to the point.
I take great pride in my ability to go deep into autumn before I turn on the heating.
I'm currently engaged in a game of 'who blinks first?' with the heating control panel in my dining room.
This morning, my resolve was tested.
I was woken early by a chilling touch from the hand of Bathroom Draught. I tucked everything under the duvet and warmed up.
But at some point I'd have to get up. I felt like Shackleton inside a tent on a chilly day in the Antarctic (the similarities are remarkable, except that if I put my toe out from under the duvet, it'd get a bit cold, while if he stuck his leg out of the tent, it'd freeze off or be pecked by a penguin (not bitten off by a polar bear: I'm sure you know why...)).
Anyway, I heroically made it out of bed, braving the horror of goosebumps and cold bathroom floor tiles.
I'm now sitting in my lounge in a big woolly jumper and a woolly hat. Other clothes are also being worn, but they're extras in this drama.
That's my standard tactic at this time of year – wearing warm clothes.
When the temperature drops further, I take it to the next level and put a duvet over me on the settee while I'm watching Strictly.
It appears to be working.
The other day I got an email from E.on, telling me my monthly gas direct debit is dropping from £58 to £18.
I could ask which innumerate finger-counter calculated the original tariff, but I prefer to focus on how I am single-handedly saving Planet Earth.
No car, no heating – I could be a poster-boy for the Green Party, but I really don't like linen shirts.
Not everybody has the courage or constitution to laugh in the face of cold.
I know one person, who shall remain nameless but who works about the length of a medium-sized radiator away from me, who cannot even laugh in the face of warm, mild or toasty.
I swear a weather front develops between us most days, as the hot air from her heater meets the cold air from my desk fan(s).
Two different climates exist in a small area, and the colleague on the desk in between often experiences light drizzle.
As back-up, with the heater wind-burning her legs, on some days she wears a thick coat and a hat while working.
I'm guessing her home heating has been on since August, if indeed it has ever been switched off.
Such fragility is beyond my understanding. I grew up in Cromer, where the north wind comes direct from the North Pole. And I played youth football in blizzards, with my legs turning purple.
That's why I feel ready to challenge myself this year by reaching November before I put on the heating.
Does anyone else fancy the challenge?