Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Domestic Dispute

So as of last week, our house went from nearly empty to full. After Ryan and I came back from London, we discovered someone had been moved into our house during our absence. We met her a few days later in the kitchen. Her name is Dorothy and she is a nurse, originally from Nigeria. She is very nice and cooks a lot, like me. She pronounces my name "Kaily" but I don't mind. She lives on the top floor and we usually see her in crossing from the kitchen to her room.

Then last Saturday, right before Ryan and I were leaving to watch rugby at the Moon & Bell we had a knock on our door. It was another new roommate, moving into the downstairs, named Angel and from Beijing. We were glad she came to introduce herself and we tried to give her a quick run-down on the house: what works, what doesn't, how to sort through the abandoned dish ware in the kitchen. She apologized profusely for the noise of moving in and asked if she could store a box in the corner of the living room. We said sure, and left for rugby.

Flash forward to Sunday afternoon: we come home from church and the entire living room is covered in boxes, including a large mattress laid across the furniture. We ignored it and made some lunch. About 3pm Angel toddles out of her room to ask us to turn the heat on.

Maybe at this point I should clarify the heating system of our house. As I have mentioned, it is a large Victorian house with a lot of "original work" as my landlord put it. Meaning, the floors haven't been varnished in 1oo years and the window frames are sieves for all our heat to escape through. Heating is done by natural gas in England and is very expensive. Our thermostat is set to run twice a day for a few hours at a time. To supplement our heat, we wear layers and also have a small electric radiator for our room. The gas is paid for by card, and every so often (usually after a lot of nagging) our landlord will drop off 50 pounds for us to take the card to the mini-mart and charge it up. He said he expects the 50 pounds to last a month. This is also supposed to cover our cooking gas and the hot water heater, so as you can imagine, we economize.

Since Angel has moved in (3 days ago?) we have gone through a week's worth of gas. Our thermostat is set to turn on a few hours in the morning and a few hours at night, turning off around 10:30. The problem is that Angel goes to bed after midnight and sleeps till around 5pm. (She told us she is looking for a job in London ?) Ryan was making tea yesterday evening when she stumbles out of her room wrapped in a comforter and heads for the thermostat. Ryan explains how the heating system is currently set, and offers to change the hours around, to which Angel replies "why don't we just turn it on when we're cold and turn it off when we're hot? We're not paying for it." Which sounds logical enough, except when you've spent a few anxious days tracking the movements of your landlord and hunting for an open shop when he finally rolls around with the gas card top-up.

So, this morning we are out of gas. Maybe now Angel will see the importance of not heating the entire house for 12 hours a day. Unlikely, though because it is 10am and she is not due to wake up for several more hours.

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