The nose is as good as ever, and we were right. The leak I reported this morning was traced to the property next door to that of the elderly couple we know and is in the throes of being rectified. The first thing will be to dig up the pavement and let any accumulation of gas disperse, then the pipe will be repaired.
This leads me into a little bit of my working history:
My first job after leaving school in 1972 was working for the gas board. My job was to raise paperwork for trade-ins or scrapped appliances, and general filing.
Mum, Dad and I were living with my grandfather at the time, and what was intended to be a short stay stretched to almost a year. In the Summer I was wearing size 18 clothes, but come January they hung on me so Mum and I went shopping, spending £20 and coming back with a variety of mix and match outfits for the office, shoes, and either shoes or a handbag for Mum, I can’t remember now. I do remember my aunt (grandfather’s wife) was angry and accused me of being selfish as I hadn’t thought to buy her a box of chocolates. I was gutted, but Mum took her to task and asked her why she had expected some. That was also the day she realised I had lost weight, and was now a size 10, weighing in at less than nine stone instead of the eleven or so I had been at school.
Dad managed to buy an old house that had been empty for years with a council mortgage. It needed some work as it had no electricity and gas lighting, which incidentally still worked. In the evenings and at weekends Dad would be working on doing it up, sometimes by torchlight, so that we could move in as soon as possible. It was a stressful time for all of us, and one of only two occasions I’d seen my dad lose it and cry.
The problems arose with the new gas meter.
It was February and in typical farce form, a guy came to take away the meter that hadn’t been disconnected, and another came to fit the new meter that hadn’t been delivered. Despite phone calls to the gas board, nothing was forthcoming, and we were due to move in that day.
Dad rang me, and I ended up getting it done on a gas escape. One fitter (who later became a boyfriend for about four months) turned up with all the gear and did the complete job.
We moved in that night, and slept on camp beds. There were only two doors, front and back, everything else was open and had bare floorboards.
Gradually, after work every day and all weekend, we mucked in to get rooms ready one at a time. My sister moved in later in the year, and within twelve months, we had doors where they should be, a bathroom, upstairs toilet where a closet used to be, central heating, and a basic kitchen with a drop down worktop behind which were some narrow shelves for condiments and spices. No cupboards on the walls, just a shelf over the hinged worktop and a bookcase on top of the fridge which housed crockery.
It was home, and I know my Mum loved that house. I have happy memories of Dad in his garden and Mum baking in the kitchen. Our friends were always made welcome, and my sister and I both got married from it.
It was a heavy blow when they had to sell in 1995 and moved in with my sister for what should have been a temporary arrangement. Sadly my Dad died the following year, and so Mum stayed.
My sister was widowed in 2010, and Mum developed dementia over subsequent years. She passed away in January 2018.