The seasons of my childhood used to roll gently, one into the other.
Summer would slide down the thermometer from hot to warm to cool, preparing us gently for autumn and then winter. It seemed the natural and right way for the year to progress and I looked forward to each stage. But now I’m a card carrying grown up, the changes seem more abrupt; this year my tan has not faded before I’m forced into a coat.
This sudden freeze has focussed a yearly scrap between me and Fireman about how best to stay warm under the sheets. A scrap that, to date, I have failed to win. I’m not sure whether it’s age or defective circulation, but I get cold very easily. I’m made for shorts and sunglasses and a mild climate. I am a hot house flower, and the thought of peeling back stiffly iced sheets every night makes me singularly foul-tempered.
There are two solutions to this, one of which is a good deal more sensible than the other. We either heat the house to just below the “greenhouse” setting on our thermostat, or we buy an electric blanket. I favour the electric blanket.
Fireman does not appreciate it when our utility bills match those of a small Principality so blasting the balls off the boiler each year is not an option. But he has also developed a turn of the century attitude to electrical appliances, especially those that remain switched on while one sleeps. He is firmly convinced that electric blankets are not just unreliable but downright dangerous, and that our bed will burst into flames the second our eyes close. I flick through newspapers, both national and local, pointing out all the pages that do not contain horror stories of couples cremated by their bed linen. I invite him to search for just one panicky product recall, for there are none that I can see. I suggest we research class action law suits from a thousand burn victims whose electrical appliances have been on their beds long enough not just to warm them but to heat them through to melting point; but he is unmoved.
And so this year, as I chip the ice away from my sheets with a small mallet, I have formed a plan. Lord alone knows why I didn’t think of it before.
A few nights ago as I climbed into bed, Fireman raised an eyebrow. I was wearing my new fleecy pyjamas, in the kind of checked pattern last favoured by my Great Aunt Gertrude.
“It’s cold” I snapped, in tones only marginally less chilly than my bedroom.
The next night I added socks to my outfit, and the night after that some fingerless gloves. Fireman has been watching this with an increasingly resigned expression. I have a bobble hat, scarf and snood ready in my drawer too, all of which look like they were knitted by a particularly prudish member of the W.I.
The message is clear. I refuse to go through another winter at risk of hypothermia each time I fall asleep. It’s the electric blanket, or Eskimo levels of bedtime wear till spring. The choice is his.
Now Fireman is a brave man, and Fireman is a stubborn man, but he knows a lost cause when he sees one. This morning a large parcel has arrived from John Lewis, addressed to me.