Here’s a truth-bomb for you. The heating system in our apartment has not worked since we moved in. Throughout all of autumn and one month of winter, the wall mounted heaters have pumped out zip, zero, nada, squat in the way of warmth. You might want to skip this paragraph; it’s upsetting, uncomfortable and not suitable for small children. I imagine you’re shivering in response to such startling news or maybe that’s because you’re sunburnt… damn you.
I, of course, knew ALL ALONG the heaters were not working as one: I am home during the day and two: I am not a giant-sized professional athlete whose fitness level keeps him hot 24/7 (hot as in internal temperature). Hugh FINALLY put two and two together when he realised I was wearing my scarf around the house, even to cook dinner, and he was wearing his beanie and scarf while eating breakfast. <Interlude> Speaking of scarves, a crazy Christmas coincidence occurred when my mum from New Zealand gifted Hugh a merino/possum striped scarf and Hugh’s mum in Australia knitted me a striped woollen scarf. How’s that for INCEPTION. Note: This is a reference to Inception the movie which, I admit, I still don’t really understand. I imagine when Hugh reads this he will roll his eyes and say “but you don’t even get it and your references never make sense”. But, who cares what he thinks? So, I repeat… INCEPTION (in a mysterious voice).
And now, back to our heat free home. Introducing The Gas man, who in no way, shape or form resembles Batman. In terms of hero status, he’s Scar from The Lion King. Ok, maybe that was cruel; he’s Pumba. A grand total of eight hours over three consecutive days were painfully devoted to waiting for The Gas man to arrive. “I vill see yew at seeex tomorrooow” he would call as he strode purposefully, out the door swinging his tool kit, only to return at 9:30pm the following evening.
Why on earth would a gasman visit so many times you ask as you throw your hands up in the air in an incredulous manner? Here’s why – presenting (drum roll please); The Lead Up To New Years Eve 2014/2015.
DAY ONE: The Gas man arrives, to relight the gas fuse that has turned our hot water off. We politely ask about the heating that hasn’t worked, ever, even though he did a full service to the boiler a week after we moved in. “AH HA zere is a problem” he smiles knowingly. The motor which powers the heating is broken and he will be back tomorrow with a new part.
Agreed arrival time: 5:30pm.
Actual arrival time: 8:30pm.
Departure time: 10:30pm.
Win: Hot water is now on
Loss: Still without heating, and it’s minus-something-absurd as we got to bed.
DAY TWO: The Gas man arrives at 9pm and asks to borrow my hairdryer. I am confused. Alas, it’s not for his luscious long locks, but to dry out the leaking boiler (of course) which has filled half a bucket overnight. An hour later he explains that “zere is a problem” with the new motor he brought with him. In fact, it’s the wrong motor entirely and now the hot water AND the heating are both out of order. As he explains there is no water in the system, while I look from him to the bucket, his watch falls off his wrist and so begins a desperate search for the lost pin on our kitchen floor. The manic search lasts 15 minutes, before he tells us it’s old anyway and the pin falls out all the time.
Agreed arrival time: 6pm.
Actual arrival time: 9pm.
Departure time: 10:45pm.
Loss: No hot water, no heating and a saturated kitchen floor.
DAY THREE: Its 31 December, NYE. I explain to The Gas man in a deathly serious manner that today, of all days, his timeliness is more important than ever as my friends are arriving this afternoon and I really ought to have a shower before seeing in 2015. He turns up with a new part at midday and spends two hours in the kitchen, once again requesting the use of my hairdryer and also the use of our toilet which he uses whilst loudly talking on the phone. He appears from the kitchen two hours later, at the same time Hugh arrives home from training, exclaiming “the hot water and the heating, c’est bon.” Translation: it’s good. My heart leaps. Until…”zere is a problem”. OH WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED GAS MAN!?! As he was finishing up, another part broke off (i.e. he broke something) and he must source a replacement part.
Loss: no hot water, no heating, unwashed Celia for New Years Eve.
The Gas man declares he will be back at 3:30pm. I am not ashamed to admit by this stage I had well and truly lost the plot. Thank god Hugh was home as I was so frustrated I was ready to demand to see his certificate of gas management because he was, in my opinion, NOT QUALIFIED! Once he exits the apartment, tears spring from my eyes like the leaking pipes he has left in our kitchen and run down my face like the water dripping down our kitchen wall (although my tears do not stain my face yellow). I was crying because I was at my wits end, our friends were due to arrive and I looked like an swamp dwelling creature. Thankfully Hugh had the wisdom to hustle me out the door to Starbucks and to buy a bunch of flowers (basic b life ya’ll).
DAY THREE – SECOND VISIT
After caffeine and a walk I’m feeling much better. The Gas man arrives at 4:30pm and gets to work on the boiler. At 5:30pm our friends arrive and at 6:30pm The Gas man emerges from the kitchen. He smiles like a showman and engages in chat with my friends, laughing with them about my lack of French. I wanted to punch him square in the face. Then, as always, he delivers his trademark line – “zere is a problem”. The hot water and the heater are still not working. The silver lining to this slow torture? He will BE BACK AGAIN TOMORROW.
Win: I push The Gas man out the window.
Loss: We need to find a new Gas Man and I risk deportation.
I was not amused. The Gas man manages to stay upbeat and jovial as he asks what time he should come by tomorrow. AS IF IT MATTERS WHAT TIME I SAY YOU CRAZY FOOL! “How’s 10am?” I mutter; “c’est bon!” he replies. C’est bon translates to “I’m coming sometime between 9am and 11pm, probably just when you’re sitting down to dinner”. Hugh chats while I concoct an evil plant to bring his company and reputation down. In our dealings with the gasman Hugh is Pinky and I am The Brain. The Gas man’s number is saved in my phone as “the soul destroyer”. I wonder if Trip Advisor accept reviews for a gas man based in Paris? If so, he would be getting NO STARS AND NO RECOMMENDATIONS!
We feel defeated, deflated, my hair is repulsive and then somehow, miraculously at 7:30pm the lights on the boiler reset and we are hot, hot hot. After a shower I am calm and level headed once more although If I hear the words “zere is a problem” spoken in a French accent in the near future I’ll scream and karate chop whoever said it.
Moving right along. I shall now share with you a photo of a lovely canapé that arrived last week. You’re envisioning a piece of salmon on a little crusty square-shaped piece of bruschetta topped with a sprig of dill aren’t you?
Ha, silly you…..
Winter inspired blooms
Our darling friends Marre and Lewis arrived all the way from Melbourne. Marre was visitng family in Amsterdam and they caught the train to Paris to spend New Year’s with us. Another inception moment materialised as Marre and I had both selected similar dresses to wear, although maybe that’s just fashion and trends. NOPE sticking with inception…..
Starting our New Years Eve right.. how good is the cardboard ET?
New Year’s Eve cake…
At 10:30pm Hugh, Lewis, Marre and I walked to the Arc D T to watch the first ever New Year’s Eve light show. We walked with a few bottles of wine and joined masses of tourists and Frenchies milling around waiting for the show and countdown. At this point I’d like to say that if you happen to own one of those super strength green lazors you are the king of jerkland. On our short walk to catch up with some of Marre’s Dutch friends down the Champs-Élysées, Marre was pick-pocketed. Dun dun dun! Perhaps it’s the cute alliteration of the words, but I’d never taken pick-pocketing too seriously. Reality check. It’s a horrific crime people. The first week I arrived in Paris and met Katie for a drink at a cafe, she hastily moved my bag to a chair on the other side of the table out of fear it could be swiped by an opportunist. I often take unnecessary risks but I guess I’ve always held the view of ‘my pockets my business’.
Maybe it’s because Marre was the smallest of us four but my guess was that it was more to do with her fabulous coat. She looked fierce and definitely the most cashed up of the group. She had her phone in her pocket and while weaving through a swarm of drunk people a sly hand crept in and stole her phone. If I were to praise the pick pocket-er, I must say he/she was quick as lightning and Marre didn’t feel a thing. I feel awfully responsible as it was me along. I’m joking, but I did feel responsible. Up until the treacherous PP incident I had thrown my head back laughing at those who strapped fanny packs and bumbags onto their person as they marched around the city. But now I really wish we had strapped one to Marre. Considering my landlady popped over for a visit the next day rocking a brown leather Hermès bumbag/fanny pack like it ain’t no thing perhaps it’s a necessary part of the chic french life.
Thankfully Marre didn’t fall to pieces unlike SOMEONE earlier in this post. We woke to a bright, sunny 1st of January, I assume the weather gods of Paris were apologising to Marre. Let it be known, the police in Paris are incredibly accommodating. I have spoken to them on four different occasions because I am that desperate for friends. No seriously Mum don’t worry about it. The point is that they were apologetic and helpful writing Marre a police report. A tip for you which I hope you won’t need to use – there is a police van parked at the E.T at all times. There you can have a police report written for you quick smart! No waiting around at the station!
Finally, a major breakthrough in my Parisienne quest. On Friday night I found myself on the back of a scooter in Paris whizzing through two tunnels, along past the Louvre, before taking in the sights of the Ferris wheel and Eiffel Tower. I was very cool, potentially the coolest I’ve ever been. My lovely friend Amandine who is half Belgium, half Caribbean, speaks fluent French and works as an interior designer (she makes me feel like the most beige human by comparison) was kind enough to pick me up and take me to watch Hugh’s rugby game at a bar.
Here she is outside my apartment.
At the start of our journey on two wheels I hesitantly held onto each side of her. That was until we zoomed past fellow riders, a chic couple, and I noticed the backseat rider was holding on very casually to the handles behind her, Ok, I thought, time to grow a pair. So I whipped my hands to the back, grasped the handles and leaned back in my comfortable little chair. I could get used to this scooter life. I encouraged Amandine to drag a lady on two wheels as we pulled up at the lights. “You’ve got her” I whispered as we took off. It was very exciting to drive up the middle of two lanes of cars and parking was a breeze. We simply unsaddled outside the bar and walked inside. I declared to Hugh the next day that the bikie life had called my name. Hugh doesn’t think I should have a scooter and he also explained I would need to sit a four hour lesson in French and have a driving test to make sure I could have insurance. The bikie life may be a distant dream.
So you’ve made it to the end of blog post une for 2015. Thank you for reading and I hope that you, most charming, fit, toned, intelligent blog reader have had a fabulous time bringing in the New Year at a campsite, home or maybe on a scooter. I know it’s totally cliche to talk about New Years reso’s but I need to be held accountable for mine so I’ve decided to share it with you. In 2015 I will not eat type of food or condiment from a jar or container with a spoon. I will embrace plates and portions and no longer will I view a Nutella jar or ice-cream container as my own personal bowl.
Special thanks to the legendary wordsmith Amy McKenna for lassoing stray commas, taming typos and heaping undeserved praise. A total boss.