My week in low-res phone photies

Never been a big fan. It’s stuff in a bowl at someone else’s house at festive times that’s probably been there for ages gathering dust and is probably as unhygienic as it is tasteless.
However, the festive packaging of the Twiglets lured me in unawares and I was immediately captivated by the dryness of the snack, the texture of brittle twig (irony?) fresh from the forest floor and the taste of peppery burnt rubber.
I love them. This tube even fits my hand perfectly. Do they make them all year round? I don’t think I could wait until next Christmas.

The last time. The best school in the world will be Macfarlane-free next Christmas, the Girl will be in high school.
The panto was brilliant, just as it’s always been the past few years.
I will miss this place, the care, the help, the enthusiasm, the joy that’s allowed to run free because the kids have worked to earn it.

Peter, the other Peter, who does the controls and electrics for me was working on the panel while I made faces at the pump. It’s single phase, but still big. I’d priced a replacement a while back and it was around a grand just for the pump in a box, so we decided to leave it until it died.

It’s grinding a bit but running although the enamel coating was peeling off badly which took me by surprise. It looked as if it had been under water, which this boiler house has known in its time, but not to this height.
The wall was wet looking, I put a hand out and snatched back as a got a sharp pain on my wrist. “What the hell…?”

Torch on, I looked for bare wire or something, easy to miss something in this dark, cellar boiler house, built in Georgian times for a coal furnace.
Instead I saw and then felt warm vapour at the back of a valve.  Closer in, a needle thin jet of 88degC water was making a straight line from the valve to the wall. Not making it wet enough to run, just to be wet.

How long had that been happening? It was the system isolation valve, can’t dismantle that without draining the system, can you? I can, and did.
I was in late last night ( see below…), still holding.
How? Send a work order, some secrets are chargeable.

The ante room is a jumble of gear used for frequent jumble sales (irony #2). Bags of hangers and clothes rails of various designs and vintages jammed in together.
One base had slipped onto the floor and it caught my eye, a vintage design I think? Can’t quite place it.

I spend a lot of time in churches and although it usually remains unspoken due to professional as well as personal courtesy, my opinions on faith are never discussed at work. And so it shall remain.
However, the occasional noob will still ask me as I lie on a damp, manky boiler house floor wrestling with rotten Victorian pipework “What church do you go to? and my answer is always “I’m on my knees in a church most Mondays to Fridays, you want me to go at weekends as well?”
Never had a comeback to that.

I opened the door and walked inside with footsteps which felt too loud however softly I landed them.
I was alone in a very old, creaky church in complete darkness. The wind moved softly through the gaps in the roof, a whisper, a whistle, a voice?
A door opened and a shaft of soft yellow light crept towards me across the empty pews and worn carpet.
Walk into the light says the voice in my head, walk into the light.
I did, the light was at the top of the stairs going to the boiler house, I switched it on when I came in.

Home has been an escape this week. Been back late every night and the first thing we’ve done is put on all the wee lights and candles.
Within a few minutes it’s cozy and itchy eyes are looking at cartoons over the top of a fresh cuppa.

The mornings have been tricky. Even if we can’t get moving very fast, never missed the school bell once.
Been a couple of absolute stunners at dawn this week too. Camera’s aren’t here though are they? Fixing that today.

The invasion has begun. That’s what it felt like when I was picking up some mortar from B&Q at the back of Clydebank.
Lots of contrails and my first thought was “Steady on, it’s not a race” until something large and military sounding flew slowly over the roof of the truck.
I still remember when they tested the four minute warning siren back around 1980. That was scary enough and this had shades of that for a second or two.

How many poor bastards are living it for real this very second.

It was Saturday tea time but I still wasn’t done. I knew the weather, I heard the advice, trust me I know what I’m doing.
Fragile buildings with problems on this night of all nights? Of course I was still going out to do my checks.

I got to Balloch and the snow was getting heavy and was lying quite thickly. I could feel the rear wheels being a little more playful that I’d like, but as long as I trundled on, I’d be fine.

How to take driving into the snow photies.
Buy a flip case, park in layby, stand phone up on the dash, jam with set of small stilsons if needs be, select ten second timer, wait for gap in passing traffic press go on phone and on truck, hope for the best, be smart arse and get it first time.

I did soon realise my route choice wasn’t the best though. A lot of hills and lots of folk still out who have never driven on snow.
I’d be fine as long as I didn’t have to stop, I left plenty distance and trundled on, up and down the hills, it was going okay. I was doing better that the folk going the other way, that abandoned sideways look wasn’t working for them.

I wasn’t confident by any means, the music was down low, I was concentrating, listening to the engine, feeling the wheels, one more big uphill.
I’d be fine as long as I didn’t have to stop.

The blue lights were bright through the trees before I got there, my heart sank.
A road maintenance pickup was parked on my side, the police were off to the side and cars were coming down the hill. I slowed, I slowed some more, the other side just had to be clear and I’d motor by, easy.
No, police on the road, waving arms. I stopped.

I was amazed to see the pickup drive away, the police get into their car, everything apparently fine and I was now stuck on the hill.
Rear wheel drive with no weight on the axle. I love my truck, I love the snow, but together they are horrific.

But, the police were struggling, I leaned out “I’ll give you a push if I can borrow your shovel”.
That’s what happened.
Mind you, as is the way. One was cheerful and helpful, one was sour faced and arrogant.
The good guy helped me dig wheel tracks for the truck and told me they’d stopped for the car on it’s roof behind the hedge (no injuries, girl away and fine), bad cop ignored me as I pushed their motor onto the road and got them underway.

It didn’t work of course. I was still spinning on ice, now alone in the dark etc
I looked around and found the corner of a broken bumper from the upside down car and stated digging long tyre tracks down to the tarmac with it, enough for me to roll back a good few feet.
This worked, I had the run-up I needed and I was on the road again, a little floaty, but moving forwards.

I got to the job, it was okay, made a couple of adjustments, watched it for a bit and checked my messages. It looked like I wasn’t done yet.

The riverside road was okay, still snowy but flat and I was headed to urban areas this time.
I pulled into the car park, the place was silent and deserted, even the houses seemed devoid of lights in the windows. It was late I suppose, but where is Christmas people?
A quick check and I was locking up again. I stood by the truck, fishing out the keys and a single loud, sharp, crack followed by a boom bounced of the high buildings and on through the dark before it was silent again.
Was that a gunshot?

I was on the road again as fast as I could, including a rather nice fishtail on the snow in the carpark on my way to the gate.
I checked their local news this morning, nothing. Good.

I just had slush to deal with over the bridge and into Renfrewshire, it was cold, blowy and wet. Miserable.
One last check to make, needed tools on this one though, but not difficult at all.
Happy with what I saw, I put the lights out, the alarm on and locked up, I was done for the night. It was almost Sunday.

It was an entirely surreal night. By the time I got home the snow incident felt like ancient news and I was like a burst couch, I just wanted a cuppa and a duvet.
I’m 50 in a week, either life is telling me to not be stupid or to keep being stupid so I know that I’m not quite done yet.

I’m going with the latter.

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