Some people blame all the world’s problems on oil and oil companies. Right now, I’m some people.
Maybe it’s an East Anglian thing. There are many things that the rest of you take for granted that we can’t. We live near Waitrose. We can get deliveries from most supermarkets, Amazon and most other delivery companies. I can walk to the station in the next village and catch a train which will get me to London Liverpool Street in just over an hour. However, we have no mains drainage; every time it rains more than a little, our septic tank fills up and we can’t use our toilets. We had no gas supply when we moved into our house thirty years ago.. We now do have a gas main in our street but, as we have a oil-fired boiler, we don’t use it. Such is country life.
On Thursday, 1 March (over a fortnight ago), my husband noted that our oil tank was running a bit low, so he rang the oil company, who told him that they would make a delivery within twelve working days. As they normally produce the goods in two or three days, we went on as normal, but, last weekend, my husband realised our oil was very low indeed, so we had to stop using the central heating. “It’s not cold anymore,” said my husband. Right.
On Monday we rang the oil company again, only to be told that they didn’t know when we would get heating oil. In fact, as their deliveries are outsourced, they had no idea which of their customers was getting oil when. “The delivery companies keep their schedules close to their chest,” the oil company call centre told my husband who pays them by standing order every month. Meanwhile, we were hearing of other people, including the elderly, in our part of north Essex, having no oil for their heating for two weeks or more. We’ve heard of other people going to oil depots with plastic containers.
We rang the oil company again this afternoon. Still no idea.
My son suggested opening windows, as “It’s warmer outside.” Again, right. My son lives in London.
So, here we are, shivering, dependent upon a log-burner and two convection heaters, and anticipating the return of the Beast from the East, with snow, tomorrow. It takes me back to my childhood in Leicester. My grandmother used to swear that a coal fire “Heats the whole house, me duck”. I didn’t believe her even then. I remember feeling that blast of icy air as you opened the living room door, the chill as you got out of bed. It’s all coming back to me, in graphic detail, right now.