I’ve been insulated! And I didn’t have glue myself to the M25 or hang perilously from a bridge for days.
But the people who did, in JUST STOP OIL and INSULATE BRITAIN must have made enough fuss about climate change that our sluggish political systems finally ground into action.
Unfortunately they didn’t specify how that insulating should be done, or who it should be done by.
More than a year ago someone told me that the council had a scheme to help us impoverished oldies save on energy costs.
It seemed a bit arbitrary – a friend got solar panels, we got loft insulation.
It was free so I’m sorry if what follows seems like looking a gift horse in the mouth.
I got a call from company in Wolverhampton (where I was born as it happens so I know its not dead local!) Can they send a surveyor? A lovely girl with my accent climbed all the house, took photos and tutted over our thin loft insulation and our three single glazed windows,
They could help!
Months later, in the June heatwave some nice lads rang from Leeds to make an appointment to insulate our loft. Three hours driving from Yorkshire to do two houses in Thanet? But they did it, drank tea, cleared up and cleared off. Lovely, thanks!
A few weeks later, another call – we’re coming to install ventilation. I’ve got some, thanks, in my bathroom and my kitchen is so small it has no door.
Undaunted, two delightful chaps turned up from Leicester, at 8am so they could get away to another job in Kent, in Deptford, not exactly next door, and get home that night so they didn’t have to stay overnight in London.
So much driving, I exclaimed, just for two jobs!
It’s OK, we get good expenses, they said.
So up they went to the loft to install a huge fan in my landing ceiling. The leader had the longest legs I’ve ever seen. And the shortest shorts…. Sorry – it seemed rude to take pictures
Turns out he’s a body builder, won trophies and everything. His helper, “my labourer”, was a scaled down carbon copy and was supposed to clear up the horrible mess on my landing of white plaster dust. I had to show him how to use a dust pan. Unfortunately dropping it all on my front path wasn’t his best idea.
He had to put ventilators on my double glazed windows. I couldn’t imagine what that involved until next morning when I found a seagull chick trying to eat a piece of insulation that had been chopped out of one of my window frames. The lad had chucked it in the back garden.
They left in such a rush to get to Deptford before lunch that the lad left his jacket behind. So they may be back.
So that was that, I thought. But no! Another call – we want to do a ventilation check, it’ll only take an hour and a half. It’s OK we’ve got that fan thing put in. No, this is checking where air coming into your house.
So another nice lad turns up – this time wearing clothes, but also from miles away, Ipswich!
He seals the house. We lurk in the garden and watch him fit what looks like a jet engine on our back door as he pulls air through the house. We score 16 (an airtight house is zero, but who wants to live in an airtight house unless you’re in outer space?) and we have a nice chat about how awful the government is and how weird this insulation initiative is.
But it got weirder. Mr Long Legs had taken pictures and apparently our new insulation wasn’t deep enough and was wrinkled.
So the original blokes from Leeds had to come back to lay more stuff in the loft. Not a wasted journey as they also had a job in Herne Bay.
While they were here, the organising company phoned me to do a feedback survey. I grumbled about the plaster mess and the number of people involved in a tiny bit of insulation but I felt we were just on a tickbox routine so I gave up.
I worked out more than 1,600 miles in round trips was involved in making my house a bit warmer.
Two doors away from my house lives a brilliant electrician. He put in the ventilator in my bathroom, knows my house really well as his is the same, and doesn’t live in Leeds!
Who comes up with these schemes? Someone’s getting lots of public money to make useful tradespeople spend hours on the roads going to puzzled pensioners who would have preferred the guy round the corner.
And the chaps from the North could have insulated most of Bradford by now.