Thursday, 1 April 2010


One of the really great things about having a Rayburn solid fuel stove is that you become  familiar with your chimney pots, rodding the chimney, changing the cowl and generally buggering about, fifty feet up in the air, usually in a rainy gale; today it was fine and we took the platform to its maximum height of seventy feet.

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Another really great thing is that you rediscover the coalman of your childhood, he is as grimy as ever, as superhuman as ever, stoically hefting massive, dirty loads on his back, like some pressed-to-drudgery Al Jolson, a scruffy nigger minstrel. I greeted him today as though he was freshly landed from Alpha Centauri, Yo, dirty black toiling motherfucker, welcome to Earth, my face must have said. I don't know what I expected but he wasn't it, subconsciously I had anticipated a bagged carbon-based energy delivery operative and customer liaison officer, y'know, a professional, like everybody is now, in Blatcherite Britain, with a name badge and a corporate uniform, maybe a BlackBerry, or at the least a clipboard, or one of those computerised tallysheets that the electric man uses to miscalculate your consumption and engage you in a two or three year battle to get them to scale back their ruinous demands. 'Sfair enough, I suppose, they're probably still bunging that embittered and repulsive old pinstripe fuckpig,
Tebbit, now and again, for having given them the family silver, much to the delight, still, of his Filth-O-Graph blog's horde of elderly expatriot worshippers, spot on, Lord Norman, as usual, string 'em up, these trade unionists, fuck me, Norman, am I glad I left Britain and only come back for a free operation, that Jeremy Clarkson, he should be prime minister, and yourself, Lord Sir Norman of Telecom, there's hundreds of them, Tebbitites. And the red braces beneficiaries of his privatisations are probably still paying the smirking cocksman and absentee father, Pinstripe Parkinson and the slimeball, wotsisname, the slug, Baker,

CartoonMan, collects them, he does, only probably not the Spitting Image ones.
 Roll up, spivs and Flash Harrys, get your cheap family silver here, clear 'em all out, The BarrowBoy Cabinet c 1990

And Douglas Hurd, he'll be on the payroll, although he and Pauline Neville Corpse
 Baroness Pauline Neville Corpse, Dave Cameron's Security Supremoess and Spokesperson on Money Laundering  with Genocidal War Criminals.

swiftly hoovered-up ten million apiece for advising Slobodan Milosovic on his grand larceny, or banking matters, as Douglas would call it, talk about Tony and Imelda, this couple moved like shit off a shovel, but we don't mention Slobo in polite circles or even in the Tory party, pisspoor and hysterical as it is and Douglas is such a gentleman, the lousy, thieving simpering shitbag. And we haven't even thought of all the bungs that His Grace The Lord Mark Thatcher will have demanded, for Mumsy, ie himself.
 Viscount Arsehole.

Fuck me, when you think about all those privatisations and everybody who has to earn from them it's a wonder that it doesn't cost a hundred quid to turn the fucking light on or make a phone call to some bastard who insists that your call is very important to him and which is Ruin shorthand for I don't care what your complaint is, You can just Go and Fuck yourself, actually a neat distillation of the mad old boot's personal ethos, No Such Thing As Other People.

But the coalman, anyway, has somehow escaped the professionalising downwards which has so disfigured the nation this past thirty years; no jargon for him, Where do you want it? In the coalhole? Fair enough. Same old, taciturn, dirty filthy bastard, driving a crap lorry.

It's all bollocks, this Aga business, or Rayburn, don't know what the difference is, it's not like you have Whining David and Ruth Slut Archer popping round for a fucking good moan; people from Country Living doing a photospread of How Ishmael transformed this charming period ruin merely by ripping up the floorboards, knocking down the walls and installing a heap of old scrap iron which won't even boil the especially purchased and horrifyingly expensive whistling kettle never fucking mind heat the radiators and cook the Sunday fucking lunch and make an ideal cosy spot for the blogdog, Buster
to curl up in front of in one of his many beds but Ishmael's not disappointed, no, disappointment doesn't do it, Ishmael loves having the chimney sweep and the plumber virtually living with him. Unlike what they tell you,  the shore doesn't become covered with perfectly shaped driftwood, cast up from a sunken Russian freighter, providing you with a year's fuel, merely for the picking-up of it, the rusty, smoky old ruin doesn't disgorge fabulous scones and Yorkshire puddings and enchanting baked potatoes, no, what happens is that you get the bastard going with a box of firelighters and ten kilos of kindling and a carrier bag full of expensive anthracite, haul yourself up off the floor, wash your hands so hard with Swarfega that you need a fucking skin transplant, go and sit down for five minutes and fuck me, the bastard's gone out. Needs more draw, don't we all. Poke about in the firebox and try to light the fucking thing up again, it's still warm, shouldn't be too hard, only it is and you have to pull the whole fucking filthy mess out on the floor and start again with another box of Value Firelighters, the ones that don't really, unless you soak them in white spirit and burn the hair offa your hands when you light the bastard and it goes Whoosh and maybe burn your fucking moustache off, too and you look like a lunatic clown, all cinders and soot and no moustache, or not much of one anyway. And since the Rayburn came you only wear Highland National Costume which is a blue quilted boiler suit with a brown leather belt outside becuae there's just no point in wearing anything else for being on permanent Rayburn fixing duty and at least the quilted boilersuit is warm which the Rayburn isn't, or not very often, not in the sense that you take off your overcoat indoors or stop wearing your Thermal, Desperate Dan underwear. Best of it all is that we already had a perfectly good central heating system but cancelled the oil deliveries when the Rayburn initially fired-up successfully and then found ourselves sitting shivering and enraged when it packed up, or needed tweaking as they call hitting the bastard pipes with a sledgehammer.

What you need for one of these fucking things is a fucking slave, a Rayburn Wallah, maybe one of that tide of head-chopping dwarf ex-soldiers which is over-running the country and they won't let them in down the British legion, because they're wogs, like, and we don't want their sort coming in here and using our toilets, me and the lads didn't fight and die so's we could have dirty filthy little bastards standing on the toilet seat and shitting their curry and rice all over the shop and wiping their arses with their hands and me and the lads always knew that Joanna Lumley was right into the nignogs,
size isn't everything, mind. But I was thinking that since they'd go and chop the heads off a half dozen yellowbastard JapSonsOfNippon before breakfast for half a crown a week that maybe they'd come and fetch my coal, chop up the kindling and keep the Rayburn stoked-up like it was the Eternal Flame over JFK

 Come on, Bahadur, light my fire.

and I'd give them a fiver a week and a wee patch of thistles to cultivate, they could sleep in the byre, with the cats, I'm not racist or anything. It's gotta be better than playing the old soldier up in the Himafuckinglayas, Scotland is the best part of England and you never know, the little Ghurka bastards might get on with Jock, they're both short and stupid and belligerent and neither of them can speak fucking English worth shit.

The offending apparatus in a couple of rare, sequential moments of combustion.

It is true, though, for anyone tempted by all the TV Hugh Fearnley Wotsits to abandon the City and try the Good Life, it is fucking hard work  and you need ree-sources, not dosh so much, just personal ree-sources, way down inside. And a little furry warm brown friend.

The Rayburn has settled down, now, at last,  the chimneys are sorted, drawing properly. Just in time for Summer.  The spivs and the Flash Harrys are eyeing what's left for them to flog to their mates, not much but they'll find something,  they'll do robbery and call it austerity.


mrs narcolept said...


I prefer Rayburns to Agas just because I resent the fact that an Aga is the size of a small car and yet doesn't run radiators, whereas a Rayburn will. Or at least might, if your uncle hadn't helpfully stoked it with old wellington boots, bits of asbestos roof and a collection of pop bottles. And for what it cost to buy the replacement bits that were needed to sort it out I could have rebuilt the entire kitchen extension.

When we lived in the back of beyond we used to get free coal, on account of my aforementioned uncle being a pit deputy; my gran had an old-fashioned range, the kind with an open fire in the middle about two feet higher than the floor, two ovens either side and a selection of racks and hooks for pots, flatirons and a massive kettle. It made the most beautiful cakes and pies and bread and soup and stews. I want one of those.

Agatha said...

That little dog is the sweetest thing ever. I just love his clothes. And his fringe. And the way he poses for the camera. Can I have him, please, Mr. Ishmael? Oh, and nice house, Rayburn, aerial views etc. But the blogdog is deffo the star. You are obviously filthy rich and can spare a nice little dog for a fan.Even though you didn't post the Barry White Bathroom Dance.

Agatha said...

Hi, Mrs. Narcolept,
You know the pies and stuff? Probably something to do with your gran. She could probably have churned out the soup and whatnot on a Baby Belling. In my limited estimation of these living kitchen dragons, their worth is mythological rather than intrinsic. Although I'd still like one, for my nice new dog, Buster, to sit next to. Please, Mr. Ish?

Agatha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PT Barnum said...

Foreswear, Agatha, trying to come between a man and his blogdog!

The world's end is nigh. I find that Kelvin McKenzie has a better grasp of our current State than any politico or meeja-luvvie talkinghead. That this has come to pass is the clearest sign of the End of Days.

call me ishmael said...

Kelvin? Tell me more, please, mr PTB. I have seen, heard him occasionally talk sense but never felt that he actually subscribed to his voiced sentiments, was just working the room. Do tell.

call me ishmael said...

Ah, mrs n. I never had any grandparents but I knew someone else's great granny - a Victorian - who lived in a back to back with a shared wash house and one of those ranges, tea from the blackened teapot sat on the range, toast from an extending fork and beef dripping. I know just what you mean, I fancy the big hook thing and the flat irons. The Rayburn'll have to do, it's halfway there.

Buster has had a few moments recently, sometimes he doesn't take his pills, eats them, or pretends to and then spits them out somewhere else, the wee devil, he knows they're good for him, attention seeking, although I don't know how he could have any more than he gets.

PT Barnum said...

OOOPS, I mistook Littlejohn for Kelvin (put it down to half-listening while trying to edit something down to half its length), on Question [the Numpties] Time last night, with Sarah Teather, Ken Clarke, and Postman Pat (who gloriously, when politely told to shut-the-fuck-up, petulantly said, "Well, you invited me!").

16 minutes in Littlejohn lets rip at all of 'em for treating the people like children and is wildly applauded.

PT Barnum said...

On our animal friends and medication, I have an 18 year old cat who, two months ago, seemed not long for this world, couldn't jump, run or walk in a straight line. Yesterday she decided it was funny to play the kitten with my headphones' cord and produced a pure slapstick moment. In her opinion her life would be perfect if I would only cease putting 5 pills in her every day. She is a testament to modern medical science and a mistress of the art of spitting out pills in obscure corners. I'm struggling to adjust to her renewed feistiness.

jgm2 said...

Sorry if this is teaching granny to suck eggs.

I used to live in one of those country piles in fucking Scotland have great trouble lighting a fire for the same reasons you state - ie getting a 'draw' going up those fucking enormous chimneys - until I cracked the technique.

Now it's a bit counter-intuitive because the last thing you want to be doing even for a second is opening the back door (or front door) in the windswept wastes of fucking Scotland but...

...set the fire then open the back door and all the doors leading to the room you want to start the fire in and then light the fucker. It will draw like a bastard. Flames shooting up the chimney like Satan's fucking forge. Let it burn for a minute or two and then close all the doors like normal (particularly the ones to the elements). Hey presto, the chimney has warmed up and the fire will keep burning.


Give it a go.

call me ishmael said...

It's great when they pick up like that; sometimes Buster gets his woof back and runs all around barking his head off, brings a song to my heart.

Thanks Mr jmg2, yes, of course, superdraw, I will try that next time, there will be a next time.

mongoose said...

Open fires, eh? Love mine but, Christ, all the screwing about with chainsaws, bags of coal in the boot of the car, dragging your arse out to the woodshed at midnight in the pouring rain, scoundrels selling bags of crap wood - that was growing yesterday - for think-of-a-number numbers.

And chimney cowls are a load of cobblers too. I had mine fitted by some Australian cheating bastard. What can an Australian know about lighting fires? It's not a bleeding barbie, is it?

Anyway, ripped it off and slung it in the trash. Coal for heat; wood for prettiness. Just bung loads of coal in there, Mr Ishmael, and it will be as right as ninepence. Whatever that means.

Or convert the bugger to oil.