Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just Whoosh!

"Do you smell gas?" Herself asks, each time she walks by the nook where we keep the central heating boiler.
"No," I say, barely looking up from my latest paperback novel, or history, or comedy. It's become a reflex action for me, like shaking my head triumphantly through the impermeable window of the sliding door on the porch at desperate, commission-only direct sellers, or the grabbing up at work-day's end of another leaflet for fake third-world charity clothing collectors from the doormat and flinging it unceremoniously into the kitchen bin. Herself put a "NO JUNK MAIL" label on the window this weekend. It will be interesting to know how well it works.
Anyway, in the later summer season of 2009 we purchased a new patio heater, those monstrous, "War-of-the-Worlds"-like constructions that stand in other peoples' gardens and put forth warmth at the day's end when just enough wine has flowed that it seems unfair to have to go back into the house, but just enough cool air has descended that it's too cold to sit outside without some artificial heat. The monster lay in its cardboard box the whole winter through to 2010 until I finally put it together last week and stood gazing in wonder at its green, giantish frame. It's heat lamp, promising many kilowatts of butane-powered comfort, must be a couple of feet in diameter. I wondered if a standard gas cylinder would survive for more than 20 minutes work.
The instructions were printed on a big silver label stuck at eye level on the eight foot high steeple.
"One," I read. "Turn on the gas at the Regulator."
I lifted the Part A slotted into Part B and secured with several Number 3 nuts, bolts, washers and split washers and turned the valve to "On".
"Do you smell gas?" Herself asked mildly, passing by with a bowl of summer salad.
"No," I said automatically.
"Two," I read. "Ensure that the parabolic reflector (F) is aligned in the correct bracket (Q) for optimum heat efficiency."
I pulled experimentally at the wooden and chrome handle to tilt the monster's high-hat into the correct angle.
"Do you smell gas?" Herself asked, putting two wine glasses and a platter of garlic bread on the garden table.
"No," I said, moving on.
"Three," I read. "Turn the red labelled knob (P), to the start-up position (D)."
I twisted the penny-sized black plastic disc a little left and right until it engaged satisfactorily, then went back to my reading.
"Do you smell gas?" Herself asked, putting cutlery and some serviettes out.
"No," I said automatically.
"Four," I read. "Press the red button igniter (K) two or three times to ignite burner."
On the second click, there was a flash. Not a little "Voomph!" noise that one associates with the start-up of a toasted cheese sandwich under the gas grille, but the "RAWER-OOMPH" of a titanic, high-orbit achieving rocket motor.
Molten wine glasses, red-hot cutlery and charcoal garlic bread disappeared upwards into the stratosphere with the speed and sudden all-embracing sound of the creation of a universe. A huge pillar of flame beckoned the last tardy Israelites out of the wilderness into comfortable suburbia. Dogs fifteen back gardens away were unaccountably singed of every vestige of winter fur. My standard spectacles were wonderously changed to a pair of trendy reaction lenses, matt blackened with a hint of Roy Orbison around the edges. My face was changed forever into a negative image of a racoon's.
The only things surviving were three salad leaves and the serviettes, the latter jauntily yellow for the recent easter season, they flapped down from on high like juandiced doves dispensing the holy spirit on 11 quaking apostles.
After a quiet, cold time Herself said:
"Do you want the wine now, or later?"
I said:
"Now would be good."
We drank wine.
From the bottle.
With the gas clylinder turned firmly off.


Adele said...

I am sorry that it was at your expense, but that gave me one of the best laughs I have ever had!

Willie_W said...

Icelandic volcanoes, how are ya?!