I treated myself to a steaming bath: don’t tell Minister Ryan!

It’ll only be a matter of time before they start restricting power usage and imposing penalties on anyone caught using a washing machine before 11pm or after 5am, so says Ailin Quinlan
I treated myself to a steaming bath: don’t tell Minister Ryan!

“Just as I was stepping into the enormous steaming bath, the huge gin glass clutched in my paw, my phone rang...” Posed by model

SEEING as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I was definitely on my way to heaven.

It was Saturday afternoon. The house was empty, apart from me and the dog. There were lots of chores that needed to be done that I had no intention of doing.

Nor was I going to stay up late to run the washing machine at the cheap time (because, as you know, Eamon Ryan says we have to do the laundry in the middle of the night now and take much faster, shorter showers, and switch off electric lights the minute we get to the top of the stairs. It’ll only be a matter of time before they start restricting power usage and imposing penalties on anyone caught using a washing machine before 11pm or after 5am. And they’ll check up on us, won’t they?)

Oh yes. We’ve been here before. The glimmer men were the special inspectors employed by the Cork Gas Consumers Company and other energy suppliers during World War II, to sneak around and detect who was using domestic gas at restricted times.

They were called glimmer men because of newspaper ads of the time and dark warnings on State posters, barking at the population not to waste gas or use as much as a glimmer of it when they shouldn’t.

Back in the 1940s, the production of gas depended on the importation of coal, which was severely restricted as a result of the war and because of that, gas production levels collapsed to a level that became known as a drastic fuel famine.

In the spring of 1942, Dubliners were informed they could only use gas 10 hours a day on weekdays and 11 hours on Sundays. By May of that year, that had been slashed to five-and-a-half hours a day.

If you were caught using gas in the ‘off hours’, otherwise known as the ‘glimmer hours’, you were disconnected. Gas company officials were literally allowed to walk into your house and carry out on-the-spot inspections, a job they apparently approached with immense enthusiasm.

And now our Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan is aiming to outlaw our comfy, traditional coal and log fires and solid-fuel stoves. He wants us to install mind-blowingly expensive air-to-water heating and warm ourselves in front of fake fires on smart TV screens.

The same government, meanwhile, is allowing the destruction of the beautiful wild West Cork skyline over which now march armies of great ugly giant white windmills, eyesores that will start rusting and falling apart before the decade is out.

Enough, I said to myself. Calm thyself.

First, I turned off RTÉ Radio. Second, I did not look at the TV news headlines or read the latest reports about the war in Ukraine. I staunchly refused to think about the 25% or so increase in energy prices. This was important.

Because on the afternoon of last Saturday, April 2, 2020, reader, I switched on the immersion.

I tip-toed to the hot-press. And, knowing that I would burn in hell for this, but also that I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, I switched it on not merely to ‘sink’, but to ‘BATH’.

Next, while the immersion was wasting the GDP of a small country to heat the water and the ESB meter on the back wall of the house went into manic overdrive, I made myself dinner, arranged three scented candles around the bath, and dumped in a half a bottle of the L’Occitane lavender foaming bath oil.

I laid out some big rough towels, my fluffy dressing-gown, my slippers, and opened a new jar of almond body cream. I went into the sitting-room, laid the fire, and turned my favourite Netflix series to ready on pause. Finally, I made an enormous gin and tonic, even remembering to squeeze the lime.

Just as I was stepping into the enormous steaming bath, the huge gin glass clutched in my paw, my phone rang.

“We’re out walking the ridge,” my husband said. “It’s raining. A bit cold and mucky here. Isn’t it great that you’ll be able to start doing that again with us now you’re getting better.”

Oh, I just couldn’t wait, I said gaily, thinking that I’d rather throw myself off the bloody ridge than walk it.

“So, what are you up to?” he wanted to know.

“Oh, nothing much, really,” I said, leaning over and using my empty hand to very quietly turn off the spewing, boiling taps.

There was a pause. He coughed.

“Best not to forget to switch off the immersion,” he said, and was gone.

I sat paralysed on the edge of the bath

Blast...

Oh, well, stand me up against the wall there and shoot me quick.

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