It’s that time of the year again. I’m not talking about Christmas because in my household no-one is allowed to even mention the Festive Season until the 1st of December. No, I’m talking about that week when the mellow tones of Autumn undeniably turn into the monochrome hues of Winter. The mercury falls like the Greek stock market and we are suddenly caught shivering. Every year, we know it is coming but every year it catches my family off guard and we launch into an all too familiar routine of cross words, carnage and colds.
The first thing that happens when the temperature falls is that my wife lunges for the thermostat and to turn it up to Havana-in-a-heatwave levels. After a few hours I realise that I am wandering around in a t-Shirt and am still sweating and then go and turn it down. It isn’t that I’m a Scrooge, rather I prefer the house to be in the more temperate climes. My wife and I have the same argument every year:
“It’s cold outside, we need to turn the heating up,” she says.
“But it’s a thermostat. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 20 degrees outside or minus ten. The thermostat means that the heating comes on when the house falls below twenty degrees and switches it off when the house is warmer than twenty degrees,” I explain patiently and every year I really, really believe that the irrefutable weight of my logic will break through.
“But it’s cold outside so we need to turn the heating up,” she implores, looking at me as if I am an imbecile.
At this stage I normally lose it. “It’s a bloody thermostat!” I holler.
This is when she always changes tack. “The children are cold,” she’ll say like I’m some sort of monster.
And this is where I play my ace. “We’ll check the thermometers in their rooms.”
Both Arun and Meri have digital baby-monitors that also show the temperature in their rooms. All of the medical advice says that children’s rooms should be between 16 and 20 degrees at night.
We go and check and I am always right. The kids rooms are always too hot and so I get my way and get to turn the thermostat down to a less infernal setting and warm myself in my own smug glow.
This, however, is just the beginning of our cold weather problems. As sure as Winter follows Autumn, one of the kids will develop a snuffle. This year it was Arun first. Last Monday morning I noticed he was wiping his nose a little. By the afternoon, he was sneezing every fifteen minutes. By the following morning he was ill. There was snot everywhere, rapidly followed by puke.
After a couple of days of Calpol he is starting to feel better. However, soon Meri starts snuffling. Then Meri starts sneezing and then comes the snot. Snot everywhere.
When the Allied forces invaded Iraq they famously failed to find any Weapons of Mass Destruction. Well, that was because Hans Blix and Co. were looking in the wrong places. Mistakenly, they focused their efforts on underground bunkers, military bases and chemical plants. If they had just thought to look in any Iraqi nursery or primary school they would have found the most virulent and obnoxious germ factories known to humanity. Namely, our children.
Last night, as we went to bed, my wife wearing more thermal gear than Sir Ranulph Fiennes on his last polar trek, she looked at me and said, “I’ve got a bit of a sore throat. I think I’m coming down with something. None of this would have happened if you had let me turn the heating up.”
I was about to explain the thermostat to her again but thought better of it.