The Day We Had a Gas Leak.
Sunday, 2pm – “I can smell gas in the kitchen,” I tell my boyfriend.
But, as I’m prone to neurosis and hungry, I cook some bacon to cover it up.
Sunday, 4pm – I can smell gas again. This time, I decide to take matters into my own hands and test it out, so I get the kitchen lighter, hold it at arms length in the direction of the boiler, and light it. Nothing explodes. So it’s probably fine. It’s fiiiine.
Sunday, 6pm – Flatmates no.1 and no.2 have both smelled gas in the kitchen, too. One smelled it yesterday and one smelled it the day before. I have a headache, which might be the gas or the afternoon I spent eating raw shortbread dough. “It’s probably fine,” says flatmate. “It’s fiiiine.”
Sunday, 7pm – I call the National Gas Emergency Helpline. Because I do love a bit of drama, and my headache is worse, and although the boiler passed my cunning lighter test, it’s still probably best we go to bed as sure as we can be that we won’t be blown up in the night.
“We can smell gas,” I tell the lady on the end of the phone. “Turn all electric appliances and lights off. Turn the gas off at the meter. Open all windows and keep pets away,” she briskly instructs.
“Oh, but we’ve been using the hob. And the lights. And the telly’s on. So it’s probably nothing. It’s probably fiiine.”
“Someone will be there within an hour,” she says.
Sunday, 8pm – The door buzzer goes. “THE GAS MAN’S HERE!” I shout. “Quick, turn the TV and lights off! It’ll look like we’re not taking it seriously!”
Gas Man charges in. “Where’s the gas meter?” he asks. “Ummm, we don’t know. In the cupboard? Under the sink?”
In the end, it transpires the meter is in the back yard, which must be accessed through the shop downstairs. So, for half an hour, we sit in front of River Cottage, occasionally shouting “Are you all right down there?” out of the window and muttering “it’s probably fiiiine”.
Sunday, 8.30pm – Well whaddya know, we have a gas leak! A bonafide domestic disaster! Everything is not, as previously suspected, fiiiine – our hob is leaking! Had we not called the emergency helpline, we could have been a cautionary tale on a safety advert. I’ve saved everyone’s lives!
“I’ve had a headache all afternoon,” I tell Gas Man, knowingly. “Not from this you won’t have,” he says. “Domestic gas hasn’t been toxic for years.” Oh.
Sunday, 9pm – Gas Man has turned the gas off. I may have saved everyone’s lives, but I’ve also left us with no cooker, heating or hot water. The landlord has been called, and told he will need to replace the hob – pronto.
We spend several minutes bemoaning all the food we won’t be able to cook, before Gas Man points out that while our hob is gas, our oven is electric.
Monday, 10am – Three cold showers and an experimental night with a portable hot plate later, the landlord comes to replace the hob. Except, it turns out, the hob doesn’t need replacing at all, because the leak is being caused by some old food stuck under one of the gas knobs. “See?” says flatmate. “I knew it would be fiiiine.”