The old boiler

No, this isn’t a diatribe about “her indoors”, it is about boilers of the heating variety.

I can remember a visit to Beamish museum in its early days, probably in the late 70s. In amongst the arcana was a rather rusty remnant of a locomotive boiler with a large hole in the side. The twisted metal round the hole along with the distortion of the boiler tubes within suggested that when it failed it did so very spectacularly. I have a photo of it somewhere but not readily to hand. I’ve always had a healthy respect for the latent power within the steam engine ever since the days of my Mamod models powered by purple, strange smelling methylated spirits (although it has to be said that those little models weren’t particularly powerful, beyond making their flywheel spin).

Now domestic boilers generally don’t boil as such, they simply heat water for circulation around the radiators and may have a calorifier coil to transfer heat into a lagged tank for domestic hot water purposes. Our current house boiler is an Ideal Standard which our tame gas man tells us is an excellent boiler and pretty reliable but they typically last 15-20 years and ours is 15 years old… 

Apparently eventually the casting will crack, causing the contents of the heating system to tip itself all over the kitchen floor, then the header tank will graciously rinse away the sludge (and carry on doing so until you return to find an insurance claim scenario).

Now we don’t actually need to do anything yet, but the old boiler is supposedly about 65% efficient (although the rating plate implies 77-79% from the input and output ratings) whilst new boilers are up to 90% efficient, although they are more complex and cost a bit more.

Our new boiler will be made by Bosch and is of the condensing variety, now obligatory for all new and replacement boilers in the UK. Extra heat is extracted from the flue extract air  by the condensation of the airborne water given off by the combustion process, requiring a water run-off pipe for the condensate. The boiler also needs an internal fan to blow the fumes over the heat exchanger (& out to the atmosphere) and also some extra wiring to the circulating pump to ensure that it runs on for a short while after the gas stops heating to prevent the innards overheating.

Regardless of all that, the installation is comparatively straight-forward in our case and the suppliers assure us it can be done in one day. It isn’t cheap, not too much change from £3k all in. Why did we choose to do it now? Well it does have a small payback in decreased gas bills (although it would take 20 years to cover the costs).  It is better to replace it coming out of cold weather than having it fail in mid-winter and having to struggle on keeping warm with our solitary gas fire. (We do have an immersion heater in the water tank and an electric shower so we could at least keep clean without having to resort to kettles).

There is the other concern, of course. We can currently afford it from our savings. Next year, our savings might be worth a lot less if hyperinflation kicks in.

(Interesting take of this via Guido and the Bank of England Pension Fund).

Shave and a haircut…

A decade or two ago, I did the sound for a number of Annual National Conferences for 18 Plus. There were two main goals- clarity for the audience and capturing the audio for posterity (well, for production of the Minutes, anyway). Some years I organised the equipment, others I “added value” whilst venue technicians did the knob twiddling. 

What did I consider to be adding value? A dignified walkdown tune for the Lord Mayor & National Chairman at the start, some triumphal stirring stings for the presentation of the various awards towards the end, then reacting to events and speakers during the proceedings. Over a number of years, I accumulated a selection of musical samples on minidisk and CD, becoming a dab hand at getting something ready and playing within seconds of some particular half- expected (or sometimes entirely unexpected) event.

I eventually got this down to a fine art with the annual scrounging of two instant start Minidisk players with large cue buttons, something that came in very useful to play station jingles for the first Morley FM broadcast four years ago (before we went computerised, of course).

On the down side, it was far too easy to gild the lily with added value sound effects so I was careful to try to keep the level of distraction to one of amusement rather than tedium (although I probably crossed that line on occasions).

(Many years before I was given a Chairman’s Merit award and I had a suitable track primed to play me in whilst I scurried from my side of stage position to the back of the hall and down the central aisle, waving to the crowd like a returning champion. (I think it was something stirring like Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition Great Gates of Kiev, or perhaps the bell pealing sequence from 1812 Overture). However, in my flurry, I managed to skip a track and play the 8 second Looney Tunes theme instead which was mildly amusing but took the wind out of my sales somewhat.)

I had one sound effect music snapshot, however, that was just too offensive to play, even just for someone I knew very, very well. (Not eveyone would necessarily get that it was a joke, not an insult.I only used once, and actually against myself when I was thanked by the Chairman at the end of a conference. I already knew it was my final time I would be knob twiddling and couldn’t resist the self-deprecation to play it whilst I was being applauded.

So what was this highly offensive piece of music? Well, it wasn’t the lady in red.

I was reminded of this after reading the sunday papers…

(The title is from the shave and a haircut big finish).

A letter from a BNP Member

This morning, I found a large C4 size brown envelope on my doormat. It was unstamped with my name and address printed out and sellotaped onto the front.

Inside were 28 sheets of a single sided black & white photocopy and a short note stapled to the top sheet.

The note read as follows:

Hello Ian Grey

It may be of interest to that Morley Town Council is a parish council is responsible for providing allotments in its area. You can get 6 people who are on the electoral roll asking Morley Town Council to provide allotments, just have a look on page 14 Allotments plot holders’ guide as this has happened at Driglington parish council

I have also written to Albert Slingsby

Anonymous member of the British National Party and elected member of Driglington Parish Council

This was all very curious.  Why the secrecy and the need to tell me that they were a BNP Member? If they were one of the ten Drighlington Parish Councillors then you would expect them to know how to spell the name of their village properly.

Why did they think I was interested in allotments? If I wanted to grow vegetables, I’d do it in my back garden.

Why do they think I’d trust Morley Town Council to run Allotments? I wouldn’t trust them to run a Public Convenience and I wouldn’t trust some of the Members to sit on the toilet pan the right way round…

Somebody had to say it…

I bet you won’t see this on the BBC- Dan Hannan MEP calls the Prime Mentalist’s bluff.

Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell wrote the plan– and Gordon doesn’t feature in it.

(Hat tip to Bristol Dave, where I saw it first. He’s right, Dan definitely deserves a Pint).

Mothers Day

We had a last minute decision to go for a lunch to Fusia, the all you can eat noodle bar in Bradford Centenary Square.  (I’d had a mailsho at work about it). I’ve been there once before for a Contractor leaving do and it has a great selection of Chinese and Thai scran. (The much posher Chino Thai upstairs does an excellent Thai Banquet, great to go there when the Head of Department is paying).

Needless to say, our planned sunday lunch small beef joint went into the freezer instead 

It was advertised as a Mothers day meal and it included a gift- some prettily wrapped sugar almonds (one heart shaped) and a 20% discount voucher for Chino Thai. 

I also had a treat- the plugging in of the Orrery power supply and the first planetary  motion. Just waiting for Saturn to show up…