Today Northumberland basks in the unwonted luxury of a two-digit temperature: ten, to be exact. The thaw was slow but in the last week or so it was hastened by a another type of precipitation: rain. Wet in the morning, wet in the afternoon, wet through the night. Oh and windy too. Right now I look out of the window and it is lashing down, the trees swinging like upside-down pendulums. One wonders if this land is meant for human habitation.
At least we now have central heating. When we placed the order for oil, in the early part of December, we were warned that the freeze and the snow would delay delivery. What the warning failed to spell out is that the delay would be over a month long. We began to stint ourselves before New Year. In January our reserves hit rock bottom, forcing us to rely on labour-intensive wood, expensive coal and extortionate electricity. The size of the next electricity bill is something best not thought about.
It is, of course, purely coincidental that the time announced for resumption of oil deliveries was just a little later than an expected hike in fuel prices. Back in Bolivia, people would be out on the streets over this. In urbane Britain, activism is confined to conversational demonstration and the writings of George Monbiot. It would be tempting to start a civil rights movement from this rural backwater, if I didn’t have the near-certainty that it would be a one-man battle.