Le Chauffagiste. Part 1
I love France, particularly La Creuse with its relaxed, laid-back lifestyle but it can be frustrating when one needs work doing urgently. I moved into my house in March 2016; ensured that the oil tank which feeds 'la chaudiere' was filled to its maximum of 1,000 litres during the summer, when prices are lower, in preparation for the winter ahead. Winters come late but cold here so by January I was having to purchase more 'fioul' from Mr Gautier; another 500 litres at its most expensive. Again the fioul was devoured by la chaudiere which looked and sounded decidedly dodgy. In all I spent around 2,000 euros trying unsuccessfully to keep the house warm. Yes, it's a big house on 4 floors, including 'le rez-chaussee' but I knew something was seriously amiss with the system.
I had phoned every 'chauffagiste' recommended to me. Some promised to visit; some to call back; one came and said he would return 'la semaine prochaine' but................zero results.
So, to be doubly sure of capturing at least one precious, elusive stove cleaner, I started again in early September when, I hoped, all were available after the August holiday break. I contacted friends and people on social-networking sites to ask for recommendations: I was kindly offered the names of chauffagistes who were reliable and reputable. I started phoning each and every one again, only to find that I was either too far away, 'trop loin', or he was too busy. Bearing in mind that the ones I contacted were local and were always at home when I called, it was, at best, puzzling then, at worst, becoming frustrating, worrying and downright annoying!
I turned to the 'Chimney Sweeps' ads in 'The Bugle' (an ex-pats' newspaper); found 'Tout Sweep'........gave him a call, explained to the Engish sweep that I have a 'chaudiere' needing a 'ramonage'; that it is 'fioul' etc etc. Yes! he would call next week. Such a relief that I had got, at last, a positive response. Not only was I concerned about the machine's erratic behaviour but, as I had only recently learned, it is essential to show proof of annual 'ramonage'; otherwise the house insurance is invalid! How come nobody had told me this earlier? Not that it would have made any difference to my fruitless search.
The day of the 29th September dawned bright and sunny; perfect for my friend, Lynn, who was holding a MacMillan coffee morning at her beatiful house and garden. However, I was stuck here waiting for Mr Tout Sweep'. 3.40 he arrived with his mate, a younger chap who spoke no English: Mr Sweep could speak no French. If it hadn't been for the frustration and annoyance they were causing it was just like an episode from the 'Chuckle Brothers' in the 90s........'to me to you, to me to you' ( in broad Yorkshire accent).
'Problems, problems', he kept repeating, my heart sinking further. 'I can't do it. It's too difficult. They 'ave different rods in France......with a sort of wire....'
'But we ARE in France', I replied and pointed to the logo on his t-shirt, which stated 'CHAUFFAGISTE'.
'But all me equipment's English'. I gave up, showed him out saying 'Would thank you but you have done nothing. Good-bye'.
To be continued......