Friday, 27 January 2012

The Importance of Being Northern. Part 1: Th'Imsersion Heater

('ll try to write this as close to English-English as possible just so the Northern bits stick out like a sore thumb, but I can't guarantee anything 'cause it's bloody difficult for me NOT to write Northern.)

So I was watching Phoenix Nights earlier on today with me mam and dad. In the first episode, the main character Brian Potter played by the one and only Peter Kay said to another character Jerry St. Clair played by Dave Spikey "C'mon I want get back 'ave left th'immersion on."

I started laughing at this point, mainly because this is a typical Northern thing. Especially around where I come from. Northerners are generally known to be "tight bastards" and it is true to an extent. Immersion heaters, or "Th'immersion" as we call them are particularly expensive things to run and back in the day before combination boilers that run both the heating and hot water were standard in houses; it was the only thing about that could give you hot water.

But what was actually making me laugh was the fact that this still happens now. Not everyone has a fancy combi boiler in their house or if they do, it might be quite ancient and not work properly so in order for them to have anything remotely near hot water, "th'immersion" may have to go on. I remember growing up with people around me freaking out at the fact that they switched "th'immersion" on early that morning, so they could have a bath and forgot to switch it off before they left the house and it was now mid-afternoon so the electric bill that quarter was going to be "bloody colossal."

Mother was laughing with me on this. Because it's true. God forbid a Northerner leaving "th'immersion" on thus subsequently getting a huge electric bill later on because of it. People pretty much planned their days around "th'immersion" heater. You switch it on in advance for a set amount of time because 1: It took a while for any hot water to get through and 2: Using it any longer than needed was expensive. But even if people were on top of it and knew how to handle "th'immersion" it still come back to bite them in the arse if they did forget to switch it off. People would actually cut any meetings or whatever short JUST to go home to switch the bloody thing off and if they couldn't leave somewhere for some reason; they'd panic like mad till they got home or went scatty trying to find a way to get in touch with someone back at the house or someone who would go round and switch it off.

So really "th'immersion" was and may still be the bane of every Northerners existence.

To be truthful, I've never had much in terms of contact with "th'immersion." I have hower had dealings with back boilers which are basically soild fuel fires that when lit, send heat to the radiators and to the hot water storage tank. The downside being, if you didn't have a back up system like a combi boiler, you had to light the bloody fire for heat and hot water.

But most of the time it has been some kind of heating system that does both. But of course being Northern, that heating system only ever went on when the house was FUCKING FREEZING or you began to stink and needed a bath. If you were cold, you went and put another "ganzie" (jumper) on. And of course, being Northern and primarily working class; personal hygiene was never really at the top of our list. I had a bath maybe twice a week and I washed my hair once a week when I was growing up, maybe my mother bathed me more if I'd been playing outside and got covered in shite. I did have really long hair back then and it was always tied up and pleated so it never really got dirty.

Kept it! And it's the only proof I have of being naturally blonde which NO BUGGER believes.

Since I have had my hair cut when I was 13 and I've been having it cut shorter even more since then I have noticed my hair does get greasy and dirty a lot quicker now. Even so, I still only shower twice a week and wash my hair twice a week too. (The hair I had cut off, I still have it by the way. Mother wanted to keep it so it's in a glass jar in the kitchen sideboard.) There's no need to bathe every day if you're not getting shit order and sweaty. Plus it's doctors orders for me, I have a bunch of skin conditions and washing just makes everything ten times worse.

And before I forget. Another typical thing is leaving the bath water in. No we don't do the Japanese thing of filling the tub with clean hot water then it gets left in for each member of the family to use after each one of them has had a right good scrub and rinse in a separate part of the bathroom. No. Remember, "th'immersion" only goes on for a set amount of time so you'll be buggered if you think it's going on again because the hot water has run out and you haven't had a bath yet. So we share bathwater. So if you had a big family and didn't get in first then the water would be vile by the time you got in. Not only that but it'd be cold too, so mother would top your bath up with the contents of a just boiled "keccle" and scald your back in the process. Not only was it saving money (supposedly) it also happened because Northerners are lazy about things like this. Yes we can graft away at work, but when we get home; Bone Idleness takes over.

That even happened with me when I was growing up even though it was just me, mother and father. We even had proper heating too so there really wasn't a need for us to share bathwater or top up with the "keccle." Old habits don't die that easy, plus I guess you could also say that things like that are genetic. And it all stems from the fact that Northerners are all tight bastards in some way and if we can same money by doing something that isn't a social norm, isn't generally accepted, is very stereotypical of us or is just plain weird then we'll probably do it. Fact of the matter is, it still goes on.

I'll leave you with this, a clip from a Christmas Special episode of The Royle Family. A sort of Northern sitcom. An example of being idle and leaving the water in even with a combi boiler. (Skip to about 2:50 if you want to get straight to where I'm on about, just watch for a bit after that. Or if you fancy it, watch the whole thing! This episode is fantastic.)

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