The nights are drawing in and getting colder. Not too bad yet but Mrs Bot has decreed ‘Yea I am cold, and ye shall heat the house.’ Normally, no problem, but this year a obsolete boiler and replacement for same is causing more than a little angst. Given the modern preference for naming such things let us  call it CHIP or Central Heating Instruction Problems. The boiler is OK it has several thermostats controlling it’s on and off cycles. The water is on an ‘On demand’ basis. The problem is the controller. It has a simple on/off setting. This just switches on and off when told to by the thermostat, 24 hours a day. However we Bots dislike wasting money and heating empty rooms and also when we are snug and warm in bed. Therefore Mrs Bot further decreed ‘Yea and verily (You don’t think this is getting needlessly messianic do you?) Ye shall find me ye instruction manual and  I shall program ye controller’

No problem, except that the bag containing the manuals has disappeared into the black hole that is the loft, never to be seen again.

On to plan B. I spend 15 minutes trying to read the part number, written upside down and sideways on a tiny flap. The writing is likewise tiny. Given my eyesight this is no easy task. I fire up my auxiliary brain number three, my PC. It is affectionately known as ‘Bloody machine.’ for it’s habit of refusing to do anything useful until it has finished booting to it’s own satisfaction. Much cursing later and the computer grudgingly agrees to do a search. One or two websites later and I know more about controllers. More to the point I have found an instruction manual. One click later and it laboriously loads the PDF file. A few more minutes and it is loaded.

‘Nearly there.’ I scream to myself. But dear reader you know better. The printer goes through it’s not insignificant boot up and then refuses to acknowledge it has paper. I can see the paper but no, it is adamant. Fifteen minutes spent at floor level jiggling the paper and nothing. So I take exactly the amount I need, one at a time and separating each meticulously, and replace it. It graciously accepts that it now has paper.

Sixteen pages later and we have the manual. The actual programming will be done by Mrs Bot, who despite my mastery of all this computer stuff, cannot believe I am able to program a simple controller with a manual.

It set me to thinking of our distant ancestors though. The process for heating was a simple matter of starting a fire-something they were expert at. No bloody manuals or computers either. I was bought up with a real fire and I know they are warmer, visually very attractive and almost hypnotic. You can even do toast on a fork with them. Try that with a radiator.  Dirty? Yes but they do say fire has a soul. I bet the central heating doesn’t.