I’m in perfect shape to avoid freezing to death this winter, as I cut back drastically on gas and electricity.
I mean, I really am the right shape.
According to my research, ancient man’s body size evolved in a certain way to cope with extremes of weather. So, the Neanderthals in chilly northern Europe were shorter, which enabled body heat to be stored more efficiently. They had broad shoulders, long arms and little stubby legs.
It dawned on me that the body I was given hasn’t evolved at all, and I’m still Neanderthal in shape. Because that’s me; down to a tee.
I watched a woman telling us her dogs would keep her warm; she was on TV. She vowed to snuggle up to her two brown spaniels rather than be bankrupted by energy bills.
There was damp creeping up her walls. In a freezing, unheated house, this signalled not only a winter of discontent, but also potential sickness and death for the vulnerable.
But I don’t think relying on pet dogs to keep us warm is what it’s cracked up to be. My wife and I take turns sharing our miniature schnauzer as a hot water bottle.
At just over nine kilos, our dog generates plenty of heat, but she is an uncomfortable, bony lump in our laps. Always scratching her head or bottom, stealing our biscuits or jumping off when the fancy takes her.
Should we just wrap up warm and stop moaning?
I remember the old days, before central heating, when we huddled around open fires in draughty houses like our ancestors. We scraped ice off poorly-fitting, metal-framed windows – from inside the house, that is; bits of paper were stuffed in gaps to plug draughts.
So, people coped somehow, but that was then – why should they have to improvise to stay alive or avoid financial ruin today?
Fond memories flood back of being a kid on sleepovers – sandwiched in bed between my grandparents on freezing winter nights.
They had a giant stone water bottle at the bottom of the bed; I think it started out life as a cider jug. It was OK, as long as we didn’t allow our toes to linger for more than a split second – it was so hot, there was a danger of ending up in A&E.
It was a variation on an old practice: in medieval times folk would go to bed with hot stones warmed up in a fireplace. They also wore hats, mittens, something warm around their feet, and several layers of clothing – and that was just indoors.
Perhaps we should just stop moaning and wrap up well to get us through this looming winter nightmare.
I know attitudes like this could possibly rule me out of being a Tory leadership contender. But, if my wife still had her 1970s hippie-style Afghan coat, I would wear it in our house, along with my Peaky Blinders cap and thermal socks.
Politicians are out of touch with ordinary people
We are battling to reduce our energy needs, but the Knight electricity bill remains worryingly high. I wondered how much of this was a result of the Highlands and north-east paying more for electricity than the rest of the UK.
It is sickening to see Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak strutting down a beauty pageant catwalk constructed over a swamp in which the rest of us are drowning
As The P&J reported a few days ago, a government mechanism to curb this is flawed. The paper has fought consistently against this long standing issue.
I delved back to 2015, and noted that former Highland MP, Danny Alexander, who was a key member of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, lambasted his colleagues for backtracking on a commitment to remedy this anomaly. Seven long years have passed since then.
It is sickening to see Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak strutting down a beauty pageant catwalk constructed over a swamp in which the rest of us are drowning. They, along with Nicola Sturgeon, for that matter, have been accused of being out of touch with ordinary people.
These are unprecedented times: multiple crises over food, fuel and energy are breaking our will.
Governments should protect us
Campaigners threaten public rallies and protests over the cost of living nightmare. I foresee these accelerating and spilling into streets as public disorder once winter and obscene energy bills bite.
And, God forbid, old or very young victims start dying from the cold.
The government turned a blind eye to blatant profiteering by fuel retailers, even after wholesale prices dropped. After all, the Treasury is raking in millions through extra tax – cash that could be re-siphoned back to us to stave off energy bills.
💰 Shell: record profits
💰 BP: highest profits in 14 years
💰 Centrica: half-year profits 5x higher than last year
💰 E.ON: profits of £3.5 billion in 6 months
Households at risk of fuel poverty: 10.5 million.
Energy belongs in public hands.
— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) August 10, 2022
So, we are ripped off by the fuel firms, and our own government, which should be protecting us.
Both Truss and Sunak seem to act in the same detached way as well off people do when lacking any connection with the people they lead.
I spoke of shapes at the start. I see another one looming in Westminster – something with deep pockets and short arms.
David Knight is the long-serving former deputy editor of The Press and Journal