The dreaded Gasman’s Knock.


The neighbourhood has been unsettled this week. The Gasman is around. All letterboxes have received notices that gas connections need updating. The ‘next-generation’ of newer and better gas deliveries will be installed, the brochure lauded. It all started some years ago with ‘logistics’, followed hot on the heels with ‘solutions’. All problems are now solved with ‘next-generation’ technologies. The elderly, already on tenterhooks when the butcher started selling ‘meat solutions’ instead of good old honest sausages and mince are now further pushed into nervous anticipation of ‘next generational’ improvements. They suspect their lives will just become more complicated with higher bills, no matter how much the gas delivery improves. I mean, gas is gas isn’t it?

“Your gas will be disconnected between 6am and 7pm this Tuesday,” a curt little notice in our letterbox heralded. I went to bed intending to get up before our gas would be cut off. The morning coffee would go through no matter what sacrifice would be asked for. I slept restlessly as is my wont when unexpected interruption to routine are foisted upon us and outside my control. Retirement was always seen as a steady flow of unquestioned and calm supply of essential commodities including gas. The turmoil of earlier adventures during life’s proclivities were always supposed to come to rest in the calm waters of ‘retirement’. The very word implies a retraction or retreating from previous action. Even so, the anticipated knock of the Gasman on our door was hardly reason for my nervousness. I have searched my fickle conscience where this stems from. I can only come up with this feeble excuse. Ever since our upheaval from Holland, and before that, the bombing of Rotterdam, I have been subject to feelings of imminent dread. What next; the reading of the riot act while gas is turned off, a street curfew?

Nothing has ever been improved on, as a small boy of seven or eight, my watching the re-building of Rotterdam. I have been fascinated by giant holes in city scapes ever since. Giant cranes would lift a weight of several tonnes only to release it onto wooden beams driven by this pile driver into the muddy ground necessary for the foundations to be built. The noise was thunderous but not quite like the V1 rockets that used to come down earlier during the war.

Give me a building site, preferably with large cranes and giant holes and I’ll happily neglect everything. What a Louis Vuitton David Jones shopping front with skinny mannequins might be for women, a building site is for men. Next time you walk past a building site, you will hardly ever see a woman peering through the gaps of the fence. Men, on the other hand can be transfixed by the noise and commotion on building sites for days. It’s back to the meccano set for them.

Our street was uprooted during the next gas generational logistical supply solution. The whole street was blocked off with traffic diverted by bearded men holding signs with ‘stop’ and ‘go’. Huge mountains of sand piling up and lots of men with mobile phones in hand while wearing yellow helmets and iridescent jackets shouting to bulldozers. Enormous coils of yellow pipes were being fed underground to apartments, houses and domestic abodes including ours. It was worth a morning off from the usual duties. Our Jack Russell ‘Milo’ was on special alert, listening in to all those exotic noises. Jackhammers and a petrol driven compactors, the smell of Diesel, the shouting.

It was a good day, terrific really.
Can it get any better?
Yes, it can;