Ode To Martin The Loss Adjuster

One autumn night, back in 2016 we were woken by the smoke alarm at 2am which probably saved our lives. We blame the mobile phone that was left charging overnight in what seemed to be the seat of the fire, although the fire-brigade and insurance company were happy to conclude that the open fire we had that night had set fire to the newspaper that had been used as packing behind the mantelpiece sometime in the 1950’s, and that this newspaper had been smouldering quietly away to itself for several hours before flaring up and the flames making their way around the corner of the fireplace and into the alcove where they concentrated on totally destroying the power socket where the phone was charging and igniting the floorboards and papers in that area. Luckily our keys, wallets and passports which were on the mantelpiece were perfectly ok and so were we. Roll forward three months and the Loss Adjuster is trying to fit us up with plaster boarding over the Victorian lime plaster and generally not being happy about replacing antique Axminster carpets and expensive inherited mattresses.

This is an improvised song for Martin, the Loss Adjuster.

It Must Have Been Ritual

That’s what the future archaeologists will say about my fireplace. 

Once, fire was the centre of the house and the centre of our lives. We tamed it, trained it and built chimneys take the smoke away. We celebrated our achievements and decorated the place of the fire, or fireplace, with a mantelpiece. Now the fire has gone and the mantelpiece becomes the place of the TV, rather like Roman temples replaced Neolithic sacred places and were later replaced themselves by Christian churches. TV is the centre of the household now. Praise be to TV.

And now, after the TV has gone, there just remains a bracket bolted to the wall. It is the clue but not the reason, the tantalising glimpse into what was. The archaeologists will say it was ‘ritual’, why else would we have suspended something above our very special fireplaces?