Trouble Up North

We had a nice message yesterday morning from friends even norther than we are (i.e. Tromso): along with sharing some seasonal thoughts, there was a warning message. According to the Norwegian weather man, the unseasonably early wintry conditions then afflicting Tromso were on their way south, and it was very likely that they would reach us. We still had no heating, so this did not come as any species of good news. I got in from work after seven (the Prof was still in Aberdeen, giving an evening lecture), to find the house echoing with the dismal throbbing of the unhappy pump which had caused us to turn the heating system off. Things then got a bit surreal. Check. The central heating and hot water are switched off (yes). Check. Go out to the boiler, see if it has an off switch (yes). Switch it off. Return to base camp. Why is this bloody pump still pumping? And what is it pumping? Thereupon, I rang the plumber. Having taken the phone down to the cellar so as to share with him the mechanical equivalent of Cheyne-Stokes breathing which this infernal device was emitting. The cellar is quite an echoey little space, and this, as I had hoped, somewhat dented his confidence that we were something he could put off till next week. With his telephonic assistance, I was able to identify an electrical switch which turned the thing off, so at least that was something. We awoke this morning to November’s most unwelcome sight, a sky filled with flurries of snow. I went off to work, leaving the Prof in charge, to spend a perfectly surreal day - I had four teaching hours on the trot and, galloping from one to another across campus, alternately emerged into a perfectly beautiful bright sun, dead calm, and blue sky, or a sky of yellowish grey and a blizzard. I returned to find, thankfully, that we have heating. One of the Plumbing Patriarch’s rather unsettling identical twin sons had been round in the course of the afternoon, done something to the dread pump, and bled the system. He’ll come back on Monday (he sa) and replace the pump, which he concedes is no’ very weel: his version of how it had come to turn itself on and leave me wondering if I’d have to beat it to death with a sledgehammer was frankly implausible, but what the heck. We seem to be back in business.

4 Responses to “Trouble Up North”

  1. Jane Says:

    In fact, (Peter here) for those who treasure the finer points of northern Scottish speech, he said that the pump with its moribund bearing was “dirling”.

  2. Jill Says:

    The heating specialist when referring to that “dirling”boiler in the bowels of your home might be using a Norwegian adjective regarding quality.
    Dårlig (door leigh) is used often as in He’s a bad painter. Han er en dårlig maler, or That́’s bad excuse. Det er en dårligh unnskyldning.
    Northern is as Northern does!

  3. Jane Says:

    Does that most Scandinavian of Scottish ballads The Demon Lover not have “dirlie” sea somewhere towards its bad end? Or am I contrafacting?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    “Dirlie” does not appear in this dark ballad but I may be wrong. In Shetland dialect “dirl” means to vibrate or shake, plausible strategies in sinking a ship. A.L. Lloyd sings a version and the final lyrics are:

    ‘O whaten a mountain is yon,’ she said,
    ‘All so dreary wi frost and snow?’
    ‘O yon is the mountain of hell,’ he cries,
    ‘Where you and I will go.’

    He strack up the tap-mast wi his hand,
    The fore-mast wi his knee,
    And he brake that gallant ship in twain,
    And sank her in the sea.

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