While my admiration for Polish workrate, determination and craft skills remains undiminished overall, in every barrel of Class A apples there’s always a Grade I fruitcake. Sadly, I employed him as a gas supply, electronics and rewiring  allrounder during much of the conversion of the old barn here and the latter part of the main house restoration.
His name is Krystyan, and what he did was connect my gas oven in the bigyin, as well as immersion heater and rewiring in the wee jobbie.
The summer just gone having been a scorcher by even French standards, the main oven was rarely if ever used: barbecues were the order of almost every day, especially as (in full recycling mode) I’d been using old wood on the firepit – piling weeds on the top towards the ember stage in order to create charcoal.
But since the start of November, temperatures have plummeted, garden furniture has been stored, the pool covered, and lots of stuff au four cooked. Ever since then, I have had a headache, palpitations, pounding heartbeat and flu-like symptoms involving chest catarrh alongside near-zero energy.
At first I thought decades of alcohol abuse might be implicated (they probably are) but then a new wood-burning stove I’d had fitted starting smoking and the symptoms got worse. So it now sits doing nothing, awaiting the arrival of a special cowl all the way from the Emerald Isle. But despite the fact that my symptoms remained, I blamed the log burner.
My invaluable central heating engineer Ian (required to undo the crock of sloppy rubbish installed by the violent Ginger Cockney conman who put in what he kept calling “han autmatik ch system”) happened to be round repairing more f**kups last week as I was lighting the oven. His immediate reaction on smelling the output was to say there was clear evidence of carbon monoxide ingression, because the gas wasn’t burning efficiently. Not only was this dangerous, he averred, it was also going to use an inordinate amount of gas.
The gas consumption here was twice that of normal last year. What’s more, I Googled the symptoms of CO poisoning….and discovered I had all of them. The last piece of the jigsaw fell into place yesterday when – as I was trying to get the temperature up in the kitchen by blasting out heat at Mark 8 on the open oven – the CO alarm which is at the other end of the house – suddenly went bananas. Once I moved it into the kitchen, the detector starting beeping like George Osborne after sniffing a line of coke and then swallowing a Geiger Counter.
The gas supply to the oven was effected by Krystyan.
Two weeks ago – having reached a level of paranoia that was almost off the scale (but quite acceptable when dealing with All Things Krystyan) I had Ian the heating expert look over the Polish immersion heater installed to produce hot water in the New Barn.
“Lovely piece of kit,” he opined, “where’s the thermostatic backstop?” Ian might just as well have asked me where the nearest services were on the Cracow North Circular road.
After some fiddling and investigation he went a whiter shade of pale.
“Had you turned this on,” he said, “it would’ve exploded within three days at the most…and taken most of that wall with it”. It has now been made safe.
The installation of the Immersionka Heaterski was effected by Krystyan.
So anyway, there I was last night, in the restored barn for the first time, cooking on a relatively low-wattage paella maker, quaffing a modestly robust Italian red and musing about why or indeed how Krystyan had managed to wire the place without putting in a 25 watt circuit. I mused in this fashion because the brief I’d given him that the ONLY energy forms I wanted in the barn were electricity and logs…and Mr K knows I am a keen cook.
This too came to light thanks to the Sherlock Holmes powers of observation resident in Ian’s brain. But he said (quite correctly as it happens) that these days there are lots of gadgets available to overcome this….as I knew already from having employed them in Donald the motor home. And thus was I content. Ish.
Any mood even remotely approaching contentment left me as, halfway through cooking a chilli in the paella dish, the entire electrical system tripped, leaving me in total darkness – with just the light from the wooden fire ch system to guide me over vacuum cleaner wires, half-empty packing cases and bottles of floor cleaner. A torch, three candles and much pragmatism later, I was back in the main house.
Ray the sparks’ skills were called in today to fix it. As I speak, everything is working again. But being a secular Buddhist, I am reminding myself that All Things Must Pass, and Nothing Lasts Forever.
The wiring was – as you’ll have realised some time ago – undertaken by Krystyan.
PS The last thing he did before falling off the radar (and probably his trolley for all I know) was fit a high-power, low electricity consumption movement-sensitive outside light, also of Polish manufacture. It lives up to the low-consumption promise a treat, as it has so far failed to function either sensitively, or even at the most basic level of throwing out light, as such.


On Windows 10, there is yet more evidence of the contemporary manufacturer’s inability to offer real choice – or indeed, take no for an answer.
Every day on my laptop screen, the Silo pondlife put up a truly unpleasant photoshopped idealisation of the Pennines running down through a Malaysian jungle valley to the Mediterranean, and ask “Do you like this image?”….to which, each and every day, I tick ‘no’. Thank you for telling us they say, tomorrow we will try another one.
Nowhere is the option for me to say “Stop this before I bomb the Microsoft UK HQ” ; or to be more exact, if there is I haven’t found it yet – but whyTF should I have to bother looking?
Also absent is the much sought-after option to write “F**k off and leave this to me”.
They do not work for us, we work for them. It is a trend. We have only ourselves to blame. NB, this can be applied to all institutions and large companies across the Globe.