Janet Christie: ‘It’s like a hamster nest up there’

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I arrive home from work, having tramped through freezing rain and bone-rattling wind, anticipating the warm embrace of a centrally-heated house.

But it’s freezing and as unwelcoming as a witch’s tit.

No wonder, the heating’s off. Someone’s been at the timer. AGAIN! I flip it back on with my lifeless digit.

Eldest appears. “Have you turned on that heating?”

“Yes, I have. It’s freezing.”

“Well, we’re warm enough upstairs so I’ve turned it off. I’ve been thinking about the fuel bills and saving money. It’s actually really hot in our rooms because we’re under the roof and the heat rises. In fact we’re too hot. So I’ve turned it off.”

“Well, it’s actually bloody freezing down here and I pay the bills. And the reason it’s too hot in your rooms is because the floors are lined with towels and every single item of clothing you possess, all piled up and trampled in. It’s like a huge hamster nest up there.”

My room, on the other hand is tidy and minimalist and the draught lifts the rugs off the floorboards as the wind whistles through. “Put a jumper on,” he says, sounding just like my parents.

“I’m still wearing my coat! The heating stays on.”

“Well don’t complain to us when you haven’t got any money to buy our Christmas presents.”

Er … ok, I won’t.