It was the wisps of smoke edging out from around the loft hatch that convinced me. The inauguration of the restored fireplace was clearly not going to be a one hundred percent success.

It wasn’t that cold, but we were both a bit sniffly. So I threw caution to the wind and set a match to the mound of paper, sticks and logs in the grate.

Fortunately, I then wandered upstairs to change my socks, noticed the unusual smokiness of the upstairs rooms and was able to leap into action, by grabbing a torch, looking up into the loft and saying ‘fuck’ a lot.

Heroically climbing up into the roof* wearing my specially adapted breathing apparatus (the neck of my t-shirt pulled up over my nose), I searched for the source of the smoke. It was coming from the chimney breast, which to be honest I could really have worked out in my head without needing to turn myself into the human smoked mackerel. My torch beam caught it as it billowed around the gable wall.

I said ‘fuck’ a few more times, to see if it had any effect.

The whole house now smells of smoke. The curtains smell of smoke. My clothes smell of smoke. The bedlinen smells of smoke.

I have called the Cheerful Builder.

(*In the interests of safety I should point out to readers that this was clearly wood smoke leaking from the chimney, NOT a house fire. In the event of a real fire you should leave the house immediately, unless you have really really valuable stuff that you need to rescue, or you need to put some pants on).

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