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Shortly afterwards, I discovered that the boiler has broken and we have no hot water. My first thought was to give thanks that in a warm spring we have no need for central heating, and that with electrical power we can boil kettles for washing until a plumber can be found. My next thought was a realisation of how much, still, I took for granted the comforts of modern life, such as constant hot water and electricity, information on radio and television, the internet, and food in the fridge: it was only when one of the components that I rely upon suddenly was not available that I truly appreciated it. Perhaps Mrs Brauer in Sutherland felt the same about the computer in her minute post office.
My situation is fortunate in that while it is inconvenient to be without heating, it is a minor problem and we can manage otherwise – though finding a good plumber in one of the most rural parts of Wales will not be easy! Unlike for Esther Brauer, the breakdown is unlikely to change my life dramatically. I hope, however, that I remember this lesson about not taking life for granted – not just heat and light and gadgets, but water in the taps and more naturally, wood for fires, sunlight, food and a beautiful Earth. We can manage, if we have to, without the luxuries, but without the essentials of life we are nothing. I hope, this time, I remember.