In the middle of November, just as it was getting cold and dark, our boiler broke. We booked a new fitting, for the first available space: 3rd January 2024.

I’d love to say that bringing the bleak Midwinter indoors ignited my imagination and sparked creativity. It did not.

Blue & Purple snowflakes. Text says : Cold.

It was a chilly Christmas, with no hot water readily available from a tap or toasty radiators to touch as I walk by. And it has really opened my eyes to just how easy it is to slip into hygiene poverty.

We had water for washing, but it had to be heated up for microbaths X 4, daily. We have a working washing machine and dishwasher but you can’t stick the kids in there along with the dirty plates. Not so much Christmas joy as a regime of carefully planned kettle boiling, and shivering in turn.

The deeper we went into Boiler Gate, the harder everything got. I stopped choosing clothes I like to wear and opted for bulky layers, several pairs of socks and a hat in bed. (might keep that).

Washing long hair in cold water is a misery, my hippie straight hair developed an odd bobble effect which I made worse by cutting a very wonky fringe. It seemed like a good idea at the time, no doubt my judgement was affected by cold.

Feeling cold, grubby and cheerless does nothing to spark creativity or joy of any variety, I lost motivation for cooking, running, or writing. It was just easier to stay under a heated blanket. I don’t care how good cold is for the immune system, I want a hot shower and working radiators.

The Hygiene Bank is a B Corps Charity set up to support people through tough times, they work with community groups and social organisations and ask for donations of toiletries, nappies and cleaning products. There are two drop off points in Cambridge: Boots in Petty Cury and Newmarket Road, I’ll definitely be donating.

I love words and how we use them.

Words associated with creativity: ignite, fire up, spark, joy and flames.

For cold: Bitter, numb and lost. You can keep it, Elsa.