Monday, October 25, 2010


I've been plagued by the sound of running water throughout the weekend.  Is this the noise of water seeping back through the labyrinthine radiator system in my apartment building?  Is it possible, I wonder, that the powers-that-be have authorised a mass turn-on of the country's central heating already?

The traditional date for the 'beginning of winter', when all our heating gets fired up, has, for many years, been November 15th.  (Of course, that's only if you're lucky enough to live north of the Yangtze.  The government can't afford to heat the whole country, so has decreed that the southern half of the nation doesn't really have a winter, and thus gets no central heating provision.  This is particularly tough in the areas bordering the Yangtze - like Wuhan, where I spent my first trip to China many years ago - where it rains a lot, and so the winters are not only cold but viciously damp as well.  Many folks I know complain that Shanghai's winters, though much less cold than Beijing's, are far harder to survive because of the pervasive damp and the lack of interior heating.  And, of course, even in the much more southerly Guangdong province, they have been known to suffer occasional freak blizzards.  Oh yes, we're lucky to live in the north!)

Now, it's already been bitterly cold for the past two or three weeks; and we are being threatened with our first frost of the year within the next few days (I don't think it quite got there last night, but it was close).  Every year I've been here in Beijing so far, the authorities have, I think, taken account of the population's restiveness at having to endure the bone-penetratingly damp cold of October without the benefit of central heating, and have ordered the big SWITCH-ON to commence a week or two ahead of the supposedly 'magic' date.

But 24 days early?!  Can it really be so???

Looks like we could be in for a very hard winter...

1 comment:

Froog said...

No sign of warmth in the radiators yet.

Perhaps it's just that my upstairs neighbour's toilet has sprung a leak?!