Winter of content

PUBLISHED: 10:59 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:50 11 May 2010

TYPICAL, I thought. Here we were in the middle of this year s heatwave - and what should arrive? There in the morning s post was an official looking brown envelope. Is it a tax demand, or some other bureaucratic request from one of those Whitehall departm

TYPICAL, I thought. Here we were in the middle of this year's heatwave - and what should arrive?

There in the morning's post was an official looking brown envelope.

Is it a tax demand, or some other bureaucratic request from one of those Whitehall departments?

As the temperature began to rise, and the thoughts of summer having at last arrived, I was confronted with details about Winter Fuel Payment.

Really. There are years when we don't get much of a summer, and when it happens - such as last week - we want to hold on to the moment.

In such circumstances, no-one, I would have thought, was thinking about the cold days of winter ahead.

Still I can't wait for a sack of coal or coke to arrive.

It will certainly make a difference from the past, in the days of austerity.

If anyone around our way had a delivery of coal, we were sent out with a bucket to pick up the odd piece that had dropped from the lorry.

We even adopted a method of making sure we were in the area of the better class of people (in those days it was people who always had grapes, although no-one was ill, or had a napkin on the table for every meal) when the delivery took place.

It was obvious this was where most of the coal was being deposited.

In a good week we could collect half-a-dozen buckets laden with "spare" pieces of coal.

And that meant on a Sunday evening we could sit in the warm while being enthralled by Meet the Huggetts or Grand Hotel.

We carried out a similar exercise a year or two later, when developers moved into the bomb site on the corner. This time we carried away bricks by the bucket-load to build a rockery, which we were told, would give us recognition as being middle-class.

At the time I didn't understand all that class business - and, to tell the truth, it doesn't matter to me these days.

Meanwhile, to return to the Winter Fuel Payment.

The whole process comes as a reminder that a certain age has now been reached, and we "elderly" are in need of help.

It's a shame we didn't have it years ago to save all that time of chasing down the street with bucket in hand, hoping that a sack of coal would somehow drop from the lorry.

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