If like me you’ve chosen to live in a romantically ill-equipped abode for the Berlin winter – You’ll know exactly what I’m rabbiting on about. Your cellar will look like a blackened Fort Knox with coal bullion stacked as high as your head, your spinal column will most likely be fractured in three places on account of the old coal-to-furnace routine, and your precious hands will be heavily blistered or at least smeared with soot.
As a novice in the manual heating sphere, the injuries I’ve incurred are less to do with carrying said coal from A to B and more to do with being stooped over my coal oven day and night wondering why I’m still raw. I feel like a Christmas turkey who’s been cooking on ‘grill’ for two hours by mistake.
Pitfalls aside – the ritual is kind of fun. As a writer I encounter few opportunities to get my hands dirty. Last Tuesday, for example, instead of spending my morning musing, dreaming, eating Granola. I was down in the forecourt, rubbing shoulders with a giant coal man. A timely tonne had arrived and who was I to sit back and let matey do all the leg-work?
We got down to brass tacks and tackled the whole shipment in 20 mins.
Something changed that day, deep within me. And even though our verbal exchange was brief and limited by this infernal language barrier, I knew my charcoal-streaked friend felt it too. He may well have left shaking his head and smirking (presumably at my feeble physical frame) but I’m pretty darn certain he’d come to respect me. Love me, even.
After he left I sat with the coal for a few hours – watching it, giving it the occasional stroke.
For practical advice on coal heating – there are some useful tips on this forum Alternatively check this guy out
Text: Rob Bravery