house-solar-panelIT MUST BE CHRISTMAS
You know what a sceptic I am . If there isn’t a logical explanation that hangs together without its knickers showing , I’m not about to take a leap of faith. God, the Tooth Fairy , Santa Claus …It’s all the same to me . if it doesn’t stack up or make some descernible sense, then I’m afraid it’ll take no purchase in my mind. To me it has to make sense without any wee wooly bits of fabrication or wishful thinking taped or riveted onto the bodywork, like some pre- M.O.T. motor car. .
That’s why, when the guy knocked my door telling me he wanted to give away something free, I immediately looked up on the roof to see if I could spot the sleigh with Dasher ,Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen and all his flying buddies chewing moss. It’s July too , so there wouldn’t be much forage up there anyway, having been already burnt off by the sun or built into the Spring birds’ nests around the garden .There are a lot of those this year.My little policeman, Otis the wee black tomcat, their nemesis, having disappeared earlier in the season.I knew Rudolf wouldn’t be up there anyway as he was never part of the original team. He is definitely ficticious. I’m pretty sure of that .He had only been added on so that popular pop song about his “red nose”, would scan a little better and would shoehorn a little sentiment into the Christmas pop charts. I still looked around for the rest of them though…not a sign or light.
So this whole scenario wasn’t making one bit of sense. My bullshit detectors were on full bore and I was smelling the air for the proverbial rodent.The young man on my doorstep had my wife’s full attention and she called to me so that if we made a mistake and swallowed what was obviously some scam, I could take all the blame later on as she lambasted me with “I told you so!!… It’ll be just like that bloody Amway crowd we got involved with thirty years ago…It’ll be diamond this and millionaire that and it’ll not be pyramid selling but we’ll still end up like bloody evangelists stacking up like idiots at some bloody rally in the Ulster Hall with one hand as long as the other!”
…..Okay time to take a breath and think about this young philantropist on the doorstep.
He was offering to give us “Free Solar Panels”. Sixteen of them on the roof!
Now , I have to say, like being a beekeeper ,solar power was the kind of old hippy obsession I’ve long -harboured for some forty odd years, so this guy was pushing at a door that was half-open already. I’d worked as a salesman in one of my past lives , so I knew just a few of the approaches too. He seemed to be genuine enough though .Solar panels, until relevantly recent times were viewed as the kind of esoteric unworldly sci-fi thing that only those weirdo eco -warriors and the hippies of the 1960’s and early 1970’s would have been enthused about. I was certainly of that hippy tribe. They had been used on a small scale to power earlier space satellites and President Jimmy Carter had them installed in the White House in the 1970’s but they were viewed generally with some scorn and diffidence. That idea of self-sustaining power outside of “straight, greedy society”. That spun my wheels alright. Anything that would take the power away from the likes of George Bush and his oilmen buddies in Texas or that would keep us out of the thrall of the Middle East. Anything that would put a little power into the hands of the man in the street.
Of course a lot of the general public were a generation behind already when it came to these radical new ideas and approaches.People are distrustful of new ideas . There are plenty out there who haven’t switched on a computer yet…even though our little children are hammering away at keypads from sunrise until dawn. Wind farms have gained some purchase in the intervening years, but not without their detractors and there have been experiments with wave power . You can now see these big wind turbines everywhere but there was a time when they’d have been laughed at too. Like I said, alternative technologies were something only for hippies.Indeed only last week there was talk of some new breakthrough on the national news which had great potential for drastically reducing the manufacturing costs of solar panels. Some new process based on sea water .
So anyway , Mr Solar Panels explained that he could set me up with sixteen of these beauties that will half my electricity bill and if I am parsimoniously tight , alluding to some possible Scottish extraction , and would prefer to harvest all of my electrical energy and spend my winters huddled around a candle, he allowed that I could sell any excess electricity right back to the National Electricity Grid. There was one little fly in the ointment .My home needed to be facing south to accrue this great free gift from the sun. Well, wouldn’t you know it,… ..a catch?
It is one of those perfect moments when you realise that you possess something akin to foresight and serendipity . Not quite My Auntie Lily’s “Cure” , but some little intuitive skill of pre-destination…of reading the runes.It is a fact that when I first built my home , the first thing I noticed was that this plot’s frontage faced south and it was one of the main reasons for it’s original choice. I fairly demanded this particular site back then without too much opposition from my fellow self-builders. it was a case of ..let him have the bloody site to shut him up! Here, was that good fortune, coming home to roost ,exactly thirty years later. Patience , you see…
Anyone whose house didn’t face fully south would be charged for installation because it wouldn’t be as cosmically productive an option.That big nuclear reactor in the sky that brings us all life, is immutable. .The government was apparently running out this scheme for sustainable energy and house- placing on the compass was key.. They were finally catching on. They hadn’t cracked the Perpetual Motion Machine or even the Diagonal Steam Trap but with solar panels they were finally on the right road..
The forward thinkers and the hippies were still leading the way…..If I was to do this on my own the cost would have been upwards of £6,000 . Finally ,I’d been given something free from the government for the first time .The thing is , two of my neighbours recently also installed some of these solar panels which they thought were an excellent future investment, but I’d hate to have to tell them that the government’s giving me them for free mere months later…..
We’ll never be able to talk about any of this without tears…..
As for Santa and his team…he’ll just have to park the team up on the north-facing side .It should hold them alright. I hammered in virtually every nail in every roof- tile one Saturday about thirty years ago and ithe roof hasn’t fallen down yet.

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