The government is deploying crack army bomb disposal units to help Britain’s elderly switch on their central heating this winter. Fred (86) and Ethel (85) Wilkinson said they’ve been trying since September to switch on their central heating but ‘when it came to turning the switch our nerve failed and we went back to wrapping ourselves in tin-foil and old newspapers’.
Mr Wilkinson explained that the thought of a British Gas bill started his hands shaking and he couldn’t turn the heating on. ‘It were a terrifying experience,’ he said. ‘All our friends have had the same experience. Well, the ones who are still here,’ he said. ‘We desperately need the help of people used to dealing with these life and death situations, people with nerves of steel. And feeling in their fingertips.’
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith, said the government was determined to help old people turn on their central heating. ‘We have asked the army to loan us bomb disposal engineers on leave from Iraq and Afghanistan, and I can confirm that they are currently operating in high risk sheltered accommodation localities.’
But bomb disposal veteran Mick Miller said he found central heating work in Coventry more demanding than anything he had encountered in twenty years of bomb disposal and fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. ’You might be just about to turn the central heating on for a couple of octogenarians, when they turn the heat up by thrusting last winter’s British Gas bill under your nose. Quite honestly, I find it easier to just lend them my winter woolies. Or blow them to kingdom come.’
12th October 2011