My boyfriend and I have differing perspectives on how much to heat our home. I’d prefer it warmer, he cooler. This classic battle of the sexes has been rumbling on for many years. But there is nothing quite like the restrictions of a lockdown – where distractions are scarce and the minor details of the home suddenly appear gigantic – to focus the mind on what really matters: crushing my love in the thermostat war.
Normally, we navigate our way around this issue passively (a cold war, if you will), turning the dial up or down when the other isn’t looking. Occasionally, there will be flare-ups, where each pleads with the other to think about their shivering limbs or lungs suffocated by dry heat before begrudgingly settling on a bearable temperature.
“Society is plagued by leaders unable to reach a consensus,” I’ll say at the breakfast table (also known as the dinner table, office and general inescapable living area). “But surely we can find a way.”
I try science – mentioning how women tend to be more productive in warmer environments (which is countered by more science, on improving circulation and running more). I mention our different heritages – his being 10 generations English and mine from sunnier climes (“Bruv, I’m a tropical flower!”). Sometimes I tiptoe up to him and slip my icy hands in his jumper to prove how cold it is (for my own amusement).
When, as a child, I’d fight with my siblings, my mother used to say that we must be bored, that clearly we needed more chores if we found the time to bicker. And as the cold of winter keeps us inside, I suspect she may be right – boredom is fertile ground for pettiness. Perhaps it really is as they say: the devil makes work for idle hands. It certainly does for cold ones.