He tootled off into the kitchen and I busied myself opening the log burner and sliding one of the firelighters under the little pile of kindling. I used my long lighter to reach in and set it going, but nothing happened. I lowered my head to see if I could see the firelighter at the same time as trying to light it. It was a bit of a struggle but, with a bum-shuffle backwards, I was able to position my head so I could see. I reached in again with the lighter. It was clearly reaching the little firelighter, the flame tickling its side but, still, nothing happened. A dud, I decided. I took one of the others that I’d brought in from the kitchen, out of my pocket, and slid it under the little pile of kindling, carefully positioning it next to the dud, with the end of my long lighter. Click, the flame again caressed the new firelighter but still no ignition. What the hell? This box was most definitely going back to the shop and it would be accompanied by some extremely strong words from me.
“You OK down there,” asked Gary, returning with two glasses of white wine.
“Can’t light the bloody fire,” I said. “Sorry, I wanted it to be nice and cozy.”
He put the glasses down on the coffee table and crouched down next to me.
“Here, give me the lighter.” I passed it over and he did just as I had done, reached in and clicked the flame on. Still no fire.
“Duds. The firelighters are duds,” I told him, with authority.
“You can’t get dud firelighters. By their very nature, they’re flammable.”
“Well, they’re not working. They’re duds. I’m telling you.”
“You got another one?”
I handed him the last one from my pocket.
He looked at it closely.
“Fran,” he said in a tone that was one I was now quite used to hearing. “Where did you get these firelighters?”