Monday, 22 February 2016

Plumber Anyone?

This Blog about water leaks is not on the same scale as the recent catastrophic flooding in parts of the UK obviously, but all the same, having a bathroom leak soaking through to the kitchen and a complete central heating breakdown in the same week was high on my personal shortlist of household disasters. It was all sorted out by a very competent plumber and equally competent central heating engineer, all covered by insurance I'm relieved to state.

However, in a previous year I was not so sensible and chose not to have insurance cover. And this is my recollection.

We had a dripping bathroom tap. The cold one. It had dripped for seven years, but now it was threatening to break into a run. I had to act. Popping down to the DIY store for washers and packets of EasyTapfix and Stoppatapdrip, I returned fully equipped. I was looking forward to enjoying future baths piping-hot from head to toe – not with a freezing left foot, courtesy of that dratted tap.

After an hour, punctuated by frequent cups of tea, banging my fingers with a hammer and swearing, the job was done. The tap still dripped of course, but as my wife generously said: ‘At least you tried’.

I had a similar problem with an overflow pipe sticking out of my roof. It had been dripping constantly due to a leaking ball valve in the water tank in my loft. I knew this because I had a look-see about a year before. It had been very useful this drip however, it saved me no end of time and effort with the watering can: the potted plants that live outside under the overflow have enjoyed constant irrigation and boasted luxuriant green foliage.

The problem with drips is, tamper with them and they get worse. That’s why I leave well alone. The previous week my overflow drip had accelerated into a meaningful and urgent piddle, so I had to act. I had a spare ball valve stored in my shed for about 20 years for emergencies just like this. And to cut a long story short, replaced it, completing the job efficiently and successfully. I boasted to my wife that she hadn’t made a mistake – I really was the macho protector of the household after all. I made frequent visits to the garden with any members of the family around at the time to observe the overflow not overflowing. We were all impressed.

Alas, some are born to DIY, some aspire to DIY, some have DIY thrust upon them - and some are just plain useless. Two hours later the kitchen had developed a flood. When I had turned the stopcock off/on it had somehow sprung a leak. Water from the mains was now oozing in, and turning off the stopcock made no difference. But as my wife again generously said: ‘At least you tried’.

My helpful water company said: ‘Not our problem’. A plumber said after a short pause to calculate the spending money he’d require for his Bahamas holiday cocktails: ‘£100 for the first half hour’. And I said: ‘****!!!***’.  I decided to wait until after the weekend when I could find another plumber who holidayed in Yarmouth and drank bitter.

Down to the DIY store again and I take advice about temporary plugging leaks from an assistant with even less DIY savvy than me. So I bound the offending pipe with bandages saturated with some revolting sticky stuff that hasn’t worked and I’d been mopping up for two days. 

Why didn’t my daughter marry a plumber? Why didn’t my daughter train to be a plumber?  Why isn’t one of my sons a plumber? Or indeed, why didn’t one of my sons marry a plumber?  I don’t have any friends that are plumbers either, why am I so bad at family planning? There are many unfortunates like me out there. We have to rely on the Yellow Pages, classified ads, calling cards put through the letterbox and cross our fingers.  

The result: a plumber with a heart answered my prayers, probably the only one in Christendom. He gave a free estimate and eventually made out water system water proof. Maybe they ain't so bad after all!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Most Embarrassing Moments

Most Embarrassing Moments

We all have embarrassing moments. Some of us more than others. I’ve just compiled a list of my most embarrassing moments and I’m up to number 197 – and that’s not bad for one week! I’d like to tell you about my embarrassing moment number 197: it would definitely feature in any Television ‘The Top 50 Most Embarrassing Things Bob Has Ever Done’ compilation.

I try to keep fit, in a lazy, stop, start sort of way, and drive nimbly to the fitness centre, one mile away whenever the guilt overwhelms me. This tends to be about once a week, or sometime less. I cane a selection of machines, run and row, committing my stomach to an hour of humiliating and very public wobbling, and then drive home, sweaty and not nice to be near for a luxurious soak in my own comfortable bath. After this I fall asleep, utterly exhausted for the rest of the day. For the remainder of the week I can live righteously on the experience, and bore all my friends, family and work colleagues as I relate how I achieved nine pull-ups with just the one break for a drink and a posing session at the cold-water fountain. Then cap this by boasting of out-sprinting a lady on the adjacent running machine while she was engrossed, discussing her fitness programme with a rather too young, over-muscled and square jawed I thought, physical trainer.

On the morning of my 197th I was in a rush. I squeezed on my Lycra sportswear and an odd pair of socks and grabbed a towel from the laundry basket heaped with the family’s fresh-dried clothing, then I jogged through my front door to the car.  I parked outside the leisure centre, wrapped my towel up into a neat roll, and then strode through the entrance to pay. At that moment, from the corner of my eye,  I noticed something dangling from my towel. I looked down. I was agape. It was a pair of sexy pink panties.

There it is then, my 197th most embarrassing moment. You cannot explain away something like that; you would only dig yourself further into the hole you had prepared earlier. So I said nothing, turned about, strode back to my car, opened the door, glanced around the car park to make sure that I wasn’t being observed - and removed my panties. 

When I said that I removed my panties, I’m sure you know what I mean. Subsequently I concealed the panties under my AA road atlas on the back seat, making a mental note to return them to the laundry basket immediately to avoid further complications, and then went back to commence my work out.  This you will agree was very embarrassing moment. To think that just a few days earlier, I had walked the mile to town wearing a pair of combat trousers from the said laundry basket with a pair of women's tights swinging from side to side stuck by the Velcro on my back pocket. (That was my embarrassing moment number 196 by the way.)