The day started not with a bang but a trickle. Tigger decided to try out the newly boxed-in bath but when she ran the hot tap, water appeared from under the bath. There was obviously danger of flooding the resident who lives in the basement and the problem that work on the bathroom floor might be scheduled to take place later today.
We have been given an out-of-hours emergency number and I rang it. The man on the other end of the line was polite and sympathetic but he declined to take any action, saying he would have to send a fax which would “get lost in the heap the other end”. He advised me to ring “the office” at 8:30. I explained that this meant the if the workmen turned up I would have to stop them from working.
I called the office at 8:30, gave my name and address and explained the problem. “I’ll put you through,” she said. To the next person, I gave my name and address and explained the problem. “I’ll put you through,” she said. To the third person, I gave my name and address and explained the problem. “I’ll put you through to the work manager for your street,” she said. There followed a lot of ringing tones as I suspect several numbers were called. “Yes?” said a man’s voice. I gave my name and address and explained the problem. “I’ll have to stop them working in the bathroom, if they come,” I said. “That’s all right. I get someone to you shortly.”
At 8:45, that’s where the matter rests. I await a ring on the doorbell.
The ring on the doorbell eventually came. But it was scaffolders wanting access to the back of the house. The plumber arrived about 9:10 and I explained the problem to him. A few minutes later he called me and said “Don’t run the basin or flush the toilet for the next 15 to 20 minutes. To let the glue dry.” And off he went.
I reflected what a wonderful world we live in where plumbers use glue instead of soldering irons and everything is extensible and bendable and you can install a complete central heating service in 4 hours flat.
I washed and dressed ready to go out. I was just checking email (civilization must be maintained even in the midst of chaos) when there came another knock on the door. It was an electrician. “I’ve come to put in clamps,” said he in a lilting Caribbean accent. I pointed the way and let him get on with it. It seems the modern fad is to link all the water pipes, hot and cold, together at various points, a bit like hobbling a horse, to earth the system.
This is fine but what I find a bit annoying is the way they just turn up, rap on the door and expect to be admitted as if I’m supposed to be there all day, every day. I do have a life to lead and errands to run and shopping to buy.
I did the shopping and returned home to make lunch. Half-way through lunch came another rap on the door. I won’t tell you what I said. This is left as an exercise for the reader. I opened the door to discover a workman on the doorstep.
He beamed. “We’re coming in…” he began.
“Oh NO!” I thought, “Just when I thought the day was clear…”
“…tomorrow,” he continued, “to start painting.”
“Oh, right, fine, fine.” (Relief)
“Er, you’ll be in, will you?”
“Yes…” (wearily) “…I’ll be in.”
“Good. Tomorrow then.”
I sometimes feel like that chap in Greek mythology – Sisyphus, was it? – who had to roll a huge boulder uphill, only to see it roll down again each time he nearly succeeded in lodging it on the summit.
On Friday I said that I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I am now beginning to think it was the tail lamp of a receding train.