I recently mentioned that we had had water leaking from the bathroom ceiling and had to call out the plumbers to see to it. Yesterday evening, Tigger spotted more water dripping down. Yes, AGAIN.
Despite my previous unsatisfactory encounter with the out-of-hours emergency service, the only reasonable thing to do was to call them. I did so and spoke to a pleasant, efficient-sounding lady. She took my details, asked some pertinent questions and promised to send out the plumbers. So we sat and waited.
The wait was not all that long, as it happens. Plumber and Mate turned up and inspected the evidence. “Not near the light fitting, I hope,” said Plumber ominously. It wasn’t, fortunately. Plumber and Mate then retired to fetch the steps and Plumber then inserted his head and shoulders into the space above the bathroom ceiling via the hatch. Mate said nothing but whenever I looked his way I found his eyes upon me. He smiled in the silent but manly reassuring way of Men Who Know What They Are Doing.
I had of course told Plumber that there had been a previous incidence of leakage that had been diagnosed as coming from the old decommissioned tank that could not be removed. He now descended from the steps and explained that the tank was not the source of the leak this time: “The tank and pipes are fine.” The water, he asserted, was coming from the flat above whose bathroom was presumably above mine.
This was Bad News, for you must know that the flat above is occupied by our “strange” neighbour. I will call him Silas, though that is not his real name, of course. Silas not only lives alone but apparently on a different planet from the rest of us. He is not a nuisance, if you ignore the stench that informs you he has recently passed through the hallway, the mysterious banging occasionally heard in his flat or the hours he spends ranting at the top of his voice.
When we meet him in the hallway or in the street, he either ignores us or greets us politely. One day he angrily accused us of some fantastical interference in his flat but when we responded robustly recanted his accusations and when I next saw him, greeted me with courteous words and a sugary smile. Silas’ main occupation is distributing bread to the pigeons, so much bread that he needs a shopping trolley to carry it. He used to feed the pigeons from his flat and desisted only after being threatened with eviction.
“I’ll go up and see,” said Plumber optimistically.
“Er, good luck,” I replied.
I heard him knocking on Silas’ door and then returning down the stairs. “No response,” he said.
Plumber now suggested leaving a note for Silas but I said this was a waste of time, saying that I knew the Council always had difficulty making appointments to see him.
“In that case,” stated Plumber, “I can only report it to the Council. But I will, I promise.” With a final reassuring smile from Mate, they departed.
Morning came and the drip was still dripping. Tigger arranged one of those blue and white cleaning cloths to catch the water and direct it into a waiting jug. The water is of a pale browny-yellow shade, as befits its passage through several layers of building.
I decided to phone the management and leave a voicemail as this has been effective in the past. I described the drip and Plumber’s and Mate’s visit and also said I was worried that Silas had not collected his mail recently as he is usually punctilious about this and never goes away. To my surprise, I received a call back at 8:10 am. They explained that they didn’t have the authority to force an entry but would contact the Tenants’ Office. In the meantime someone would be sent round. It is now nearly midday and I have seen no one. If I was hoping for uniformed police officers carrying battering rams, I have been disappointed.
Meanwhile, the water continues to drip. Let’s hope the drip remains a drip and doesn’t turn into a flood.