One of my matutinal chores is to wash the dishes. I have done so ever since moving to Islington and have made the task mine. One cannot say any great labour is involved with just the two of us but in a tiny flat even stacking washed dishes, saucepans and cups on the diminutive drying rack poses interesting topological problems. However, I have been doing it for so long that I think I have conquered it. I might even boast that I have got it down to a fine art.
A little while before we were due to go to Bristol, I noticed one morning that the water was not running out of the sink as quickly as usual. The difference was slight but noticeable. During the day, the flow improved again and I forgot about the event.
A few days later, the same thing happened and thereafter, very gradually, the problem worsened. We assumed that waste products – tea leaves perhaps – had accumulated and were reducing the flow. We tried the usual remedies, first pouring boiling water down the plug hole and then buying one of those solvents that you pour in, leave some hours to do their work, and then rinse away. None of these made any difference.
I noticed that in the outflow pipe there was a spur with a screw cap on it and thought I would take a look inside… sometime or other. Then we went on holiday and had more interesting things to think about than sinks, outflow pipes and blockages.
Our return home brought us back to reality. The problem had become far worse during our absence. Water still runs out of the sink but very slowly indeed. You cannot now run the hot tap to get hot water without at the same time filling the sink.
I thought it was time to remove the screw cap and see what lay beyond it. I did so – and, yes, I did remember to put a bucket underneath it to catch the water lurking in the bend in the pipe – but found nothing that could explain the obstructed flow. The blockage is obviously somewhere further down the line, beyond my reach. The problem needs expert attention.
So I called Partners and asked for Repairs. Partners, or to give them their full if slightly unwieldy appellation, Partners for Improvement – Islington, are or is the company that looks after the Council’s flats and houses. They are to be contacted in the first place when things go wrong with the building.
Once your report has been logged, they make an appointment for someone to call and see to the problem. The slightly confusing thing is that the company which sends me a text to confirm the appointment is not Partners but Rydon. I do not know what the relationship is between Partners and Rydon but suspect that the latter finds the builders, the painters, the carpenters, the plumbers, etc. who will actually do the job. That’s just a guess but I have noticed that while these operatives often wear tee shirts or jackets emblazoned “Partners”, they often do not, and instead come from firms with their own company names. As a result, the work done ranges in quality from excellent to barely adequate. For example, in the bathroom we have a washbasin that can be only half filled because the plumber who fitted it couldn’t cope with an uneven wall and so the basin slopes downwards instead of being level.
On the positive side, Partners have an 0800 number for you to report problems. You inevitably have to wait while you are put through to the appropriate department and may then find yourself in a queue. The fact that the call is free takes the sting out of the delay.
So I called and explained the problem and then waited while the clerk looked for an available appointment. No one could attend until Thursday,so we will have to put up with the problem until then – and maybe longer if the repair requires major work of some kind. Fortunately, the toilet, the bath and the bathroom washbasin all seem unaffected, and I hope that remains the case.
Although they gave me a date when the plumber would call, they did not give me a time. As is usual these days, they give you a time period during which the operative will call, in this case between 8 am and 1 pm. This is annoying but I suppose it enables them to plan their work on the day more efficiently, minimizing travel-time between jobs.
In the meantime, if the drain becomes completely blocked, I will simply have to remove the screw cap and empty the sink into a bucket, like a caravan dweller.