Monday, 16 May 2011

Plumbing the depths

We have a slight plumbing problem at Crap Cottage.  Needless to say, it can’t possibly be simple – a washer on a tap, a blocked, it has to be the old dripping cistern lark.

We’ve had this issue before.   Something goes wrong with the loo, the cistern overfills and the overflow runs incessantly, keeping me awake (the Shah would snore through a nuclear blast) and making me even worse tempered than usual.  Last time it happened, the Shah fiddled with all the component parts of the whole plumbing system of the house,  broke pretty much everything he touched, swore blind it was all fine and I ended up calling a plumber to fix it all at vast cost.

This time, the Shah swears blind he has learnt his lesson from last time and, besides, he has picked up loads of tips from Mark and Paul – the unfortunate builders who did our kitchen extension and who are still in a Swiss Clinic recuperating.  So the Shah begins to investigate the problem.  He begins by “adjusting” the mechanism inside the cistern and assuring me that it is all fixed and the water is no longer dripping.  The actual result is that the water flow is increased and the accompanying burbling sound through the pipes not only keeps me awake but also makes me need a wee every five minutes through the night.  It is like Chinese Water Torture. 

The Shah then forms the opinion that it is the tank that is at fault and the ball- cock needs replacing.  I remark sourly that the tank is not the only thing that will need its ball-cock replacing if this isn’t sorted soon.  The Shah affects indifference and adopts the superior air of the true artisan.

So now he needs to get into the loft to look at the water tank.   Correction – he needs to get into one of the two lofts to inspect one of the FOUR water tanks that nestle up there.  This is Crap Cottage after all – the land where nothing is ever straightforward.  The two lofts are both tiny and only good for storing the odd suitcase.  They are probably tiny because of the ridiculous over supply of water tanks.  I have no idea what they do, so I ask the Shah.

“Shah,” I say, “how come we have four water tanks?” The Shah’s air of Artisanship (sp?) increases and he says airily “because we need water for the house,” (as if I am an idiot savant).
“I know that,” I say gritting my teeth, “but why FOUR?”
“Well it’s obvious, isn't it?” he huffs
“er, no?”
“Well,” he continues in his best patronising voice, ”this one here is the cold water tank and that one there is beside it.  As for the two in the other loft, the little one is the hot water tank.”  He gives a smirk of satisfaction at his own inspiration.
“So what’s special about the tank beside the cold water tank and what about the fourth?”
The Shah loses patience.  All of a sudden he leaps up the rungs of the step ladder like a young gazelle (as opposed to cutting the figure of an arthritic hippo which is the norm) and buries his head in the loft opening so that I can’t hear his reply.
Some time later he reappears to tell me that everything is fixed – no problem.  I ask how he has done this so quickly.  He tells me that he has changed the ball cock and it’ll be fine.”*

Fast forward 48 hours.  Jason the Plumber is here.  He is renewing a faulty part in the cistern and the dripping sound has ceased.  I write Jason a cheque for an amount of money quite out of proportion to the time and effort he has expended but, frankly, I would have paid him twice as much if it meant getting the Shah to stop fiddling with the waterworks.  Peace and quiet is restored to Crap Cottage.

Fast forward another 24 hours.  One of the children is in the shower.  Suddenly, a noise like 30 Harrier Jump Jets taking off shakes the shallow foundations of the house.  I am terrified.  I am convinced that the boiler is about to explode and blow us all to Kingdom come.  I rush to inspect it.  It is off.  The noise appears to be coming from the direction of Loft 2 – the one that houses the biggest water tank.  The tank with the new ball-cock.

It is by now apparent that the Shah has completely lost interest in the waterworks and the problems thereof.  He makes up some cock and bull story, utilising as many long words and technical-sounding terms as he can in an attempt to blind me with science.  “Ah well,” he says knowingly.  “It’s because the phlange on the basilicum base is rubbing against the carborundum arm.  Don’t worry – it’ll be fine.”*

My phone rings.  It is our next door neighbour.  “I don’t want to worry you,” he says politely, but there is a terrible grinding noise coming through the wall from your house – we wanted to make sure you were okay.”  He is polite enough not to say “and you are keeping our baby awake”.

“It’s all your fault,” I inform the Shah who pouts like a small boy.  “I can’t understand it,” he whines.  “I’ve never broken anything before.” 

When I have stopped laughing and smacking him round the head, I remind him of the time, in a previous house, when the cistern began to leak.  He cemented up the area that was leaking so effectively that, not only did the leak not stop, but the Plumber could not get the offending nut undone and ended up having to take a sledgehammer to the loo and literally smash it out of the bathroom before replacing it – again at vast cost.  The Shah looks amazed.  “I don't remember that!” he cries.

I put the kettle on.  I am making tea – strong with two sugars.  Just the way Jason likes it.

I have already noted the Shah's generous use of "it'll be all right"  here which generally indicates anything but.


  1. Y'know, you have made me feel better in a strange mister and the shah obviously share 'just fiddle about with it and act like we know what we are doing' abilities.....whereas like you I probably need to 'get a man in'....good luck with your waterworks!

  2. No - but what is the wee tank next to the cold water tank that isn't the hot water tank????

    Check where your septic tank is asap. that's all I'm saying...

  3. Once again I am amazed by The Shah's artisanery (sp?).... I'm so impressed that he identified the problem with the carborundum arm.

    Most people mistakenly replace the upstream globevalve grommet. Dolts!

  4. Libby - may your sister and the Shah never meet!

  5. Er Libby - that was meant to say "your Mister" not "Your Sister"....

  6. Macy - oh crap! Possibly literally. I asked the Shah if he had shown Jason the bizarre tanking arrangement last time he came but, of course not. that would be sensible, wouldn't it?

    Andy - you continue to worry me deeply. I have the distinct and disturbing impression that you and the Shah would really hit it off if you were ever to meet. That is not necessarily a good thing...

  7. Does he want to go into business with The Husband by any chance? Bodgit and Scarper? You've tried the cowboys, now try the Indians? Bon courage my dear but never, NEVER, let him near a ballcock. I have learnt that the hard way x

  8. WG - have you lost your mind? you know full well that the only thing our husbands would manage to take an interest in is a large crate of red!

  9. Yet again you remind why I should be grateful to be single LOL

  10. Taz - I may have to show that comment to the Shah in the hope of of frightening some sense into him!

  11. LOL It's funny how I seem to get more things done now that I'm single than I did when the former him indoors hummed and hawed about it all. Strange coincidence? ;)

  12. Funny that. I can somehow relate to it....!

  13. What a story! But I’m glad that Jason the Plumber was able to fix the problem. It is quite frustrating to deal with plumbing issues sometimes, especially if you don’t know the source of the problem. But a qualified plumber can easily pinpoint the main source and give it a more permanent solution. And now, you and “The Shah” will have peaceful days sans the plumbing problem.

  14. “I would have paid him twice as much if it meant getting the Shah to stop fiddling with the waterworks.”--- Well, I would definitely give a great amount to the plumber who will deal with my plumbing issues as well. These problems are really depressing sometimes, so I would really be thankful for that person. He deserves the right amount for his work!

  15. You have a knack for written word, Curry Queen! I find the story hilarious! Haha. But dealing with plumbing dilemmas is no laughing matter. Whenever we experience some plumbing issues, we try to assert if we can do the job or not. If not, a plumber’s assistance is definitely in order!

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