Plumbing the depths

Plumbing the depths

This is why I never do home repairs - my efforts invariably make things a lot worse before they get better, if, in fact, they get better at all

Friday, 27 October 2023, 14:30


Last week I fixed a lavatory cistern. Well, two actually counting the one I broke investigating its workings in order to facilitate the repair of the first one. This is why I never do home repairs - my efforts invariably make things a lot worse before they get better, if, in fact, they get better at all.

On Monday it was my day off and the job needed doing and so, suffering from an inexplicable bout of hope triumphing over experience, I decided I could get the job done in time for a leisurely lunch and an idle perusing of the day's newspapers.

Things started off on the wrong foot - quite literally. A beer barrel had fallen on my instep the previous evening, so I found myself limping to the hardware store like a professional footballer shortly after an autumn leaf has lightly brushed his left leg. I brandished the cistern part I needed towards the assistant and gasped gamely through the pain.

"One of these, please, madam." She pursed her lips in a manner that didn't bode well, then shook her head to emphasise her point. Apparently, a visit to the official shop of the brand in question would be the only solution. It was closing in twenty minutes and was, of course, a twenty-five minute walk away. I pointed my gammy foot in the right direction and legged it across town, dodging swathes of tourists who all seemed to be on some kind of hands-clasped-behind-back-gazing-upwards-at nothing-in-particular training day, and made it with seconds to spare.

Dangling the part in the poor bloke's face, I pointed a bit and wheezed a lot. He smiled sardonically. Was this a good thing or a bad thing? The tension was palpable until, after what seemed like a three hour stand-off, he gestured towards a distant rack of plumbing goodies and then - somewhat unnecessarily I thought - towards his watch. I scampered over as best I could, found the part, scampered back, paid for it, and was ushered out of a secret back door, used only by those who know how to arrive 3.1 seconds before closing time.

The walk back was a giddy experience. I don't think any Olympic gold medallist has ever felt the high that was surging through my veins. Even the tourists looked attractive. Resisting the urge to hold the cistern part above my head in triumph like it was the world cup, I got back to do the repair and, I calculated, still have time for a quick late lunch and a skim through the papers.

So, at precisely 7.48pm, the job was completed. My arms felt like I'd been stretched on the rack for an act of fifteenth century treason and the bathrooms in question brought to mind a particularly vivid image of the wreck of the Hesperus.

I limped home for a bite to eat, dearly wishing I was one of those blokes who only has to waft a spanner in the general direction of a repair for it to be carried out to perfection. There wasn't a newspaper to be found for love nor money.

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