Friday, 7 September 2018

Plumb crazy and round the U-bend again!

I am sorry my posts have become a bit sparse of late...I have got a lot going on at the moment, including some quite disruptive house renovations - structural work to tackle rising damp by the back door, and the gutting of the utility room, which was full of condemned sanitary fixtures. It is a funny space: half utility, half bathroom, and will retain its ambiguous dual status when the project is complete. That probably won't be till November now, but there are still lots of jobs to do meanwhile: rewiring, new gas pipework, new windows, and the capping of a chimney that was letting in rain and contributing to the damp problem.

Then to make matters worse, my boiler snuffed it yesterday within half an hour of being serviced. The gas fitter said it was the shock of such a vigorous intervention, not unlike a 90 year old dying on the operating table. But late yesterday evening it gradually sparked back into life - very fitfully at first, but now it seems to have remembered what it used to do before its heat exchanger was so startlingly de-furred. To stay with our operative analogy, it turns out that the boiler may simply have needed longer in the recovery room. It is knocking (and juddering) on 17 years old, mind, which in combi boiler years is probably like 135 for a human, so I do see a new boiler in my near future. I was absolutely frozen yesterday afternoon and evening, but consoled myself with the fact that while the house may have been cold, it was at least no longer damp!

Yesterday was typical of how the week has been. I did not stop chopping Hydra heads between 7am, when I couldn't find my car keys, and 2.30am, which I finally stopped puzzling over my notes on mirror screws and access panels . I'd say I've been 'firefighting', only that would have sounded pleasantly warm, and for most of the day I was anything but. Yes, there is a lot coming at me at the moment, with crazy levels of multi-tasking and snap decisions: 'Are you having trickle vents?' 'What degree of frosting on your glass?' 'Do you want an extractor fan?' 'What about a self-demisting mirror?'(No!). 'Where is the gas bonded?' 'Where is the manual to that?' 'Laminate or solid?' 'Pipework at a high or low setting?' 'Flexible black conduit at 90 degrees or the existing metal rod?' 'Over the porch or under the step?' 'What model name?' 'This guarantee or that guarantee with this catch or that caveat?' 'Is this rubbish even allowed in my bin?' 'Where do you want the sink putting in the garden?' 'That knackered cupboard with the louvred doors - chuck or keep?' 'How do you take your coffee?' 'What is the projection of the tumble dryer door when open?' 'Metal edging strip or butchered architrave?' 'If your cooker has the wrong kind of flame, you do realise I will have to condemn it on the spot...?' I could go on, but that is quite enough, so instead I'll reheat my tea for the nth time before the roofer comes.

It's strange...I was in Dungeness at the weekend, which is a very rum place with its nuclear power station flanked by two lighthouses. It is where 'end of the world' meets 'other worldly'...stones have holes, houses are train carriages, and sea cabbage grows between the sleepers in Derek Jarman's garden. But for a surreal landscape you really don't need to go further than the Stoke City-liveried, crunchy crystalline wall of my utility...

The late Derek Jarman's house


  1. Wow, my head is spinning from just reading those questions, let alone trying to answer them while chilled to the bone. You manage to turn even the most stressful of circumstances into an entertaining post.

    Keep fighting the good fight, V.

    1. Thanks, T! It feels like I have fallen into a parallel universe where the only conversation is of construction materials, regulations and measurements. I kind of don't mind, as my work has always been in this field, but contrary to what you might imagine, I never had to understand the subjects of my projects, let alone make decisions which assume a level of understanding! But I have learnt some things along the way even so. And made an awful lot of cups of coffee, and none of tea. Every single person - and there have been a lot - has taken it the same way.

  2. By the end I could swear some of those questions were there just to check if we were still reading! ;) 'Metal edging strip or butchered architrave?' - really?! Are you supposed to know any of the words (but "or")? :)
    I'm sorry you're going through that. But hopefully it'll be fixed soon - before it's too cold.

    1. Hi Undina,

      Haha! That particular choice refers to the fact that the moulding around the door is already broken in places, so the plumber was suggesting cutting a whole length out of it and butting up a metal strip at the edge of the shower enclosure in its place, which will help with the general fitting of that. The fact that the architrave isn't pristine anyway swung the argument, although I was very attached to its nice wood contours! Probably TMI, but there you go.

      This morning I thought both the boiler and the washing machine weren't working, but both have been coaxed back into life.

  3. Hey Vanessa,
    Having anything done is the house is a drama. So dusty and troublesome. Good luck with it all.
    I'm horrid at snap decisions, especially if they're important or long lasting.
    Portia xx

    1. Hey Portia,

      Sorry, Blogger didn't alert me to your having left a comment! 'Dusty and troublesome' is a great summary of the process. Also long and drawn out due to the unavailability of tradesmen, though when they are on the case, that's when the snap decisions come thick and fast! x