OK – before you do anything else please check that you are wearing protective gloves or that you have switched your email reader to safe mode. Why this warning? Well let’s just say that I discovered that you can splash toxic water almost anywhere. My night’s sleep was seriously interrupted by stinging knees and a sudden desire to throw up at about 2 am.
Fortunately all has settled down now, but I can assure you that there are still mental scars from the great plumbing fiasco of this past weekend. Just to refresh your memory, it all started with a plan to be busy and useful and hopefully even well-nourished with a pear tarte tatin.
The preparations for all this went well until the plumbing decided to intervene and that was where we left the story.
I think a little back story is needed here so that you are more fully in the picture. About twenty years ago we had a new kitchen installed. Delays and general cock up on the part of the supplier meant that they gave us a super duper sink waste disposal unit as compensation. The only thing was that the guy who installed it was in a hurry and was keen to get the job done as quickly as possible. In consequence we ended up with a mish-mash of plumbing fittings that resembled one of those mazes that you construct for your pet hamster!
Naturally I had never paid much attention to this until things went wrong and then realised that I was facing a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated.
So here I was, still with a sink half filled with rather evil looking toxic waste and the dawning awareness that I should kiss good bye to any fun making tarts or basking in the glow of a job well done. Instead I now faced a kind of domestic Chernobyl clean up, and the awareness that the wrath of Da Boss lurked in the background.
And that was when I also realised that the cheap disposable plastic gloves I had available were probably not man enough for the job ahead. The cupboard under the sink had already been cleared and the kitchen now looked like the local dump. I had no idea that you could fit so much junk, whoops, necessary kitchen stuff, under a sink!
Now as you know I am not the world’s handiest man, in fact I rank in the bottom 100 of such beings on this planet, but I was desperate. First task was to remove a shelf and I achieved that with relative ease and only a small amount of bad language.
At this point I would recommend that nervous readers stop reading and go and do something worthwhile or interesting; you see the language is going to get much nastier as the story unfolds. You have been warned.
I gradually unscrewed the first couple of pipes and started to let the water in the sink trickle out into the bucket that I had positioned strategically. Things were going according to plan and although it was clear that it was going to be a slow job, at least I had everything under control.
Oh, dear reader, how I wish that I had been given just a few more ounces of patience than I currently possess. After what seemed like an age I decided that I could allow the emptying to speed up a little, which was when I started squirting acid effluent all over the bloody place.
Blind panic and huge good luck enabled me to slow things down but by now I was soaked and needed to put a temporary halt to things whilst I rinsed myself off. My skin was starting to tingle in an interesting way and my imagination was going into overdrive. I could easily see the headlines in the local paper “Man attempts acid attack on himself!”
Fortunately copious amounts of soapy water and frantic scrubbing neutralised the effects and after a quarter of an hour I was ready to go back into the fray. But by now Da Boss was starting to hover ominously. I know that this was from a feeling of concern, but it also felt as though the sword of Damocles was not merely hanging by a thread, but was being eyed up with a view to unhooking it and swinging it wildly in my direction.
Eventually all the waste water was removed and disposed of safely and I began the task of dismantling the piping. If I tell you that there were a dozen different pipes and bends and sink traps and joining bits I think that you might get the picture. So far so good BUT I failed to pay close attention to the order in which they were all hooked up.
By the time I found the final blockage and cleared it with a jet of water from a hosepipe attached to the outside tap I was feeling pretty pleased with my efforts. OK I was starting to ache from having had to contort myself in order to fit into the space under the sink and my skin was starting to tingle once again, but I had resolved the problem and so could look forward to a round of applause at least.
And this was when I realised how stupid I had been in the dismantling process. On reflection, I should have photographed everything before I began or at least laid out each of the pieces in order as I removed it. Instead of which I was now faced with a 3 D puzzle far worse than anything that you could find on your free plumbing games on your phone.
Language became bluer, tempers grew shorter and frustration levels soon reached danger point. Even Da Boss spotted how volatile the situation was and left the room. But somehow a Zen moment ensued and I started to work out how things might look if I was the original hurried and harassed plumber. I ignored all sense of correctness and simply stuck different bits of pipe together in the quickest and easiest way that came to me. And guess what, it worked!
I have absolutely no idea how horrified any decent plumber would be, but things are working and there have been no leaks for a day now. This is despite every single appliance having been used in order to test the leak proof ness of my handiwork.
It has confirmed to me though, that I will be praying to the plumbing gods for quite some time to come and also that it really is time for us to look for a new home. One which will be thoroughly checked out by teams of electrician plumbers and handymen so that it can be given a clean bill of health before we even consider moving in.
And later today I will indeed make that tart that I have been promising for two or three days now. After all, there has to be a reward somewhere on earth and not merely in heaven. Now go and check your hands please and if necessary give them a good wash to ensure that you don’t suffer from any acid burns.