Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Learning curves like sine waves

I'll be honest, there are moments when I'm plumbing when I think what the fuck am I doing here? I had a seriously big one this morning when I was stuck, short of sleep and battling period pain, in an overheated house in Kidlington completely failing to take a bath tap apart. I hung off it till my neck bulged, but all that happened was that the whole tap lurched round. This is bad news as it can loosen the connection under the tap. I dragged it back to its original position, but I was sure I could hear something gurgling.

I tried to check under the bath but the bath side was tiled in. Shit, shit, shit. I rang J the plumber in a bit of a state. Go downstairs! he said. Can you hear dripping? Um, I think so, I said. Shit, shit, shit, he said. Have you got a chisel?

No, I said in a small voice.

Right, he said, get the water off, I'll get someone over to get that panel off for you, and you'll have to change those taps.

OK, I said in an even smaller voice, panicking wildly about a) changing bath taps, which is a seriously evil job, b) consequently having no time to revise for, or possibly even sit, my final plumbing theory exam, which was tonight, and c) the fact that as well as no chisel I had no food and no tampons with me, and was getting to the point where I would be sorely in need of both.

I stood hugging myself in the bathroom, telling myself it would all be ok, just get this done and then you can go home and cry and never do it again.

And then it occurred to me to check if the cold tap, which was not dripping and which I hadn't touched, could be turned off any harder. It could. The gurgling noise stopped.

I rang J back and left a message telling him that I am an idiot. I left the tenants a note saying that the basin tap was done but the bath tap wasn't and would need to be changed at some point. I dropped the keys off with the letting agent, drove home to eat Lebanese food with M and ex-housemate S and baby Tungsten, and sat in the garden to revise for my exam (which I went on pass convincingly, which might not have happened without those two hours of fact cramming). I remembered how I felt fitting N&D's bathroom in Manchester this weekend -- miserable on Saturday evening when all the waste outlets leaked, euphoric on Sunday afternoon when D and I had fixed them all with generous application of silicone and Plumbers Mait and you could see what a lovely room it was going to be.

It's not a job you can fudge, basically. When it goes wrong it's terrifying, but when it goes right it makes you grin from ear to ear and sing along to Alison Moyet all the way home. To paraphrase Billy Bragg, you need to have the crunchy so you can have the smooth. And that's why it's worth it.


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Blogger bedshaped said...

Congrats on passing your final theory exam!

11:01 am  
Blogger Timbo said...

Stopping, and thinking.

I never used to stop and think, but it is the way to overcome most problems.

It is the air inbetween the crunchy bit and the smooth bit.

(Well done!)

9:11 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

I was in the wrong place in the wrong mood, underprepared and overwrought. You live, you learn...

The theory exam was multiple choice so it would have been deeply humiliating to fail, but, as anyone who's ever sat a City & Guilds exam can attest, it's always a possibility when half the questions don't make sense and the other half have answers that are not mutually exclusive...

12:21 am  

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