Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bloodied but unbowed

On Wednesday, I did a full day's managing of information and then drove back to the bathroom of the ex-husband of Plumbing S to solder the new heating pipes and let the electrician in. J the plumber turned up at 10.30pm. The electrician left at 11.30. We were there till 1.30. I was starting to see things. I woke up at five panicking slightly, so I got up, got dressed and went back there. I did another 12 hours, then I left for my Plumbing Class Night Out (of which more later). It still wasn't finished. J the plumber went in later to sort out the final bits. He called it the bathroom from hell, and he should know.

What was so evil about the bathroom of the ex-husband of Plumbing S?

1. Incomplete basin: it needed legs, which it didn't have, so we had to build a frame. Also in a different place to the old basin, and once the frame was in the floor couldn't come up, so lots of jiggling round fitting pipes through little holes.
2. Incomplete basin taps: no fixing nut, no little grommet thing for the waste lever.
3. Crap basin waste: not enough thread for the S bend to seal, which meant the S bend washer had to be cut down with a hacksaw. Nice.
4. 'Non-applicable' WC - back to the wall pan with wall hanging cistern. J managed to fit it in the end but not before he'd threatened to take it back to the shop that sold it to the ex-husband of plumbing S and 'throw it through the fucking window and say "you fucking fit it"'.
5. Cheap and nasty pre-fitted siphon and float valve which pissed water everywhere and had to be taken apart and re-fitted.
6. Wall-mounted bath taps and shower bar which will need to be taken off for tiling (and the tiles are stone and about 10mm thick) but which had no fixings of their own so needed to be supported by rigid pipework. *You* try designing rigid pipework which can be moved back 10mm. It's not impossible but it's a pain in the arse.
7. P-shaped bath: needed to be installed exactly 542mm off the floor to accommodate the side panel. Floor was made of old, often-soaked and much messed about with tongue and groove chipboard which could in no way be described as either flat or level.
8. Heated towel rail which fit too close to the wall to take standard radiator valves, on a different wall to the original radiator.

And that was just the plumbing, never mind the electrics, which had the electrician by turns baffled and really bloody annoyed. It nearly killed me. At five to six on Thursday I came over all funny and realised my ability to hit things hard had been premenstrually enhanced. There was still no toilet. I rang J and said 'right, I'm off, there are some things a girl can't do in the garden'. 'How much do I owe you?' he said. 'A week in the sun,' I replied.

At home I threw all my clothes into the washing machine and legged it upstairs for painkillers, san-pro, a good scrub and a bit of mascara, then I jumped on my bike and headed off into town for my Plumbing Class Night Out. It was very strange but lots of fun, we went to the pub, then for a curry, then to the pub again. I was a bit manic, I fear, but I did get the chance to tell J the stores manager than it was terrifying at first and he was a big part of making it less terrifying. I also had the pleasure of seeing Plumbing S drinking a pint. I don't think she's ever done that before. I'm not sure she'll do it again.

We broke up at the Head of the River at 11.30 and I realised my back bike light wasn't working. I had also had four pints. I decided it was too risky to cycle through town. Also too risky to cycle down Abingdon Road and over Donnington Bridge. And I really couldn't be arsed to walk. I know, I thought, I'll go down the towpath.

I balanced at the top of the slope down onto it from Folly Bridge thinking 'now, is it sensible for a drunk woman on her own to cycle down the river at this time of night?'. Then I thought 'fuck it', released my brakes and swooped down into the darkness.

And it was magical. The river was as still as glass, the moon was out, the swans drifted by asleep in mid-stream. It was dark and silent and peaceful and warm and glorious. I started the day feeling tiny and anxious. I ended it feeling invincible.




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