Thursday, October 09, 2008

Under Sink Cupboard

Under Sink Cupboard
Originally uploaded by joellaflickr.

We plumber-sociologists can tell a lot about a person by the state of the cupboard under their kitchen sink. I've seen a lot of these cupboards, not because I've worked on a lot of kitchen sinks (although I have worked on a few) but because that is usually where you find the mains stop tap -- and even if it's not there, it's the first place you look.

They are often pretty disgusting places. This is for two main reasons:

1. Hardly anyone ever cleans them out. A clean bathroom is no indicator of a clean under-sink-cupboard (USC) -- in fact a clean bathroom often means that the person who lives there pays someone else to clean it. You deal with your USC yourself, you do, and it separates the men from the boys.

2. They are wet and/or greasy. New kitchens are often put in in a tearing hurry, no corner left uncut, and the traps leak or the seal round the sink doesn't work properly, or, as in the case of our cheap kitchen sink and every other cheap kitchen sink like it, the pop up waste is a load of leaky old shit and the water gets in round the edges and drips straight down onto the Brillo pads underneath, creating a big lump of smelly sticky rust. (There are not words for how much I hate pop up wastes. They should be banned. But that's another story).

Sometimes you find that USC is empty. This is either because the customer has thought ahead and cleared it out -- that's only happened to me once -- or because they don't own any cleaning products. These people will also not have any milk. They are squatters in their own homes. They will probably have a big leather sofa though, and their new sanitaryware will be oversized and cheap. I do not often warm to these people.

Other times, you will find that it is so absolutely rammed with random crap that it takes about 20 minutes to empty it. This is especially frustrating when it turns out that the stop tap is not actually in there after all, but you don't find that out until you've decanted years and multiples of methylated spirit, J-cloths, picnic paraphernalia, tea lights, shoe polish, light bulbs, hoover bags, paint brushes, pet food etc. These people will also have a fridge full of random crap, some of it also not excavated for years. Their bathroom will be painted in an unexpected colour, which they'll have done themselves and never quite finished. It will be impossible to work in without knocking over an MFI shelving unit that contains 47 bottles of random toiletries, and it will feature lots of cobwebs. These people buy TOO MUCH STUFF, all of it cheap. They watch lifestyle programmes on TV but never manage to change their lifestyles. They are forthcoming with cups of tea, though, and nearly always have biscuits in.

Other times again, it will just be a bit manky and contain brushes, cloths, rubber gloves, cleaning products, washing powder, dishwasher tablets and the household carrier bag collection. If they're in, these people will apologise profusely for the mess it's in and insist on emptying it themselves. You might not even need to go there, because these are the people who also know where their stop tap is, and turn that off themselves as well. They clean their toilets regularly, including the walls and floor around it, and they also often have real coffee. They generally find a plumber first and then decide what to do, rather than spending a fortune in Bathstore on stuff that will never look right in their house or work right with their plumbing. These are the slightly anxious people and I like them best.

Possibly because I've had so many of them inflicted on me, cleaning out my own USC has been on my to do list for about two years, even though the only person who I'm likely to inflict it on is myself. Last weekend, I did it. Check it out.

I probably don't need to add that I am very pleased with myself. In the process I discovered a bottle of descaler, so I descaled the kettle (satisfying); I discovered an ancient bottle of Lemon Ajax and a Spontex scourer, so I cleaned the outside of the kettle (*very* satisfying); and I discovered a packet of silver dip cleaner, so I cleaned all the silver plated cutlery that used to be M's mother's and had been slowly turning black (*incredibly* satisfying).

Rainy Sunday afternoons aren't all bad. They allow one's hidden domestic goddess a brief moment in the sun.


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Blogger Jeremy Dennis said...

I had to google pop up waste -- ah, the thing that's a bloody nightmare gank-trap in my bath! Yeah, I'm with you on them.

My under sink cupboard is a dark and terrible place. But so far, no voles.

11:46 am  
Blogger Ben said...

As I know you've seen my USC I quickly try to work out which of the categories we fall into it. Self-assessment suggests the slightly anxious types that you warm to. I think. And hope.

8:46 am  
Blogger tomato said...

"...years and multiples of methylated spirit, J-cloths, picnic paraphernalia, tea lights, shoe polish, light bulbs, hoover bags, paint brushes, pet food etc. These people will also have a fridge full of random crap..."

Oh. I had no idea I was such an open book/USC.

So......can I get you a cup of tea from one of the twelve available types on the badly organised counter near the grubby kettle?

9:23 pm  
Blogger Beth said...

You made me tidy out my USC this morning!!

Not that it needed tidying, obviously, but - you know - just in case...

2:06 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

I didn't have nearly enough categories!
Jeremy: you get special dispensation because your plumbing was done by hobbits on acid.
Ben: I'd class your USC as old-school. Which reminds me, I still have a bendy spout with your name on it.
Tomato: Camomile please. Though I suspect you do not spend nearly as much of your diposable income at B&Q as the people I mainly have in mind here. There is a 'this cupboard is simply not important to me' category that might work better.
Beth: Excellent. Your house will exude good plumbing karma, and all will be well.

10:29 pm  
Blogger Spine said...

Hobbits on Acid:

Merry Trailinghands
Owlsley Tabtongue
Sam Microdot

10:53 am  
Blogger tomato said...

"Hobbits on Acid" etc.

heh heh. I think I've seen them round my way too.

1:38 pm  

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