May 24th, 2005



I am going to the cinema tomorrow with hatter and bfo and pir. I hope to have had a shower by then.

(I currently cannot shower because we are having drain "issues" again. As the last guy who came round was dodgy as hell and the agency he works for wouldn't take seriously our request to send us the nice plumbers instead, we've given up on them and gone back to the telephone directory. Richard decided on Saturday that The Way Forward was to go for a drain company that advertises in the Phone Book rather than the Yellow Pages (as all the ones in the Yellow Pages seem to be called things like ............0000000000000000000000000000aaaaaaaaaaaaa..... UltraSuperDrainRodMegaCleaner). There were only 3 companies in our local Phone Book - one of them had a non-local number, one of them had their phone "temporarily out of service", according to the automated BT announcement, and the third one is supposed to be coming tomorrow to unblock the drain again and attempt to diagnose what the problem actually is. I am hoping that he is more competent than the last drain guy, who frankly, we didn't trust to tell us the sky was blue.)

Dear friends, if I stink tomorrow, please try to ignore it. You can just sit on the other side of the cinema, or something.
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angry, Buttercup

Like a red rag to a ... cow.

I had a bad feeling about the new drain guy when he drove up in a van which said, among other things, "Plumbing, Drains Cleared, Locksmith, Burglar Alarms Fitted". It seemed like a rather disparate collection of trades for a single person to be undertaking. But perhaps he was something of a trades polymath, I thought.

He couldn't find the drain, despite instructions. Note that our garden is all of 8 feet long, or 2.5m if you're metric.

Then he refused to believe that the drain really was blocked. Because on lifting the manhole cover, there wasn't an overabundance of flowing poo. He said "Many people think their drain is blocked when it isn't really". He made me take him upstairs to the bathroom, and flushed the toilet a few times. Only when it overflowed into the bath did he acknowledge that perhaps there was a problem.

So he decided that the way forward was to flush the drain by blocking up all the other possible exit routes. In other words, forcibly holding the plugs in the bath and sink and covering up the overflows, so that the water had nowhere to go but down the blocked pipe. I don't think it takes a degree in engineering to realise this is a bad idea. Then he poked a long rod with a plunger on the end down the toilet, spraying days-old poo and limescale all over the bathroom floor, and flushed the toilet a few more times. Unsurprisingly, it overflowed into the bath as soon as I stopped holding the plug down.

So we went back downstairs and he pondered where the waste pipe from the bathroom would lead. So I pointed at the large black thing attached to the side of our house which the previous plumbers referred to as "the stack". I said "I think that pipe must be blocked again, if there's no problem in the drain itself". He contemplated this, and declared, "The only way to clear that would be to unscrew the bottom of it". "That's what the previous guys did", I told him. He contemplated this for a few more minutes and said "But there's nowhere for it to go". I replied, "The other guys used a pump to flush it all out". He said, "But it would run all over the garden". I said, "Yes, it did - and then they pumped it all into the drain". It transpired that he did not own a pump, or indeed a high pressure water jet - the only piece of apparatus he'd brought was the long rod with a plunger on the end.

Have I already mentioned the bit where he accused me of causing the problem by flushing "women's things" down the loo? He suggested this twice, and as the second time we were in the kitchen where the laundry rack was up and covered in clothes, I was so tempted to grab one of my rather old, stained washable sanitary pads and shove it under his nose - if just to get him the hell out of my life.

After he spent 10 minutes arguing with me that the drain at the back of our house wasn't actually the one where our water went (an argument I won by running the water in the sink and demonstrating it ended up there), he decided to try shoving his rod up the pipe that leads across our garden from the drain. Funnily enough, it met a blockage. Then followed the pièce de résistance:
"What does your boyfriend do?"
I gave him a strange look - having not actually mentioned a "boyfriend" or anyone else I might share a house with. Eventually, wondering if he was going to accuse Richard of being the person who's been flushing non-existant non-biodegradable objects down the toilet, I answered "He's a computer guy".
"Ah", replied Mr Dinosaur. "When he gets in you should get him to dig up this part of the garden so we can look at the pipe".

Then, thank God, he buggered off - citing a need to get to another job, and the belief he'd had that our job would be quick and easy (where the bloody hell he got that information from, when I'd told him we'd had three lots of plumbers come out already, I don't know). He didn't ask me for any money, or write me an invoice - and if he tries sending me one in the post, you can bet I won't pay it. He is fortunate that he left then, as otherwise I might have been forced to kill him.

Instead, I went round to Wickes, and bought a ripsaw with lots of teeth, and had a happy 2 hours with my ripsaw, crowbar and garden fork: killing the evil decking of hell, digging up the ground underneath, and throwing the rubble around. Very therapeutic. I recommend it to anyone. By the time I had to leave for work, I'd dug up everything he'd suggested I should "get my boyfriend to do" - and more. I then took a shower... and this time the bath wouldn't drain At All.

So I believe we are, once again, looking for someone to fix our drains. Any recommendations? ;)
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    and also somewhat murderous
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