The drain game

August 15, 2010

Now that I am working at home, the sheer unbridled perfection of all my domestic appliances is important to me. If something goes wrong, I go to pieces, at least briefly. I am not a DIY man, although I have been known to build wardrobes from Ikea (environmentally sound, according to the Peacock Woman, so acceptable in the eco-temple that is/was her house. and mine) and paint the odd wall.

So it was with a sense of foreboding and doom that I realised the sink wasn’t draining as fast as it might be. I put it down at first to my own impatience, and ignored it for a few weeks. And then I realised that the washing machine was over-flowing, and flooding the little broom cupboard where it lives.

After some feverish and extremely messy mopping up, I went online (I know it’s an over-used phrase, but just what did we do before Google? I honestly can’t remember) and found that the preferred solution was chemical, so I popped over to Londis to invest in a couple of bottles of Mr Muscle. That was an event in itself because I had to intercede in an altercation between Mr Singh Senior and a disgruntled lady customer, who took against me, at least in part, because I took a sneaky glimpse at her breasts. But that’s another story.

Anyhoo, I came back and tipped the gunky wunder-chemical down the drain, Nothing much happened, apart from a few glugging sounds which i took to be sounds of progress, but when I took off the cap of what I later learned was the standpipe,  the bleach-adulterated water stared balefully back at up, obstinate and unmoving.

So I phoned a friend. This particular one goes by the name of Banerjee, although his parents actually named him David. For the last 30 years, he has made his way in the world by being a sort of consulting builder, managing teams of Brixton handymen from his world headquarters in Elmers End. That’s what happens if you read too much Wittgenstein.

His advice, to cut a longer story short, was to get a spring-like thing for rodding and work it down the pipe. ‘Don’t get the flat ones, they’re no good.’

So I go to Handy Dave at the end of the road,  who kindly breaks off from his tuna and mayo sandwich to get said implement down from a rack above the door (imagine, if you will, Open All Hours with bar code scanners).

A few minutes patient rodding gets me nowhere. The thing is too wiggly to get past all the plastic seals (barking and clapping their flippers at my discomfort) so in the end , I dig out the one copy of yellow pages I hadn’t recycled, and try to pick a plumber who is (a) local and keen and (b) looks like he will actually turn up.

A few days later, a nice boy from Croydon named James arrives, peers down the standpipe,  hands my wiggly spring-like thing to me, and announces that he has the same thing, but with power. Ten minutes, the job is done, and the unaccustomed sound of water rushing down to the drains returns to the house. Hurrah!


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