Sunday, November 11, 2012

Another Two Shadows

Two Shadows  
On the road,
Two friends,
One love,
One sunny afternoon.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Grumpy & The Num Num Plumber


The Dreaded One and I have moved into our new home after two months of travel and one month of couch surfing. It's wonderful to be surrounded by our things again. After doing our condition report on the state of the apartment, we booked a plumber to come in and sort out a couple of problems with two taps.

The Dreaded One took the call from the plumber. He asked when we could be home to meet him. I said I could be home at 3pm any day of the week. He said the traffic is too bad at that time of the day and that he could only make it at 10 o'clock, just for a quick inspection to find out what parts would be need to fix the problems.

AM or PM?” The Dreaded One asked. It was PM. Not ideal... in fact pretty damned odd, in hindsight, but if that's what it took to get the job done, so be it.

10 O'clock the following night, the intercom buzzes. A little guy who sounds very much like the Peter Sellers character in The Party (birdie num-num) asks if The Dreaded One is here. “No she isn't,” I reply and wait for him to introduce himself.

And this is where the relationship goes into its downward spiral.

Peter Sellers clears his throat and announces with a grand flourish in his tone, “I am here to inspect the building.”

I stare at the image of the guy on the little screen. He doesn't look like he's getting into the bemused silence I'm sending to him.

You're what?” I finally say.

I am here to inspect the building,” he num nums grandly again.

No introduction. No mention of which company he is from. Suddenly I do not like him one little bit.

You mean you are here to look at the taps.”

Yes, that is correct, num num.”

I buzz him in. When I open the door to my apartment, he marches right on in, straight past the first bathroom towards the living area, a man with purpose.

Excuse me – where do you think you are going?”

Where is the birdie num num bathroom?”

It's here. You just walked right past it.”

The tap has a rod that you pull out to switch the water flow from the bathtub to the shower, with the problem being that the pressure has to be permanently high or the water cuts from the shower back to the tap, thus wasting too much water. Peter Sellers does not seem to need to bother himself with such details. He drops to his knees, turns the tap on high and tugs at the switch. Water gushes first from the tap, then from the shower, then from the tap, then from the shower. The man is pretty wet pretty quickly. I fold my arms and shake my head as I watch.

Erm...” he says eventually. “Can you please show me how to operate this device.?”

You must be joking. You don't know how to work the tap? I'm absolutely not going to show a plumber how to turn a tap on.”

But I just need you to tell me how the device is -”

What kind of plumber doesn't know -”

But I am not the birdie num num plumber. I am just a contractor, and if you would be so kind as to show me how to operate the device...”

It just gets better and better... if you can't even figure out how to work the tap, how are you going to tell the plumber what the problem is?”

A drop of water quivers on the end of his nose as he num nums a bit more, but I silence him and tell him to come through to the kitchen to look at the other tap. This one simply wobbles about when you turn it on and off. My hopes are not high.

Again, Peter Sellers looks like such minor details are insignificant trivia best to be avoided. He grips the tap like he's choking a spitting cobra that is about to attack him. I have no idea what he hopes to achieve.

It moves back and forth,” he informs me.

Yes. It moves back and forth. It is not supposed to move back and forth.”

Are you quite sure it is not supposed to move back and forth?”

I take him into the second bathroom adjacent to the kitchen where the taps are the same design. “These are the same taps. They do not move back and forth.”

He lunges for the spout with both hands and with some effort forces the tap from side to side.

But it moves back and forth if you do this.”

Why would you do that? Why would you think... why do you... why... why... I think you'd better go now. I'm getting reeeally cranky and I don't like getting cranky this late at night.”

On the way past the first bathroom he num nums up again, telling me that in his considered opinion the entire tap unit needs to be replaced because he believes the problem is with the washer, yes indeed it is the washer. I slam the door behind him.

I still have a pressure problem and a tap that moves back and forth.

And no idea when Num Numpty The Plumber is going to return.

Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose ( If you don't know what all this birdie num num stuff was about, hire a copy of Peter Sellers' classic comedy The Party. It's funnier than a plumber who can't turn a tap on.