Friday, 1 May 2009

May you live in interesting times (Chinese curse)

May Day, and I opened the curtains this morning to blue sky and warm sun. Walking in the park after breakfast was a delight and I looked forward to a walk across the Downs after lunch. But half an hour after I got back home a bank of low cloud descended (or came across) and the temperature dropped by several degrees. In the end I opted for the woods and wore a jacket, but now I am home again the sun has come out and we have a glorious day again. Ah well, such is life.

Life also brings nasty things in batches. People always say that things come in threes. I wish. At the start of the week the doctor confirmed that the Old Bat's painful eye was a dose of conjunctivitis, so whenever she has needed to go anywhere this week I have had to act as chauffeur. Not that I mind over much; it's more the inconvenience.

There have been mechanical (although that's probably not the word I really want) problems as well. A couple of weeks ago the shower went on the blink. In the time it took to soap behind my left ear, the water went from pleasant to scalding. By the time I had soaped behind the right ear, it felt as though I was standing at the foot of Niagara Falls in January. We decided that the shower had to be changed. I did consider doing the job myself: after all, it is only a matter of disconnecting the water supply and the electrical cables, then reconnecting them in the new shower. Couldn't be that difficult, surely? Then I remembered the last time I tried to change a washer in the kitchen tap. We had to call an emergency plumber to stop the flood. And as it was a Sunday afternoon it cost me an arm and a leg. I decided to call our usual handyman. He advised buying a new shower of the same make as the old in the hope that the water inlet and power access point would be in approximately the same place. I unpacked the new shower to make sure all the bits were there and took a look at the installation instructions. Thank goodness I had called Mr X! And (of course) the water pipes had to be rerouted and the electricity access was also in a different place. What Mr X had expected to be a half hour job took him the better part of the day. I was so relieved I had not attempted it myself.

At roughly the same time as the shower gave up the ghost, the thermostat on the hall radiator did the same. Our regular plumber (well, he is now) came while Mr X was here, took one look and went away again. Two reasons: one, he didn't have time to drain down the whole system; and two, he didn't have the necessary part to convert our microbore pipe to standard gauge for the new thermostat. He came back a couple of days ago and did the job, then the next day I noticed a drip from the radiator at the end where the thermostat is fitted. Assuming it was one of the joints that needed tightening, the plumber called back today. It's not one of the joints: the radiator itself has spring a leak and needs replacing. I full anticipate that Murphy's Law will apply and we will find that the old radiator (and it's fittings etc) are in imperial measurements and all radiators nowadays are metric. Watch this space.

The catch on the toilet window has been getting trickier for the last month or two, but this week I decided that it, too, needed some TLC, so I called the man who fitted the double-glazed units a year or two ago. He called in this afternoon and confirmed that the catch is beyond TLC. He has promised to pick up a new one and fit it some time next week.

Now I come to think of it, it was on Wednesday, the day the radiator sprang a leak, that the OB flapped a hand and said, 'Can you fix that after supper?'

'Fix what?' I asked, there having been nothing very obvious in the corner of the kitchen that I thought had been indicated.



'The cooker!'

I looked more closely and saw that one of the knobs was projecting further forward than its companions. After supper I examined it more closely, and gave a gentle tug. The knob came away in my hand, a spring flew into the dog's water bowl, and a small piece of metal, which had probably been part of a clip holding the whole lot together, fell onto the floor. I managed to do a Fred Karno-type job of putting things back together without the spring or the clip, and suggested that as the cooker is less than a year old, the supplier might like to repair it. I left it to Madam to ring them, but I don't think she has yet.

And that's not the end of it. A phone call at lunch time from the Housing Society secretary (she's called the secretary, but I suppose she should really be given a different title such as manager or chief executive or some such). Anyway, she said she had rung several times during the morning (while the OB and I had been out, obviously) but was told each time that our message box was full. But we have an answering machine, and there were no messages on it when I checked. It dawned on me that the 'message box' is a service offered by the telephone service provider which requires that one dials 1571 to pick up messages, but doesn't alert the subscriber when there is a new message. Somehow our provider had subscribed us to that service without us asking and there were about a dozen messages! Fortunately, only one was of any importance and that had been left just a couple of days ago. So I called the service provider this afternoon and experienced great difficulty understanding what was being said to me as I was obviously connected to a call centre in India. I gather that we are now being unsubscribed, but it could take four days, so I shall have to keep checking that there are no messages - for a few days at least.

I'm beginning to think somebody has put that old Chinese curse on me.

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