August 21, 2014

And I haven’t even told you the latest BT saga

 

It’s not the actual moving that puts a house move at the top of the stress list:  it’s the everyflippingthing that goes wrong.

I’ve been trying for about five weeks to find a plumber that isn’t booked up till 2020.  The plumbing company that I used satisfactorily for several years has stopped answering their phone.  You get a message saying leave your phone number and we’ll get back to you, and they don’t.  I kept waiting for the real human being to return from the longest lunch in employee history and she never did, so I finally left a message, and that didn’t work either.  Meanwhile I was asking everyone who might have cause to know about local plumbers—other men* driving vans full of tools, for example, or the sector of the market which sells hammers and spanners and garpenscrads to them.  I even asked the nice lady at the estate agent’s who I talked to last autumn about letting Third House.  Hers was, as I recall, booked till 2032.

You can’t get away from plumbers’ vans in this frelling area and they all have emblazoned down their long sides variations on a theme of QUICK FRIENDLY PROFESSIONAL SERVICE.  HERE IS A SELECTION OF PHONE NUMBERS, HOME, MOBILE, THE LOCAL PUB THAT TAKES MESSAGES, AND MY DOG** WHO LOVES TO ANSWER THE PHONE SO MUCH I’VE GIVEN HIM HIS OWN LINE.  I ALSO ACCEPT SMOKE SIGNALS.  Snarl.  Most of these geezers aren’t too fabulous in the social niceties either.  I understand that they don’t like turning down work, but someone should gather them all in a room and teach them to say, clearly and calmly, I’m really sorry, but I’m booked till 2032.  The ‘I’m sorry’ part is important, as is the tone, which should not suggest to the hapless caller that the sound of her voice is similar to the sensation of hot needles being plunged into their ears.***

I am absolutely clueless about things like plumbers and I didn’t want just to start going through the phone book.  Dire things and cowboys proceed from such desperate procedures.  The most recent local independent I asked, on the recommendation of another Bloke Who Should Know, and whose van I see around town all the frelling time, turned out to speak in complete sentences and didn’t seem to hate me for wanting to give him some work.  So I asked him.

He said, uh, yeah, try Blithering Doodah.  They’re a big national company and they’ve got a branch in Mauncester, and they’re pretty good about who they hire, and I know some of the guys.

So I tried Blithering Doodah.†  That was Monday.  And I got this terribly chirpy and efficient sounding young woman who said certainly, we will send you a gas boiler specialist,†† since the purpose of my feverish search for a plumber is that neither Peter’s nor my boiler is working properly, and they could do it . . . Wednesday.  YIKES, I said, or words to that effect, you mean the day after tomorrow?  Certainly, said the young woman.  YES PLEASE, I said.

She then took my details down to my shoe size and the number of dogs in the household.†††  She took the post codes of both houses;  she consulted with her manager if the Gas Boiler Specialist could look at both boilers on the same job;  the manager said he could;  she took careful directions how to find the cottage, in case his SatNav failed, and said firmly that he would come to the cottage first since that was the phone number I was calling from, and we could proceed from there to Third House subsequently.

Fine. Great.  I spent nearly thirty six hours in a daze of success and accomplishment.  Also Peter is looking forward to not having to boil several kettles to take a hot bath.‡

This morning, much too early, the phone rang.  It was Blithering Doodah who wanted to tell me that my slot was no longer one to three this afternoon, but three to six, and I could assume it would be nearer five than four or three.  Golly, I said, he doesn’t mind working late?  No, said this new person, he doesn’t mind.  And then the new person proceeded to take all my details all over again, including the shoe size and the range of domestic fauna, but CONFIRMED that the Gas Boiler Specialist would come to the cottage.  At five o’clock or so.  And the Gas Boiler Specialist would ring me on my mobile about half an hour before he arrived.

You see where this is going.

I spent the morning shovelling a path at the cottage so he could get in.  I was finally taking the patient hellhounds out for a hurtle‡‡ and decided to swing by Third House to water those potted plants.  Peter plays bridge Wednesday afternoons so there wasn’t anyone there.  I’d just let all of us in the door when the hellhounds shot back outside again and there was a whoop of alarm from the courtyard.  Frell.  I followed them hastily and discovered a young man just barely not climbing a tree.‡‡‡

You wanted a plumber to look at your boiler? said the young man.

It was about three-forty-five.  I gaped at him.  You’re not supposed to be here for hours, I said.  And this is the wrong house.  And you were supposed to ring me half an hour before you got here.

This is the only address they gave me, he said.  They didn’t give me a phone number either.

ARRRRRGH.  Well, what a good thing I happened to be here.

Blithering Doodah are pretty good generally, he said.  But their customer service, um.  At least they gave me the right day this time.  They don’t always.

So.  He examined Peter’s boiler.  And there was something wrong with it.  Modified hurrah.  But it’s not like the funny noise your car is making and the mechanic looks at you sidelong and says I don’t hear any funny noises and it’s running fine.  Here’s my bill for two hours of drinking coffee and chatting up the new receptionist.

There is, however, something wrong with Peter’s boiler to the tune of several hundred pounds.  Arrrrgh.

The young man then goes off in his van to meet me at the cottage—my arrival somewhat delayed by the fact that now the hellhounds decide to perform various ablutions, and they do not hurry their ablutions, my hellhounds—spends about thirty seconds looking at my boiler, appears to be repressing snickering and says . . . I’m sorry, but this thing is a piece of rubbish.  You should just get rid of it and buy a new one.

YAMMER YAMMER YAMMER GIBBLE GIBBLE GIBBLE GIBBLE.§

Yeah, he said.  But by the time you buy the parts you’re halfway to a new one anyway . . . and this one never was any good.  An Infinity Dreadnaught will last you forever.

Anyone want to guess what an Infinity Dreadnaught costs?§§

. . . I have to go lie down again.§§§

* * *

* Are there any female plumbers?  Maybe in other countries?  Iceland, which may not be known for fiscal stability but they’ve got the best rating for gender equality in the first world?  Don’t you school-leavers out there know that you will ALWAYS be in work if you’re a plumber?  And if you don’t want to worry about those blocked-loo calls, you can specialise, and then you can charge more too.

** There’s a woman I see occasionally waiting for her ride when I lurch past behind some hellmob division or other.  She is, unusually, an admirer of both my hurtle shifts;  I’ve noticed that generally the lurcher and the bullie admiration societies are non-overlapping sets.  Pav saw her slightly before I did the last time and was already in full assault mode before I got her hauled in.^  But the woman laughed and said she had a dog of her own.  So we’ve become quite friendly in the monosyllabic ‘hi’ ‘hi’ way.  Tonight I was very tired after striving with plumbers and it was the hellhounds that got away from me and started milling about this woman as if she were their presumed lost forever best friend and by the way she was responding maybe she was.  I have ascertained in our minimal conversations that she doesn’t merely have an accent—as I have an accent—but that English of any variety is not her first language.  Tonight I said, you told me you have a dog, what kind is it?  Oh it is a lavender, she said and I instantly translated this as Labrador without even noticing I was doing it, probably because the L-word is always what a dog beginning with ‘L’ is, never a Lithuanian Hound or a Lhasa Apso, and there are more frelling L-words around here than all the other dog breeds combined.  Oh, I said politely, they tend to be very friendly and enthusiastic too.

It wasn’t till I was already striding down the road again at hellhound speed^^ that I was playing the conversation back in my mind and I thought, lavender?

^ Note:  arrrgh.  I am not so doting as to assume that everyone likes being hustled by dogs, even a hellmob as beautiful and charming as mine, and if you possess a bunch of eager hustlers, it behoves you to be quick on the brake button.

^^ They’d had kind of a boring day due to plumbers etc and had some catching up to do on the wind-in-their-fur thing.

*** Maybe they don’t like American accents?  Maybe it’s part of the Secret Plumber Handshake ritual?  ‘And we all hate American accents!’

† I should have realised from the name, right?   Umm . . .

†† See?  Specialist.  I bet he’s never unplugged a loo.

††† None.  Two hellhounds and a hellterror however.

‡ I merely have no central heating.  I won’t care for another couple of months and I may not care then since with the Aga in the centre of this little house and at the foot of the stairs so the heat streams up the hall, I only turn the heating on for short hedonistic self-indulgent bursts.  The last time I tried, in March or thereabouts, nothing happened.  Eh, I’ll worry about it later, I thought.  But it makes me faintly anxious that half my boiler isn’t working—the hot water might follow—and it seems like the responsible grown-up thing to do, to have it mended.

‡‡ Leaving an outraged hellterror hanging from the top of her crate making noises like a jungleful of monkeys.  We go through this every day.  She has Riot Time at the cottage—and if the hellhounds retreat to the back of their crate I shut them in so she can’t get at them—including extensive tummy rubbing, Long Yellow Thing wars and varying individual excitements such as helping me water the potted plants or going upstairs to check if the document I just printed actually did.  And then I shut her up again with her breakfast.^  And try to get out the door with the hellhounds while she’s preoccupied.  This doesn’t stop the protests, but the noise is a bit muffled.

^ Well.  Let’s say first meal of the day.

‡‡‡ Clearly he does not have a lavender at home.

§ Including the fact that it’s only a few years old. I’ve already frelling replaced it once.

§§ And when he rang back to the head office to order the parts for Peter’s boiler—my arglefargling new one is a more complicated process—they had lost my credit card details AGAIN.

§§§ I could live without central heating.  But I really want my hot water.

comments

Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.