A Crash Course In Plumbing

Mike had started work on the tap.

He’d read through all the instructions and concluded that there weren’t enough washers in the box. Is this better or worse than having too many? That spectre of the odd bit left over at the end of the job? Yours truly is dispatched to try and source some more, while he gets started on the water pressure reducing valve. He’s put one of the washers in a little plastic bag with a self seal top. I am on strict instructions, on pain of death, ON NO ACCOUNT TO LOSE IT.


The man in Plumb Centre is scratching his head, peering suspiciously into that same little plastic bag. “Italian, you say? Bought on the internet?” A sharp intake of air through clenched teeth. “I’ll have to go and search through the catalogues for this one. Haven’t seen any washers like these before, my love.”

There’s a single string of tinsel slung nonchalantly over the shelves behind the counter. Bless them for trying. Another one twined around a display of thermostatic valves. Is this the ideal Christmas gift for the man who has everything? A load of kids are kicking something around the car park, perilously close to my car. And why do so many tradesmen still want to call me ‘love’?

My new chum is returning, mercifully still carrying the precious cargo in its little plastic bag. He’s shaking his head. “You’re not going to find one of these round here darlin’, sorry..”

I try another plumber’s merchant on the same industrial estate. But it’s pretty much the same story there, “…my duck”.


Walking down the steps from the garage, I’m wondering what I’ll find. In the kitchen I can see only Mike’s legs and feet. The rest of him is buried within the cupboard under the sink. An ominous looking bucket, half full of water, stands next to him on the floor. Assorted tools and offcuts of pipe strewn casually about..

BUT.. the tap does appear to be in its rightful place. Mike emerges from the cupboard and turns it on with a flourish. Water flows into the sink. He nudges the lever again and it stops. Not even a drip. “TA DAAA…”



It really does look as though he’s pulled it off. Well done, Mike. He’ll be deserving of that glass of wine. There’s just one thing still bothers me. I wave the little plastic bag. “What about the washers, are there some missing?”

“No, it’s OK. I was wrong. That one must be a spare.”


A Crash Course In Plumbing

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