Mike The Plumber

There are some things that shouldn’t happen before breakfast.

Nevertheless, on Thursday morning, I was greeted at the bottom of the stairs by a deeply troubling sight. Mike. Disappearing into the downstairs loo armed with a monkey wrench. The radiator has been leaking ever since we moved in. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine the cause. Maybe it hasn’t been helped by an occasional little bump from the head of the vacuum, but over the last couple of weeks the dripping has become appreciably worse.

The following day I am awoken from a deep and restful sleep by the sudden and unceremonious ripping away of the duvet.

“Wake up, wake up, I want to turn the water off..”

Mike has decided, buoyed by his previous triumphal excursion into the world of plumbing, to replace the radiator himself. Except that in the kitchen he was fitting them to pre-positioned tails and all the pipework was new..

The sensible thing surely is to hide in my study until the crisis is past. I will be safe there, yes? No.

The tap which isolates the central heating from the water supply is in the roof space above my head. And serious furniture reorganisation is required to get at it. Ptolemy pheasant, meanwhile, has spotted the rusty water spewing forth from the end of a hose as the heating system drains down. There is much flapping around, on both sides, to prevent him from drinking it.

The old radiator comes off easily enough, but a state of high tension persists. Loud curses accompany the clonk of metal on metal as the monkey wrench slips off the nut. Long silences in between.. which are somehow even worse. At one point the ‘Plumber’s Mate’ is required to bear the entire weight of the radiator in her hands, to allow a brief sortie to the shed for more washers.

Finally, Mike disappears into the study roof space once more and the header tank begins to refill. We are about to witness A Moment Of Truth.

“You see that tap..” The beam from his torch illuminates the tap, way up beyond the hatch.


“If I yell, I want you to turn it off.. pronto.”

There’s only a small step ladder under the attic opening and I’m not very tall. Will I be able to reach it? And which way is ‘off’?

Mercifully, I didn’t need to find out.


New radiator Wm