"Slow news week, huh?"

So said Lino, when I informed him of the subject of this week's piece: plumbers. Well, it has been, convicted nannies notwithstanding (of course, unlike the jury, most of those whining about the case didn't sit through every second of evidence, and relied on the soundbites in the media here -- and still they think they know better). Nothing has even happened about last week's "abusive" email.

This allows me to bitch about unprofessional professionals. In the house at the moment, we're renovating the bathroom, with the aim of getting rid of the shower- room, as it's suffering from damp. However, the bathroom is still a way off being ready, but the shower packed it in recently. With malevolent intent, it would work for about five minutes, then stop dead -- inevitably just after you'd worked up a good lather, forcing you to trail soapsuds and curses up to the bathroom.

Now, with the bathroom imminent, we wanted someone to come to look at the shower, and fix it if it could be done quickly and cheaply; otherwise we'd just survive on baths for a while. I turned to the Thomson directory to find suitable candidates. Why are so many plumbers called A.A.Aaaaaaaaardvark? Yes, if you've got a leak, you might not agonise over your choice -- but if so, neither are you going to carefully begin at the beginning, and your sodden leafing might just as easily take you into the plumbing section at page 6.

I dumped all those, since I wanted a shower looked at, not a game of Scrabble, and phoned a couple of companies with real-sounding names. No, they wouldn't come out and take a look at the shower. Not unless I paid them 42 quid for the first hour. Plus parts. Plus VAT. Call it 50 quid. Christ, if I get called into work, they get FOUR HOURS out of me for that, and this could be a five minute, "it's dead, Jim" kind of task. I bit the bullet and booked one, vowing that I would, if necessary, lock the plumber in the cellar for 55 minutes.

And what happened? They never appeared. What, 50 quid not enough to get you out of bed? Hell, for that price you could get a lawyer or a blow-job, and I bet you good money THEY would turn up. I am tempted to send them a bill for the three hours I spent sitting round playing Tomb Raider and watching TV, except that I couldn't honestly say it was thus any different from my usual Saturday morning. But I think I'll be sticking to baths...


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