We had the plumbers around to the teepee yesterday. Or rather we had the plumbers-and-central-heating-engineers. There is no such animal as a plumber these days, or so it appears, the species seeming to have hybridised with the common or garden central heating engineer. Anyhow, whatever, we were getting hot water intermittently.
Two men came, presumably some kind of symbiosis. One actually did the work, the other one crowded close, peering over his shoulder, watching. The latter was obviously learning the trade. They stuck their head into the boiler cupboard where our water heater lurks, tapped and fiddled for a few minutes, and then emerged.
“It’s your thermostat,” said the man who had been doing the actual tapping and fiddling.
“Simple to fix, then?” I ventured.
“It would be,” he agreed. “If I could get the part. It’s an old heater, you see. The maker doesn’t supply the part for this model any more.”
“It is precisely five years old,” I said. “That’s not ‘old’ as such. They don’t make the parts – are you serious?”
“’Fraid so. You’re not my first customer with this problem. They stopped making the parts eighteen months ago, and I’ve been scrabbling around for them since then. No one has stocked them for the past three.”
“What alternative do I have?” I asked.
“New heater,” he said.
“Let me get this gay,” I said. “I have a water heater which was installed new five years ago, for which a new thermostat ought to cost me – what – five pounds? No one stocks the part because the manufacturer stopped making them eighteen months ago. So what I have to do, for want of a single part, is have an entirely new heater fitted.”
“That’s about it.”
“And that will cost me how much?”
“For a new model, about three grand.”
I thanked him. We stood around in silence drinking the cups of tea which Consuela (my Tejana maid) had thoughtfully made, and then they left. It wasn’t their fault, but I was buggered if I was going to shell out three big ones for a new heater. No thank you! I would put up with intermittent hot water.
For the rest of the day I ranged around the teepee cursing capitalism roundly, until Consuela got fed up and pointed out that I lived off capital, had a teepee built with Tardis technology, had a collection of priceless antiques, AND kept a maid.
One thing I have always wanted to know and which science has never properly explained to me is this. When one works up a lather from a bar of soap very little of the soap is actually consumed. However, when the cake of soap becomes small with use and although there is ought still to be enough to make a lather it simply refuses to do so. Why is that? Why does a small sliver of soap get to a point where it refuses to become anything less than a small sliver of soap, and sits there mocking my grimy hands until it accidentally slips onto the floor or down the overflow of the hand basin? And why if one melds it to the surface of a larger cake does it then, and only then, dissolve under normal washing conditions?
Write a thesis, someone.
You know you want to.