February 8th, 2006

(no subject)

Do you ever have one of those days?

My plumbing's been pretty bad lately - it slowed down to about half its normal speed last Thursday, then down to about a quarter on Sunday, but Thames Water said that there wasn't much they could do. So, I got a plumber out this morning, who had to demolish some of the skirting board in my WC, then said that he couldn't do any more because the water main is jammed outside. The water board don't actually keep records of which manhole cover relates to which property, so it's just a trial and error approach; after annoying all my neighbours by disconnecting their water, we assume that the jammed one is probably mine. Either that, or I'm getting my "drinking water" from a tank in the loft (apparently I have an unusual thickness of pipe for a mains connection), which is illegal, and disconcerting since I've been drinking it for the last couple of years... Anyway, the water board said that they'd send someone out "within the next 8 hours", so I've arranged to take the day off work.

On my way out of the flat (so that I could go to the cashpoint to pay the plumber), I heard the door click shut behind me. This may not seem bad, but it was the death-knell of Doom! for me. Basically, I have a Yale lock and a deadlock on the door to my flat. The Yale one doesn't work very well, and so initially it would take me a bit of fiddling to get it open. Once it got to the point where it took me 5 minutes to get it open, I just stopped using it; I relied on the deadbolt until I could sort out a locksmith, which I've never got round to. Unfortunately, that click meant that I'd locked myself out. After a bit of fiddling with it, I conceded defeat, so I called out a locksmith, although for all the adverts that promise 24 hour service and 15 minute motorbike response times I had to try about five different numbers before I could find anyone who'd turn up within an hour. After that I kept fiddling with the lock, which became something of a Zen-like experience: "I am calm, I am at peace, I am at one with the lock, I am not planning to kick the thing off it's hinges..." At one point I was able to turn the key anti-clockwise (clockwise opens it), so I thought that maybe it would help to do that, so that I could get a "run up". I turned it all the way anti-clockwise, then it got stuck there instead. Brilliant! After another few minutes, I managed to get back where I'd started. And after about another 10 minutes it suddenly worked, so I got in. I still want the locksmith to turn up and change the lock, but at least I don't have to worry about the water guys coming and not being able to do anything.

When I was standing there trying to turn the key, it did remind me of the Dilbert definition of insanity: repeating the same action and expecting a different result. It also occurred to me that I was disproportionately happy/relieved about the fact that it eventually worked properly! Anyway, once this is sorted out I think I'll stash a spare set of keys with a friend.

(no subject)

An update on today's visits...

I phoned the locksmith at about 11:00, and was told that he'd be here 45 minutes later; he eventually turned up at 13:30. Fortunately I'd already got into the flat by then, so I was just curious about what had happened to him - it turned out that he'd got stuck on a roof, when someone at his previous job had said "Back in a minute", then disappeared off for half an hour, and the communal door had slammed shut... Anyway, I got the lock replaced, so now I just need to dig out my spare set of keys.

As for the plumbing, I had a visit from Thames Water mid-afternoon, and the guy said that the mains outside wasn't jammed - he confirmed that it was the right one for my flat, by turning it on and off. So, at least I've learned something. I then got the original plumber to come back after that, and he had a look at the stopcock in my flat, in case there was a broken washer. Unfortunately, it looks as if the problem is more serious than that - there are rusted pipes in the basement of the shop underneath me, so I need to get a new pipe put in from the water main. This is going to be slow, expensive, and will involve knocking holes in my walls/floor. Annoying timing too, since I'd finally got around to doing my decorating.

The cost is a slightly complicated issue. The pipes go through the shop, but the shop actually have their own separate water main, i.e. it's not their problem that my water's on the blink. They're being very friendly about allowing me access, but realistically they're not going to pay for repairs. If anything, it will be the other way around - someone will need to pay them to go digging through their walls. At the moment, this water main supplies me and the flat upstairs, so I'll talk to the owner of that one (non-resident landlord) - this may be a good time for him to sort out a separate water main for them, or we can look at splitting the cost of the repair. The more promising alternative is that since we're both leaseholders, the freeholder may actually cover the cost of this. I need to dig out my contract, and check on that, then I can talk to the relevant solicitor tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, the pressure has had another drop - it now takes over a minute to fill a pint glass with the kitchen tap on full (I don't know how long it takes altogether because I gave up at that point). So, I'm now off to the gym in search of water (swimming pool/shower), and I'll do the yuppie thing by buying bottled water on my way back afterwards.