Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Four Candles

I am in the new house in Penryn, well I say new, it's actually a Grade 2 Listed Eighteenth Century cottage, a fact which particularly enrages a specific London-based producer who believes such things should be out of my price bracket, so I like to mention it as often as possible.


It is, of course, in a right two and eight (state). Our plumber, a nice man called Steve, calls round to drain the system and plumb in the cooker and fiddle with the oomph-thing and go hmmm at some pipes.

'Interesting,' said Steve. 'Your taps seem to be argle bargle fnorrrr haflump.' Or something like that. 'Also the cooker should have come with a hose, but didn't'.

Steve phones the plumbers' merchants, and I agree to walk over and pick up the necessary cooker hose. Last time I lived in Penryn, I was still in my goth phase, and so had swishy hair, combat trousers, velvet shirts, lots of earrings and the occasional bit of eyeliner. Now I have jeans, a white t-shirt, trainers and short spiky hair, all of which are spattered with paint. This is my opportunity to pass as a member of the proletariat. Soon the word will go round that a man who once wrote a Shaun The Sheep episode has moved into town, and the unstoppable glamour will weave itself around me like a shroud of destiny, keeping me apart from the common herd and making it illegal to look me in the eye on the street, ideally. But for now, I can mingle.

After going completely the wrong way, I finally turn up at the plumbers' merchants and wander in through the big open door. Someone looks at me oddly, and I tell them loudly that Steve has called, and I'm picking up some 'parts' for him. 'Parts', you see, I know all the lingo, a more foppish type would have asked for 'thingummy's' or 'bits', but not me. 'Parts', that what I'm asking for. While I wait for the 'parts', I look around at the shelves, full of plastic tubes, and more plastic tubes, and some copper tubes. If I ever want some tubes, I think to myself, this is certainly the place to come. It is well tubey.

'Actually', says a plumbing man, 'Could you go round into the proper customer bit? Health and Safety sort of thing.'

I sit quietly in the proper customer bit, until a different plumbing man finally finds a cooker hose.

'Did Steve want one with a bayonet socket?' he asks. I scream.
'Well what did the hose on the cooker look like,' he asks patiently. I scream again.

When I finally get back to Steve, it's the wrong kind of tube anyway.


Fritzi said...

When my boyfriend and I were redecorating our flat, it took said boyfriend, who also is an - albeit quite useless - engineer, almost a dozen attempts and well over 50 Euroni to find the right connecting thingy to install our kitchen sink. The collective term in German for sleeves and joints for plumbing btw is "Schnüffelstück" or, with northern German accent, "Snüffelstück". If I write it down in the professorhigginsian way (of which I obviously am a master), it looks like the name of a Scottish death metal band from the 80s: Snyffelstykk. I do like the German language.

james henry said...

Excellent. I seem to remember German for butterfly being 'kattellstückenkrutaffenhoffen von shnickterhoeven' followed by an hour's gargling with nails, but I could have misremembered.

patroclus said...

Ein Schmetterling ist in der Schnueffelstueck stuck geworden!

Fritzi said...

'kattellstückenkrutaffenhoffen von shnickterhoeven'

Quite accurate. You must have misheard the bit with the nails, though. Unless, of course, it was a Rhenish accent.

Fritzi said...


You're a poet!

"Ein Schmetterling ist in dem Schnueffelstueck zu Stuck geworden!" = "A butterfly in the connecting sleeve turned into stucco!"

Isn't that the line right before "Radio Four is static"?

Malc said...

Dealing with skilled tradespeople should be on the national curriculum. My mind empties like a punctured water tank as soon as Dave the plumber opens his mouth. He's getting used to writing things down or even taking pictures of parts he needs so I come back with the right stuff.

Dave said...

(Not Dave the plumber) My plumber once sent me out to buy 8 lengths of copper pipe. When I got home he said they weren't long enough.

Turns out long lengths like what he wanted wouldn't have fitted in my car anyway.

james henry said...

I'm noticing a certain bossy tendency in plumbers, from these comments. Carpet fitter and electrician in tomorrow, let's see what they try and make me do.

patroclus said...

They'll probably make you roll yourself up in the carpet while they attach electrodes to your feet, giggling wildly.

ScroobiousScrivener said...

A little tiny bit completely off-topic, but this made me think of you. In the "he'd enjoy it" way, not the "oh is that what he meant by sexydancing?" way.

james henry said...

Go Vader!

Smat said...

what you need is the Screwfix catalogue - a couple of hours in the bath with that and you'll know what all the parts and thingies and whatsits are.

spence said...

I feel so shallow , am I the only one unable to get past and I quote... "short spiky hair"

Whats happened to the flowing locks Mr Henry!?

james henry said...

The flowing locks just to a certain point where I look like Betty Boo. The new look is more 'rugged' though, apparently.

Sometimes I think I should start a hair blog.