Plumbing the Depths

Despite my lack of plumbing know-how or the proper tools, I fixed my kitchen tap last weekend. Just as we were running out the door to cricket on Friday night, Magic Man said, “Muuuum, the tap won’t turn on!”

I replied with something like “It will if you try hard enough, man up my boy.” but bugger me if the child wasn’t right. The damn tap wouldn’t turn on. So I did the sensible thing and ignored it, and we drove off to an inglorious defeat courtesy of Maleny.

Saturday morning was crunch time. Equipped only with my bone-deep fear of how much it would cost to call out a plumber on the weekend – and knowing I had less than a hundred dollars with which to feed the household until payday – I strode out to the water mains.

It only took two tries and a bit of cursing and I managed to switch the water off. I pulled the tap apart, mostly using my bare hands and a rusty old screwdriver – strange, I expected sturdier construction from a crucial piece of kitchen plumbing. The washer seemed okay, so I’d reached the limits of my knowledge of “things that can go wrong with taps”. Since the tap spun uselessly, I thought maybe I needed a new handle.

Off we trot to the local hardware store, liberally smeared with tap grease. New tap handles are not cheap, and they come in pairs. Idly scanning the racks of mysterious plumbing accoutrements, I came across a pack of little hexagonal bits of plastic (they’re thermal shields, or whatever)

“Hmm,”  I thought  “that looks just like the one I just pulled out of my tap, but instead of a little slit mine’s got a bloody big hole. Could that be the problem?”

Sure enough, it was. Magic Man thought I was a super hero for at least a day and a half.

“Mum,” he said, in tones of hushed awe, “You fixed the tap. You’re a genius!” Sadly, the tap-related hero worship has completely worn off. Maybe I’ll get him to watch while I clear out the drain pump on the washing machine.


20 Responses

  1. Well done you, especially with the, erm, basic tools available. Little known fact about males: we haunt hardware shops and buy $1000’s worth of useless tools because we’re terrified that we won’t have just the right one when it’s needed. And will thus be exposed as unhandymen. True handymen (usually called Steve) can fix a 747 with a Leatherman.

  2. Oh, I’d love a Leatherman – with a seventies porn mo, buttless leather chaps and a waxed chest.

    Whether or not he’s called Steve is irrelevant.

    Yes, I know they’re all gay. I could use some help with my wardrobe and interior decorating.

  3. Ah, yes. Handymen. It’s a complete mystery how that word became a cliché instead of a joke.

    My dear old dad did NOT do DIY. My mother, however, did. She built furniture, changed window glass, and fixed cisterns. She taught me how to change the lightbulb in my lamp by age six. She taught me how to change the power cord plug on my lamp by age 12. By sixteen, I could paint the outside of a house AND clean the rollers afterwards. By eighteen, I had more tools than makeup.

    Then I got married. The Boss is more than a tradesman, he is a craftsman. He can do just about anything, and do it extremely well. The only downside to avoiding hanging my own curtain rails, or fixing broken door hinges, is that it generally takes four months from me asking for a job to be done, to him actually doing it.

    Sadly, I’ve forgotten most of those childhood DIY skills. But it wouldn’t matter, anyway, seeing as the Boss has lost/broken/purloined all my tools, except for a few screwdrivers and my favourite pliers – and that’s only because they’re hidden in my handbag. (shhhh! Don’t tell him!)

    Good job on the repairs, Madam. Shall we assume your victory dance was of the tap variety?

  4. I wish you lived in Queensland, Catty. I’d really love to paint my lounge room.

    Thanks for the accolades. I celebrated by turning the tap on to have a drink of water.

  5. Drink? Water? Surely you meant ‘bath’, right?

    *wanders off, blinking in confusion…..*

  6. Mmm… bath.

    If I had enough ice cubes, I’d take a kidney theft bath right now

  7. Oh, dear. I can’t decide which sounds better. The white chocolate mousse bath, or the vodka bath? Decisions, decisions….

  8. Well, no competition for me from either, I think I need to go through the cattle tick dip after this day of heat and filth.

    Bloke was in Cairns until very, very late so I got the ugly job of crawling up on the roof and cleaning out the gutters before the storms hit. All the while thinking ‘broken leg, wheel chair, eeeee…’ I would never live it down, would I?

    Between that, solo zookeeper duties, and an evening in student clinic, no amount of showering and body shop lotions can quite get the smell of the day’s grot out of my nostrils.

    Well done for impressing the small folk, Morgana.
    Reminds me how excited I was when the bathroom sink clogged up with our hair (three sisters with thick black hair, waist length, under one roof – those drains didn’t stand a chance) and dad handed me the rubber plunger.

    Ah, magic.

    Have you showed your kids the Shannon lush trick of cleaning the sink with the bicarb and vinegar yet? The Bloke uses it to destink the drains, periodically. We’re going through so much tuna for the Flood Cats that between the discarded fish flakes and his Shannon Lush forays, the place smells like a fush and chup shop.

  9. You might have been a 24 hour hero, and mighty proud of yourself (with some justification) but you are not much of a mother! Next time, give the kid the job and watch him solve the problem so he doesn’t join the growing ranks of the utterly useless! On second thoughts, maybe you can’t afford the cost of the extra broken bits on the way to ‘eureka’!

  10. Stafford, sir, you impune my maternal abilities at your own peril – I’ll challenge you to a duel if you’re not careful. Magic Man did help by passing the limited range of tools and gazing on me in wide-eyed childish wonder, but since I didn’t know what I was doing, I was hardly going to let him have his head. Maybe next time – if I’m flush!

    Quokka, we tend to use bicarb and vinegar – with a few drops of food colouring – to make volcanos erupt. I never thought of using it as a drain cleaner. Could we add a few drops of colouring – maybe green – to make it more exciting?

    In memory of Quokka and her sisters’ drain-clogging locks:

  11. Madam, there’s no need for food colouring. At least, not in this house. When the fizz erupts from my plug hole, it’s already an exciting greenish-brown colour.

    I always ask, “WHAT have you kids been putting down there!?!??” but I don’t really want to know.

  12. Argh.
    Madame, that takes me back to my boarding school days.
    And that six months I spent living in at James Cook Uni.

    And I’m with Catty, the varied contents of the drain will create their own colour as they react to the fizz.

  13. You ladies make cleaning the drain sound so exciting I’m considering sending out invitations.

    Obviously, I’d have to serve noodles.

  14. And Ice Cream Spiders. I love the way the ice cream fizzes when the Fanta splashes over it. It’s a bit like cleaning my drai…

    Vodka it is.

  15. I can make you a lovely vodka jelly shot.

    Maybe green jelly (gunge) with coconut flakes (to simulate the tuna remnants in Quokka’s drains) and grapes (lumps of gunge) ?

  16. I only eat orange jelly. I’ve won a medal for it.

  17. Ooh, goody, a drain party.
    I’ll blow up the balloons.
    Wait! Where are my glasses! Those aren’t balloons…

  18. Stone the crows, Quokka.

    The thought of the royal family has never made me even a tiny bit horny. Bored, confused and irritated, yes, but never sexy.

  19. If it can put you off sex before you need to use the contraceptive then its success rating must outrank all the competition in the market.

    hey, where’d everyone go?

  20. Looking at the picture of the happy couple just makes me want to have a cup of tea with a cucumber sandwich – and then invade some distant continent full of brown-skinned heathens, rich in mineral and other natural resources.


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