Plumbing and cake

My kitchen sink is backed up and the seals on the u bend are worn. I didn’t realise it until I was running water to do some washing up just before going back to Oxford. I’d left an hour and a half in which to clean and tidy before departing for work. Water started backing up onto the kitchen floor through the u-bend. Bad timing, fate. Bad bad timing.

My usual reaction in situations like that is to freak out, but I managed to limit that instinct despite my heart rate going through the roof. But … it’s badly blocked. Thinking more about the leak than the block, I got an uber to Screwfix, picked up a new u-bend and tried to work out how everything fitted together. I succeeded only in moving the leak around, like a stinky fun free version of Mario Brothers. With a timer. Which more than ran out. I hate being late.


I had to run out of the flat without doing the planned tidy up, and with plumbing stuff lying everywhere in the kitchen, stopping briefly to make sure Pickle had food, miraculously remembering my keys, grabbing my hat, uber to the bus. Has to be a smooth journey.

The emergency plumber could only give me 4 hour slots where I couldn’t guarantee I’d still be home. They’d have needed payment in blood anyway. My regular plumber is not available until Thursday. So I’m the plumber now. But I have to do some theatre in the middle of the job. In Oxford. “It’s alright mate, I’ll only charge you for one call out.”

I’ll have to come back home tonight to get at it in the morning. So much for fun amongst the dreaming spires on Tuesday. It’ll be fun amongst the reeking pipes.

At least the Oxford tube bus is quick and goes to Victoria. I can’t use it next week when I’m under more serious time pressure but I can for now. At night it’ll probably be quicker to home than the train.

We take things like drainage from the kitchen sink for granted until it starts spitting on the floor. It’s amazing how much we take for granted really. I wonder how many of us would starve if we were locked in a room with all the component parts and the right tools to build a completely disassembled mobile phone but with no instructions. “Once it’s built you can order anything you like and we’ll let you out. Until it’s built you’re stuck with no food.” Dead.

From simple stuff like how to make bread, how to make cheese, purify water through building a radio receiver or an engine or a wind turbine or making antibiotics, all the way to microchips, nanobots, artificial intelligence. It’s crazy how useless we are becoming, even at the easiest things.

I wonder how many of you reading this could make a good cake without the internet. I doubt I could. Certainly not first time. Unless it was a pancake.

Obviously this is why we have community. I’m probably a bit more experienced at cake making than I am at basic plumbing. But I’m not good enough at either to offer one for the other so it’s my time, the money I’ve earned from my acting which isn’t proportionate to a plumber’s wage, or a flood in my kitchen.

Meanwhile the bus is in a traffic jam after all, more or less exactly where we were when we broke down last time. Bugger.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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