Gas Man’s Crack (Revisited)

It’s certainly very comforting to know that the water companies take the issue of water leaks as seriously as they say they do. They (‘Three Valleys Water’) have come today to fix the leak outside our house. It’s not much of a leak: it leaves a long ‘pond’ in the gutter from its source, somewhere under the pavement as far as the next drain in front of our neighbour’s house – about 20 feet. But it is a leak, nevertheless. I reported it when I first spotted it shortly after building work on the extension began (Not that I hold the builder in any way responsible. Far from it: he was quite meticulous about making sure that no loads were parked on the pavement or on our block paving in such a way as they might risk causing damage)

 Well, that was late September/early October.

 It is now …  let me see … Ah yes! …  

 It is now May. Eight months and two calls to the Three Valleys Water ‘Leakspotter line’ later, they turn up to fix my leak, proceeding to interrupt me every 10 minutes to tell me what they are going to do next.

 I couldn’t care less!

It’s not my leak! It’s theirs! I was only being public-spirited in an attempt to avoid wastage of a valuable  resource. (Although, as it finds its own way to a drain, I am assuming it gets incorporated into the system/cycle again: or is this being stupidly naive and uniformed?) Other than that, I don’t want to know. They are not doing me any favours. In fact, my suspicions are that quite the opposite: it is going to cause considerable inconvenience …

And so: what’s the first thing these dopey fuckers do? That’s right! They cut the gas pipe by mistake. Now I’m no expert on the sphagetti that lives beneath our feet, but I would imagine a gas pipe, especially one laid as recently as ours, would be fairly clearly marked. But then what do I know?

Yes! … yes! the pipe so lovingly laid on that miserable freezing friday back in December by the gang of villains, rogues, ex-cons, headcases, gypsies, tramps and thieves that were The Transco Pipelayers (See ‘Gas Man’s Crack’) In fact, I’d have paid good money to have  had a couple of them here this afternoon – the cocky ‘Chirpy Cock-er-nee Sparrer’ foreman, his cap always at an outrageously jaunty angle, and the fitter with one eye and cauliflower ears, for instance; secretly watching the hapless Three Valleys gang making such a dog’s dinner of their handiwork. Then the ‘Transco Tag-team’ chewing them up and spitting them out all down Woodlands Avenue as they head back for the M25 and Kent (which is where they came from every day, believe it or not) in the Friday afternoon traffic.

 Speaking of which … Ha!  I notice that the Three Valleys Water gang omitted to come to the door and inform me of this particular piece of information … As I write, at 2:40pm, Friday their van kicks into life and before you can say ‘Three Valleys Leakspotter Line’ they’ve fucked off for the weekend, leaving a ten foot deep, flooded  hole in front of our drive. It is debateable whether we’ll be able to get the car out.

 Still, for no extra charge, I got to watch the four-strong Three Valley’s team stand around and look blankly as the British Gas pair made good their pipe, while thankfully (and perhaps most importantly) you will be pleased to know that I was not treated to any kind of improptu dispay of the gas inspector’s nether regions as he checked the supply.

 Thank Christ for that!

 I await developments next week with utter indifference,

Incidentally, I’m sure you’ll be tickled pink to know that although the builders are no more, their presence is nonetheless felt almost daily in what has become the most tortuous and truly surreal stage of the works. In case you’ve forgotten (I know you couldn’t give a shit, but I’m going to tell you anyay) we’ve had:

  1. Design and planning: (That was the bit on the back of the fag packet)
  2. Enabling Works: Site preparation (Caterpillar and Dumper truck speed trials: All comers)
  3. Footings (during which our builder seemed to have cornered the world market in pre-mixed concrete. It looked at one stage as if he had confused our plans (fag packet) with those for a personal nuclear fallout shelter (9oz. Old Shag Rolling Tobacco packet) This is the last time next door’s cat was seen alive.
  4. Block and Brickwork: (Respect. Be in awe. We are not worthy etc.)
  5. Roofing: (Which nobody notices unless something or somebody falls off it)
  6. Knocking Through: (Severe trauma. Best forgotten about)
  7. Internal walls and plastering: (Forget the brickies! RESPECT, BE IN AWE, WE ARE NOT WORTHY etc.
  8. First Fix: (You didn’t want it here? What makes you think you have a choice?)
  9. Snagging: ( “There’s just a few minor bits and bobs … Shall we start with the roof? “Sure …. Where?” “Well … All of it … “)

Andy Daly  2009

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