Monday, 7 April 2014

Bath plugs and bad language

We've just had the hallway, stairs, banisters etc in our house redecorated - what you'd call the 'common areas' in a shared block of flats, for example - and a very nice job has been done too. We're very pleased with it.

It has not, though, been without its drawbacks. It suddenly looks miles better than the decorative order of the rest of the house, and suddenly other parts of the place look decidedly shoddy in comparison. As a result, small things which I've lived with for years - since we moved in eight years ago, in some cases - are really starting to bug me. Stuff I've barely noticed before.

The crappy light pull in the bathroom, with its two-metres-too-long cord knotted up into a bunch to keep it short enough. The rust on the balcony outside at the back. The small bit of wallpaper missing from the corner of the living room. The come-away-from-its-mooring sink plug in the downstairs bathroom.

Now, when I was born, all the handiness, all the ability to undertake physical work requiring even minor dexterity was held back, and put into my younger brother. And
I mean all of it. While he can refit his entire bathroom, doing the plumbing and electrics and reconditioning his old sash windows in the process, I can turn even the simplest DIY task into a labour of Hercules, ultimately requiring the attention of a specialist to undo any damage I may have done in the futile attempt to take anything
on myself.

That bath plug, though. Surely I could manage that, yeah? You just take off the old one and put in a new one, right? So I ordered a new chain and stay (check out the use of professional language... oh yeah...) and set about replacing the thing on Sunday.
For those of you not 'in the know' as I now am *cough*, the picture below shows you what I ordered.

The metal bit with the screw thread is the stay. At least, that's what I'm calling it. 
On the old plug, that bit had its arse hanging out, so to speak - it had come loose from its fitting, the chain had broken, and it needed replacing. The screw, though, was completely rusted and frozen solid, which is why it wasn't quite the simple task it should have been. No problem, I thought - a liberal spraying of WD40 will get that baby moving.

I therefore started this task by applying a thorough drenching of this magical chemical. To my left hand. I couldn't see what I was doing because the sink was so tight to the wall; I was having to 'hug' the sink and work blind. Right hand round, squeeze the spray-can between the pipes, find the screw with the other hand and... shit. Missed. Cue first batch of swearing. It would not be the last.

Eventually, I was able to coat the thing in the spray, and I sat back for a bit to let it do its work. I was naive enough to assume it'd be plain sailing from there; that a bit of patience to allow the chemical to do its job was all that was necessary. How mistaken 
I was. It still wouldn't budge. What followed was an hour of shouting, cursing, wrestling and general bad humour as I tried, in vain, to get the damn screw moving. I even tried to get hold of it with pliers, but working completely blind, I spent at least 20 minutes trying to get a grip on the nut. I'm not proud of my language during that time - I may, 
I confess, even have pleaded with the thing for a short while.

I got to the point where, no matter how much resistance this recalcitrant bastard thought it was going to put up, I was not going to let it have its way. I had a bright, shiny new chain and stay to put in - I could not be defeated. I'll have to cut it, I thought. Think like a pro - you'll need leverage, I thought. So I hunted down the longest-handled pair of garden shears we've got, and with those applied as much force as I could to the thing. The result of another half-hour's shouting, screaming and grunting - God knows what the neighbours thought was going on - was a small dent on each side of the thing, and some moderate scratching to the rusted screw thread.

By this point I was pretty sure the old stay was starting to look smug. It was mocking me. My eyes then alighted on a hacksaw in our tool box. Ha! So I cut the bastard's head off! Yes! Just twenty further minutes of sweat and swearing, and it dropped to the floor, beaten. Now all I had to do was install the new one and... where the fuck has the new one gone? 

I'd lost the new one. Through constant sorting of tools, moving two cabinets out of the way and generally destroying the bathroom in my efforts, it had gone missing. It took a further fifteen minutes of searching to find it, buried at the bottom of the tool box under all the equipment I'd tried and rejected. Who can blame the thing? It had probably seen the abuse I was meting out to its older cousin and tried to hide, terrified. I can report, though, that after no more than three hours' work, some extremely creative swearing and enough sweat to fill the bloody sink that I was working on, it's done. I have successfully replaced a plug chain and stay.

My brother's coming up to install the new light switches, sockets'n stuff. 

Probably for the best.