Having a small bedroom converted into a bathroom is easy. Right?
The bath furniture in the Old Bathroom. I wanted something as elegant and sexy as this.
I had a small bedroom that was too small. I needed another bathroom. Easy, right?
In the November of 2006 I decided that I would like to have a bathroom built. I had a small box room next to my bedroom with French doors out onto a small balcony over the street at the front of the house. The box room was too small for a bedroom; a single bed; and a cabinet would fill it and there wouldn’t be enough room for anything else, even a small wardrobe.
I had had Aras, a Kurdish plasterer, in to replace a ceiling and to plaster three walls of another bedroom. He had done a really good job, and as he was “in the trade” I asked him if he knew of anyone who could install a bathroom.
By chance he had a friend, Aziz, also Kurdish, who “knew all about bathrooms” and I asked Aras if he could bring him to my home and we could discuss the installation of the bathroom I needed.
Aziz duly turned up with Aras and we went to the box room, and I explained what I needed,
“No problem,” said Aziz, and turned a winning smile on me.
I explained that the room was too small to have a bath in it without the French doors being removed and a wall built up to a level to accommodate a box sash window.
“No problem,” said Aziz, and he turned to Aras and they both smiled at me.
“Oh yes, Hajji,” said Aras, (Hajji is a term of respect in Kurdish culture, and they used it to me as I am a Muslim, although I have not been on Hajj).
I explained that I thought that a shower cubicle would just fit behind the door and the basin could go over there and…
“No problem!” said Aziz and beamed.
I tried another question:
“Do you live locally, Aziz?”
“He lives in my house, Hajji,” said Aras. “He’s a good man. He works hard”. Aziz smiled his winning smile.
It suddenly occurred to me that Aziz knew very little English, and what he knew was not going to be very useful if I wanted to discuss any of the finer points of installing a bathroom with him.
I tried again with a few random questions.Aziz either looked to Aras for help or to act as spokesman or smiled at me and said, “No problem!”
Eventually I had to give up, and explained as nicely as possible that I needed to be able to discuss the building of the bathroom, and I needed a really good Plumber in Parramatta to be able to do it for me. I explained all of this to Aras and Aras translated it all to Aziz. Aziz’s face lit up. He not only knew of a good Plumber, but she (yes, she!) was not only a good Plumber, but she was an excellent Builder. In fact he had only just finished a job for her.
“So she’s really good, then, this woman?” I asked.
Aras translated my question.
“No problem,” said Aziz.
"Less is more," so they say.
I had already purchased a “Victorian” bathroom suite of bath, basin and toilet bowl with all the necessary “furniture” which included Bristan 1901 taps for the basin and bath and “telephone” spray shower for the bath.
The shower cubicle was so simple and uncluttered. “Less is more,” as they say.
My friend Judi, the Arbiter of all things Tasteful had already suggested a Bristan “Colonial” shower and all the chrome things that switch on and off and levers and whatever. I had the lot. I was a happy man. All I needed was to have it delivered.
Then all I needed was to have the bath, the basin and the toilet installed... what could be easier?
So the Builder turned up. She was small. She was black. She was feisty. And she had several names. I was introduced to her by her surname, which I will not divulge, but she said she would like to be addressed, not as Miss Xxxxx, but as Pamela. This turned out be rather strange because within a few days I heard her referred to not only as Pamela, but as Christina and also as Patricia.
“You are qualified, aren’t you?” I asked.
“Yes, of course”.
“If you’re doing gas installation, you are Corgi Registered, aren’t you?”
“Of course I am, but no one ever asks for my documents”.
“I will,” I said.
(CORGI -The Council for Registered Gas Installers)
Greg - Painter and Decorator
I know I had a stranger in my home, but after a short while it became apparent that Pamela would not have the bathroom installed within a couple of days. Primarily because that is not the way of the world, and secondarily, because it was not just going to be Pamela herself.
On the first morning that she arrived, she was accompanied by Greg. I don’t know who Greg was, but I had an idea that he was going to be working on the bathroom with Pamela.
One makes mistakes. I hardly ever saw Greg do anything at all. He smoked a lot. He drank tea a lot and he drank a lot of Coca-Cola. He ate enormous amounts of McDonald’s fried chicken and chips and hid the bags and the left over bits in the most unusual places. Apart from that he just sat around and played with his mobile phone. When I asked Pamela what his function might be, she told me that he was Painter and Decorator. “… and you want your bathroom to be decorated nicely don’t you?”
I thought I did. And I discovered Greg was not the man to do it. But not before I had been persuaded to buy five (5) litres of Dulux Paint - Salisbury Stones Number 4. Luckily I had paint rollers and paint trays and Greg set to with a will.
Let me point out (unless you realised already) that the room I was having converted into a bathroom was small… it still is. Greg asked me if I had a stepladder (Neither Pamela nor Greg had any ladders at this stage) and he mounted the stepladder, and he started painting.
And he painted and he painted and he painted. So much so that the lady over the road stopped me in the street once, and asked me why the man on the ladder had been paining four small walls for over two and a half weeks.
A little bit of fresh air – in the middle of Winter
For some reason, they found they couldn’t work in the small room, unless they had the French doors open. Unfortunately, Greg seemed to be incapable of closing the door to the room from the hall outside, and the door would slam and slam and slam. This door was glazed with obscured Victorian glass in the top half. Every time I went past, I would close the door and ask them to stop it slamming and Greg would stop playing with his mobile phone for a couple of minutes and say, “Yes Boss!”
After a couple of weeks of the door slamming, I came back home with Pamela after buying something which I didn't recognise (as usual- but had to trust her). The door was no longer slamming. I don’t suppose I would have noticed it except when I came upstairs, there on the floor was the Victorian glass shattered all over. The door had slammed one time too many. Somehow Greg took it into his head that it was my fault, because it had been particularly windy that day.
A poor workman blames his tools - This one didn't have any tools
As I said, the Builder, who we shall refer to as Pamela, because that is how I addressed her, turned up. But within a short while I discovered that she may have been a very good Builder and Plumber, but she didn’t seem to have many of the tools that Builders and Plumbers seem to need. Within a short while she was asking if I had a hammer, a slotted screwdriver, a Philips screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a tenon saw… the list seemed to be endless.
By chance there was a Builders' and Plumbers’ merchants within driving distance of my home, but she seemed incapable of getting there by herself, so I would drive her there where she purchased her requirements for the day… every day.
Sometimes at night I would wonder of the bath would be wandering around, looking for friends. Perhaps it was lonely.
The Surreal Story of the Travelling Bath
When my new bath had been unwrapped along with the other shining white parts of my faux Victorian bathroom, I entered into a rather surreal part of my life.
I said that the bath had been delivered, and that I was a happy man. What I was not aware of was that the bath seemed to have a life of its own.
Every time I came home, even if I had been away from only half an hour or no more; even if I had been away for a whole day, the bath was not where I had last seen it.
Sometimes it would be standing up in the hall. Sometimes it would be on the floor of the second bedroom - hereinafter to be called the“Scary Bedroom”, because no one has slept in there, apart from me and hasn’t had nightmares. At other times it would be in the bathroom against one wall, against another wall, against a third. Sometimes I would return home and it would be on the bed in the Scary Bedroom; usually up the right way, but not always. The only place I could be sure of finding it was upstairs.
I don’t know who moved it or whether it wandered around by itself when I wasn’t there, but it certainly liked being in different places.
I don’t think Pamela moved it; she was usually with me at the Plumbers’ and Builders’ merchants, buying stuff that I didn’t recognise. And Grg would have been too busy to move it - he would be playing with his mobile phone. Some nights I would lock the door to my bedroom in case the bath got lonely and tried to come into my bedroom and join me.
Where's the bottom of my door?
Some two weeks or more into their starting, I arrived at home and came upstairs to notice that there was a huge gap under the door that had contained the Victorian glass. Greg had taken it into his head to cut the bottom off the door. But he had used a hand saw and the cut was very wavy. I could see light from beneath the door and the light was coming from a gap that took a curve up and then down and then up again and ended very unattractively back towards the floor. The gap varied between one inch and one and a half inches and was rough.
I was furious and demanded to know why this had been done. Pamela tried to cover it by saying that it was so that the door would rise above and over the floor tiles (which had not been laid yet).
So another slice had to be taken off the bottom of the door, leaving a greater gap. This time with a power saw, so at least it was straight.
I said that this all started in November. November became December, and Pamela and Greg and another man (I never discovered who this man was or if he had a name or a function) arrived at my home several times a week and started “work”.
By “work” I mean that Pamela came with a list of things that she would need from the local Builders’ and Plumbers’ merchants and I would take her there in my car and she would purchase stuff and then we would come back. Greg would usually be painting the ceiling or the walls of the bathroom when we left and he would be doing the same when we returned, but in the interim I am pretty sure he was drinking tea and smoking and playing with his mobile phone... or going to McDonald’s for provisions.
On one of my many, many visits to Builders’ and Plumbers’ merchants with Pamela, I went to B&Q to buy a boiler to heat the water in the new bathroom.
If the central heating boiler which also provides the hot water for the house decides to stop working it is“Sod’s Law” that this will occur on the coldest days in Winter, usually during the Christmas Holidays. I thought that it would be sensible to have a back up plan. If the main boiler stopped working at least I could have a bath or a shower in the new bathroom, even of the rest of the house was freezing.
So the boiler was bought, and brought home, and Pamela and the other guy (name still unknown) took it into the loft with more copper pipes, plastic tubing electric light cable and unfamiliar equipment that I have seen in my life.
Unfortunately, I am disabled and it is impossible to climb the loft ladder, so I was not aware of what she was doing up there.
After a couple of days, Pamela had to call in reinforcements in the person of Jo. Jo arrived. Jo was a black, South London ex-boxer with about half a dozen teeth in his mouth, a shaven head and an obsequious manner. He was also so muscled that he was approximately as broad as he was tall.
Jo and Pamela disappeared into the loft for hours and every now and then I heard her asking what this was for what that was for and so on. Obviously Jo was teaching her how to do something, but what it was, I was not to know.
Jo! Who's Jo?
One of the first things Jo insisted on, when he came down from the loft, was that I needed a new plastic tank in the loft to feed the new boiler… and a “Monsoon” pump so that the water pressure would be sufficient for the shower.
So the new plastic tank was bought, and with only a minimal amount of paint scraped off the hatch to the loft, it was installed.
Within a few hours Pamela had cut a hole in the tank to feed the cold tap of the bath in the Old Bathroom, with the result that the pressure was now very poor.
I discovered subsequently that a tank is not required to feed a boiler, as mains water has the correct pressure, so the tank and the “Monsoon” pump were unnecessary.
And Pamela and her chums had built a platform for the tank in the loft, but not having measured the height of it, discovered that it was too close to the rafters, so that the lid which would prevent dirt and dead pigeons, wasps and other animals falling into it could not be placed on it to keep the water clean.
But as this interfered with the water pressure, anyway, the mains water pipe was reconnected.
It was on one of these excursions into the loft that Greg broke one of a set of pendant art decco lights - Fat backside due to too much fried chicken was the cause.
Still a different colour.
Where's the top of the door gone?
Two days later, I returned and coming up the stairs was relieved to see that the light wasn’t showing beneath the door, but my “pleasure” was short lived because I then saw that Pamela, in trying to disguise the mistake had dropped the hinges so that the door was now about two and a half inches below the architrave and the light was coming over the top of the door.
A length of pine wood then had to be attached to the bottom of the door, and the hinges returned to their rightful place.
Note well: Even now that piece of pine is not the same colour as the over one hundred years old door they brutalised.
And of course I had to replace the Victorian glass with more modern toughened glass.
It was at this stage that I told Greg that I didn’t care what he thought he would do, he wouldn’t be welcome inside the house again. I assumed that his job as painter and decorator (Ha!) was finished.
Pamela said that she would need him to build a manhole in the garden.
The Television aerial – a simple task
As my bedroom is next to the new bathroom, I thought that, before the bathroom wall was tiled, a television aerial could be brought from the back of the house, across the loft and down inside the lath and plaster wall of the party wall and then into my bedroom. Pamela agreed.
“No trouble!” she said.
Mr Murray the Bricklayer
Mr Murray came and scratched his head and kissed his teeth. Mr Murray was from Jamaica. The plan was to knock out the French window and install a wooden box sash window. This is a Victorian house and all but one room have box sash windows. A small wall would be built to the level of the bottom of the window, just a little distance above the rim of the bath. That’s if we could track the bath down long enough to install it. The bricks would have to match the London Stock (yellow) bricks with which the house is build, but have red brick edgings.
I was prepared to order a box sash window from a reputable firm in Brixton,
“My friend Danny can make you one of those well... and cheaply,” said Pamela.
Are you sure?” I asked.
“He’s a really good carpenter”.
I was very specific. The top sash had to be divided into two rows; each of six small panes along the top and then two square panes below those. The bottom sash had to be one sheet of glass. The mouldings and architrave had to match all the other windows at the top of the front of the house; and the ground floor.
I am OCD, I know, but I also know what is correct for Victorian box sash windows in my house.
“I’ll send Danny around to take the measurements and give you a price,” said Pamela.
The manhole in the Garden
The bathwater (if there ever would be any bathwater) would have to feed into the local sewerage system, and as the main manhole and waste started at the back of the house, it was decided that, rather than take the water and soil pipes to the back, it would be easier to find the main waste pipe and join into it at the front of the house. This proved difficult as several pipes lay there, broken and in pieces, but seemed to “go nowhere” and others seemed to come from somewhere else, but where, we couldn’t work out. All we knew was that they were underground.
Plans were undertaken to bring the waste pipe through the wall that was to be built just above the balcony floor, through a hole cut in the balcony floor and down the front of the house, discreetly hidden beside a bay. Then it would travel under the front York stone crazy paving and into a new manhole which would have to be built there.
Greg borrowed a spade and a gardening fork from me. (Of course he didn’t have one) and we showed him how to use it, and left him to it. Unfortunately Greg must have been playing with his mobile phone, or drinking tea when this was discussed, and for some reason he decided to dig up a flower bed directly in front of the house. This was nowhere near where we had planned the pipe to go but perhaps the flower bed was an easier option.
In doing so he dug up over sixty expensive Canna Lily corms and a selection of Hollyhocks to do so.
Unfortunately the whole expanse of York stone had to be lifted and re-laid at a later date, as it could not be lifted and replaced in part.
Muqsood steps in to save the day.
I had a Pakistani friend who was staying in the house for a few weeks, having just arrived from Saudi Arabia. He was looking for work, and had time on his hands. So he watched Pamela and her chums, basically for something to do.
Muqsood could have been a super model, and had the body to go with a handsome face. He was over six feet tall and spoke some English. Best of all; he wasn’t work shy.
Greg toiled for most of a day, on and off, and at the end of the first day he had lifted about a quarter of the York stone and scraped at the surface of the soil underneath.
Muqsood watched him.
The next day Greg scratched around a little more and started to dig a little hole.
Muqsood approached Pamela. Pamela discussed money with Muqsood.
Before I knew it, Muqsood was at the bottom of his hole. Just his head and a little of his shoulders were poking out. Muqsood had dug the hole for the manhole.
“Is this enough, Uncle?” he asked. (Uncle is a term of respect for an older person in Pakistan.)
“That’s enough,” said Mr Murray, “Lets go and order the bricks”.
So we went to order the bricks for the bathroom wall and the bricks for the sides of the manhole.
“And I’ll make your York Stone paving look as good as new,” he said.
Greg sulks. Greg told to Bugger off.
I looked over to where Greg was sitting on the garden wall, eating fried chicken and casually kicking at the pile of Canna Lily corms and Hollyhocks he had dug up from my garden. They had been thrown onto another part of the garden.
“What are you going to do with those?” I asked.
Greg looked at me and shrugged his shoulders, but said nothing. He started kicking the garden wall with his heel and resumed eating his fried chicken.
“And you can bugger off too,” I said. “Pamela!” I called out, “Greg’s finished here”.
Greg sulked for a bit; looked at the pile of earth, Canna Corms and Hollyhocks; shrugged his shoulders again and then sloped off.
Judi meets Pamela. Judi is not impressed.
Judi, my best friend, Judi the arbiter of all things Tasteful, came to see me. We were going to IKEA to do some Retail Therapy [One of the requisites or having OCD is that I must attend that Temple of Worship (IKEA) on a regular basis to keep myself ticking over], Judi came to visit.
I introduced Pamela to Judi.
Judi briefly asked her what she was doing and how and all the usual questions one asks.
Pamela looked shifty. She wouldn’t even have eye to eye contact with Judi.
When we left, Judi said quite forcefully,
“I don’t like that woman. She’s dodgy”.
When Judi told her husband, Sid, what she had gleaned from speaking to Pamela and what we had discussed about the work she was doing when we were at IKEA, Sid said:
“It looks like she’s doing it by the book”.
When I heard this, I thought that everything was alright, and that “Doing it by the book” meant that it was all correct. Sid is a very clever man. He is also a property developer and estate manager with a thriving business. He knows what he is talking about.
Oh no! It didn't mean she was doing it in the correct manner.
Sid meant that she was going home at night and reading up in a book of “How to Plumb a Bathroom” and then putting it in operation the next day, at my house, in my spare room (soon to be a bathroom, perhaps) and at my expense.
So Mr Murray waited until the sand and cement and the bricks were delivered, and believe it or not, he had all the tools a bricklayer needed. He mixed the sand and cement professionally. He took his trowel out of his bag; he took several trowels out of his bag. He had a spirit level… he had everything. He even had a little square iron hammer for breaking bricks and York stone.
Under Mr Murray's guidance, the soil pipe travelled down the wall and dug just deep enough into the soil by the front door, but completely unobtrusively. It turned the corner elegantly and dived under the earth, making straight for the bottom of Muqsood’s deep hole. Mr Murray encased it in cement, so beautifully, and then, step by step, row by row, Mr Murray built the walls of Muqsood’s manhole so that the hole became a well build brick-lined manhole… and the crowning glory was the manhole cover in pale grey metal.
Then Mr Murray levelled the soil around the new manhole and fitted the York stone beautifully around it. Lovely York stone crazy paving, sloping slightly as it neared the flower beds, to meet my antique Victorian rope edging. It looked beautiful.
But nothing is as it may appear!
Every bit of rubble or old bit of brick that appeared was thrown onto the flower beds. Not only onto the flower beds, but onto the pile of earth and Canna Lily corms and Hollyhock plants that the deranged Greg had dug out and then neglected to return to the bed in front of the house.
I looked on aghast, but refrained from interfering. Mr Murray was doing a good job with the York stone paving. I wanted him to continue. Perhaps he would clear up afterwards, but wouldn’t it be easier if he did it there and then?
The small wall in the bathroom
Then Mr Murray built the wall for the window in the bathroom. It matched the surrounding brickwork perfectly. Of course it did – I chose the bricks.
The wall was plastered on the inside.
So now the bathroom could be tiled, both floor and walls, ready for the bath, the basin, the toilet and the shower cubicle.
Search parties were sent for the bath. It was found lurking in the Old Bathroom; my original bathroom.
Pamela started to tile the wall. I had chosen ‘Metro’; white glazed tiles arranged in a brick wall pattern, with a tile dado rail also in glazed white. Within a couple of rows, I realised that Pamela’s strength was not tiling. They didn’t fit; they poked out; they looked amateurish. I told her to remove them and find someone who could tile.
Muqsood stepped in and saved the day… again.
His tiling was perfect. He tiled the walls up to dado level. He tiled the wall up to the level of the soon to be installed shower cubicle. His work was lovely.
When he tiled the floor, however, he tiled on 16 mm marine ply which is necessary when tiling floors (Pamela didn’t know this; I had to tell her this), but for some reason, Pamela told him not to tile the floor in the section where the shower cubicle was to stand. I didn’t know this at the time, as I had been called away from the house for the day, and returned to find the shower cubicle installed; plumbed in and “ready to go”.
Two rows of six small square panes each at the top; then two large panes; one large pane in the bottom sash.
Danny the Carpenter
Pamela rang Danny, and after a few days Danny the Carpenter came to the house to take the measurements for the box sash window. He measured. He measured the square hole in the wall where the window was to be. He went into my bedroom which was the room next door to measure the window there. He counted all the panes and he sketched and muttered to himself, and then he told me he would be able to do it in two weeks. He also said he would let Pamela know how much he would charge for the work.
Two rows of six square panes at the top; then two large square panes, made up the top sash. The bottom sash to comprise of one sheet of glass. All the mouldings and architrave to match the rest of the windows in the house.
“You know exactly what I want?” I asked.
I think Danny said something like, “No problem,” but I’m not sure.
Two weeks to wait and the French doors were missing and it was now a cold January. Pamela and another person who appeared to help, nailed a sheet of hardboard in the space left by the missing French door to the balcony, but it didn’t fit very well and the cold wind came through because the glass in the inside door had still not been replaced.
Where’s the aerial socket for the television?
I asked Pamela why there wasn’t the television socket for the aerial in my room,
“Oh, I forgot, but don’t worry, I’ll fix it”, she said.
The aerial, which should have been brought down inside bathroom wall when the bathroom was initially being prepared, now travelled from the back of the house, up the wall into the loft, across the loft, out through the front of the house just below the gutter, down the outside of the front of the house, across the “floor” of the balcony, tacked in an unacceptable manner against the red brick wall of the house. Then it came in through the wall of the balcony, around, under the bath and then through the wall into my room.
However, when I tried to get a channel, there was no picture, and I went to the side of the house to see the other end of this cable hanging loose in the passageway from the side gate to the back of the house, attached to nothing.
Where’s my money? – Mr Murray turns nasty.
Our friendly Mr Murray now demanded to be paid, £1,200 for his work, but when I asked him to clear up the broken bricks, earth and York stone that he had thrown onto the flower beds destroying even more Canna corms and Hollyhock plants, he refused. He gave the excuse that I should have been grateful for the work that he wanted to be paid to do. I said that I would pay him the money only after he had cleared up, but he became verbally abusive and then threatened me with the iron hand hammer used for breaking York stone and brick. I then paid him his money and ordered him off the premises.
Off to Brixton, as originally planned.
So I went to the box sash window makers in Brixton, as I had originally planned. I ordered the window. Someone came to measure it. The window was ready within a reasonable time. There would be a delay in installing the window however, and I agreed to let Pamela and Jo install it as it was getting so very cold in the house. February can be quite cold in London at the end of Winter.
When the new window was delivered, Pamela and Jo installed the box and then put in the upper and lower sashes. However, as soon as I looked at it I realised that they had nailed in the box and the sashes with the mouldings on the outside; with the puttied glass on the inside (in essence, the windows were installed inside-out). When I challenged them about it and said that even I could see immediately that it was “installed” back to front” they said that they had done so deliberately. This was obviously blagging.
I'm glad I have a good sense of humour. This incident reminded me of the poem: 'The Modern Hiawatha'
The Modern Hiawatha
The Modern Hiawatha
He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.
He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the inside skin side outside.
He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That's why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.
George A Strong
Danny’s window is finished.
Or maybe not.
It was now late February, and Pamela had a phone call from Danny. The window he had made was ready to be delivered and he would bring it early on Monday morning. At last. The house was cold, the board was still letting in the cold, and with no glass in the door, the wind whistled through the house.
I had to see some friends, but as Pamela had the keys, she said that Jo and she would install Danny's window, and that it should be ready by the time I returned late that afternoon, or evening.
When I arrived, I looked into the New bathroom. It was still cold in there, because the new window Danny had made didn’t fit very well. I went to bed depressed, but also worried. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t work out what.
When I woke on the following morning, I went to have another look. Nothing looked right. The mouldings were haphazard; there was hardly a 45o mitred corner anywhere. The whole thing looked so amateurish that my heart sank… Then I realised what it was that had puzzled me the night before. The square panes at the top were in two rows of five, rather than the two rows of six that I had ordered.
And I had had paid £200 deposit for this pile of rubbish.
When Pamela arrived I told her that I would not accept it, and both she and Jo tried to persuade me that it was “close enough”.
I was almost at the end of my patience with all of them.
Look at it. It's just as bad on the outside.
It is finished! Or so I thought.
One day, close to the end of March, I heard Pamela’s voice,
“It’s all up and running. Your lovely new bathroom is finished”.
I could hear the sound of water surging in the pipes in the loft. She called me into the New Bathroom and turned on the tap in the basin. After a while some hot water came out.
Remembering what Judi’s husband, Sid, had said about Pamela “Doing it by the book,” and also becoming worried when I heard Jo “teaching” her how to install a boiler, I asked her if she would bring her documents, because I was pretty sure by now that she wasn’t Corgi Registered.
(CORGI-The Council for Registered Gas Installers)
And that was the last time I saw Pamela – Was it something I said?
And then, for over two weeks, I not only didn’t see hide nor hair of Pamela, but neither did I see the other chap, who seemed to have wandered off by himself, nor did I see Jo.
Pamela didn’t answer my phone calls, and I wondered what had happened to her. Nothing was finished. The bath, basin and toilet bowl were where they should have been. The shower cubicle and bath and shower "furniture" were where I had wanted them, but nothing was working, except the lights.
I had four down lighter spots. All in chrome, as was everything else in the bathroom; even to the doorknob, but nothing worked. No hot water – not even any cold water.
Three of the down lighters were mounted on the ceiling, but the fourth was imbedded in the ceiling with the plaster up to the “eyeball”… an example of Greg’s Painting and Decorating!
A Prodigal returns
One Saturday afternoon, four weeks later, I returned to find Jo in the bathroom. He had not told me that he was coming, but had used the keys that I had let Pamela use when she first started.
I asked him what he was doing and that I had wondered what had happened to him and Pamela. He said that he had come to build the architrave for the window.
But what he had neglected to remember was that the window was still inside-out (reversed). He hadn’t started building the architrave, but had stained the wood with the wood stain (Ronseal Antique Victorian Pine). But he had stained the window from the inside, with the result that the stain was now on the puttied side, where it should eventually be painted.
This was the final straw. Remembering that I am not a violent man, nor a physical man, and remembering that Jo was an ex-boxer with more than enough muscles than are really necessary for two men, let alone one, I took my life in my hands, and told him to Bugger Off.
He buggered off.
Looks nice but nothing worked. Notice the old green sheet to try to keep some of the cold out.
Jo buggered off.
Unfortunately he buggered of with much more than he had come with.
Pamela and/or other person(s) employed by Pamela removed:
a small hacksaw/fretsaw
a tenon saw
a red wind-up electric extension cable
several spatulas/scrapers/stripping knives
drill bits (both masonry and wood)
paint rollers and paint trays
an electric hand drill
And enough plumbing materials and electric cable and other things I had never seen in my life before. I feel that I was subsidising the work she was doing for other clients that she conned during and after her period at my home.
and both the keys for the front door - Chubb lock and Yale lock
That's a bit better.
It was now April - That's right, they had been here for almost exactly six months
I returned to the window makers in Brixton and pleaded with them to install the window properly because Jo and Pamela didn’t seem to know what they were doing. By lucky chance the son of the owner could fit it in and he came on the following Saturday and did it in his “spare time” so long as I said that it was a full day’s work – He had an assignation with his girl friend, and this would keep his mother (the owner of the firm) off his tail for a few hours.
He came; he installed the window correctly with the weights and cords in the box. He also replaced the glass that I had purchased to replace the glass Greg had broken in the door, and he didn’t even charge me for doing the work.
Remember the broken glass? Good. You’ve been paying attention.
It is a long story isn’t it?
Turn the tap to cold for hot - turn it to hot for cold.
So are you ready to make all the usual plumbers jokes?
No need.Pamela and her Little Helpers covered all that already.
When I turned on the hot tap in the shower? What do you think? That’s right, the hot tap gave cold water and the cold tape gave… You guessed it: Hot water.
By the time the bathroom had been used a few times, water was coming through the ceiling in the hallway below.
Water was also flowing slowly but surely into my bedroom next door. When I moved a wardrobe, I discovered that the skirting boards were black with dry or wet rot, as a result. This room had only been completely redecorated a couple of years before with new tiles on the floor, new windows etc..
The paint on the ceiling in the new bathroom flaked off so badly that every day it looked at if there had been a mini snow fall.
The paint on the walls was coming off in strips; the paint that Greg had rolled on day after day for over two weeks.
The extractor fan Pamela had installed was blowing air in from outside, rather than extracting air from the bathroom
I had to call in British Gas and an independent plumber who pointed out that the plumbing was incredibly badly done. Plastic piping had been attached to copper piping with none of the correct fixings where necessary.
Note well. Attaching copper to plastic and vice versa is not wise. No pipes in the loft were lagged although they could freeze in the Winter. Many of her joints were made with “Plumber’s mate” also known as Plumber’s Putty which is used for replacing and mending joints, but not generally for new installations.-
Where would the water go?The cistern for the toilet bowl’s overflow pipe wasn’t attached to anything, so that if it had overflowed it would have overflowed onto the floor and therefore flooded the upstairs and then the downstairs of the house. The plumber made good by using the correct overflow which fed, unobtrusively, into the toilet bow, which is the usual thing to do in an interior bathroom or lavatory.
Nearly every joint was leaking; some more than others.
When the plumber inspected the shower to change the hot tap to the hot pipe and the cold tap to the cold pipe, he discovered that there was a leak inside the wall, behind the tiling; luckily there was a built in cupboard behind that so the leak could be fixed. But it involved removing a large section of lath and plaster.
When it rains, if there is rather a lot of it, the water bubbles up in the toilet bowl. As my bedroom is next to the New Bathroom, I can hear “Glug! Glug! Glug!” It doesn’t flow over as yet, and it is only water in the bowl, but you never know!
There I go... Oops. I'm coming back. When someone has used the basin in the bathroom, for washing hands or face or shaving or whatever, when the plug is pulled out, the water flows down the plughole and then: Lo and behold, it comes up the plug hole of the bath which is quite close on the right. Only when it returns up that plughole, it has bits of black gunge in it.
The Scary Bedroom had to have the carpet replaced because there were large amounts of wood stain and paint spilled on the on it. When that happened I do not know but I sort of lost the will to run around after them telling adults to behave like adults and not like children.
Of the over sixty Cannas which were retrieved after Greg’s little digging spree, only eight survived. None of the Hollyhocks survived.
Pamela still has the Chubb and Yale lock keys to the house that I leant her, so I had to have both locks replaced.
Finally, Absolutely finally.
As I said, I am unable to climb a ladder into the loft, and had assumed that that space had been left in a reasonable state. However, a friend needed to have a look up there for something, and came down with what only can be described as an ashen face,
Apparently where Pamela and Jo and the other idiots had installed the boiler, the pipes for the water, the cables for the electricity for power and the lights, they are “all over the place”. There are cables and pipes and bizarre fittings everywhere, on the floor of the loft; hanging from rafters; up walls; anywhere, but with no rhyme or reason. They will all have to be rerouted and made safe, at even more expense for me.
Her attitude, their attitude was, “If he can’t see it, he won’t be able to complain”.
So many people have told me that I should report her to my local council, report her to Corgi (if she is even registered), and get her struck off.
I would simply like to have her murdered… painfully.
What do you think?
Where I stand today:
The ceiling in the hall under the new bathroom is now showing signs of serious damp indicating (possibly) that the waste from the shower is leaking. Already two of the original Victorian mouldings from the hall ceiling have become damaged and have fallen, due to water coming from the bathroom above, and there is indication this ceiling is in danger of coming down.
The waste from the shower does not drain away fast enough and I have tried a couple of brands of drain “unblocker” which have not cleared the blockage.
I used a plunger, but the force of the water that I was driving along the pipe caused the pipe to leak where the dreadful Pamela had joined them inadequately. This caused the blockage to spill onto the floor, and as she hadn’t tiled under the shower tray, the gunk spread under there and black, smelly liquid gunk flowed down through the ceiling, caused the ceiling to bow, and made black marks on the wall and a puddle of it on the tiled floor downstairs.
I have searched on line and been informed by Google that Drano is not available in the UK.
Am I stubborn, or am I just plain stupid?
Judi told me, because Judi knows everything, and Judi is my best friend.
She told me not to trust the dreadful Pamela.
Judi saw right through Pamela, saw through her just as if the awful woman had been made of the best quality glass... and Pamela knew that Judi saw through her.
But did I listen?
If only I had looked for, and found, a good plumber in Parramatta.
But no, I was too stubborn.
Pity me, gentle reader.
A short Ode to Pamela
O you who plumb the depths of depravity.
O vile and wicked woman.
O you who practise the black arts.
Necromancy. Plumbing. Malicious witchcraft.
Did you bay at an evil constellation in the night sky, and plan my undoing?
I hope this doesn’t sound as if I am being sycophantic (How could it?I don’t even know the meaning of the word), but I was standing in the shower this morning, watching the water going down the waste pipe at about one litre per minute and I thought:
“If only I had a bottler of Drano, I would pour it down there and all of my troubles would be over”.
But Drano is not available in the UK.
Please, Mr Drano, listen to a sad person’s plea. Save my sanity… what little is left of it.