I had plans for Thursday afternoon. I was going to take a book to the park and read in the sun on what was possibly the warmest day of the year so far. But then I reached beneath the sink, touched something wet, and realised that my afternoon was going to be consumed by a plumbing emergency instead.
Fortunately, the leak was on the main shut-off tap, and dripped straight down onto the ground under the house without touching the sides, so there’s no apparent damage. It was only a cardboard box that had touched it and become saturated that alerted me.
Three hundred and a bit quid and a couple of hours later, it was sorted. As a bonus, we now have a main supply tap that can actually be turned.
The strangest thing about the whole process was that plumbers don’t appear to use normal technologies of measurement. If I wanted to know the diameter of a pipe, I’d get out my calipers and measure it. A plumber, apparently, looks at the colour of the pipe. As you’ve probably realised by this point, this is not a foolproof system.
Black pipes are apparently always 20mm, so he went to Screwfix (a builders’ supplier that is fortunately not too far away from our house) to get a 20mm tap, only to find that it was too small. I grabbed my calipers and established that the pipe and old fitting were 22mm, so off he went to Screwfix for a second time to get the correct size of fitting. He didn’t charge us for the time the second trip took, but it really could have been over and done a lot quicker.
I did manage to get my afternoon in the sun on Friday.
I had a busy day on Saturday. Haircut in the morning, then all the way to the wrong end of the Northern Line for a group shamisen practice organised by my teacher Hibiki Ichikawa. To be honest, it’s actually pretty hard to hear what’s going on with a dozen people clattering away at the same time in a small room, and I really went more for the chance to see people I hadn’t met in years. I was happy with that.
I made it home in time for a quick dinner and a disco nap before heading to Cafe OTO for the Misc. 5th Birthday. I went principally to catch Hainbach, but I really enjoyed Mücha’s performance too, with its combination of live vocals overlaid on what sounded like granular processed versions of the same. I spotted a couple of familiar faces from YouTube in the audience: Sam from Look Mum No Computer and True Cuckoo.
On the way into the gig, the ticket person on the door asked us:
— Have you taken a negative lateral flow test in the last 24 hours?
— Well, uh, be careful then I guess.
It’s not like you can easily get hold of them any more, anyway. I’m jealously guarding my last few tests, but I’m less and less sure what I’m keeping them for.
As a paper in the BMJ last year observed, “the end of the pandemic will not be televised”:
Pandemics—at least respiratory viral pandemics—simply do not end in a manner amenable to being displayed on dashboards. Far from a dramatic “end,” pandemics gradually fade as society adjusts to living with the new disease agent and social life returns to normal.
L— was interviewed by ITV news this week, in the hospital where she works, about the current state of the pandemic. The segment was supposed to air at half past six that evening and on the ten o’clock news. It made the earlier bulletin, but by the later programme it had been bumped by other things: war, obviously, but also by a royal trip to the colonies and a report about squalid conditions in social housing.
We are, literally and factually, at the not-being-televised point, at least in England. I think that’s probably OK.