Caution: Men At Work (a.k.a. Fitting A New Radiator Almost Made My Head Explode)





Our house is cold and old.  And cold.  And falling to pieces.  And cold.  We have finally got round to fitting a new radiator in the main lounge and getting the boiler replaced after qualifying for grant assistance from Warm Front.  The surveyor called round last week, submitted his report and arrangements were made for the work to be done today and tomorrow.  I've taken two days off work to... well, do nothing, to be exact - I think Supervisor and Chief Brew Maker were my two job roles today.


8.00:  Workman #1 turns up two hours early, just as I'm stepping out of the door to go on the school run.  I tell him that I'll be 15 minutes and leave him to have a ciggy in the van.


8.18:  Home from the school run, Workman #1 has reassessed the job and decided that the surveyor's report is wrong and there's an "easier" way to complete the work.  There is lots of talk about "15's" and "22's".  I have no idea what he's on about.


8.22:  Two more fitters turn up - one looking like the fat one from The Full Monty, the other looking like he's just old enough to have his stabilisers taken off his bike.  I decide to nickname them The Three Amigos.


8.45:  Access is needed under the floor of the main lounge; the furniture needs to be rearranged and the carpet lifted.  I give Kev a dirty look.


8.48:  The Three Amigos retire to the back garden for a fag whilst me and Kev re-arrange more furniture and have an argument.


8.54:  I brew up to keep everyone quiet.


9.13:  The lounge carpet is up.  A rotten floorboard is hacked at and a "trap" cut for easy access to the under-floor pipe work.  We discover that the "noisy floorboard" is actually a loose joist and I start to worry if the whole house is going to fall down.


9.18:  Workmen #1 starts singing "Bad Boys" over and over again.  Very badly.  I tell him to shut up or there will be no more brews.


9.20:  The water is turned off.  I Tweet a message asking for someone to send Bob Geldof and Lenny Henry to come and save me.


9.39:  I nip to the loo and find that someone has pissed on the seat.  I'm not happy.


9.42:  The new radiator and boiler have entered the building.


9.55:  I put on my coat because every door and most of the windows in the house are open.


9.56:  My boss texts to see if I found my clothes this morning (we had to move all the bedroom furniture into the spare room, which is the size of a postage stamp and I couldn't open any drawers).


10.01:  I go to McDonalds for breakfast.  Fuck the diet.


10.10:  @himupnorth arranges for a charity single and gig in aid of my no water plight (sarcastic twat tweeter).  I am happy as I drink my latte from McD's.


10.28:  WE HAVE A GAS LEAK.  SOS!  HELP! 


10.32:  We no longer have a gas leak.


10.43:  The kitchen radiator starts leaking and Kev has to admit a bungled job when he last bled them.  Workman #1 fixes it and takes the piss out of him.  I decide that I like him again.


11.07:  The workman who looks like the fat one out of The Full Monty trips over a pile of equipment in the hallway.  I make sure he's not going to claim for personal damages and then offer to help him up.


11.17:  The Boss turns up, Workman #3 who looks about 12 years old runs around the house displaying signs that say "Men At Work" and "Caution: Raised Floorboards".  Everyone behaves themselves for the duration of the visit.


11.51:  Rachel calls round to tell me that her midwife has told her that the baby's head is engaged.  I plead with her not to go into labour until Saturday at the earliest.


12.18:  Now that we know that there is to be no work done in our bedroom we decide to re-lay the carpet, replace the bedroom furniture and have a quick tidy up.  I glance at the dust on the skirting board and shove a chest of drawers in front of it.


13.16:  All is quiet.  It is too quiet.  The job is progressing far to smoothly.  I prepare myself for a Laurel and Hardy style crash as the new boiler falls through the kitchen ceiling or someone falls off the ladder from the loft.


14.25:  I am fucking freezing.  All my doors are still open!  My nose feels like it is about to fall off and I cannot feel the ends of my fingers any more.  I am also sick of sitting at the kitchen table - my arse is square and my back aches.


14.52:  The 12-year old apprentice starts putting tools back into the van.  Kev is sat at the kitchen table with me, interrupting my Twitter time (which is cunningly disguised as Open University study), asking me all sorts of meaningless questions about the workmen, the news on the radio station, flushing the radiator system, the dust on the settee, the floorboard that has not yet been nailed back into place... at least I now know where our 10-year old son gets it from - or is it the other way around?


15.08:  The 12-year old apprentice walks round the house bleeding all the radiators. HISSSSSSSSSS is a good noise, right?


15.20:  There is scuffling and muffled shouting upstairs.  The workman who looks like the fat one out of the Full Monty comes downstairs and turns the hot tap on.  Kev sticks his finger under the running water and marvels at the warmth.  It is not quite hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns.  Shame.


15.34:  I knew it was too good to be true!  The electrician is booked for a lunch time visit tomorrow to wire up the thermostat (or something) but he has to run an earth wire from the gas meter (in the porch) to the cold tap (in the kitchen).  A distance of some 40-odd feet through the porch, the hallway, the main lounge and the kitchen.  The floorboards may have to be lifted.  Again.  *angry and confused face*


16.12:  Workman #1 and his 12-year old apprentice have gone.  The workman who looks like the fat one out of The Full Monty has arranged to return at 8.15am to check that the house hasn't blown up or anything.  We've shifted the lounge around slightly so that I have a comfy seat to sit in tonight.  Kev is botching a new floorboard  in one of the bedrooms whilst the carpet is lifted.


17.28:  Fuck me, it's hot in this house.  I wonder how I turn the thermostat down...

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