Wednesday, 23 November 2011


In the Fawlty Towers episode "The Builders", Basil hires the Irish builder Mr. O'Reilly to carry out some internal alterations to the hotel. He manages to block up the door to the dining room and move another to the base of the stairs. When his worknmanship, or lack of it, is commented upon, he asserts that "a lick of paint here, a lick of paint there" will sort it all out. Sybil Fawlty is less than impressed and lays into him with her umbrella. Basil decides to give him one more chance, which we know will turn out to be disasterous. The episode ends with Basil marching down the driveway of Fawlty Towers clutching a large garden gnome with the clear intention of inserting it into the hapless builder.

I had some work carried out on the house today. The Diocese has decided to speedily install solar panels on the roofs of many of its vicarages, and my turn was today. Two young Irish builders arrived at 07.15 and proceeded to erect their tower scaffolding. By 11.00 a.m. they were ready to drill a hole through the outside wall to feed the panel cable to the fuseboard. It all went swimmingly. Literally. Despite my warnings they managed to chew a small hole in the mains water inlet pipe.

Now the pressure in that particular water pipe is quite high, and my lobby, where all my DVD's are stored, proceeded to get a hefty shower. To cries of alarm his compatriot was alerted and the stop-cock turned off, but not before the carpet was flooded and the DVD shelves dripping merrily.

The afternoon was spent in mopping up, moving all the DVDs into the kitchen, wiping them down, taking out their wet covers and drying them on the radiators. The kitchen table now looks like a DVD shop, and it has to be cleared tonight as I host the post-communion breakfast tomorrow morning. And I have another PCC meeting this evening (in about 35 minutes).

In between all this I not only had a PCC to attend but also a pre-funeral visit with the relatives coming to me and clambering their way over pipes, tools, metalwork and cables, and dam dust-sheets.

The plumber arrived about 4.00 p.m. and it took him a good hour to access the damaged piece of pipe and remove it since the fuse-box cupboard had been built around it. Eventually the damaged section was removed and a new section brazed-in. The Irish lads cleared off before this was finished, their job done.

If I'd had a garden gnome handy .....


  1. Reminds me of the time an electrician in our house when nailing the floorboards back put a nail in to the pipe and then tried to use my fluffy bathroom towels to stop the water flowing out rather than racing to turn off the mains.

    Hope the diocese paid for the emergency plumber.

  2. I suspect it should be down to the company as it was their plumber, but I shall inform the Diocese so that they don't try and sneak the cost of it into the solar installation charge.