One of the delusions I labour under is that I’m good at plumbing. There’s not a shred of evidence for it, and no training obviously, but I come from a long line of plumbers, and my granddad used to show me how ball-cocks worked, so I feel it must be in my genes. I mention this by way of explanation as to why I was lying on wet, freezing ground outside my kitchen window, wearing rubber gloves. We’re not of a practical bent in our house. The Blu-Tack holding up the tiles is a testament to this. But when I saw that we had a blocked kitchen drain, a spirit of adventure gripped me, and I chucked a bottle of vinegar down (why? don’t know) before attacking the drain with a plunger. Which then got stuck, with only the tip sticking out, thus totally blocking the drain. Which is why I ended up lying with both arms down the drain, vinegary slop running into my rubber gloves. I got the plunger out, eventually, but was splattered with slop. I reached down again and grasped strange, nauseating handfuls of foul smelling rice, what looked like charcoal, and pink Magic Sand I’d chucked down the sink 6 months ago. After I’d washed my stinking clothes and scrubbed myself off in the shower, I asked advice - from Ron, who suggested bicarb and vinegar mixed - and from Bunce’s, who sold me some Caustic Soda. Looking at the packet, I haven’t dared use it yet, because it will probably result in a trip to the burns unit. Should I give those so-called ‘professional’ plumbers a call? Hmm.

Taking the plunge: it’s for good reason there are no DIY plumbing
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