The Arab spring rolls on. Governments are shooting their own people on the streets. Iran is on the verge, apparently, of building a nuclear bomb. Israel threatens to strike the first blow. In Africa, whole populations are starving. Afghanistan, is still a war zone. Several countries in Europe are completely bankrupt. Britain, struggling with a recession, has a general strike planned for next Wednesday. In Tricia's bathroom, a tap is leaking under the basin.
Can things get any worse? The answer, I am sorry to say, is yes they can. The leaking water has made it's way into the next door property. Which is bad enough. But just to make things even more complicated, it has found it's way to their electricity meter,and blown the fuses.
The emergency, 24 hour call out, no job too small, plumber, has been and assessed the work required. This entailed sticking his head into the cupboard under the basin. As he bends down his arse does it's best to escape from the dark confines of his trousers. I wince at this revolting image, and look away.
He reappears, and, grunting with the effort, gets painfully to his feet. There is the sound of sharp intakes of breath and tutting noises, combined with head shaking and teeth sucking. He has noticed the lead piping.
"That's not good. That is bleeding ancient mate. I'm gonna 'ave to cut into that. What you need is a lead lock mate. Not easy to find, lead locks. Dunno if you can get 'em. Your plumbing is bleeding prehistoric mate."
Doing my best to ignore his gloomy prognosis I ask if he can do the job. This sets him off again. The teeth sucking gets louder. I worry for his gums.
"Those taps are gonna need changing," he says sucking rapidly, "they came outta the bleeding ark they did. Ain't seen taps like that for bleeding donkeys years. Gonna be a bastard to get 'em off, without cracking the basin, mate. Might 'ave to 'ave a new basin. Might as well do. Get the job done proper. Them bath taps is gonna go soon by the look of 'em. I could do 'em at the same time, save you a bit of money there. You got any more old taps need sorting out? Alright if I smoke mate? I'll 'ave to find a lead lock somewhere, to stop that leak. Gaw'd knows where. Can't do it this week anyway, mate, I'm bleeding snowed under wiv work."
While he fills his lungs with tobacco smoke, I take the opportunity to point out that he advertises himself as a 24 hour emergency call out plumber.
"I'm 'ere ain't I mate. It ain't leaking no more is it? 'mergency bleeding sorted, right?"
I then point out that the leak has stopped because I turned the main stopcock off myself, before he arrived.
"Yes mate, I know that, but you did call me out on a 'mergency, didn't you, and I came didn't I? I am 'ere ain't I? Stood in your bleeding bathroom."
Normally, I am an easy going chap, but his condescending attitude has got me riled, and I have decided he will not be getting the job. I show him to the door, telling him I'll let him know. I think he gets the message.
He has a parting shot, "What about my call out charge?"
I tell him to send me the bill.
The next plumber I call, is here, and gone, within a couple of hours, having fixed the leak.
The worlds problems go on, but Tricia's leaking tap is one less to worry about.