What Mel Did
What Mel Did - Dshoom clock

We Make Plans And The Universe Says “Bog Off”

There are two kinds of people:

1) those who believe everything happens for a reason; and
2) those who stare very hard at people who believe everything happens for a reason.

I straddled both groups recently.

Days before guests were due to arrive at my apartment, it started with a simple question from my son who was home on an impromptu visit:

”Mum, is there a reason the hot water is running lukewarm?”

”Oh, dear,” I said. “Let me see if I can figure out what the problem is so my guests don’t have to contend with lukewarm water.”

Apparently, this is a loose translation of what I actually said:

”GOD DAMN IT! Really? The bloody thing has gone wrong again? Why me, God? WHY ME, FOR FECK’S SAKE?”

You say tomater.

The boiler people would only commit to coming out a worrying few days before my guests were due to arrive, and no amount of pleading, simpering or threatening could change that.

Then a colleague reminded me that services usually came out as a faster priority if there was vulnerability in the home – such as an older person, a person with a disability, baby or illness.

Calling the boiler people back, I cited my breast cancer troubles of two years ago, my gall bladder removal of a year ago and general unwellness following a road traffic accident I may or may not have had.

”Ah,” they said, “we made a mistake, we can’t come out on the day originally booked, it will have to be later.”

”But that’s TWO DAYS before my guests arrive. PLEASE take my gall bladder into consideration and see if you can’t bump me up the list.”

”No, madam, we no longer operate the gall-bladder-bumping-up-the-list-priority-service.”

”Okay, but if my bladder flares up again, that’s on you.”


”Nothing, I’ll see you on Tuesday.”

Tuesday and the boiler man arrives. Remembering how helpful the last boiler technician had been, I was sure of a resolution, except this visit did not start well.

”Mrs Fargo, you’ll need to remove all those linens, towels and inordinate amount of fabric from the cupboard.”

Alright, he didn’t say “inordinate amount of fabric,” but I could sense the judgement.

”The last technician who came accessed the boiler fine,” I said. “Look, see? No obstruction. There’s plenty of room to work.”

”Mrs Fargo, you’ll need to…”

”Okay, okay.”

A full 15 minutes later, having divested the cupboard of its contents (including an inordinate amount of fabric) AND taken 10ft high mirrored doors off its hinges (with no help from Le Boilerman), I explained the problem again.

”The hot water in the bathroom sink and kitchen sink are fine you say?”

”Yes,” I said.

”In that case it’s not a boiler problem.”

I counted to 10, counted the stars floating before my eyes and “1, 2, 3” I was back in the room.

”You know, I remember that being the case before, but then the technician took out his wrench and banged something on the bath tap. The heating-regulator-something-or-other,” I said, helpfully.

”He wasn’t supposed to do that.”

”No, it was a favour to me.”

”Well, Mrs Fargo, I won’t be taking out my wrench and banging anything.”

”You’ll need to get a plumber” was the last words I heard ringing in my ears as I showed the boiler man to the door.

Come to find out plumbing services do not come cheap, especially when you need them to come cheap and quickly. One company wanted £65 per half hour, BEFORE parts and then the labour to attach those parts if parts were indeed needed.

Is it only me who misses the visceral satisfaction of slamming a phone into its cradle before throwing it across the room? Lightly touching an iPhone screen to end a frustrating call does not do it.

I eventually found a plumber, albeit one who laughed when I asked what his invoice terms were, but who did come recommended and within an acceptable price range – even though he would need paying the same day in money coins.

Then, as he got ready to see to the pesky hot water problem, a question:

”Mrs Fargo?”


”Has your toilet been leaking long?”

I look down at the mounting puddle at our feet.

”No,” I thought. “Just since the Universe decided to eff with me.”

”Oh,” I said out loud. “Are you able to fix it for me while you’re here?”

”Yes,” he said.

Rather than let out a stream of words my mother would not approve of, I did have to thank The Universe for giving me a hot water problem (lukewarm water problem) so that a plumber could be on site to deal with the more serious problem of a leaking toilet.

Guests might generally be expected to cope with lukewarm showers, but lukewarm poo?

So, maybe yes, shit does indeed happen for a reason.


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