Wednesday, February 01, 2006

showering in the UK

Seems to me the biggest battle I've had in the UK is over the shower. No matter where I live or where I visit, I have shower drama.

Today the the electrician came to the flat to have a look and see what he could fix. He was so competent and friendly! i really like the Scots. I especially like the way the roll their 'R'. And it's becoming somewhat easier to understand them. Despite warnings to the contrary, I haven't met a dour Scot yet (Except for F***, but maybe she's just the exception that proves the rule). He gave me lots of information about my electricity and my shower. here's the good, the bad, and the ugly:

THE GOOD: The Professor and I aren't dead. When the shower quit the first time, The Professor and I stood in the hall and stared at the electricity box for about 10 minutes with our thumbs up our noses. Turns out, that was the best place for our thumbs. If one of us had opened that box and messed around, it's possible we would have gotten the shock of our lives. It's a good thing we acted like the ignorant academics with no common sense that we are. The electrician said under no conditions should i open that box -- even to replace a blown fuse -- because the box is dangerous inside. While up on a step stool or ladder, I might lose my balance and reach out to steady myself -- and instead of getting steadied, I might steady my heart forever. He didn't have to tell me twice. You and I both know exactly how graceful I am.

THE BAD: the circuit that flips is an ancient model from around the time of Robert the Bruce and the warehouse doesn't seem to have any replacements. The temporary solution would be to replace this switch, but he doesn't think he'll be able to obtain one. if he could find one, he says it would probably last up to, max, a year before it needed to be replaced again. So, a stop-gap measure is only a stop-gap if you've got a stop.

THE UGLY: the small box that contains the malfunctioning circuit is no longer allowable. it's connection to the larger box is not quite illegal, but under today's regulations they are not allowed to simply replace that box when it has a fault. Rather, my ancient bigger box (the dangerous live box that I'm forbidden to open on threat of death), which powers the smaller box that powers the shower, will have to be overhauled and that will take a couple hundred pounds worth of parts. so, this is a big expense for the owners of my flat, which they probably didn't anticipate when they added this property to their empire. (or at least hoped they'd be able to indefinitely delay.)

the electrician will file a hazard report with [putative property management agency], PPA will will alert the owners, and the owners will decide whether i deserve an investment of 200 pounds so that i (and The Professor, and the Parentel, when they visit) can have a comfortable shower.
So, we'll see. Technically, they don't have to replace it, I guess. Ethically, they should.

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