When Mood Music
2008-11-14 19:17:00 relieved Welcome to the machine – Pink Floyd

The perils of moving in…

Part 1
We have no normal broadband, pending our chosen telecoms company pulling their fingers out of their collective orifice and reconnecting us. Then we’ll be able to get our ISP of choice to supply broadband. The relief in all of this is that SIOJ (my MacBook Pro) has just accepted that it does indeed have a mobile broadband dongle in its USB port and will connect to the interweb. Until about 10 minutes ago, my hostess’s Powerbook G4 would connect via the dongle but SIOJ wouldn’t.

Part 2
When my hostess bought this flat, a minor part of the deal was we kept the white goods, including a not-too-old-looking washing machine. I emphasis ‘looking’ because the machine’s drum came off its bearings the first time we used it. So we hied ourselves to John Lewis to purchase a brand-spanking new one. John Lewis offered delivery, installation and removal of the old one as part of the deal. So I arranged to be in the flat today to receive the new beastie.

At this point it’s worth knowing that the only water stopcock in the flat turns off the water to not just this flat but to the three above us as well. Now there’s power!

When the John Lewis folk arrived, I turned off the water and ran the taps to drain the system so that they wouldn’t get a soaking when they disconnected the old machine. However, they took one look at the place where the old one was and refused point-blank to install the new one. Their reason was that the old one had been connected to the water supplies by extension pipes and they weren’t allowed to install except directly onto the mains supplies. ‘No problem’ I said. ‘I’ll disconnect the old one, then you can take it away.’ So I grabbed a washing-up bowl, held it under the connections between the old machine’s pipes and the extension pipes and undid the standard fittings. The John Lewis-ites then picked up the old one and took it away, apologising for not being allowed to do their job because they weren’t plumbers and promising that my hostess would get back the £25 she’d paid for the installation.

About this point I noticed that the new machine only had a cold-water input. The old machine had had both hot- and cold-water inputs so I was left with a fateful choice: either keep the whole building’s water supply off or turn it back on and flood this flat. I also realised that electicity had reached the old machine via an extension cable whose outer sheath was missing in places. Water and electricity isn’t that good a mix. So I really couldn’t care less about the £25 and was rather glad to see the back of the unhelpful deliverers. As the saying goes, ‘if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate’ and who needs that all over the place?

So I thought I needed a plumber to come round and rapidly cap the hot-water supply. (The cold one could of course be connected to the machine.) At this point, the above-mentioned lack of internet became an issue – I couldn’t google for Edinburgh plumbers. However, I could phone someone who did have the internet: my dad. (I have a jPhone, I could have googled on it, I realise now but consternation appears to have fuddled me.) While dad was twiddling, I started to apply thought – or at least curiosity to the issue. The extension cables disappeared into a wooden home-made cabinet fixed to the wall. I found I could lift the lid off it and trace the extension cables back to the mains supply. And much to my relief the mains supplies each had their own wee taps. I turned them off, then restored our neighbours’ water-supply for lo! I am a benevolent weevil.

Meanwhile my dad had been googling away and had found plumbers within half a mile of here. He’d also discovered that while gas is a third of the price per energy-unit than electricity but most makes of washing machines only have cold-water inlets. (This has boggled both of us. Surely it would be sane for washing machines to get whatever hot water they need from gas-heated boilers. If the hot water is too hot, surely it’s not beyond the wit of Miehle, Bosch, etc to dilute a suitable amount of hot water with cold water and hence use the minimum amount of cost/energy? After all, most modern heating systems involve combi-boilers [such as the one in this flat] which heat water on demand, rather than heating up a tank of water which is then left to go cold if it’s not used straight away. I can’t believe that two-thirds of the heat will be lost between the boiler and the machine. [Well, maybe I can in this flat!])

So now the wave-form of the above moral dilemma collapsed into a two simple questions:

  1. do I connect the new machine directly to the mains, or shove the new machine into the under-stairs cubby where the old machine had been and continue to use the extension pipes?
    Leaving the machine where it is now takes up a lot of utility-room floor area but actually frees more floor area that had been inaccessible behind the old one. Putting the new machine back into the under-stairs cubby would necessitate continued use of the extension pipes and would risk scratching the sides of the new machine.>
  2. who can permanently cap off the hot-water supply so that I don’t have to rely on a wee tap?
    I have a potential solution to this one: I’d also phoned my hostess’s piano teacher because she was likely to be in, likely to know decent trades-folk and had a brain. She suggested that her husband (who also has a brain and a wicked sense of humour) could do the job, having done the same sort of thing several times. At the very least, he’d be strong enough to help me move the machine into the cubby if my hostess decided on that option.

So now I have tidied all of the stuff that had been in the utility room into the I-don’t-know-where-it-goes-yet-atorium, mopped up the drips, installed hanging-rails in the wardrobe , removed an unwanted mirror from the bedroom wall, got back onto the interweb, written up notes from a visit by a sparky (but that’s another story).

And a big thank-you to my dad for being such a star!

Now I’m comparing the merits of Lochranza (a blended whisky from the Isle of Arran distillery) and Black Bush (Bushmill’s blend of their own grain and malt whiskeys) brought by my hostess who was in Belfast this week. So far the Antrim contender is ahead on points…


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