Saturday, 28 March 2009


Friday 27 March 2009

My alarm goes off. Usually at this point I reset it and go back to sleep, but today is a special day, so I leap out of bed singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning!" at the top of my voice (if I have to get up I don't see why the neighbours should be allowed to keep snoozing).

All right, I don't. I crawl out of bed bleary-eyed and go to make a coffee. I probably still wake the neighbours up since I keep bumping into walls and things until the coffee starts to take effect.

I'm ready. I never like to be late for anything. While I'm waiting, I log onto the computer to read the news.

The waiting really starts now, since they said any time between 7 and 12. Maybe they won't come. After all, I arranged it all online, and I haven't had any confirmation.

Every time I hear traffic outside that could be a lorry, I look out of the window. They say that they usually phone before hand, but they probably wouldn't if they're arriving this early. And anyway, I could have typed in the wrong phone number. I have done that before - I give the STD code for a town I used to live in with my correct number.

I'm no good at waiting. I can never stop thinking about whatever it is I'm waiting for, even if it's something relatively unspectacular, or something that might not actually happen.

I'm getting hungry, so I make myself some lunch. I'm getting low on supplies, so I cook two jumbo hot dogs and microwavable Mexican rice. While I'm waiting I play "The Harmonious Blacksmith" on the piano (or try to).

I've got absorbed into trying to work out the fingering for the 4th Variation, when the phone rings. The phone hardly ever rings, so my reaction as usual is to jump in surprise as if I've just seen a small spider.

It's the delivery people. They say they'll be here in about half an hour.

I've just finished my hot dogs with mustard and rice when the big blue Argos lorry pulls up. Minutes later my new washer/drier is sitting in the kitchen waiting to be unpacked.

The washing machine really is a wonderful invention. A simple but magical device that by a combination of turning a drum in different directions, doing nothing and pumping water in and out manages somehow to wash your clothes. If it wasn't for this machine, a single man like me would need a live-in maid to do all his laundry. Now I come to think about it, perhaps I should have looked into the different options before buying another washer/drier...

The shop provide an installation service for washing machines. Obviously I wasn't stupid enough to go for this. £37 to connect up a couple of pipes? I'm not exactly Mr DIY, but I'm not that incapable.

Before I can install the machine, I've got to remove the restraining bolts that they use when transporting it. There are four of these green harmless-looking things. I look through my tools for a spanner. Sadly, it's the wrong size.

I go to B&Q (a DIY store). Luckily it's only a short drive. Of the two major domestic DIY chains (B&Q and Homebase), B&Q is the slightly scarier one. It's not as bad as Wickes, which is for real hard-core enthusiasts. That's the sort of place that won't sell you a door, but instead the right kind of wood to make it with.

I pick up a small adjustable spanner, since I've no idea what fraction of an inch or centimetre these particular bolts are. Whilst I'm there, I remember that I need a better screwdriver, and a new bedside lamp. Whilst getting a light bulb for this lamp, I remember that I've been meaning to get an 8-way extension cable with surge protection for the computer...

Arrive back at the flat with armfulls of stuff. The lounge floor is already covered with little bits of polystyrene from unpacking the washing machine, and now there's loads on my bed from unpacking the bedside lamp.

Bugger! The plastic green "filler pug" around the bolt has got sticky-out-bits (I'm sure they have a technical name) that prevents the use of an adjustable spanner.

11:36 - 11:38
Spend a bit longer cursing.

I take a trip to Homebase (which Helena and I call "Gnomebase" for hysterical reasons). This is about the same distance away as B&Q which I don't want to go back to, since I don't want to look like an idiot when I buy a different type of spanner.

Gnomebase is slightly less scary than B&Q. It sells more home furnishings and stuff. It occurs to me that FADKOG's Tool Man would know exactly which of the millions of implements to pick out. I go for a T something or other with several different attachments (I learn that these are technically known as "bits" - aren't they used for saddling horses?). I also buy a pack of regular spanners, since I don't want to have to make another trip out, especially since the only place left to go would be WIckes, and I'm not dressed for the occasion - I shaved this morning and don't have any paint/oil/blood-stained overalls.

Back to the flat. The T-thing does the job. The bolts come out easily, but the green filler plug things are a bugger to remove, mainly because I don't know whether it's safe to use brute force, or whether I'll break something inside the machine. Finally I get it sorted.

Top Tip: Don't stop partway through unscrewing a bolt to take photos, especially when (due to lack of space) you're standing at the front and unscrewing the bolt at the back right handed (I normally use a screwdriver left-handed), since you'll forget which direction you have to turn it.

Voila! I put the washing machine onto a 90-degrees cycle with no load, as per the instructions. The flat below me doesn't get flooded and there's no blue flash, so I think I've plumbed it correctly.

With one eye on the machine (checking for leaks), write a blog post. I've not made it into work today, but I will be able to wear clean socks tomorrow.

Hungry. I shouldn't have had such an early "lunch". I couldn't face the supermarket today. Dinner: two jumbo hot dogs with mustard and microwaveable egg fried rice.

Perhaps I should just have paid the £37, since I spent more than that in tools. However, I will never need to worry about not having the correct spanner ever again:

At least, not until the next time I need to unbolt something, which will hopefully not be for a while...


Jean Knee said...


is it cheating if I haven't read your post yet?

Jean Knee said...

I leave all tool and bolty matters to my sister who works at Lowes and is undoubtedly stronger than any man I know.

Jean Knee said...

I do admire your perseverance

Jean Knee said...

also, your hand looks very manly

Brian o vretanos said...

Jean Knee

It's not cheating provided that:

(a) You post a real comment once you've read it.

(b) No-one else posts a comment between your first and your real comment.

(c) You follow it up with compliments.

Jean Knee said...

that's right, I'm no cheater


for a different kind of girl said...

Tool Man may well know which device to use in this matter, but for your sake, I'm quite glad you got the job done, for had I had to consult him by way of showing him these photos, he would have Hulked out to see a competitors tools in them!

On another note, I'm quite impressed the delivery folks showed up so soon within their delivery window. That is unheard of here!

Finally, I may have a stomach ache now reading of your hot dog consumption.


Bee said...

That is way too much work for me. I usually just dial up a husband or a brother and VOILA! I can read my magazine in peace.

Bee said...

Andy sent me to Home Depot today, DIY center which I love, and I had to get industrial commercial heavy duty adhesive and a caulk gun.
I got to Home Depot and after looking at the plants and patio decor I thought "what did he want? a hot glue gun?" Luckily, he answered his phone after the 1000 ring and straightened me out.

Chris Wood said...

Let this be a lesson to you.

I'm not sure what the lesson is, but there you go.

Brian o vretanos said...


A lot of companies here are getting better with their deliveries.

When you're hungry it's amazing what you'll eat...


Andy's very lucky that the Home Depot don't sell shoes.


The lesson is that if you have to spend hours doing DIY, you don't have as much time as you'd have liked to get on with reading a certain Sherlock Holmes book. I'm about half-way through it now. I know, I know, "could do better" ;-)

Dan said...

I just got back from washer shopping, what do you think this means? Maybe you and I are twins or something. Did you get a good deal? Do you think they deliver to Chicago? Yours is really fancy, be careful with those front loading machines, some kid here opened one up and crawled inside and washed himself to death, what a way to go, I woner if they pit him in the dryer before calling the morgue......ok that was a bad one.....

Tracys Ramblings said...

I've been watching a lot of episodes of this show called Househunters: International, where people move from whatever country they live in to a new one. I've seen several that move to your neck of the woods and I have always wondered two things:
1. Why do you all always have your laundry machine in the kitchen.
2. How does it do both wash and dry the clothes?
I've never seen anything like that sold here. I would prefer one machine that does both things instead of having to pay outrageous prices for two machines.

Tracys Ramblings said...

Also, are you lefthanded or do you just use tools with your lefthand?
This is an important question, seeing as I am left handed myself.

Brian o vretanos said...


All washing machines here are front-loading, probably because we have less space for top loaders. My worktop, including part of my sink, is above the washing machine.


Some people have them in utility rooms, if they're fortunate enough to have such a thing. Washer/Driers are important in flats because I don't have room for two machines, and don't have a garden. They simply have a drying cycle that will work automatically after the wash, and they presumably pump the moisture out through the drainage pipe rather than having the kind of air pipe you often get on driers. You can put clothes in, go off to work and come back at the end of the day and they're dry. A lot of them will only dry a half-load though, but that just means you only use light loads. This new one will wash up to 6kg and dry up to 5kg.

I'm supposedly ambidextrous (i.e. equally bad with both hands), and I write with my right hand, but I use my left hand a lot, so I'm more used to doing things like opening bottles and working screwdrivers with it, and have to think before I use my right hand for those tasks.