Somewhere in the more remote parts of the world, thousands of men trudge daily into massive quarries and mines, they labour all day to extract precious minerals such as copper and those elements that make brass, chrome, stainless steel and other bright shiny bits of metal.
All of their extracted rock is crushed, crushed again,then melted , made into ingots where it is sent around the world.
Eventually those blocks of metal are once again melted down and made into pipes and brackets,gauges,brass knuckles, bendy bits and even more shiny bits.
These are known collectively as Plumbing Materials.
A large quantity of this massive mining effort, in its finished form, has subsequently finished up in my second bathroom.
This bathroom is situated in the lower part of my house, next to a guest room.This bathroom is quite large and houses a very spacious shower cabinet,a washing machine..American version, capable of freshening up a compact rhino,a toilet,bidet,sink..all very nice. It is tiled from floor to ceiling and it is rarely used.
There are rumoured to be eight wonders of the world.....WRONG....In the far corner of my second rarely used bathroom stands a relatively unknown Ninth wonder of the world....The Hot Water Boiler....Italian Style.
Those words are enough to send most people shrieking away from my house as fast and as far as their quite rational fear can take them.
There it stands, hidden behind its modern white steel cover...obediently carrying out its normal duties, which is to heat the water for the house on demand.This function is preceded every few minutes by what sounds like a controlled nuclear blast and a roar from the bowels of the boiler which lasts a few minutes, and then it delivers its scalding load.
Very efficient. ..altho it is rumoured that every time it does this small task the vibrations have shaken down a house in Japan.
Recently this plumbing wonder has developed a small problem..it has begun to wet itself..not a lot, but sufficient to need a bucket to catch the drops.
Mary Lou and myself pondered for some time what to do about this inconvenience and finally we went into mental breakdown and informed the Landlord. Wrong again.
The Landlord is a farmer, well into his 80,s and very robust, with a wife of a similar age and condition.It is said the farmer took over the running of the very large farm and vineyard at the age of 12, after his father passed away, finally succumbing to his war wounds.
And so it was that early one sunny morning as I slumbered in my bed, lazily watching the rising sun send lacy patterns across my bedroom wall I became aware of a noise emerging from the lower part of the house.Some minutes later I tottered sleepily down the stone stairs into the bottom hall way.
The Farmer and his wife has two sons, now in their fifties, one of the sons lives on the farm and has two teenage children.The other son lives a short distance away in another village.
All six of this farming family are now crammed into the bathroom.Almost cowering in the far corner stands a hunted beast, known locally as the plumber .
At the rear of this dense crowd is Mary Lou, she had gone native, at least that half of her which is eternally Italian has gone native and she is yelling encouragement in two languages
.It was a relief to see her well bred English half had decided to wear a large brimmed straw sun hat...very fetching and somehow appropriate...attagirl!.
There are some nations in the world that are quite noisy when they are in small numbers. Americans are notoriously noisy..but six Italians can outnoise any nation in the world.. no matter how many there are in the contest.
The Plumber lives nearby in a splendid Italian Villa , beautifully maintained and sitting in several acres of immaculate gardens with a paved, curved,driveway leading from the high metal gates to the turnaround in front of the elegant entrance to the house.
He certainly knew how to charge for his services.He also has the reputation of being a bit of a talker.
On several occasions when he has been called in for minor plumbing jobs we have heard him have a loud and serious conversation ..with himself.
He is so loud that it is also rumoured an Italian football club hires him to boost the noise level at their home games.
Amazing what a meat pie and a cup of hot Bovril will buy.
Every single one of the occupants of the bathroom is giving advice to the Plumber..all at the same time and at full volume .
Suddenly he begins to remove the cover of the boiler to reveal a positive cornucopia of pipes..all sizes and widths..they writhe and twist in every direction... some are hot some were not.Some are chrome covered and all held together in a perpetual sexual frenzy of copper by massive brass fittings.
Wires are attached to some and some are wireless The entire assembly looks like a massive oil refinery or the engine room of a medium sized jumbo oil tanker.
Buried in the middle of all of this is a faulty pipe..one that drips into our carefully placed bucket.The sight of the worlds entire supply of twisted piping brings a moments silence to the small but very excited crowd..but only for a moment.
The Plumber reaches into his bag.... pulls out a tool and fearlessly plunges his right forearm into the place where only fools, brave men or rich plumbers enter.
He fiddles for a moment or two.
Standing at the back of the mob I could only guess at what is going on.
There is a bit of pipe banging, a swear word or two..standard procedure and obligatory in the plumbing world, I am told.
Then silence descends as the Plumber slowly emerges from the entrails of this coppery alien.
He turns to the Farmer and gave his verdict.
It involves a sum of money.
Uproar breaks out.
The noise level rises again..it has a tone of shock and horror about it.
My Italian is not good, in fact it is terrible, but as I back away from the entrance to the bathroom I could definitely hear the old and very angry Farmer yell at the top of his voice "Wife, go and fetch the gun, I am going to shoot the fucking Plumber."
At that moment I thought it would be a good time to take an early morning stroll around the garden.
I am informed that the boiler leaks no more.
Whenever I walk past the Plumbers palatial house he still waves a greeting from his comfortable patio. At least I think it is a greeting.