“Please,” said Lady Barton St Mary, gently stroking my cheek with the back of her hand, “Uncle Robin needs your help,” she said in her gentlest voice. I stiffened, swallowing hard.
“OK,” I managed to blurt, “I’ll go on Sunday”
It transpired that Uncle Robin, the wayward brother of The Marquess of Prestberries (Lady BSM’s Father) needed a bit of help in fixing his washing machine in his bachelor pad, since it was now flooding his kitchen. It appeared that the wild parties involving lots of romps in the whirlpool bath had taken their toll on the waste pipes, which I assumed had been blocked by jazz cigarette roaches and grey body hair.
Hence, his collection of tie dye shirts, cravats and kimonos were creating a sizeable pile in his boudoir, as he like to call it.
So, Sunday found me under the kitchen counter at Far Out Cottage, contemplating how to clear the blockage and fix the flooding.
“Can’t understand it,” said Wayward Brother Uncle Robin, leaning against the counter, wearing his best silk smoking jacket and munching a slice of buttered toast, “it never used to flood. I think the cosmic vibes may have been affected when Cameron visited the agricultural college. My pad reacts badly to the man,” he continued, waving his hand in the air to indicate the general atmosphere of the place.
” You need a spigot on your washing machine waste,” I explained, “I’ll have to go to B&Q and get it.”
“Groovy,” said Wayward Brother Uncle Robin, making a gun shape with his right hand and firing it at me. I took the appropriate piece for size and set off for the DIY store.
“Can you help me?” I asked the young gentleman wandering past me with a trolley full of products. He eyed me suspiciously. I checked his attire. Black and Orange polo shirt, white laminated badge with the legend “Leno” typed on it.
“I need to find a part to fit a washing machine waste pipe – I’ve looked, but I can’t find the right diameter.”
Leno blinked and looked over my shoulder, into the far distance, searching for an answer like a sailor, three months at sea, seeking land.
“Have you looked in Plumbing?” he enquired.
“No, I was looking in the aisle full of canvas prints of kittens, Elvis and Marilyn Munroe – what a fuckwit I am,” I nearly said.
But I’m English, so I just said, “Actually, yes I have.”
Leno studied the circular piece of plastic in my hand.
“It needs to have the same size screw thread as this part,” I explained.
Leno’s eyes suddenly came to life.
“Yes! Have you looked in the screws section?” he asked excitedly.
My look was enough and Leno stared at the floor. “Erm, no perhaps not there,” he said.
We made our way to Plumbing, tearing open several packets to find the right piece before Leno admitted defeat and went back to his specialist area, whatever that was.
There was a happy ending. I cobbled together a few bits that I purchased from the DIY shop and fixed the flooding problem. Wayward Brother Uncle Robin was delighted, hugging me and handing me a biscuit tin full of his special cookies to share with Lady BSM. As I write, we’re sitting in the drawing room at Randall Towers eating them. For some reason, we both feel very relaxed. What’s more, the more we eat, the hungrier we feel …