“You know I have many vices young man”

24th August 2017

“You know I have many vices young man”

Recently a call came in from a lady with a recurring toilet blockage problem and blaming her husband, who was suffering with short term memory loss, for using too much toilet paper.

On arrival the couple both answered the door, both started to explain the problem and both led the way up the stairs. The lady pointed to the bathroom saying, “The problem is in here” – the gentlemen said, “No it’s in here” – pointing to his modelling room/upstairs workshop next to the bathroom.

The lady pulled me to one side and whispered something about him not knowing what was happening, the gentleman pulled me back saying, “She won’t listen to me, and I’ve got four vices you know”.

Ummm, better get the toilet clear first I thought as I returned to the van, using an industrial toilet plunger I had it cleared in next to no time. The lady was over the moon, but the gentleman was still insisting I go into his modelling room before I did anything else. He showed me all his models and his tools and equipment before saying, “it’s there you know” as he pointed out of the window. He was right; the lead pipe running along the outside wall directly under his window, from the toilet outlet to the fallpipe was almost flat. This was above the flat garage roof and it would appear the window cleaner had always stood on the pipe to reach the top of the window.

What happened next was priceless. With a glint in his eye he said, “I was going to tell you about my vices wasn’t I?”

“I think you were”, I replied, wondering where the conversation was going to go…..

He pointed to his small engineering vice on his modelling bench and proceeded to tell me a fabulous story about how he’d used the ‘vice’ to make a model of the ship he served on – he asked if I’d liked to see it, and took me downstairs into the living room where the magnificent model took pride of place atop a large chest of drawers.

I indicated that I really must get on and needed to get onto the garage roof, he immediately said that I would need some steps and asked me to follow him into the garage. Needless to say right in front of the garage door was a large wooden bench complete with a woodworking vice…. He proceeded to tell be about his career making and laying ornate flooring, some of his customers and funny experiences and how important the bench and vice had been….

Eventually we moved through the garage to where I thought we may find a ladder, but no, taking pride of place a metal bench with a large engineering vice. This time he explained this was all that was left of his workshop in which he’d spent his life renovating and refurbishing old motorcycles, and how he’d actually made spare parts, showing me a few items that he’d kept as mementoes….

I thought I’d better mention that he did say he had four vices right at the beginning …. He indicated that I should follow him outside ….. In the rear garden was a wooden shed and standing outside, anchored to the concrete was a solid looking bench holding a large blacksmiths vice. Thinking I was to hear another fascinating story from a bygone era I sat on the garden wall and looked up at him. But he just said, “It’s in here”, as he opened the shed door….

There just through the door was a forged ornate wrought iron three sided cage about 2 feet long and a foot by a foot, which had been constructed with iron scrolls, petals and bends. As he picked it up and gave it to me I looked at the vice and asked, “You’ve made this recently using that vice?”. He just looked at me, smiled and said, “Yes, and using this”, pointing to a miniature forge in the shed… Holding the cage I asked, “What’s this for exactly?”.

With a big grin he said, “It’s to protect that bloody lead pipe from the window cleaner …. Can you repair the pipe and would you mind fitting this for me? ….. I told you she wouldn’t listen to me! ”

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