Wednesday, 4 July 2007

It's still going very wrong

I received a collection of application forms on Friday with a letter that stated the closing date was Monday.

Dad called and told me that he and Married with Kids would be landing on Monday to do a bit of work on the house.

Saturday, Dad announced that he and Married with Kids wouldn't be arriving until Tuesday.

That gave me the opportunity to fill in one of the forms and hand deliver it to Birmingham City Centre on Monday.

Married with Kids and Dad arrived on Tuesday in MwK's van. MwK screwed plasterboard to the ceilings in the front room and in the middle bedroom. He sanded the bathroom walls, using money from Dad he bought plasterboard, plaster, wood and arris rail from Wickes and declared the curry from a local pub some of the best he's ever tasted.

After hearing my washing machine start to deafen the neighbourhood, he condemned my washing machine as "fucked". He knew of a Bosch washing machine that could be had for free but for a few scratches. He could bring it up on Monday when he could collect Dad.


Married with Kids announced that he would be returning to London on Thursday, but Dad would be staying until Monday.

Oh. Great.

I couldn't say I was exactly thrilled. All I could think of was the mass of application forms that had to be filled in. I went to the college library every day last week and brought applications forms with me, but I wasn't able to get half of them done.

Terrific, more money wasted.

Dad then went on to plaster walls in the downstairs front room, the downstairs back room and upstairs middle bedroom. There is now plaster all over the house. Lumps of it stuck to floors, cracked off pieces being ground to dust on every floor and powder every where.

The best bit was when he changed the position of a radiator from the external window wall to the chimney breast area. The local Plumb Center (I hate the American spelling) was closed on Saturday for stock taking so he cobbled the copper pipe he needed from the existing bits. I went out to Homebase to buy another tin of butane/propane for the blowtorch and he and I set about draining the central heating down to change the radiator position.

Everything was going well until the radiator had to be disconnected. Even though the valves were closed, they continued to leak. Unbeknownst to us.

The radiator was fixed to the recently plastered chimney breast and all seemed to be smooth until Dad started to fill the central heating again. I was downstairs bleeding the radiators of air. I could hear a hissing noise. Dad couldn't work out why the pressure wasn't building. I went upstairs after he shouted down to me to find that it was raining.

There was a leak in the pipe approaching the newly changed radiator. The pressure of water was so great, that it was spraying up to the ceiling and out the door. The ceiling water was dripping into the power tools that Dad had lying on the floor in the middle bedroom and Dad couldn't hear a bloody thing. The place was soaked.

The radiator near Dad's feet was also open and the carpet squelched as he got down off the ladder. He left the water flowing into the central heating system. I switched off the radiator and the fill loop.

There was such a massive air lock by this time, that it took almost an hour to drain the system down again so Dad could fix the leak. This meant spending a good deal of time hunched on our hands and knees holding a thumb or a finger over the hole in the pipe to prevent more water leaking out.

It was at this point Dad decided to bring up the subject of selling some British Gas shares. I had to tell him that I didn't know how to do that. But with the paperwork with me I could probably work out how to.

We drained the system down and found a small length of copper pipe to replace the holed length. Then we tried to fill the system up again. Then we tried to make it work. The pump was overwhelmed and there was no heat and no hot water.

We drained down again. Re-filled again. And failed again. MwK and I exchanged a series of awkward texts. Him giving advice which Dad would tell me was a load of bollocks. He also told me there were no excuses for not helping Dad sell his shares and that Dad was planning to help me pay for my house with the proceeds of his own house sale.

Well. Thanks for the guilt trip. I already felt bad that I couldn't repay Dad for the work he was doing and the money he paid me.

The following morning (Sunday) we woke up to find a large puddle of water on the table in the back room. The leaking water had found its way down through the floor and the downstairs ceiling and had poured itself along the ceiling to the light fitting and down the wall to the layer of insulation under the laminate. There was a groove worn down the wall from floor to ceiling. More good news.

After spending two days in Dad's company with him telling me that British Gas were a bunch of useless bastards and they didn't know what they were doing and they must have put the three way motorised valve backwards on the system, MwK showed up to rescue us.

He correctly diagnosed an almighty air lock. The water was being heated in the boiler but was trapped at the pump. What was really needed was a high air valve (a nipple valve) to bleed the air out of the system above the boiler. He went out to buy one. He went on to fit it. Eventually.

The plan was to arrive, bring in the washing machine, plumb it in and level it, go to Wickes for yet more plaster, pack up the van and go home. That plan was scuppered by the heavy rain and the bollocksed central heating. He got here later than planned and Dad cursing him all the way for not getting his arse into gear earlier.

The washing machine was very, very, very heavy. MwK reversed the van up onto the pavement, and, using old boards, only just managed to wheel the thing into the house. The old washing machine was wheeled out and the new one wheeled in to replace it.

Then I went out to buy cheesecake for my Sister-in-Law's birthday and Dad and MwK set about the central heating. The new valve went in okay. But another joint started leaking instead. It took three goes before the second joint stopped leaking. All the while S-i-L was sending moody texts to MwK about being late.

They set off late even though they didn't go to Wickes and I just breathed a sigh of relief.

I went to bed early after Dad called after 9pm to tell me they had a great run home.

I have missed at least three applications.

I am skint and there is no work on the horizon. Today I set about trying to claim Jobseekers Allowance. Homeowners aren't entitled to Housing Benefit. But I might get Council Tax. There is a discretionary cash fund held by Wolverhampton City Council which I could apply to but I shouldn't hold my breath. Goody. I get to lose my house.

I was on the phone for nearly an hour answering questions that I thought would be filling in on a form. No. That's not how it's done these days.

My Job Oriented Interview is with Debbie at 10:30am on Friday. At Molineau Court in Temple Street. Where the drunks and dossers gather. Whoo hoo.

Now. If you'll excuse me, I've got a few 'phone calls to make about job applications.