I happened to be in the bathroom washing my hands, when I noticed there was water flowing down the outside of the shower hose.
Funny, I thought. Shouldn't be doing that.
In an attempt to stop it, I figured I'd just turn on the shower to release the pressure or whatever.
There was an almighty clank inside the mixer unit and boiling hot water started spurting out the sides and over the edge of the bath onto the floor.
The stopcock and boiler are two floors below in the cellar. By the time I raced through the kitchen, water was running through the ceiling. It stopped within about fifteen minutes of my turning off the water and the boiler, having filled up various pans, plastic containers and mixing bowls.
I have some insurance to cover this sort of mishap. Or had some insurance... I pay the guy who installed the central heating system to deal with emergencies. I trust him and he knows the water and heating convolutions of the house inside out. However, when I phoned him last year to do a small repair he said, "Oh we don't do plumbing now, just central heating."
Although I'd been toying with switching to insurance which covers all eventualities, I foolishly let sentiment get the better of me and stayed with him.
Now, of course, I had no plumber to call on.
There are hundreds of plumbers in Yellow Pages. Do they answer the phone? No they do not. Or if they do, they turn out to be a national firm of locksmiths moonlighting in the plumbing trade who don't have any plumbers in my area.
To cut the story of a most miserable night short, I did get a guy out who cheerily informed me that the shower was wellfucked (a plumbing term, I gather) and that when I get to replace it, all the expensive tiles will have to come off the wall.
Meanwhile, the shower is disconnected so I can have hot water. But I do find myself recalling childhood memories of a quick rub down with a rough flannel and Friday night baths.
At least I no longer have to hump the zinc bath in from the backyard.