The day started ordinarily enough although getting up before midday isn’t ordinary for me but I had to be at the swimming pool for midday. I made it, it was nice outside, a nice walk to the leisure centre. The clouds were big and fluffy, lots of that special summer blue spread across the sky and a slight breeze that made you feel like autumn might be coming into town on one of the next trains. At the pool, there was hardly anybody there, three people in the fast lane, two in the slow lane and I had the medium lane to myself. The lanes are wider than usual too so getting that much space is a real luxury. I went for the mile again so I could make it three miles this week, a strong return, but in my enthusiasm, I lost count at 23 and wasn’t sure if I was on 23 or 25. I’d got in there about three minutes before 1 o’clock so when I lost count I thought that when I reach 64 I’ll swim two extra so I know I really did make the mile. So that’s what I did and I finished at exactly the time I had to stop. So the day was going swimmingly.
I left the leisure centre and walked around the back past the overgrown football pitch and through the dappled sunlight glade and headed to pasty land (when I go to visit my friend in Joshua Tree who was our witness at our wedding in Vegas I go to Patsy land). From there I went across the road to the charity store and bought a copy of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers DVD (Top Hat) and a Gene Kelly DVD (An American In Paris), a box set of Stereophonics singles and a DVD of Wilko Johnson live at KoKo in London. Seemed like a bargain for just under a tenner. But then I walked back to Steve’s record store to pick up a record I’d seen the day before, Susan Christie’s Paint A Lady from 1969 (it’s a reissue, the original would be a million quid because “Only three privately pressed vanity copies were produced (circa 1970-1971)”.
I chatted with Steve, a couple of local music lovers came in, Martin, and Indian Billy (from Liverpool), Reggae expert and Liverpool fan. I left for the weekend grocery shopping, a cauliflower, a broccoli and a big bag of fresh chestnut mushrooms. At this point, you are thinking, what a lovely normal day, what could possibly go wrong? Haha. I took everything down to the studio, records, CDs, books and groceries, we would eat there and I would attempt to sort records out until 5PM. I’d agreed to meet Noel there and we would watch the England – Iceland game together. Everything was going according to plan, Noel arrived, the game started, Kane had a disallowed goal that should have counted but overall the game was pretty boring. At exactly 45 minutes the ref blew the whistle for half time, 0-0. I put the kettle on to make tea, Noel went to the loo.
You can imagine the cosy scene, Olivia arrived ten minutes into the game, what could possibly go wrong? As I prepared the tea, I heard a shout from the toilet, Noel was soaking wet and a jet of water was coming out of the water heater above the sink and water was flooding out all over the floor. The handle from the heater was off and there was that awful smouldering electrical smell as the water poured out onto the floor. Noel was trying to hold it back but it was dribbling out around his hand. There was a switch that turned off the power to the water heater and that seemed to stop the electrical issue as the water mixed with the electricity. But the water was still pouring out. So, WHERE’S THE STOPCOCK? I called Dare (who is away) – answering machine. I looked everywhere in the kitchen area for a valve to turn to stop the water, pulling things out from under the working top in the kitchen, no luck. In the meantime, Noel was standing there mortified desperately trying to hold the water in whilst Olivia and I tried to find a solution. I went to the water meter and there was a tap, I turned it and water came out onto the floor, I turned it off. I looked everywhere, I couldn’t find where to turn the water off.
So, what to do, PLUMBER! I got on the net and tried to find an emergency plumber, Olivia did the same, we found some local numbers (eventually). I called the first one, phone switched off, the next – answering machine, the next two were also answering machine. Noel is still standing there drenched trying to hold the water in. My phone rang, one of the plumbers called me back, but he called me to tell me he doesn’t do call-outs! I picked his brain as to what to do, who to call, where would the stopcock be? I told him about the water meter, he said it must be there. I went back and hidden in the corner there was a valve, I turned it, it worked. Excess water was still coming out, water that was still in the pipe and still flowed but not uncontrollably. The floor was a river, luckily the record boxes didn’t get hit too badly and Olivia moved them into the studio control room. Upstairs there are two toilets for the rest of the building’s offices. I went to check them, no water, I flushed the loo to see if it filled up again, it did but water began pouring out of the water heater again downstairs. Why? The valve is closed…
We found a 24-hour plumber who answered, all the other 24-hour plumbers didn’t answer. It was going to cost 90 quid for someone to come out according to the answering machine messages. This plumber was going to cost £175 plus VAT. They’d have someone here before 9.30PM. We couldn’t prepare food, use the loo and we had to be here for the imminent plumber’s arrival. No water, unable to wash the dishes even if we made food, no toilet in the archive or upstairs. I told Noel he should go get changed, the plumber was coming, there was nothing he could do by hanging around except feel terrible. The handle that came off, I never touch it, Olivia does. I wash my hands with the cold water tap after using the loo, Olivia uses the water heater but she’s a woman, delicately turning the handle, we presume that Noel just wrenched it too hard and it broke off.
Noel had gone, Dare called, I told him the story, we waited for the plumber. I emptied the dehumidifier down a grid outside, worried that pouring water down the sink might cause another issue. I chatted with the lads we know from the building across the road who were trimming their out of control hedge. I went back into the building and thought well, I might as well sort some records out. At 8.30PM the phone rang, it was the central office for the 24-hour plumber – they couldn’t find anybody to come out (wasn’t there a number 24 and the word emergency written in the ad?). What if we hadn’t found the stopcock? He was very apologetic but told me that they thought their work might be done for the week and were probably out having a drink. I thought – aren’t they supposed to be on call, justifying the massive cost to come and fix it? So, they are coming tomorrow between 11AM and 3PM, Sunday rate £165 plus VAT. In the meantime, we are still working down here with no water, no toilet, and the dehumidifier and the fan outside the toilet door trying to dry the carpet.
So lessons learned:
- Have a list of emergency numbers that you know will get a response.
- Try not to have water heaters from the seventies in your modern world.
- Don’t panic, even though there’s gallons of water spewing out all over the floor.
- Have more sympathy for the poor souls on the Titanic and be glad that this disaster happened on land and not in a freezing sea.
- GO RIGHT NOW AND FIND YOUR STOPCOCK.
Music today was obviously going to be coming from The Waterboys and their/his latest album Good Luck, Seeker on good old reliable Cooking Vinyl, the place where cred bands go in the wake of the collapse of the record biz that once supported credible bands. And don’t get me wrong, they are a great place to be, great people, they are the saviour of a band that would be on a bigger and more cashed-up major label if the internet hadn’t happened. But the album is a bit of a challenge, stylistically wavering to places you might not expect. It’s a long way from the earlier extremes of A Pagan Place and Fisherman’s Blues. Is it too consciously modern? Is it too poetic? How can those two disparate points be asked about the same album? He’s brave or mad, or confused or really clever, I’m not sure which. The Kate Bush cover Why Should I Love You? from The Red Shoes is odd with a Kate sample to boot. Spoken word with punchy backing tracks – for all his passion, I think he’s lost his way on this one.
Roger Waters is serious. In 2017 he released Is This The Life We Really Want? and it’s rather like watching a traumatic black and white documentary. It was produced by Nigel Godrich, incredible what Radiohead did for him – McCartney to Waters. When I listen to Waters he transports me to a troubled dark place in his soul. A place where his childhood haunts him, a place where pain is never sorted out, a place where he never got any satisfactory help. In The Floyd, it was Gilmour that added the beauty, like McCartney often did in The Beatles. You feel like you are getting the horse but not the cart, the yin without the yang, it’s fascinating how we need each other for balance.
On Picture That he tells it like it is, like the world we live in is already dystopia, it’s all too late. Musically it reminds me of Marianne Faithful’s Broken English via Animals. Roger Manning Jr. (Jellyfish, Beck, Air) on keyboards, Jonathan Wilson on guitar, who seems to get in with the most grand of English legends like Roy Harper, plus Waters and in America contemporary hipsters Bonnie Prince Billy, Father John Misty and Conor Oberst, he must be good. You can hear him or is it Godrich or Gus Seyffert desperately trying not to do anything Gilmouresque in case it might remind us of that old partnership and also put too much colour on the grey and desolate canvas. The album works, the songs, the mood, the sounds, the production, the lyrics, you just have to want to go there.
Song Of The Daze
Due to the water traumas of the day and the trauma of these two albums, I’m going to stick with just these two today. Busy day of 4 sessions tomorrow but I will leave you with one of the great songs of the sixties, unfortunately not with a video worthy of its quality as a song, so here’s the audio only for The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset.