You will remember, I’m sure, the builders that John Cleese hires, in defiance of his nagging wife, in Fawlty Towers – and the dire consequences that follow? Well, we have had the plumbers in this week, to replace our hot water geyser which went awol on Sunday – thank you again to Outsurance, for your prompt and helpful response.

However (letter to follow) dear Outsurance, you might want to think again about your preferred providers, for the plumbers you sent us make John Cleese’s builders look like high-end professionals.

In sum: first, your hired klutzes tried to remove the old geyser without turning off the water mains, thereby releasing waterfalls of overflow that ran down our (just repainted) kitchen walls and dripped through the ceiling, more than doubling in size the damp acreage from the original spill. Then, having installed the shiny new geyser and staunched the flow, your village idiots wired the contraption incorrectly, shorting out the (recently rewired, thank you again, Outsurance) kitchen plugs and leaving us with barely tepid water to wash and bathe in. At which point, the kamikaze squad departed, muttering, leaving us to call back the electricians, who came, at your expense, after hours, to get us back live so we could cook our dinner and take a glass or two of wine.

Fast forward (you’re with me still?) to this morning, when readying myself for a hot bath I am suddenly alarmed by the sounds of someone hosing down the side of the house and the (fortunately shut) kitchen windows with a high-pressure fire hydrant. And lo! It is the overflow pipe from the geyser, flailing wildly in the air, and spraying the house as if we are, right now, burning to the ground. I turn off the bathroom tap, and after a few minutes the torrent subsides, and in its place a steady clanking sound, like a nineteenth century steam engine, begins – and continues still, more than an hour later.

Needless to say, I called the plumbers. I was not polite. About the nicest thing I said was, you might be gardeners, but you are not plumbers.

Everything, as Rob has written in her blog, has to be done twice, here, in Johannesburg, a city whose claim, incidentally, to world class status, looks more risible by the day. Don’t get me started on the subjects of potholes in the roads, traffic lights that don’t work, or taxi drivers who give the term impunity an entirely fresh resonance and meaning.

We fix the security system: days later cable theft causes our wiring to fry and electronics to fizzle and burn; we replace the wiring, the plugs, and parts of the security system. We repair the electric fence: ditto. We drain and clean the pool; the next night the heavens open, the garden washes in, and the pool, as I wrote at the time, resembles in the morning the brown Zambezi. We repaint the kitchen, and the next day the geyser transplant, as just noted, floods the ceilings and the walls. We have an electronic lock fitted on the front gate – the morning after, half the lock shears right off and falls onto the driveway – this of course, inspires great confidence in the R5,000 lock as a barrier and deterrent to Johannesburg’s vast army of thieves and burglars who fear the long arm of the law as you or I might fear Santa Claus and his troop of elves.

Rob, she pointed out last night, flies out to Toronto in just under two weeks. This time a fortnight she will be in transit, in Frankfurt, awaiting her connecting flight to a city that is civil, safe, and actually works. She says she does not want to leave me – I think she is crazy.

Love, it seems, is beyond reason.

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