>A secret world

>From the wonderful worlds of Caryl Churchill to a new secret world of my own. Yesterday I went behind the kitchen units. What a lot of things a bit of chipboard and formica can hide. There was the house in all it’s 1920s glory – white tiles to the floor, lead pipes and great holes in the wall stuffed with rags.

It was the lead pipes I was after. We’ve had the water tested and the lead levels are over 4 times the safe amount. The last owners re-did the kitchen and bathroom with copper pipes, but left the old lead in everywhere else. All the ‘new’ plumbing has an improvised feel, and I don’t mean in a cool jazz, or a radical performance art sort of way. I mean more like a drunk walking along an uneven pavement and heading for a fall sort of a way. There are pipes looping all over the place with crappy compression joints everywhere. Nothing is supported or clipped, it’s just… crap. And then they’ve sealed the whole lot in with kitchen units and tiles.

There is some good news – I did find the stopcock. Our survey said it was missing, but it’s turned up sealed behind a unit. It’s broken.

The cold water tank in the roof has been rested on the beams rather than properly mounted. One scary plumber said it was likely to come through the ceiling at any moment. As it’s mounted directly above the bath, it’s added a certain frisson to bathtime.

I’m really proud. I’ve only been in London a few months and already I’m obsessed by plumbers.

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