In 2012 I was living in a flat on the outskirts of lovely Leamington Spa, a picturesque Georgian town with lots of history and a grid system, with the then nearly-Mrs-Gnomepants V2.0 . The flat was a post war construct but had some modern trimmings such as central heating.
The thing with houses and flats is you get used to the sounds they make the longer you live in them. Sometimes these noises can be unique – particular to a location, a room or a function. The way a door closes. The way the water runs through the pipes. The way the floorboard creaks. How the neighbours sound. Each noise distinctive to the occupant. Sometimes subtly, other times in-your-face-obvious. The flat in Leamington Spa was no exception.
A particular sound that could be heard in the Leamington Spa flat was an almost imperceptable sigh from the attic when the heating switched from timed hot water only to hotwater and heating. It was like an asthmatic squirrel living in the attic. I could often hear it and know, safely, that the heating had come on gone off. Others might not have heard it though and would often think of my central heating predictions as some element of my weirdness.
So when the sigh ceased and the radiators started to glow red. I knew there was something up. Taking to the loft via a rickety ladder I was able to determine that the mysterious sigh used to come from the motor in the switch valve which had failed and was forcing the hot water into the heating system.
As handy as I am, I donned my flat cap, put a rolled up cigarette on my bottom lip and stood at the bottom of the ladder sighing, tutting and generally looking quizical. Then, after three mugs of tea (extra strong), several looks through the Sun newspaper (upon which I had drawn phalluses and spectacles on people in the photographs) and an impromptu 3 hour trip to the corner shop for some vital parts, I nipped up the ladder and took this photograph.
I then explained the problem to the Then-soon-to-be-Mrs-Gnomepants v2.0, pointed out that there was not much call for that kind of thing these days, sucked air through my teeth and said “It’s gonna cost ya”. The photograph was then sent on to a more experienced central heating engineer/plumber who, having been pleased to see such good investigative work and standing round, had the failed unit replaced in a fraction of the time and only one cup of tea.