Plumbers and Electricians are not the same thing
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Plumbers and Electricians are not the same thing

“Look” goes Jimmy. “I’m not trying to be funny or anything, and due respect to every spanner monkeys training and all that, but I can do this job. Plumbing is not actually all that hard.”

We’re in the boozer and Jimmy, an electrician mind, is talking up his plumbing abilities after a few scoops. He’s in the middle of an electrical job in Dublin city centre and the house owner has offered him a few quid more to move a toilet in their bathroom. Something about him not having enough room to comfortably read the newspaper on it where it is.

“Ehh Jimmy” I go “I don’t want to be a smart arse here, but you’ve about as much plumbing ability as a one armed-walrus in a straitjacket. Remember what happened the last time?”

It was a disaster. We’re talking a lawsuit.

He was fitting out a new restaurant for its opening night and, to be fair to him, the deadline was crazy. That and the owner didn’t order enough taps for all the bathroom sinks. Still, it didn’t explain Jimmy improvising by wiring up an old electric kettle as the hot tap in the men’s jacks.

The restaurant critic Tom Dorley got first-degree burns and a shock that made his hair stand up. We’re talking about his beard and all - apparently, he had a head-on him like a puffer fish in a dinner jacket. He was still speaking gibberish hours later. Fortunately he made a full recovery – but unfortunately for the restaurant, he wrote a detailed review in the Newspaper the next day. The place basically tanked afterwards and the owner came after Jimmy.

“Joe, for feic sake” he goes. “That was years ago and my solicitor reckons I’m in the clear. I’ve learnt loads since then.”

 Some people never learn. We finish our beers and head off. 


The next morning I’m working away. Doing some sitting room shelving for an auld dear in City west. I’m doing a nice job and she’s very appreciative. Cups of tea on tap and more ginger snaps than at an Irish dancer’s card game.

I’m on the way home at about 6 and I decide to buzz Jimmy. He answers after the third ring.

“How’s it going bud?” I go.  

“Emm…wait a minute will ye?” he answers. There’s a pause, some shuffling and he’s obviously heading outside out of earshot. It doesn’t sound good.

“Ehh” he kind of mutters “I’m probably in a spot of bother here. It was all going Ok but I kinda dropped the toilet bowl and it’s all smashed up”.

I’m silent. I’m speechless but genuinely feel for the guy at the same time.

“Yer man is spitting bullets. He wanted to call the cops but I told him I’d have it sorted tonight for him. He went to the airport to collect some elderly relatives who are coming to stay.”

We go through the options, it’s late so the builder’s providers won’t be open. He’s tried calling a few of the lads to see if they have a spare toilet bowl. We’re basically eliminating options one at a time when Jimmy kind of perks up.

“Joe, I’ve just had an idea. It’ll get me out of this spot until I have time to sort it out properly. Catch you later.” he hangs up before I get a chance to stop him.

We’re in the boozer later and Jimmy comes in. He’s in flying form and gets a round in for all of us.

“I told you plumbing was a synch!” he goes as he delivers the beers.

I’m about to ask him when his phone rings. He answers it and, from the look on his face, it’s not good. You can hear the shouting from where I’m sitting. Jimmy’s face kind of drops. He mutters something down the phone about it only being a temporary fix until tomorrow. The call ends suddenly with the shouting on the other end getting louder and a muffled threat being issued in Jimmy’s direction.

He puts the phone down on the table. He’s shattered. We don’t say anything. Then a text message arrives.

He gestures and I pick up the phone. I open the message. Out of basic manners I won’t repeat the language the customer has actually used, buts it’s not very complimentary. I scroll down to the attached photo and nearly fall off my stool.

“JIMMY, what the feic….” I go

“It’s all I could think of “he goes. “It was late and I had one in the van….”

It’s a photo of a wooden toilet seat mounted onto an upside-down traffic cone. It’s orange with a white stripe around it for good measure. The top of the cone is propped into the toilet outlet. To be fair to Jimmy, in the right setting it could nearly be considered trendy.

“It’s happened again, hasn’t it?” moans Jimmy.

“Look in the bright side “I go “At least his elderly visitors won’t have any trouble finding it in the dark…”

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