Trials of Apartment Living

With help from The IT Crowd, Doctor Who, and the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

I recently had no choice but to have some work done in my apartment. I was probably the last person to still have copper wiring for phone/Internet, and the company gently drove this point home by shutting off my service and telling me that if I didn’t upgrade to fiber optic I would be communicating using two Dixie cups and a string.

The Dixie cup phone (string sold separately, may require some assembly), used by an entire generation of children to share their hopes, dreams and fears with one another. Also used by the Nixon administration during secret negotiations with Hanoi.

The Dixie cup phone (string sold separately, may require some assembly), used by an entire generation of children to share their hopes, dreams and fears with each other. Also used by the Nixon administration during secret negotiations with Hanoi.

To indulge in a Basil Fawltyism, I had been waiting for fiber optic longer than Hadrian. (Hadrian. The Emperor Hadrian — look, it doesn’t matter!) So I was impressed when the company sent two crack technicians out to do the job. Unfortunately, they came packed in one set of chinos. So enormous was this fellow that in order to make it out onto my fire escape to drill the hole, he had to be coated with bear grease from head to toe; and even then he required that I place myself like a human shield between his combat boots and the floor.

While tacking the wiring to my living room ceiling, he began to teeter on his ladder, like a great teapot perched upon the tower of Big Ben during a thunderstorm. When he appeared in genuine danger of falling, I bravely bolted to his rescue. Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn somewhere and was later found cowering under the bathroom sink.

A few days hence, when the backup battery unit arrived in the post, I found that it could not be connected because he had installed the power strip upside down and flush against the wall, thoroughly (and quite efficiently!) obscuring the battery jack.

My building is also undergoing maintenance by plumbers — at least that is the rumour, and I do occasionally hear plumberlike bangings, though these could be from sound effect recordings. The plumbers are never actually seen, and never actually show up, but we tenants do receive periodic admonishments to remove all personal belongings from areas the plumbers might wish to access. I have duly cleared the space around my refrigerator.

Due to the shortage of qualified plumbers in my neck of the woods, they are treated more like gods than workmen. “Show up any time you want! We will give you drugs and women!” Such seems to be the attitude of building management. “You can’t keep the appointment you made? You can’t finish the job you started? No problem! Come back next month, if you’re in the mood. You want to piddle in the sink? Be our guests!”

My building is under new management. The old management was supposedly fired for being personally abusive toward tenants. The new management is a vast improvement; they are merely inefficient. With regard to the plumbing fiasco, they literally could not organize a trip to the toilet. Some tenants have taken to putting pictures of plumbers on milk cartons. (“Have you seen me?”)

G. Gordon Liddy, one of the plumbers used by the Nixon administration to stop leaks, e.g. by breaking into Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office. Makeup courtesy House of Pancakes. Some rooster parts available for sale to interested parties.

G. Gordon Liddy, one of the plumbers used by the Nixon administration to stop leaks, e.g. by breaking into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office. Makeup courtesy House of Pancakes. Some rooster parts available for sale to interested parties.

The trials of apartment living remind me of the trials of a Time Lord. Doctor Who was occasionally put on trial by his fellow Time Lords, notably during the Patrick Troughton and Colin Baker eras. This phenomenon was satirized by the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre:

(If the embedded video doesn’t play, view on DailyMotion here.)

It may help the uninitiated to view the original clip from Part 10 of “The War Games”:

There’s an in-joke about Worzel Gummidge which also needs explaining. Patrick Troughton (the Second Doctor) regenerates into John Pertwee (the Third Doctor). Pertwee later went on to play Worzel Gummidge in a children’s TV show by the same name, based on the books by Barbara Euphan Todd:

The Scottish Falsettos owe some of their routines to an old bit by Abbott & Costello called “Who’s On First”:

So there you have it — everything you need to know about apartment living!

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One comment on “Trials of Apartment Living

  1. Pingback: No, Cuco No! | Ethics and Spirituality

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