The plumber got stuck in the kitchen. He was hammering on the jammed door and yelling - or so he later claimed - but I was chatting to La Fille and La Belle Belle-Fille at the other end of the flat and we heard nothing. That makes our place sound like a chateau instead of a long corridor but Paris's old buildings spread sound - and water - horizontally rather than vertically. This is fine if you have ghosts for neighbours instead of a mother-of-three learning the piano or, for that matter, a mother-of-one who rants in English and toddler daughter who likes charging up and down the long corridor that is not a chateau shouting: "I'm walking like a lady" while making the sound of a small herd of spooked rhinos.
The plumber seemed flustered when he escaped, which was surprising given that he was in there for all of ten minutes at most and there was plenty to eat and drink, including beer and red wine. He must be a bear of very little brain because all he had to do was grab the handle and lift the door slightly and it would have opened. He is a pleasant enough chap but I have to say he doesn't seem good at finding solutions to the sort of plumbing problems he must come across every day, like should the pipe go here or there and if I heat that one will it explode, and how does the fridge come out? I suggested the best route for the pipes and where to drill the holes. This was after he had drilled straight through the old, but still working, upriser sending a jet of high-pressurised water flooding into the bathroom. I was out but it was déjà vue for La Belle Belle-Fille who was drafted into stuffing-towels-under-door duty as the plumber dashed into the bowels of the building to turn off the main stopcock. She gave me a full report when I returned. Thank goodness she saved the parquet flooring. It curled at the edges like strips of stale bread from the last soaking and has only recently straightened out. The downstairs neighbours are away so I don't know if they were inundated. I'm praying it will have dried out, without stains, by the time they get back.
The plumber, who knows our flooding history inside out, was apologetic. "It must be something about you or your apartment," he said. I said:"It'd be much better if you drilled the hole here." He said: "But..." and came up with a list of reasons why this would not be a good idea. I said: "You're the expert, but no more floods, please." I came back half an hour later. He had drilled the hole exactly where I had suggested.
The plumber got stuck. As he left I nearly said: "Drilling through pipes, jamming doors I can't leave you alone for one minute?". I didn't. I'm hoping to still have running water - through taps - when he's finished.