Four hours have passed.
A Small (Room) Emergency
“Oh, dear, what can the matter be, three old ladies locked in the lavatory…”
We used to sing that at primary school and it seemed hilarious. It came into my head this morning as I prepared to phone the local council and (very old lady-like) give them a piece of my mind.
The handle of Nick’s bathroom door started coming loose just after New Year and I thought we must keep an eye on it.
By the day of his party, the metal plate had worked itself away from the wood, a couple of the screws were hanging perilously out of their plugs and Simon had to bring his toolbox round to screw it all back in.
At the old flat, he’d pulled the towel rail right off the wall in the first week. We thought that it was pretty amazing if this was the only casualty so far of his well-known super strength, and I felt quite pleased, thinking that this place obviously suits him better, is much more spacious for manouevre and seems to be a lot sturdier under the constant crashing and bumping around.
By the weekend the handle was only hanging on by a thread like a wobbly tooth. The wood around it was so wrecked that it needed some proper attention beyond our first aid, and I phoned the repairs team at the council the day after his birthday and booked an appointment for their handyman to come round. No problem, we'll see you on Tuesday. Gosh, the joys of being a council tenant! I thought. Except not, because he didn’t turn up. I was away for a couple of days visiting our stepmother so I didn’t find out until nearly the end of the week.
I did wonder if he’d come and Nick hadn’t heard the buzzer, but most of the council workers had access to the key safe and the Trade entrance, or would have left a card.
Phoned the council. A surly man on the helpline did not want to help.
“But this is a health and safety problem!”
He told me that it didn’t sound like an emergency and he couldn’t book another visit until the end of the month.
“Please. Can’t we do anything sooner, given that this is a vulnerable person and we’ve already had a missed appointment?”
Nope. Talk to the hand. The computer says No.
A few days later I tried again and spoke to a nice woman who said she couldn’t get an appointment any sooner but she would log a complaint about the no-show. Should we just find our own handyman and get it done privately? No, she says, as it is a furnished property and therefore needs to be dealt with by the council service.
So we’ve had the whole thing taped up with gaffer tape and tightened up the last shaky screw head every time we’re there, but it’s been an accident waiting to happen.
It’s no use reminding Nick to leave the door open when he goes to the loo, because he says “I will” and then always forgets and slams it shut.
And sure enough, last night I got a call from the Citywide Alarm service saying they were with my brother who had been stuck in the bathroom unable to open the door as the handle had fallen off altogether. Thank goodness he’d been wearing his alarm pendant, which he doesn’t always remember to do.
Thank goodness he is a bit dazed but totally matter of fact about it, safe and not in any way hurt.
When I go round later to make sure all is well, he tells me “a man from the council has been round to say the door will be fixed tomorrow”
Wow, that was fast! The alarm team must have raised their concerns and it’s finally got things moving. It seems to take an accident for that to happen, I think to myself and not for the first time.
So this morning I phoned up to check that someone really will be coming today, as we were going to take Nick into town to get his broken glasses fixed. Another helpful woman had a look and said, yes it is on the list but not necessarily marked as urgent, however she would escalate it to an emergency call out to be made within four hours.
I have a bad feeling about this...