Tom Wrigglesworth - the perils of plumbing and the Yorkshire fitting

PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 October 2016

Tom Wrigglesworth

Tom Wrigglesworth


The Sheffield-born comedian has moved back to the city and is pondering the merits of renovating his new home himself

A Yorkshire fittingA Yorkshire fitting

Massive news! I can now honestly say I’ve relocated back to Yorkshire, and moved into the house bang opposite my parents. This fact is usually met by one of two polar opposite reactions. Either, ‘oh that sounds lovely, what an idillic set up’ or ‘good grief, I would rather lose an arm to a threshing machine than live opposite my folks’.

The house is due for some updating, and even this point generates wildly binary responses, from, ‘just give it a lick of paint’, to the slightly more apocalyptic view that I might as well just ‘knock it down and start over’.

Satisfying neither of these opinions and forging a path somewhere in the middle, I’ve opted for a new heating system, and a lick of paint.

This throws up the conundrum of how much of the work I can undertake myself. A tricky and potentially lethal question for the keen DIYer, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing and all that. Some people draw this line between enthusiastic amateur and professional tradesman using simple economics – if I can go out and earn the same as it costs to hire tradespeople, then doing it myself becomes folly. However, what these people fail to grasp is that us comedians need grist for the mill; experiences to draw from and weave into routines. This makes me want to undertake the lot myself, but I accept the joke would be squarely on me if my next show turned out to be a hilarious yarn about how I flooded the neighbour’s driveway and bought down every ceiling in my house.

In researching boilers and radiators, I discovered just how many counties lend their name to plumbing parts. Up until now I’d assumed that our sub-national divisions had mainly competed on the cricket pitch or bowling green, but a quick glance into an airing cupboard will reveal an array of Surrey, Sussex, or Essex flanges and my favourite by far, the Yorkshire fitting.

Now, the Yorkshire fitting is generally used by the professional plumber to join two pieces of pipe together, instead of the amateurs’ choice, known as the compression fitting. This is bulky, rather unaesthetic and relies on a brass ring known in the UK as an olive which deforms as you tighten it thus sealing the joint. You have to proceed with caution mind, as over-tightening can cause the olive to fail, and the joint would be wrecked. I’m guessing it was named an olive before the healthy oil made its way to our shores, meaning the confusion is entirely accidental. There’s probably a special brick layer’s trowel called a hummus, or carpenters knife knows as a ravioli which were both innocently named before the likes of Waitrose dragged us all in being more ‘continental’.

The noble and wonderfully named Yorkshire fitting is a type of bend, T junction, or straight connector which comes pre-loaded with solder in order to speed up and simplify the installation process. In fact, by having the connectors ready filled with just the right amount of magical metal alloy, the experienced plumber can join a pipe together with one hand and smoke a pipe with the other. Surely the zenith of any boiler installation.

Having come to my senses, I realised that I am indeed better off paying a professional to undertake the installation, while I kept myself busy writing comedy about my Mum and Dad. A task made all the more easy by the fact I now live opposite them. Although a recent gig I performed at turned out to be a hellish experience.

An unfocused room hosting a drunken collection of heckling stag and hen parties, all presided over by me, acting in the role as compère was always going to be a bad day at the office. I tried every trick in the book to cajole, reason with, argue against, or ridicule the source of the problems in a bid to settle the unruly mob into a semblance of an audience before bringing on an act, but as the night wore on the mob grew louder and more resistant to the idea of sitting still and listening. When it was time to introduce the last act, all hell had broken loose and I’d chucked a jug of cocktail over a stag party, who responded by lobbing a jug of beer over me.

Naturally, I snapped. Like an olive ring under too much compression I’d hit breaking point. I called the audience every name under the sun, brought the last act on to unplayable carnage and pretty much wrecked the gig. So yes, I had gone out and earned at least enough to pay for a days worth of a professional plumber, but bizarrely, out of the two of us, it was me who went home from work absolutely soaking wet.

Follow Tom on twitter at @tomwriggleswort

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