The Doust Files – Albany Advertiser 18/1/2011

My hairdresser, Sandy, has a son. No surprise there, right, but he is also a plumber.

And as soon as I heard, right then and there, I called a halt to the snipping. I wanted his name, his number, his Facebook, uTube, email, MySpace, the lot, each and every way possible to contact him, to find him, to have him visit my house and fix all those little drips, drops and pipe screams that scare the hell out of you in the middle of the night that you have never fixed because you are an incompetent goose.

She looked me right in the eye, with her scissors held high and said: I will never ever give you my son’s phone number.

I was shocked, flabbergasted, perplexed. I asked her to lower the scissors, to calm herself, to take the comb handle out of my nostril and hear me out.

The thing was, I could understand her predicament. Everyone wants a plumber for a friend and that has been the gaping hole in my life in Albany: I have yet to befriend a plumber, a plumber’s son, or even someone who used to be a plumber.

Back in the Big Swirl, I had a great friend, Paul, who was a genius plumber. Paul and I were great mates. We drank coffee together, winged and wined together, went to local shows together and once, during a meal, we shared a toothpick.

All right, not a toothpick, a napkin, but we often shared a shovel.

If I had a plumbing problem, or a problem that in any way remotely looked like it had something to do with a pipe or a tap, I called Paul: he came, he saw, he fixed.

And he never charged. Unless there were costs. And if there was any heavy lifting, or digging, I did it, or we did it together. We were a team, but only at my place.

Like the time my French drain exploded and flooded our block, the block next door, and all blocks on the down side of the hill, with its foul contents, contents we denied all knowledge off.

For example, we don’t eat aubergine. Where the hell did that come from?

I rang Paul. He directed the digging. I dug. He came back. He fixed.

What a guy. But he lives in the Big Swirl.

I know what you’re thinking, that I took full advantage of Paul’s generosity and naivety and that the street was all one way, my way. Wrong.

Paul had the same rights. He knew my skill set and, if he had need of me, all he had to do was call out my name and he knew that wherever I was, I’d come running, to see him again.

Once he had me call a 20/20 cricket match from the middle of the field. That was fine until the Warriors’ Luke Ronchi came out to bat and he thumped a ball that caught me in the rear as I turned to make a dash for the boundary. Couldn’t sit for a month.

Paul was a great local sports organiser and he also had me work benefit nights with the likes of Chris Mainwaring and Kim Hughes, who signed a cricket batt with: Jon, don’t give up your day job.

Paul was well aware of what lay in my French drain and Paul made sure I took plenty of it in return.

What I’m saying is, if you are a plumber and you need a friend, call me, I’m here for you.

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