Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 10 August 2008

M. Chauvel's finest hour

Another story about our techno-hero plumber.

Because the house in France had no damp-proof course crystals formed on the inside walls up to a metre from the floor. I was told they were saltpetre, one of the constituents of gunpowder. Painting over them only delayed their reappearance. So what was the cure? Put furniture in front of the visible areas, advised one French pragmatist.

I decided to make a freestanding book-shelf unit for that very purpose. I also decided to secure shelves and uprights with mortice-and-tenon joints (see drawing). Monsieur Chauvel, plombier extraordinaire, found me fashioning one of the slots with a power drill and a chisel. “A sauteuse would be better,” he said.

I didn’t know exactly what a sauteuse was although I had an inkling. I shrugged my shoulders (the sort of thing I found myself doing in M. Chauvel’s company). He disappeared briefly, returning with a jigsaw – the power tool, not the time-waster. “Drop it in when you’ve finished,” he said. I completed the unit three times quicker than I’d expected.

Let’s just reflect on the enormity of that gesture: a busy artisan lending one of the tools of his trade to, arguably, the most eccentric of his customers. Twelve years on I still can’t get over it.


marja-leena said...

A generous man! How did the bookshelf work out, and did it do a good job with the cover-up?

Barrett Bonden said...

Marja-Leena. The bookshelf supported books and the saltpetre was obscured. I believe I have a photograph so - hey! - that's another post.