Back in the old days, taps used to come in pairs, one hot, one cold, and they used to have washers inside that would wear out every few years, so you’d have to go down to the hardware store, buy a new washer for about 10 cents, and replace it. This was a real drag.

Now we have gleaming chrome mixer taps, designed in Europe, and the boring old washer has been replaced with a ‘braking unit’ that comes as a sealed unit that’s guaranteed for 15 years.

When the braking unit breaks, and your tap starts dripping, you have to order a new unit from the supplier in the Eastern States, who wants a proof of purchase for your 14 year old tap.

More than a week later the part arrives and you follow the instructions to remove the old unit, which is so solidly wedged in place, with a rubber ‘o’-ring, the unit snaps in half, leaving a big chunk of ceramic and plastic stuck in your tap.

You use pliers, monkey grips, bent coat hangers and wire to try to get it out. Nothing works. Eventually you drive screws into the plastic, so you can get a grip with the pliers, and finally you pull it out like a crumbly cork from an old wine bottle.

Then you finish fixing the tap.

And that’s called ‘progress’.

About Jonathan Smith

Turning strategy into reality
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