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A bar of soap, apple jelly and an oily ooze

My phone didn't need a video screen, I could see her lips tighten and pucker as she sucked the air through her teeth, "Oooh! It can go from a small crack to a hole big enough to fit your fist in. In just a few hours!"

In other words don't delay. In other words - words like hurry and leaking and oil and no-longer-guaranteed and cost and weekend-rates and call-out-fees and estimates and emergency - this will be expensive.

I tried a few words of my own - "I'll get back to you" and "Phone around for other quotes" and "Goodbye."

The second quote secured the deal - "We'll come tomorrow." Goodbye the gloom and doom merchants and hello to Mr Calmly-assess-the-situation-before-reassuring-the-client-that-all-will-be-well.  Why turn an ooze into an emergency? Why panic? Why guarantee that the client will suffer insomnia worrying that the ooze will increase to a gush and flood the garden with £900 of domestic heating oil? Why indeed - when all it takes is a bar of soap? Yep! A ... bar...of ... soap!

Yes, I did think that I had somehow jumped from speaking to Mr Calmly-the-sensible-oil-man into another conversation with someone who sounded very like Mr Calmly but was clearly having some sort of mind storm. A ... bar ... of ... soap.

"Has anyone told you about soap?" he asked. "Do you have any soap in your house?"

"Um ..." Can we get back to my oil tank; my oozing oil tank; the one that might rupture at any moment, I thought. "Ye-e-es, we have soap," I replied, thinking what does he expect me to do with the soap? Wash my hands! Ok, so there might be a little oil ... on one finger ... but this is taking the calm-the-customer-down approach into an insane realm of overly excessive slightly creepy attentiveness. Next he'll tell me to sit down and have a cup of tea, brewed on the aga ... the heat source that I have just had to turn off owing to the LEAKING oil tank!

But he didn't. The soap was to rub "vigorously" into the split in the tank wall. Immediate emulsification plugged the gap and slowed the ooze. Clever Mr Calmly.

So when your oil is all oozy and the cost makes you woozy there's no need to be boozy just rub in some soap. And when they ask you for a bucket of hot soapy water the next day, nod sagely. And try not to look too surprised when they use it to wash their hands!

A bar of soap ... and an oily ooze. Why insert apple jelly into the title? Apple scented soap? No. This is the reason



This the 7.30am apple picking, tree hacking, don't-want-to-risk-the-tank-replacement-men-having-to-do-this-and-making-the-job-more-expensive slog that got me up bright and early on a Saturday morning


And this the result



And this - "Where have all my apples gone?"




And ultimately this







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