It is a little known fact that the Society Committed to the Restoration Of The Underwashed Masses meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month in a secret location in the public bar of the “Dirty Dog”.
This is of course the radical plumbing wing of the famous group founded in that hotbed of the great unwashed – Grimethorpe. Their catchcry “where there's muck there's brass” is shouted from the rooftops throughout Yorkshire, a place where expenditure on soap is frowned upon. Outsiders when entering the local pubs may be greeted with a suspicious look and the enquiry “you don't wash do you? It's not natural you know”. The local vicar peppers his weekly sermon with the observation that “if god had meant us to wash he would not have created dirt” and urges his congregation to resist the evils peddled by world soap cartels such as Lever Brothers.
The “Ball Bags”, as the society is affectionately known, originally spread their word through insidious means. They formed a brass band, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and entered brass band competitions all across the world. The unsuspecting public never realised that they were listening to brass band music with subliminal messages embedded in the Tuba line. Of course everyone listens to the sweet tones of the cornet and so it was many years before the evil intent of the Tuba was finally uncovered. By then it was too late and the empire of the great unwashed had been borne.
The exposing of what became known as the Grimethorpe Tuba Plot meant that new strategies were needed to spread their evil influence across the world. The leadership declared a “War on hygiene” They challenged people with the confrontational declaration “You are either with us or you are clean.” Those who were caught washing were branded “Scrubbers” and people hurled muddy shoes at them in public places. Society polarised, people had to decide. “To wash or not too wash” that was the question.
This new “War on hygiene” stimulated heightened levels of fervour and a new radical faction formed within the society, a faction who desired to take their cause to the people through preemptive action. They hatched a heinous plot. “We will sabotage the machinery of hygiene wherever we find it” they declared. “We will seek out WMDs (Weapons of Mass Decontamination) and we will disable them.”
These new radicals called themselves “The Plumbing Wing”
They set about installing showers that would work one day and dribble the next, drains that would block, toilets that would run endlessly and most dangerous - exploding taps. Anything that could disrupt the cleanliness of nations.
Factories were set up to manufacture the tools of their evil business often stamping them with the names of well known tap manufacturers to fool the enemy. Little did people know that these evilly conceived water powered devices could blow apart at any time spraying water everywhere and disrupting daily washing ceremonies.
The machinery and fittings of their war have been infiltrated into plumbing supply chains and you will find them installed in many houses ready to wreak havoc on poor unsuspecting innocent victims. In Bali the local people have learned to take defensive action and in the villages at washing time most Balinese head for the river or the irrigation canals to avoid the dangers lurking in their bathrooms.
So how do your protect yourself? Well there are a number of measures you can take:
Firstly find a real plumber, one you can trust. Check behind his ears to make sure he washes (dirt behind the ears is always a bit of a give away). Talk to him and casually drop words like “soap”. “cleanliness” or “wash” into the conversation. Watch him closely and if he winces it is not a good sign. You could ask him what he was doing last week, last month or last year, if he was selling watches on the beach trusting him with your personal pipework is definitely not a good idea. As a last resort you could give the Plumber's secret greeting to see if he recognises it. You stand on one leg (the left one), give the secret handshake and mutter “Where there's muck there's brass.” To which he will instinctively give the official response “mine's a pint you smelly b.....d.” Take care, this can be a very dangerous tactic and should be used only as a last resort. Once exposed and cornered “The Plumbers” can become very dangerous and may try to poke you in the eye with a dirty fingernail.
Secondly check the items being installed. Be aware that in Indonesia you cannot get standard western style taps with tap washers in them. These stalwart items that have served their purpose reliably for eons of time in both Australia and Britain for some reason never made it to Indonesia's shores. Conspiracy theories abound as to why.
In recent years more advanced ceramic seated quarter turn taps have become widely available. If properly made these are very reliable and will last for years without dripping.
Look for good quality names such as Toto, Wasser or American Standard.
Beware, the copiers are getting cleverer and when a good quality hot and cold mixer tap costs at least Rp 400,000 there is always the temptation to copy. Check the branding and if it says “Todo” take care, the name “Indonesian Standard” sounds a bit dodgy and if it is advertised as “the brest tap in the world” perhaps you should not believe it.
Particularly look out for taps with a plastic ball inside or with a flat steel or painted cast metal operating lever held in place with a hexagonal nut or screw. These are particularly prone to dripping or explosive behaviour. Such taps are very useful for throwing at dogs that howl in the night but exposing them to internal water pressure is not a good idea.
Finally if in doubt you can always call the tap disposal unit.