I have been showing off my tandem, as one does, to all who come my way, among whom was Biffer. For reasons that may become apparent Biffer may not wish to be identified. Biffer admired my tandem in a perfunctory way because he is actually not in the slightest bit interested in tandems or indeed anything else with pedals attached - and then - I can't remember how - got onto the subject of the local council, of whom he had recently made enquiries regarding his replacement shower. Biffer had been into the Council offices.
'Do I need a building permit for replacing my shower?'
'Okay. How much?'
'WHAT! For replacing an existing shower?!'
'Can you tell me what I'm getting for that?'
'We have to accept and inspect the correct documentation.'
The Council officer gave him a long list, concluding with an Original Certificate of Title for the Home.
'What d'you need that for?'
'To prove that you own the house.'
'Hang on. Last week I paid you $700 Rates. You didn't need me to prove that I owned the house then. What's happened in the last seven days? You forgot or something?'
'And another thing. Look at me. Do I look like the sort of bloke who goes about surreptitiously breaking into people's houses and installing a shower when they're not there?'
'And now I expect you want me to provide an architect's drawings of the shower.'
'We will need to see plans.'
'What for? What are you worried about? I'm just replacing a shower!'
'We need to see plans for the drainage pan, to check it doesn't leak.'
'So what will that be? A square with a little circle in the middle of it?'
'Well, yes, that would do.'
'Tell you what. Gimme a bit of paper and a pencil and I'll draw it now for you.'
Needless to say Biffer went away with a pocket full of documents none of which will ever be returned, and should the council officers busy themselves poking into his basement, he will assure them that you can do wonders in making an old shower look like new with a little floor soap. A similar problem arose a while ago when the council took it into their heads to charge a $400 Resource Consent for a solar panel, which a number of people declined to pay, taking their chances on the local council's ability to withdraw access to the sunshine.
Meantime I swept up another smashed beer bottle today, because although the council officers assure me that all I need do is submit the appropriate form to draw the roading engineers' attention to the matter, I'm the one that fixes punctures in this household.