Joe Bennett: Search for PVC glue leads to run


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Jun 01, 2023

Joe Bennett: Search for PVC glue leads to run

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Columnist Joe Bennett wanted some PVC glue to fix a broken pipe, above, but got a lesson in high-tech, modern surveillance systems.


I needed some PVC glue but was reluctant to buy some because I was only ever going to use it once and the rest of the pot would sit uselessly on a shelf in the garage till the end of time, so I drove to Gordon's.

Gordon is a handyman and an expert with gadgets and a hoarder of hardware, all of which qualities can be useful in an acquaintance. I knocked on his door, then I knocked on his door again, and I was about to give up and go away when a voice recognisably Gordon's said "Hello Joe".

"Hello Gordon," I said, and looked round and saw nothing.

"Look up," said Gordon and I looked up but, instead of Gordon's round and earnest features, I found myself looking at a white plastic box on the wall with a prominent eye-like thing front and centre, a sort of 6-inch Cyclops.

"Can you hear me?" I said to Cyclops.

"Of course I can hear you," said Gordon.

"Can you see me?"

"Of course I can see you," said Gordon. "You're wearing a yellow T-shirt that would look better on a younger man and you're still bald. What can I do for you?"

"Some PVC glue. Have you got any?"

"What's it for?"

"Well," I said, "I was grubbing out a patch of grass behind a retaining wall with a view to planting a hedge when ... I say, any chance you could just let me in so I could explain in a more normal manner? I feel like a dork talking to the front of your house."

"You hit a drainage pipe, didn't you?"

"Yes, of course I did, but it didn't register as a drainage pipe at first. It registered as something in the ground offering resistance so I swung the grubber at it half a dozen times with increasing force, stopping only when I noticed some chips of white PVC piping, whereupon I went at it more gently with a trowel and exposed the pipe with a hole about 6 inches long through the top of it, though not, as far as I can tell, and let us be thankful for small mercies, the bottom.'

"You'll need to clean the surface around the hole very thoroughly - I'd use meths - then wash it down with soap and water and let it dry, and then cut a section from a pipe of the same gauge and glue it over the hole," said Gordon,

"Indeed," I said, "but listen, Gordon, I've been standing here so long I wouldn't be surprised if your neighbours had rung the cops."

"Don't worry about the neighbours. They've seen worse."

"Gordon, I am super-impressed by your natty new surveillance camera intercom thing. Now would you please just let me in?"



"I can't."

"Why not?"

"I'm not there."

"What do you mean you're not there? I'm talking to you."

"I'm on my cellphone in Wanaka."


"But nothing. When you walked up the path the device above your head detected the movement and started recording and at the same time it sent an alert to my phone. Using the app I was able to connect with the device remotely and see what was going on at my front door and, as you have discovered, talk to you through it. I can even press a little button on my phone and produce a big boomy siren-type noise to frighten you and make you go away. Would you like me to do that?"

"Don't bother," I said, "I'm going anyway," and I returned to the car musing on the oxymoron of technological progress and reaching exactly the conclusion I always reach, before driving to the hardware store where I bought a $20 pot of PVC glue. And having repaired my pipe - rather neatly, as shown by the attached photo - I put the pot on a shelf in the garage where it will sit untouched and forgotten until I die or move house.

Or until the happy day when Gordon comes round to borrow it, and I tell him to go whistle

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