Over the last few weeks as students we have flown the nest (workbench) to migrate to warmer climes (bays) and it’s been a real change in how we work. Our lecturer is amazing at keeping tracks with everyone as we are all working on something slightly different. He periodically brings us together for ‘important information’, but otherwise we are at a level where we are given the task and can get on with it. It’s actually a really good feeling. For me it is getting to grips with the bigger picture of plumbing. How everything fits together, from the soil stack to the CWSC and hot water cylinder, guttering and of course the bathroom suite!

I learn from watching, taking it all in. Seeing how people do things, noting the good, identifying the bad. I found myself wandering the workshop to see how everyone was tackling the tasks. It was so encouraging to see all these students who less than 12 weeks ago had never soldered or made a rig, now thrashing it out with appliances and singing away to eighties radio (cos most of us are … older!)

The other thing I pondered this week was the similarities in my career choices. Both science, anatomy/cell biology and plumbing, both essentially pipes/tubes, both helping people, both doing things no-one has done before. What? I hear you ask. Well, think about it. No plumbing job is the same, even in new builds, it’ll be similar but rarely identical AND no-one has done that job before, there was no bathroom or central heating before you came! Life is all about how you think of it and perspective is everything. I once told my kids I was going to show them something no-one had ever seen before…I opened an avocado and we ‘ooooo’d at the stone. Well, I did, they were bemused at best. One of my fellow students was asking what everyone did for a living and then said this, “plumbing is a last resort for us, why are you doing it?” I felt so sad. Plumbing is NOT my last resort. It is my choice and reinforced every week with new knowledge. If plumbers think like this its no wonder there is a skills shortage, on top of all the other obstacles.

Oh and the other thing I learnt, leak detection spray has a consistency like spit and spit is my kryptonite. I spent a good 10 minutes looking for a leak that wasn’t there whilst dry wretching. Give me poo, wee, blood or vomit any day, but spit and phlegm …nope.