Most folks nowadays don’t remember, but back when I was young, Melbourne was having a crisis. No, it’s not the war…I’m not THAT old! Nope, this was something far more devious: bandits. Specifically, the Pipe Bandits. The Pipe Bandits of Old Melbourne Town, as the papers phrased it.
Everyone just thought it was a set of shufty youths going round and cutting people’s outdoor pipes wide open. Things were a bit more fragile back then; one snip and you could cut off someone’s hot water supply. Just…snip. Gone! Now, it was a fragile time for plumbing contractors in Melbourne as well, because the industry was shifting and changing, people wanting electric heating systems instead of boilers and everyone wanting their pipes to be buried so far underground that you needed a digging machine to get to them. I myself was just starting an apprenticeship as a painter, so I thought all this plumbing talk was a lot of nonsense. Nobody took the Pipe Bandits seriously at first, because they thought they was silly youngsters who needed to get back to school, and maybe a swift slipper to the behind. But then the attacks got worse. They cut the water supply to the village hall, which was supposed to be a place for everyone to gather. Then the hot water went off in all of Church Street. And then, when I was in the middle of running a bath…the it happened to our home.
I was just looking forward to having along soak to wash off the day’s paint, and that was taken from me. I sat in my cold bathtub, heated by my burning rage and vowing revenge. Fortunately, Melbourne’s upstanding plumbers had already mobilised, and I joined a team that set a watch on various key targets. Finally, we managed to catch one of them in the act, trying to tamper with the mains pipe on the gold course. He was…a grown up! An unemployed grown up, one of many who were sick of poor water pressure, and had created a secret group to take revenge on Melbourne’s plumbing companies, even though that was very stupid!
He squealed, anyway, and the crisis was over. We never did get water pressure that was particularly good, however. Wonder why that is?