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Article reproduced from The Sunday Times featuring Vince Byde of Byde Heating & Plumbing Ltd. "Aftershock" By Andrew Taylor. April 2, 2006.

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Plumbing the depths

Forget any idea of earning £120,000 a year as a plumber - and if you are Andrew Taylor you should forget any idea of being a plumber at all...

Driven round the bend: Andrew Taylor found he was not cut out to be a plumber

I have an acquaintance whose job fits his character as perfectly as the Savile Row suits he generally wears. Ever since he was a child, he has avidly poked his nose into other people's business, and now he gets paid for it. Well paid, too – he is a management consultant.

He's always happy to offer his advice for free, as well, and the other day he rang me up. “I’ve sorted your problem,” he said. “I know what you ought to be doing.” I’ve known him too long to leap up and down for joy, so I just waited.

“We had a flood last night, and I called out a plumber,” he went on. “It’s incredible - he charges £200 an hour. And you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find one, even at that rate. If the market is that undersupplied, there must be an opportunity there for you.” He meant well, so I didn’t have the heart to point out the irony of a management consultant commenting on the unreasonable hourly rate of a plumber. And anyway, it did seem like a good idea.

So I phoned a good mate, who just happens to be a plumber. “Come and have a look,” he said. And that’s how the man who is to do-it-yourself what Tommy Cooper was to the Magic Circle, the man for whom hammering in a nail without bending it is a triumph of manual dexterity, came to be on his hands and knees under the sink, tightening a perfect stranger’s taps.

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