Well, we seem to have sorted out what is wrong with the plumbing. The water comes off the hill, as it has done since 1887, in a lead pipe. For most of the 119 years in which the system has worked, farmers have been dumping lime on the field under which it travels. Lime reacts with lead to create lead sulphides; so there was a point where the pipe had simply been eaten though, and therefore, a certain amount of water continued its forward journey on a hit-or miss basis, but not very much. A surviving bit of pipe looks, in cross section, like a hard-boiled egg, the top side is much, much, thinner than the bottom side. Which, of course, explains precisely why the system has been failing for a while, presumably as holes began to develop, but then quite suddenly, became completely incapable of building up enough pressure to reach the tank in the attic. Even the Professor and I can understand that much. The dramatic moment came mid-afternoon: Keith the Plumber was using a compressed-air machine as his principal diagnostic tool (on the thought that the pipe must somehow be blocked somewhere). The severed pipe was about four feet down; and the very healthy amount of water actually coming out of the tank has of course been creating a sort of underground lake for some considerable time. If you heave enough compressed air into the overall situation, therefore, the field eventually erupts like Old Faithful at the point of maximum stress. This at least solved the difficulty of identifying where the problem was without digging along the entire length of the pipe. But by the time they had fought the thing to a standstill, poor Keith and his silent apprentice looked as if they’d been mud-wrestling.