Monday, 31 May 2010

A little Blitz

Do you believe in luck? For all my atheism and scientific rationalism, I'm still a superstitious person, in so far as I believe there's a limited degree of luck in the world and sometimes you have lots and sometimes none. Also, luck comes in flavours, ranging from extremely good to extremely bad, via a sort of crappy middle. "Cheese" is the analogy I'm trying not to make.

Image by marfis75 on Flickr: Creative Commons licensed BY SA 2.0

Today, it seems, is the crappy middle good luck. I woke in a good mood, bounced out of bed and started my busy Bank Holiday Monday. Having done all the ironing and washing that had built up on Saturday morning, had a fabulous food n' laughs filled evening over at Scott & bf's house for the Eurovision Song Contest (Britain came very very last, if you missed it) on Saturday night and had a lovely lazy (and hangoverless, oddly) Sunday with a great tomato, basil and olive soup, I had reason to be cheerful.

Today was to be a deep clean of the bathroom, a tidy and bleach of the kitchen (I'm a bleach queen: little satisfies me more than massacring germs that dare to lurk in corners using environmentally damaging chemicals and boiling water until my hands are red and shredded) and an exchange of sweaty bedlinen for lovely "lavender-style" scented freshly washed stuff. This was to be followed by another soup and the assembling of something in the slow cooker for tomorrow night's dinner.

I started in the bathroom, squirting bleach spray everywhere, scrubbing down the tiles, dissolving the (oddly pink) limescale from the grouting and other intense sparkling activities. I washed the tiles down with the shower, turned it off and went downstairs for my grapefruit-scented antiseptic wipes.

From the kitchen, I could hear running water. Frantically running water. Hmmm, odd. This was joined by the sound of urgent dripping much nearer. I went back upstairs to find the shower running. Strange. Looking closer, it wasn't running. It was gushing. And from the back of the shower unit. The main flow of the water was clearly running into the false wall and from there through the ceiling into the utility room. That explained the urgent dripping.

Now, I'm good in a crisis. I think fast and can usually see not only all the options available, but the consequences of each one and therefore the best action to take, all in a second or so. I pay for this by never being able to make any non-urgent decision at all, unless the person asking is actually on fire.

Electric shower, running water. Right, item one: isolate the electric mains supply. Thought and done. Item two: water still running. Isolate gas boiler then find stopcock for the water supply. Grab phone, out of back door, into The Cellar for the first ever time. Terrified of spiders, and this is where they filmed Aragog's scenes in the second Harry Potter movie. It's this or drowning. Into The Cellar, despite being in flip-flops, shorts and nothing else. Call CJBS and ask where is the stopcock, exactly?. Lefthand wall. No stopcock. Where on the wall, EXACTLY? Am I in The Cellar? Yes. On the wall on the left. No, no it isn't. Go into The Cellar, walk through the cobwebs, go through a doorway covered in cobwebs into a pitchblack subroom filled with cobwebs. It's on the lefthand wall in there.

Now, over the last two years, we've had building work done, generally by the cheapest and uselessest builders we could find. Except for the house not actually collapsing, everything else they did has broken, fallen down, peeled off or remained unfinished when actually inspected. To that list we can now add "didn't bother with a skip for the rubble, broken glass and other unwanted items". It's all in The Cellar. And it's all piled up in front of the doorway into the subroom. And covered in cobwebs.

So, in cheaply made, given-away-free-by-Merseyrail flip-flops, shorts and nothing else I climbed over the rubble and the glass shards, walked through about three billion cobwebs and turned off the stopcock. The torrent stopped. I climbed back over the rubble, broken glass, razor wire, bear traps, used needles and scorpions(note: some of this may not be actually true) and called the insurance company's plumber.

He came over urgently, 4 to 8 hours later, turned another stopcock off (behind a secret panel under the bath, who knew?) and opened the shower unit. This is where the crappy good luck kicks in. There's a plastic clamp holding the water pipe in place. It had sheared off and could've gone at any time. Like in 3 weeks when we're in London for the weekend. Or in 4 when we're in Belgium for a week. That it went today, when there was someone in the house and I wasn't working... very lucky. Just crappily so.

Of course, being a plumber from the insurance company, he couldn't repair the shower, since he had made it safe (turned the tap off) and we have alternative facilities (the bath). So a real plumber and a part will be needed. Until then, we're bathing instead of showering. I'm tempted to draw a line around the bath, as people did in the war to ration hot water (including the King and Queen, as noted with amazement by Mrs Roosevelt, but excluding Mr Churchill, who did a lot of speechwriting whilst immersed, to the distaste of his dictation secretaries).

This little crisis was followed by a trip to the shops, which had mostly closed early because of the Bank Holiday so I missed them. In the supermarket, a plague of locusts must have been through, as there were almost no vegetables to be had and random shortages elsewhere.

So, for the purposes of this project, I'm going to pretend we got caught in a little Blitz (explaining the state of the bathroom, the dust and cobwebs on my clothes, the unchanged bedding and the food shortages). And we all know what that means: chips from the takeaway chip shop for dinner tonight.


Merseytart said...

Glad you enjoyed yourself at the Eurovision "do" - we had fun too! Sorry to hear about your troubles but glad to see you have adopted the Blitz spirit. Though were the Blitzed during the War in the habit of wandering around bombed out cellars in their undies?

Michelle said...

Glad Shelob let you off the hook you this time!