When Irishman and I first started stepping out together I had no idea that his bathroom was to become the bane of my life. The first weekend that I stayed at his house, he told me that under no circumstances was I to flush the toilet. Slightly perplexed by this I visited the bathroom and saw a metal coat hanger wrapped over the side of the cistern and a large sign above the toilet saying DO NOT FLUSH! Fortunately all I needed at that stage was a pee, but the following morning it was a different matter.
It seemed that some months previously, a drunken visitor had been somewhat heavy handed with the flusher and it had snapped off. Worse still, the internal workings of the cistern had been damaged. Subsequently every time the toilet was flushed, it flooded the bathroom. Irishman had rung around every plumber in South-East London to try to resolve the problem but each time was given the same answer ‘Sorry Mate, it’s a foreign make, can’t get the parts here’. Out of desperation he was therefore forced to concoct some system whereby he could flush the toilet. It entailed standing over the bowl and waiting until the cistern had finished filling with water to make sure that the ballcock was in place. It was an exacting science that only he felt qualified to undertake. He, and poor long suffering Izzy his daughter had to put up with his Heath Robinson invention for an entire year before fate played it’s hand and I walked into their lives.
After I moved in with them, my raison d’être became getting the toilet fixed. First off I got rid of the wire coat hanger and replaced it with the lace from a boxing glove that I found at the bottom of his laundry basket. I reasoned that a lace looked rather more aesthetic than an old bit of wire. Several weeks, and plumbers later, I found someone who knew where to get the parts for the fancy foreign toilet. 8 long months after meeting Irishman, Izzy and I could at last flush the toilet and not have to ask for his help. As moments go, it was not only memorable but also rather empowering.
Alas, no sooner had the toilet been fixed, than the shower began to leak. Unattractive brown stains started to appear on the kitchen ceiling below and within no time a bosom like bulge formed in the plasterboard just under the shower right above the kitchen table. It was time to call the plumber again. I asked our neighbour if he could recommend someone and in what seemed like no time at all, we had Cowboy A and Cowboy B in to do the job. The shower was ripped out, the flooring taken up, the about-to-collapse kitchen ceiling replaced and Bob’s your Uncle, and £2,000 lighter, all was well once more in the sanitary department.
We left London shortly afterwards for Indonesia, content in the knowledge that our tenants had a lovely new shower, and a working toilet.
But within weeks my daughter Annie called me ‘Mummy, I’m really sorry but the shower is leaking again and it’s dripping down into the kitchen’. Naturally Cowboy A, and Cowboy B, had done a runner and were nowhere to be seen. Once more the search was on for an emergency plumber. The problem was fixed, a squirt or two of sealer, another couple of hundred quid and all was well once more. Well it was until two weeks ago.
Last night I had a skype call from Annie. Apparently Dick (yes, I know!) hadn’t turned up to do the job, the water was still pouring through the ceiling and she had to go to work. I decided that I would give Dick Dastardly a run for his money and call him up. I don’t think Dick was expecting a call from the other side of the world. I told him where to shove his stop-cock and stop messing my daughter around. By the time I had finished with Dick he was a simpering wreck, like putty in my hands. I think/hope Dick has now got the message.
At 3am I was woken from a fitful sleep by the beep beep sound of my phone. Scrabbling around in the dark to find it, I knocked over a glass of water and lamp off the bedside table. There were 2 SMS messages from Irishman. The first one he’d sent whilst in transit at Dubai airport en route to Germany. It read “ATM not $£%@&*** accepting any of my cards, no money! Great! Xxx”
The second message he’d sent from Germany “Just arrived in Germany, some &^%$£*** has stolen the case with my laptop and driving license. I am %£@***”
I got up and went to put the kettle on. I reasoned it was either too late or too early to attack the gin bottle. I put an alert out on Facebook that my husband was having a bad start to his week away and could everyone send loving and positive thoughts his way. Many lovely messages and condolences from friends started to appear on my wall, it was very heartening and a great comfort to me.
As the day slowly dawned and it became light enough to go and take some photographs, I was reminded of one of my favourite quotes “Life is like a cucumber, one minute it’s in your hand, the next it’s up your arse” Rather apt for all that’s been happening over the space of a few hours.
I went up onto the covered balcony and watched the early morning rain as it fell and noticed these two doves preening themselves under the thatch of the alang-alang roof.
How nice not to have to worry about leaking toilets, showers, cowboys and thieves I thought to myself as I went back downstairs to make more coffee and to write this post. a