Has anyone else ever had the sheer, undiluted joy of unblocking a severely blocked, overflowing toilet without the aid of a toilet plunger first thing in the morning? No? Well let me tell you then – it’s not one for your bucket list.
Before I start, I promise I am not making this up. The meaning of this will shine through before long. Yesterday, I made the rookie error of acquiescing to the plans of my children without properly checking what they were.
“Can we swap bedrooms?” – it sounded like an innocuous enough question.
“Why of course my dear child,” I murmured vaguely (or words to that effect), stuck as I was in a pile of legal articles to write about such riveting matter as commercial dispute resolution. “Off you go now.”
I actually don’t know what I expected when I went upstairs later, but the scenes of Napoleonic devastation were not it. There were now no discernible beds, just bits of wood everywhere. Every single cuddly toy that has been collected over the last FIFTEEN YEARS was piled in the bath. To head height. The bathroom was covered with books which hadn’t seen the light of day since the mid-80s. Tables, chairs, lamps, pencils, created an indiscriminate, merry little tide of stuff that now flowed gently across the entire upstairs of the house, blocked only by a whacking great mattress which was placed so that no -one could get up or down or from side to side easily. Or at all, in fact. You may imagine my face. It’s too bad a mess to deal with. Note my use of the present tense.
Somehow the mattresses have bred and there are four of them whereas there are only three beds upstairs. Stationary has gone forth and multiplied to create a tsunami of felt pens, leaded pencils, glittery markers and all sorts of other hellish child entertainment ploys which are all over my gold carpets. Never again will I buy gold carpets, but that’s a separate issue. The elder girl had somehow managed to create a haven of cosy domesticity in her new bedroom, whereas the younger girl’s bedroom looked like Toys R Us had thrown up in there. It’s an unspeakable mess that will need crampons and an ice pick to tackle it, I thought, looking at it. Oh little did I know that just twelve hours later my analysis of what constitutes an ‘unspeakable mess’ would be sorely challenged. The night ended with my younger girl on a mattress and me on the gin.
FAST FORWARD TWELVE HOURS
“Mummy! The toilet’s blocked!” It’s not my favourite way to wake up in the morning, but I’ve had worse.
“Just try flushing it again,” I said sleepily and turned over. There was an ominous silence before I heard “Oh.” Which frankly scared me more than a scream. I leapt out of bed and dashed up the stairs amidst the toys and dolls and clothes and paper and……you get the picture. The next obstacle was a mattress firmly placed across the stairs, but once I had negotiated that to reach the bathroom, I dearly wished I hadn’t. The toilet had overflowed. All over the floor. And I won’t subject anyone to a description of what it was, but think of the worst thing you can imagine and then quadruple it. All over the bathroom floor. Seeping gently and determinedly into shoes, clothes, cuddly toys; all manner of things which have no business being near a bathroom and in the ordinary course of events would not have been. But oh no, all my bad luck seemed to have ganged up on me at once and paid a visit. It was one of those situations where you stare weakly and think – but how? How am I going to sort this out?
I’d never tackled a blocked toilet before and this one was very seriously blocked. It looked like it needed some Oramorph and palliative care. What did I do? I turned around, went back downstairs and pulled on my Dubarry boots. The soles of those have seen some sights, they’re used it. My poor, unprotected feet were not. Then I surveyed the scene and amassed my weapons. A toilet plunger was not amongst them. Google advised that I pour dishwasher liquid and hot water down the toilet. Or poke at the blockage with a clothes hanger. I tried both of those and got absolutely nowhere. I needed a plumber of course. But the thing was, there was no way I could invite a soul into the house as it was. The poor man wouldn’t be able to reach the bathroom – I honestly cannot describe the mess. And even if he did manage to negotiate his way there he would think we stored all our worldly goods in the bath. No, no, a plumber was not an option.
So what did I do? I put on a pair of rubber gloves and stuck my hand down the loo. I kid you not. I held my breath at first before I realised that all the dishwasher liquid had made this effluent smell quite nice. Which was good, seeing as it was lapping against my feet. Once I’d done that I poured a bottle of bleach down the toilet and sent up a quick prayer to God, or Allah or in fact any deity that might be listening and crossed all my fingers and toes.
I don’t know if my treatment has worked yet because I do not dare to go and check. What’s the moral of this story? If your children sidle up to you and whisper sweet-sounding plans in your ear – do not grant them permission instantly or give any reaction that can possibly be interpreted as permission. Because I’ve learned the hard way that if you do that, then life really can be sh*t.