Wednesday, 11 November 2009

We may not have mains water, but we do have an education

Wait a moment! I must finish the household checks!

I do the same duties before I leave the house.

I have to. It is like count to ten while washing your hands. Or push the front door with a forefinger after locking, just to check.

There are good reasons for this particular safety obsession.

Like the time I came down one morning and found the back door open. And I don't mean unlocked, I mean open. Why don't we put up a sign on the driveway notifying Burglar Bill that there isn't much, but the TV bought in 1989 still works?

Howabout the week we stayed in Northumberland and returned to find all the kitchen lights still burning? Or the day we spent in a field, came home and found the gas hob ring glowing brightly. For SEVEN HOURS. And are we lucky not to be dead or looking at a burned out shell of a house, dear husband, who made poached eggs for breakfast that day?

So of course I do obsessional house checking, because we're out for the day. I'm taking the kids to Hampton Court Palace, as part of our Tudors project.

Back door locked? Check. Lights off? Check. Gas knobs pointing in correct alignment towards the wall? Check. Kitchen tap turned off? Kitchen tap off? OFF?


And there I look at it. Gushing water into the sink like Niagara Falls. But it's worse, because the hot tap that won't turn off is connected to the hot-water-on-demand boiler, and after ten seconds of spinning a tap that's not responding, that boiler is rattling and wheezooing and squeaging with the effort of keeping pace with the demand for hot water drawn from that bust tap in the kitchen.

I stand to consider my options.

Quite frankly, with hot water plunging into the sink at 150 litres a second, there aren't many.

I cancel the day at Hampton Court. I never even got to threaten that punishment half way down the M1, yelling I'll turn the car round this second thanks to the swinging punches or screaming obscenities from the back seat.

But it has to be. I break the news to the kids, get the picnic out the car, and go and see if I can phone Dig to talk over the safest course of action whereby I can save the day and make sure I do not blow up the boiler, cause a thousand pounds worth of damage, soak us all in water, electrocute myself or blow all the fuses in the house by flooding the cellar.

Never think phoning Dig is making a straightforward call to an office in London, by the way. Dig is in Brazil. And such is his life that I realise that I cannot recall whether he is in Sao Paolo, Rio, or Buzios. Me, as usual I am up a creek without a paddle.

But you may think I am being over cautious about contacting him. Take a look back at that list. I have only one on it yet to do.

Of course even though it is early morning in Brazil, Dig is not contactable.

I might have been calm up to this point but now I am fuckingfurious because it is his responsibility to be available to me on Skype, mobile and email 24 hours, 7 days a week.

OK, it might be a worn out washer and a destroyed day, but it could have been Tiger, Shark or Squirrel throwing themselves out a top floor window.

After an hour of pleading, twisting the mains tap which is stuck, and alternatively crying and shouting at the tap, neither of which actions actually make the ruddy water stop, nothing gets any better. The water torture sure is working though, because after another hour I am just about beating my head against the wall.

Finally, I manage to apply the micro atom of my brain which I reserve for thinking and I locate a bit of equipment which looks like a big pair of teeth with long handles. I work out these will give me leverage on the stuck mains tap. Either that or the damn thing will twist off altogether and the pipe explode.

And that, dear reader, is what I do. I twist round the water mains and bring the entire flat to a watery conclusion. Then I call the wonderful Mr W, the home educating parent down the road who knows what he is doing because he is an engineer, and he dutifully and cheerfully arrives like a knight in shining Volvo to make sure that I have made the boiler safe, the water safe, and that nothing will blow up.

Miserably, we have lost Hampton Court Palace. But for a woman whose profound life motto alternates between never give up and look on the bright side, there is consolation.

See the benefit of a real world education? I tell the mournful Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. Today you have learned about washers, taps, stuck mains valves, leverage, and being flexible with your planning.

And next time it might not be the water! Next time it might be mama electrocuting herself again, and then you will also learn how to wire plugs.


Michelle said...

Hampton Court will always be there. Besides it's a hellish drive and only worth it (imo) when they are doing the Tudor Cooking.

sharon said...

I hope you set the gritlets to cleaning duties and didn't totally waste all that hot water!

The Green Stone Woman said...

And then how did the story end? Did you call a plumber to straighten out the tap, or did you take it apart yourself in an educational lesson to the girls to show them you could fix anything? It would have been the perfect opportunity to show them how emancipated we women can be. Off to the hardware store!

Heather said...

Well done for figuring it out. I am cr*p in an emergancy. More likely to just stabd there staring a it and actully consider going out anyay and hope it has stopped by the time i get back. Totaly cr*p.

Rebel Mother said...

Holy smoke! What a day. But quite right, still very educational. Technical and mechanics are the vein off my life, at least you managed to turn the thing off before adorning your swim stuff.

I would have sunk without a trace!

You do make me laugh. Great post.

Love RMxx

Anonymous said...

Impressive emergency skills! And we all need a knight ina shining volvo.

Grit said...

michelle, i feel better. it is good having you as a scout and reconnaisance expert.

sharon! i filled loads of buckets and saucepans. we great minds think alike!

nora, you would be right, except i taught them a worse lesson, and that was 'ladies, we're going out! and we'll make papa mend it and suffer when he comes home'. that's not good, is it?

that is an excellent plan heather, and you can be sure it's one i considered.

rebel mother, i simply blame my own education for not equipping me with the skills needed. i can quote poetry at the ruddy tap, and that's about all.

hi mud! i shall be back over to yours soon for a cup of tea and a read of the love installments.

Hannah said...

I once left the house without realising the (electric) cooker hob was switched on and my steriliser lid was on top of it. I came home 8 hours later and it had completely melted but amazingly not set on fire! Now I'm the queen of safety checks before leaving home!!