Tuesday, 14 June 2011


I'm struggling with a leaking toilet at the moment. Not leaking in the sense of effluent on the floor, but a cistern that won't stop filling. It's pretty nightmarish- I will go up and adjust the gaffa tape on the ballcock or try and wedge something underneath it, and the next minute I'll hear a torrential outpouring that goes into the cistern and then down the back wall of the house. Just a minute ago, I thought that it had started to rain again, but then realised it was the bog.

There is something remorseless and inexorable about the power of water. We might think that we've domesticated it with pipes and sewers - to some extent we've treated it with contempt - but we're wrong. It's there right now, eating at the bricks of the house, and our neighbour's fence. It sounds like a small, localised rain shower.

This is my dad's bog. It has nothing to do with me. In my mother's lifetime it was secured with elastic bands, she didn't care too much about these things. To flush it one would fill the cistern with the jug on the side of the bath. It was always going to be fixed next year. Now it's not.

I can hear it now, turning the back garden into a swamp, and giving the neighbours a free new age -1990's- sound effect to assist them in their slumbers (unless it's deeply annoying, which is entirely possible) like a "rain forest waterfall".

I'm going to sort it tomorrow with a bent coathanger. That will make a cradle to hold the ballcock at the appropriate angle to shut off the valve that allows this miniature Niagara to persist. Obviously, a plumber is required at some later date - was always required.

But it is ultimately the noise of family. My dad has just got up for a slash, necessitating, I hope, flushing, which will give me a bit of respite from having to re-adjust the ballcock- for maybe half an hour.

As I was saying, anyway; it is the noise of family. As the Amazon ad for the the alarm clock that I linked above puts it: "filters out background noise as you read, work or study", family is the background noise. This is the noise of my particular place, where you fix the bog with elastic bands; my inheritance, where I must live - when I'm here- with the remorselessness of water, the sound of it, or I must get it fixed, because no-one else is going to.

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