Wednesday, January 03, 2007

things I learnt at Christmas

1) Be very careful with those toilet bleach/perfume blocks, the ones that you hang over the side of the pan so that they catch the flow from the flush when you pull it and wash some nice blue bleachy goodness down the pan. Should the flimsy plastic hinge-y hook attachments attaching it to the rim of the toilet bowl give way or become dislodged for any reason (seismic activity, sunspots, a misdirected jet of urine, that sort of thing) then all manner of drainage-related misery can ensue. And I know, because....I was there. Yes - December 24th, Christmas Eve, my sister Emma and her husband Ray's place in Reading, a seemingly innocent toilet with a toilet block seemingly securely attached. But, at some point during the evening, the block got flushed down the toilet. Not necessarily a problem at this stage, but unfortunately no-one noticed, and shortly afterwards some, erm, other solid matter got flushed down and, well, that was that (blockage represented by the red blob in the diagram on the left). The whole plumbing system backed up and there were me, my Dad and my brother-in-law Ray sticking coat-hangers up the U-bend, hosepipes up the sewer outflow, etc. etc., without much success. By this time the, erm, "organic matter" had been got rid of, so we were just resigning ourselves to a "no solids" Christmas and a pre-dinner trip to the pub on Christmas day to form an orderly queue for the facilities when Ray, who has shorter arms than Dad or me, managed to get his arm up the U-bend sufficiently to get the plastic blockage out, to rapturous applause and cries of "now wash your hands" from all.

2) If you are investigating a toilet blockage of this kind and you have to get the manhole cover off in the back garden to investigate the outflow channels, and it's dark, and you suddenly have the bright idea of fetching your camping head torch so you can see better, don't stride purposefully back across the yard and plummet screaming into the manhole, thereby not only nearly breaking your ankle, but also scraping off a yard or so of elbow skin on the garden fence.

Next week: how to get crumbs out of your toaster with a fork.

No comments: