I don't often write personal stuff in this blog, but it's a Friday and quite frankly, we could all do with a break.
It was the evening that my toilet exploded…
I should start by explaining that I’m fortunate enough to have both an upstairs and a downstairs loo. The downstairs one is the really small type with room for the loo, a basin and that’s just about it.
At about 10.45 last night I flushed the loo, and there was what can only be described as a minor explosion. The lid of the cistern flew up into the air, hitting me on the way down and simultaneously there was a loud bang. A fountain of water was shooting straight up into the air, powerful enough to hit the ceiling and cascade down on top of me and the walls of the loo itself. Bear in mind that due to the time of night and the season of the year, this water was cold. Really cold enough to take my breath away, because I was being showered in it at some considerable force.
It’s worth pointing out that I’d only recently put one of those little deodorising blocks into the cistern (I hadn’t screwed the cistern lid back down afterwards, which explains why it was able to be pushed off into the air) and for some strange reason I’d got pink ones. Not only was the water shooting straight up into the air, it was also filling the cistern as well, with frothing pinky red water. I felt as though I was in the Exorcist or something similar. It didn’t get any easier when the water filled up the cistern and started to overflow… pink frothing angry water pouring down over the loo and onto the floor. The sheer amount of water was more than the overflow could handle.
I couldn’t see what was happening because not only was I soaked head to foot in freezing cold water, but my glasses were covered in water as well, so I couldn’t see out of them. I managed to take them off and could see the enormity of the problem. I have a new type of ballcock in the loo – it’s not the old fashioned long armed one with a big ball on the end, it’s a much smaller affair, with a little plastic widget that tilts back and forth to let the water flow into the cistern or, when full, close off the valve. This widget had for some reason come off, with the result that the water from the mains was coming directly into the cistern entirely unimpeded and as it was downstairs, it was coming out at a very high pressure.
I put my thumb over the open hole, hoping to at least stop a situation that was reminiscent of the fountains at Trafalgar Square, but the water was so powerful that my thumb simply wasn’t up to the job. What I did manage to achieve however was a redirection of the water – instead of going straight up into the air it was now being directed in a horizontal manner, soaking me through even more, to say nothing of my surroundings. Obviously I don’t have the abilities of the little Dutch chap who put his finger into the dyke, and quite frankly if I wasn’t able to stop my own minor flood I have severe doubts as to the veracity of that little tale, let me tell you.
I couldn’t see the little plastic widget anywhere, which wasn’t that surprising. I am shortsighted, and being drenched in cold water does not encourage one to get on hands and knees to try and find the damn thing. I did consider going into the kitchen to get at the stopcock but I was concerned that if I did that I would be washed out of the house on a flood of water before I was able to get to it. Luckily however, inspiration struck and I plunged my hand into the frothing pinky liquid and scrabbled around, while the thumb of my other hand was still employed futilely redirecting the water around like an insane gardening sprinkler system.
I found the widget at last and attempted to put it back on the apparatus. Keep in mind that I’d never really looked that closely at it, so had no idea which way it went on, or if it was the right way up. You know how you feel when you try and open a double door by pushing, then pulling, then trying the other door and you eventually get it right on the last go? It was like that. I tried to put the widget from hell onto the gusher only to see it shooting up to the ceiling and back down again. I managed to see where it had gone and bent down and retrieved it, getting a lovely cold soaking on my back for my trouble. I tried again, and once more redirected cold water at waist height around the room. Third time is a charm so they say, and this once, they were right. I managed to ram the widget home, the water stopped immediately and the frothing pink overflow of the devil’s liquid slowly dripped to a halt.
I was standing in the loo in silence, apart from the drip, drip drip of water from the ceiling. Pink water was dripping down the walls and I must have looked like some insane serial killer who was taking a Master’s degree in advanced butchery because I too was dripping pink water everywhere. I squished out of the room, grabbed a towel that was drying on the clothes horse and went back in to mop up. Quite frankly it was like taking a sponge to a party on the Titanic, but at this point I could not bring myself to care. I pulled off my sodden freezing cold clothes and shakily made my way back into the living room. My faithful hound had clearly decided he wanted no part of the evening’s debacle and simply raised his head and looked at me as if to say ‘You had one job! Just one job!’
Things are quiet at the moment, and the monster is contained. However, I think I shall shortly be having a discussion with a local plumber….
Addendum... it didn't help that when I looked at my email this morning, this was one of the very first headers that I saw.....