16 September 2010 (Thursday) - Drains and Calendars

I was just settling down for a bit of a snooze last night when “My Boy TMstarted complaining about the smell in the garden. On lifting the manhole cover we found that the drains had backed up and so we had a literal case of “getting our own back”. I phoned the water people who told me that they’d send for a nice man with some rods, and that he’d be with me soon. They phoned back at 10.30pm and apologized for phoning so late. Why apologize – surely they realised I’d be sitting up waiting? They told me that the nice man with the rods was in Deal and would be with me as soon as possible. He arrived half an hour later which was rather impressive, as anyone who knows the roads round south Kent would agree.
The nice man lifted up the manhole cover, saw some dreadnoughts and concurred with my diagnosis that there was a blockage. So the nice man got some rods and had a good old heave and strain, but to no avail. Next door must have heard the commotion and came out to assure us that his drains were fine. He lifted his manhole cover to prove it, and then changed his tune somewhat. On seeing his drains were also backed up he did a complete about-face and announced that his drains haven’t been right for the last three weeks.

By now the nice man’s sidekick (Baz) had arrived. Without wishing to appear in any way racist, I couldn’t imagine anyone less likely to be called Baz. Perhaps there are lots of people of Ghurkha extraction called “Baz”; it’s just that I’ve never met them. Baz was left rodding whilst the nice man went off on a mission to wake up all our other neighbours. He then noisily set about a manhole cover with a hammer and chisel, which went down well with all concerned seeing as it was now past 11pm. Having hammered to his satisfaction he then announced he had the wrong manhole cover. He went back to our back garden, collected Baz, and the two of them went around banging on people’s front doors again. Half an hour later they came back and announced that they had failed, but that it would be a P1 job for Paul in the morning. Before they went they made the observation that the water level in the drain had subsided enough for us to use the toilet a couple of times. Thank the lord for small mercies. So I went to bed at 1am with one weight off my mind, wondering how Paul would fare in the morning.

Needless to say I didn’t sleep well; finally dropping off a few minutes before “My Boy TMquietly got up for work. I tried to get back off to sleep, but failed. I got up and checked the drains – still blocked. The nice man who came last night said that Paul would be here at 8.30am. He wasn’t here by 9.30am, so I phoned the water people to confirm that they were still sending Paul. They said he was on the way. I asked if they could perhaps chivvy Paul along a little. They said they’d try, and they assured me all would be done in time for me to leave for work. Paul rolled up at 9.45am, and seemed somewhat fed up. I got the distinct impression that they sent him out to clear up the messes made by everyone else. He got out his map of the drains which showed two manhole covers in next door’s garden. A shame that his map didn’t coincide with reality – there’s only one. So he went next door to have a look, and then announced the manhole he wanted was fifty yards away. And he went on to say that it would be a two man job and he’d need to send for backup. I left him to it, and after a few minutes I realised that things were quiet. Too quiet. He’d gone. He came back at 10.40am and said that he’d sent for his sidekick. However his sidekick wasn’t as speedy as Baz, and wouldn’t be here for an hour or so. In the meantime he planned to do another job in Canterbury Road. I again explained I had to go to work, and (not knowing what else to do) left him a spare key to sort himself out.

One of the fruits of my loin phoned me a few hours later to ask if the man bad been and gone yet. Totally leaving aside the question of which man (said fruit had the choice of the nice man with the rods, Baz, Paul or the unnamed sidekick) I said I didn’t know, and said the way to find out was to look inside the manhole cover. I heard a clattering through the phone, an exclamation about the smell of it all, and then an admonishment that I had been negligent in my parental duties in that I had never taught my offspring what a blocked drain looked like. I asked for a description of what could be seen under the manhole cover, and on hearing the description lacked any mention of floating turds I have made the assumption that the thing is now fixed. Thank heavens for small mercies.

In between all of this I played around with the blog settings; specifically the “Dates for the Diary” settings. Rather than having a written list which I would update as and when I remembered I’ve replaced it with a Google Calendar. If any of my loyal readers don’t like the look of the thing and prefer it how it was, clicking the “Agenda” tab at the top right gives that view. Clicking on any event gives as many details about the event as I’ve got, and it also gives you the option to add it to your own Google Calendar. If you’ve not got a Google Calendar of your own, I’d recommend getting one. They are free, and once you’ve got an event on there, you can customise the thing to email you reminders so that you don’t forget it. Or if you want, you can send me an email address and I’ll have the software remind you. Since I had a few minutes whilst I was waiting for Paul, I’ve added as many bonfire parades as I can, and also put in some beer festivals and kite festivals for next year. Have a look, loyal reader, and let me know what dates and events I've missed off... 

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