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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hot and Cold (04/09/09)

TITLE: Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink
By Gregory Kane


It's not a sound you want to hear in the wee hours of the morning. The slow drumbeat of a dripping tap the mind can filter out, leaving a night's repose uninterrupted until the first cock-crow of dawn. But this was the sound of gushing water, a roar that definitely didn't belong. Blinking through sleep-encrusted eyes, I staggered barefoot into our en-suite bathroom, vaguely aware that my feet normally stay dry on this particular journey— at least until I reach the toilet and perform my usual nocturnal sprinkling!

I've always fancied the idea of our own swimming pool. Living in overheated Africa, I sometimes take two or three showers a day, the relief tangible every time the cool water hits my hot and sticky body. But nowhere in my plans had I envisaged converting our bathroom floor into our own personal lido. Yet the water board had evidently decided to help me realise this dream. Why else would they have allowed the municipal water pressure to rise to such a forceful level in the middle of the night? Surely they must have known that the only flexible hoses sold throughout our city are cheap, shoddy Chinese-made rubbish, guaranteed to rupture two minutes after your plumber has walked out the door.

The one saving grace of this situation was that our bathroom has a recessed floor. This meant that the inrushing water had to clamber up two inches of concrete before it could hurl itself at our sleeping forms. Did I mention that we hadn't long moved in? Or that we were lying on a bare mattress on the polished cement floor? Or that our earthly possessions were still in cardboard boxes? The thought still makes the old gluteus maximus clench in horror at how disastrously it all could have ended.

Instead I discovered that our landlord's builders must have come equipped with a wonky spirit level. It turns out that there's an imperceptible slope between our bathroom door and the rest of the bedroom. So instead of converting our passports and personal papers into a wet, sticky pulp, the tidal wave of water cascaded out into the hallway and made a break for the lounge where the rest of our belongings were stacked and waiting. Thankfully the surge never made it— I found the stopcock just in time!

That wasn't the end of our plumbing woes— as if! Our kitchen and bathroom sinks come equipped with hot and cold taps. This is actually kind of ironic as the hot water system hasn't been finished yet. There's a big empty space on one of our walls where our landlord may eventually get around to installing an electric geyser. He did however tell a plumber to lay both sets of pipes and the long-since-disappeared workman did as instructed. Only it's difficult to test whether your waterworks are hooked up properly when you're missing something vital like a geyser. You turn on the hot tap and nothing comes out— which is after all to be expected. At least, that is, until your first tenants move in.

Several of our basins have those clever taps that allow you to mix your hot and cold water together. A good idea in principle; what happens in practice is that your previously empty hot water pipes start filling up with cold water— nature abhors a vacuum and all that. So that's when you get to discover all those wonderful places where the aforementioned plumber sealed up his pipe ends with crumpled pieces of paper or a handful of plaster chippings. Your child goes to wash his hands and leaves the tap running. Ten minutes later there's a stream of water dribbling down the wall in yet another room of your house!

Have I mentioned that during the rainy season our water turns brown from all the unfiltered sand and who-knows-what from the city's water treatment plant? Perhaps I shouldn't go there! I don't want you thinking that I'm obsessed with household plumbing. It's just that a day hardly seems to go by without my having to drag out my pipe wrench yet again. Still I am thinking about putting in a special request with the man upstairs. If he can get some angel laying gold pavement slabs in the celestial city, I don't see that a couple of solid gold taps for my heavenly mansion would be too much to ask. The only question is whether they can find a decent plumber— even up there in Heaven!

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Member Comments
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Lynda Schultz 04/16/09
Sounds like Latin America lol!!!! We have the advantage (I think) of having drains in the floors of every room in the house remotely near water pipes or taps or their related fixtures. I laughed through this one—and listened carefully to my own waterworks at the same time. Very good.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/17/09
You created quite a picture here. And I hope some going-to-heaven plumbers come and fix your water system correctly before they get there!
Jan Ackerson 04/21/09
I loved the dry humor (despite the wet topic!) and the relateable voice. Fun read!