Julie Rosenfield

My journal

OF MICE AND MANHOLES!

So, there’s no easy way to say this. But I’ve been having problems downstairs. Some sort of blockage, and it’s not the first time.

Today, I saw a specialist. “I’m not sure,” he said, rubbing his chin, thoughtfully. “But I think it might be stones.”

I frowned. This didn’t sound good.

“I tell you what I’ll have a good look round, maybe put a little camera down there ….”

It all started when I had a games party at the weekend. We had a great time, the booze was flowing – red wine on the carpet – and suddenly, towards the end of the evening, one of my guests whispered: “Your downstairs toilet is blocked.”

And there it was. B was furious. “It’ll be one of the women guests. That’s what women do – block toilets. I’ll bet money on it. In future, we’re having no women here. Only men.”

Only men? Now that was sounding like my kind of party.

“And no red wine,” he said, scrubbing away at the unyielding tufts of sisal flooring.

“So about this camera?” I said, bringing myself back to the present.

“Nothing to worry about,” said Don, the kind man in front of me. “It’s quite a simple operation. After all, I am a specialist. A drainage specialist.”

And so it was that this goodly man found himself lifting up my manhole cover, and getting down and dirty with the drains. And, good as his word, he set up a cctv camera so that he could show me the damage.

Yes, there were stones blocking the drains. Not, as I had suspected, stones from my front path, but stones from building works carried out by the previous occupants. Lots of stones – four and a half bags full to be precise.

And what was causing this influx?

“Well, let’s see, have you noticed any activity lately?”

Activity? Well, there were lots of activities at my games afternoon. Cluedo, for one.

“Rats?” he encouraged, helpfully.

“Rats?” I queried.

Now that I think about it, I have heard a bit of scurrying from time to time. But I thought it was squirrels. Like rats, but cuter with much bushier tails.

Rats. Ah well, they do say that in London you’re never much further than 18 metres away from a rat.

I guess they were right.

And there was me thinking that I’d quit the rat race on having to leave my job last year. Don then went on to mention a “redundant” open pipe. Believe me, the irony was not lost on me.

Still, rats have rights and can be quite cute little fellows. I’m quite happy to co-exist with them as long as they don’t bother me and I don’t bother them. So the open pipe was capped using quick-setting cement, the pipelining was put in and …

“Rats, not women?” I double-checked with Don.

“Definitely not women,” he confirmed.

“Perhaps they were female rats,” said B later, never being one to lose a bet.

Still, now that it’s all over, I do feel a bit drained. But at least everything is now cleared up and the downstairs wc is working again. So it must be time to start planning the next party. Now where did I put that list of men again? Sounds like fun, and, after all, you can’t be too careful especially in the downstairs department!

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