Down the Pan

plummer-model-415x275Today our downstairs toilet struck again. I’m sure most of you probably live like my friends in smart, recently renovated or spanking new houses but we do not. Our house is kind of old, not quite like an old people’s home as my teenagers like to put it but things are really beginning to fall apart (not just us parents.)

I was taking my early morning shower this morning, wondering if I felt able to get out and face the day, when a volley of shouts struck my ears and little F appeared by the shower door. I wiped away the condensation and peered out at her.

“The downstairs toilet won’t flush again, someone’s put lots of paper down and Daddy said the f-word.” she announced dramatically, spelling it out carefully. Have you ever noticed that children always seem to have perfect spelling when it comes to words you don’t want them to use?

“Sounds like the naughty corner for Daddy again.” I replied. Little F nodded seriously, satisfied that justice would be done and disappeared.

Our downstairs toilet is horribly old fashioned with a horizontal flush handle built in to the tiles. It was always tricky to push down on as you have to use your fingers rather than your whole hand. We have all sort of got used to working it with a type of flick with the end of the fingers. That is until it totally broke a few months ago and wouldn’t flush. In a house like ours with four girls such an event is a level 1 crisis on a similar scale to running out of toilet roll.

Our usual plumber came round, peered into the little cupboard under the stairs to try to access the back of the toilet mechanism. That method failed, so he took a hammer, smashed the tiles above the top of the toilet and disappeared in a terrible hurry leaving me to sweep up the shards of tiles all over the floor. But it worked so life continued as usual. I should probably add that we are hoping to replace our dingy downstairs toilet from the dark ages but as always in old houses, it is part of a larger necessary renovation project, you can’t do one bit without the other so we struggle on with what we’ve got. The other evening when my parents came for dinner it was most awkward as little M had been ill with a bug and I told my parents not to go upstairs in case they caught it. That was fine as they had no need to go up there, until that is of course my Mum needed the toilet.

“Does it flush?” She asked me anxiously.

“Sort of,” I replied not sounding very convincing.

“Then I shall wait.” she said resolutely. Most embarrassing.

That is until this morning when the flush had totally stopped working again and one of the girls, who has kept darn quiet about their culpability had blocked the whole thing. When I had managed to struggle downstairs, peace had resumed thank goodness. It was then that the idea came to me that if I removed the rest of the tiles surrounding the handle, the problem would at least partly be solved.

Glancing around the hall, I spied the mallet my husband currently uses to help Miss G’s phone charge. Yes you did hear me right, my husband does use a mallet to charge my daughter’s phone. He bought Miss G’s I-phone 5 from a colleague at work; it worked to start with but now has a problem with charging for some reason. Of course this issue has caused countless stress, as Miss G, like all 13 year olds can’t possibly cope without her phone for more than two seconds, like ever.

Don’t ask me how my husband thought of using a mallet to charge the phone, but he has a knack of wedging the charging cable with it and miraculously it then seems to work.

Anyway, I happened to espy said mallet and figured perhaps I would fix this toilet once and for all. It was very satisfying hitting the tiles with the mallet although the noise brought all the children running to see who was destroying the place. Of course, I managed to smash all round the tiles further away from the handle but do you think I could smash the tile encased around the flush? No, it was stuck like glue and still is.

So that is the end of my short career in DIY and I shall be calling the professionals. I wonder if they fix phones as well?……

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