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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Reasons why Fran's trainers are drying on the radiator

The only other time I’d experienced flooding, before two o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, that is, was years ago while teaching a group of Polish graduates creative writing at St Mary’s College in Twickenham. There’d been significant rainfall and I was having a one-to-one tutorial with Eva, sitting together at a desk in a basement classroom.

She kept looking down at the floor while I was giving her feedback on her writing and I thought, how rude! It surprised me as the Polish students were impeccably polite and very hesitant to interrupt or lose concentration. But she didn’t seem to be listening, and here I was, telling her how to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, drawing on my lifetime’s experience of such fame and fortune  by imagining what it must be like. 

She looked down again. ‘I apologise to interrupt,' she said. 'Something very wrong on floor. There is water around our feet.’

Sure enough, the room was half an inch deep already in flood waters. We paddled to the door to find a panicked college official arriving to lead us upstairs to a safe exit. Later, the basement flooded significantly.  It’s possible that, had Eva not been brave enough to mention it, I’d have still been giving her tips on structuring a short story while water rose up to our waists and she wondered at which point it was polite to strip off and don one's wet suit and snorkel. 

We’ve been staying this week at a holiday flat in Malvern, Worcestershire. The flat is in the basement of a large, impressive family house. The family owns the flat we’re in, but are away themselves in the South of France.

I woke early on Wednesday morning to the sound of water. Water proper. Not just drip, drip, drip, but sloshing and pouring. I considered the alternatives. Biblical rain, such as that being experienced by the poor folks of Texas right now? Had Paul had a nightmare that he was a woman undergoing the menopause and, awoken in a hot flush, dived into the shower? Was he doing some secret midnight washing, having eaten chocolate ice cream with his bare hands and stained his teeshirt when I’d thought he was in the kitchen, putting away crockery?

I twisted out of bed, put my bare feet down, and decided there and then that paddling in water in the early hours was not my favourite thing.

I sloshed across to my trainers, slid my feet in, and peered out of the bedroom door. We'd left a light on in the hall, it being unfamiliar territory and our bladders being neolithic. 

The ceiling was crying in three or four different places and its tears were coursing down the walls. The flood had leached from the hall and was invading the bathroom, the toilet, the bedroom, our sleep, and our holiday in Worcestershire. 

I woke Paul up. 'We are having a flood,' I said. Once he was clear that this did not presage my early decline into full incontinence, he agreed to get up. 

I rang 999. 'Is there risk of fire?' said the man on the end of the line. 

I looked up. The ceiling wept like a hired wedding mourner, through light fittings, over wall switches, and down walls where the plug sockets are.

'I think that's a yes.'

‘We’ll be there as soon as we can,’ he said. 

We tugged some clothes on and then our walking boots. If one’s residence is impersonating a woodland stream, one dresses accordingly.



I waited at the end of the property’s regal drive, moving quickly as the blue lights approached, realising too late that if the engine turned into the drive and hadn’t seen me, we’d need more than a fire service.

The engine stopped at the kerb. Four firemen clambered out, still pulling on their yellow jackets.
At this point, I wanted to say, ‘Can we have a selfie? I need to show this to my grandchildren.’ But to everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn.

No, no, we HAVE water, Fran shouted. Can you put that thing in reverse? 




All the experts say you should keep your blog posts short. In that case, watch out for the next episode of Fran's Flood and the Firemen, coming soon. 

14 comments:

  1. No shortage of excitement...even on vacatinon

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    1. I know, I know. Adventure just follows me around, like a faithful dog. Minor adventure, anyway ...

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  2. You are so good to see the funny side of it. And you are in fact so clever at explaining the funny side that I actually feel quite envious. Please can I go on holiday and have a flood? My favourite part was your early decline into incontinence 😂

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    1. If you go straight to www.holidayhomeownerswithdodgyplumbing.com you can book early for next year.

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  3. That sounds almost as exciting as a vacation at my very own Lake Junebug Resort. The water in my backyard has receded for the moment, but book now and by the time you arrive, no doubt it will have returned. My lovely neighborhood was built on a swamp. I wish I knew whom to thank for that grand idea.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. If it's okay with you, Janie, we might leave that until next year, when we've got over this one ... Such a kind offer, though :)

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    2. The amount you pay is based on what I owe in taxes, so you can also think of it as a charitable contribution.

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  4. Oh brother. What is with all of these watery catastrophes all around the globe?? I'm happy you got out safely. What if you had slept thru it?? Oh, and one question. Were the firemen hot like the ones we see on the calendars?? :D I'll be looking forward to your next post.

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    1. I wouldn't dare class our inconvenience as a catastrophe akin to other floods going on, Valley Angel, especially as, yes, having all those firemen around was quite a thrill ;)

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  5. I wonder if the homeowners knew they had dodgy plumbing and arranged to be away, knowing that someone else would call for help and get things fixed for them. Not at your own cost of course, but simply saving themselves the inconvenience.

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    1. I'm pretty sure this isn't the case, River, having spoken to them, but I'm sure it does go on.

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  6. Fran, I love this post. (Spell-check just auto-corrected that to "movie st". I take that to be an omen.)

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    1. Thanks, Jane. Your spell-check worries me, though. Which bit of 'Fran, I love this post' could become 'movie st'? It HAS to be some kind of message.

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