Not in this house, they don’t. I can’t be arsed to buy any product advertised on the box which has been dubbed into English. I use a supermarket own brand which is cheaper and probably made by Calgon anyway. Or rather I used to.
The water in East Anglia is notoriously hard. Ever since we moved to the back of beyond I’ve been suffering from slight contact dermatitis, and the mineral-rich water hereabouts was the possible cause. I say slight because it comes and goes and is more of a minor itchy irritant than a major malady. It’s the only downside to village life.
So we got ourselves a water softening wonder box. It sits comfortably next to the boiler and now delivers the silkiest of waters, so no more clogged pipes, furry kettles or lumpy limescale on tiles, taps and toilets. Bath time is now big bubble time. But has it cured my itch? Err, no. Maybe it’s the gardening.
When we first moved into the micro-loft we tarted up the bathroom and fitted a fancy new shower screen. But East Anglian water is so hard it almost hurts – calcifying kettles quicker than Medusa’s stare – and I soon tired of the elbow grease needed to keep the fancy shower screen fancy. So we replaced it with an easy-wash shower curtain in electric blue. Sorted.
But what to do with the fancy shower screen? There’s not a lot of storage in the micro-loft (the clue’s in the micro) so we decided to ask the Council to take it away. In the meantime, we just slid it under our bed and forgot all about it.
Twelve months on and we returned to the micro-loft one afternoon to find the entire bedroom floor covered in glass fragments. It didn’t compute at first. You know, those times when you just can’t believe your eyes? Then the penny dropped – the fancy shower screen. It had exploded – everywhere. The biggest bang our bed had experienced in years. And the effect was almost artistic – the kind of thing that wins the Turner Prize.
It took hours to sweep up and I put my back out in the process.
The moral of this explosive story? Simple. Don’t store a fancy shower screen under your bed.
In their utilitarian wisdom, the local water company decided to replace our meter. Apparently, the old device was knackered and belonged in the Science Museum (along with what’s left of British manufacturing). A couple of big lads turned up in fetching hi viz vests and butch safety helmets (it takes a real man to carry off yellow with style). After a bit of bump and grind, the meter was replaced in a thrice. Off they trotted, job done. I decided to make a cuppa and went to the tap to fill the kettle. Up went the lever, down came the trickle. I’ve commented on our lacklustre sprinkle before but this was beyond ridiculous – more no-flow than low-flow. A quick bell to Anglian Water and, following a brief conversation about the whereabouts of my stop-cock (no idea), an emergency plumber was dispatched to my rescue. Oh God, I thought. It’ll be days of whore’s wipes, takeaways and pre-programmed poos before my stop-cock gets a good seeing to. But, no. A hour later, a handsome chappy in cargo pants turned up with wrench it hand. “Where’s your stop-cock?” he asked. “No idea,” I replied. He searched high and low and discovered the mechanism lurking behind the washing machine. As he knelt down to inspect my crevice, he flashed his own little crack. It was crowned with a tiny tuft of wispy hair. I stifled a wolf-whistle. A firm twist of the wrist and whoosh, the source of life gushed forth. Most satisfying. So, we now have sufficient water pressure to run a small hydro-electric dam. It never rains but it pours.
Talking of flashing cracks, there’s a website dedicated to the glory of builder’s bums. I have no words.
What is it with British plumbing? I’ve never lived anywhere in Blighty with good enough water pressure to provide a decent douche. Don’t you just loathe a limp spray? Norwich is no different. Okay, the house is 370 years but that’s no excuse in this day and age. I’m old too, but my own water works do a decent enough job. My little winkle sprinkles with much more umph. I’m feeling nostalgic for our fireman’s hose of a spray in Bodrum. It was strong enough to pin an unsuspecting nude to the tiles. Mind you, that was only when the water was actually on. For the dry shifts, we kept a bucket by the basin for a quick whore’s wipe. My one consolation is that, come the mould season, we won’t have viral spores breeding across the bathroom ceiling like a medieval plague.
Our wimpy water works also extended to the porcelain. The lacklustre flush was barely enough to deal with even the most modest log. Emergency assistance was delivered by engineer Maurice who parachuted in from the Smoke for the weekend. His talented hands fiddled with my ballcock and, hey presto, Niagara Falls. His labours were rewarded with a large glass of white, followed by several more (but that’s another story).
I’ve interrupt the book tour for a heavy weather warning. After a gloriously long Autumn, winter violently thundered ashore – all crash, bang and wallop. We rushed to get old towels strategicaly placed around the house like thin sandbags to stem the impending flood. We’ve learned our lesson the hard way. Once again the street light next to the house blew up like a Roman candle with sparks flying hither and thither. Thankfully, the house lights stayed on but it was touch and go for a while. Light bulbs flickered like a slow strobe until the storm blew over. We lit candles and unplugged the fancy electricals as a precaution. This was on the same day that the water pressure dropped to a trickle. No bracing showers for us. Just a whore’s wipe.