Damp crocuses

Damp crocuses

Aston Villa 4 Norwich 1. A great result.

Granddaughter and I set out in the rain to meet up with her father and brother, who have been to the match. We are meeting at the station for their journey home. There is a festive atmosphere in the air: for now, Villa is saved from relegation. Leaps of relief as they set off for their train.

In the downpour, I catch a taxi home. As I struggle to get the key in the door I smell drains. Water is pouring down the gutters in the street and I hope this is the source of the smell. The door opens and the smell doesn’t go away. It’s too late to do anything and too dark and wet to investigate, so I go to bed.

In the morning it has stopped raining. At the back of the house, the drains are blocked and no amount of prodding, hot water and soda crystals helps. The ancient system is clearly on strike.

The insurance company respond quickly. An engineer will come out this afternoon. They keep in touch by phone, updating me on his progress. He arrives at 7.30 pm by which time it is dark and raining again. The engineer is sympathetic. He says the main drain, which services both my house and next door, is blocked at the street. This is the responsibility of the water supplier, Severn Trent.

He kindly offers to go beyond his remit and contact them for me. He does this, but it is too late for them to visit. He leaves and I receive two calls from Severn Trent, leaving their contact number and telling me their engineers will be with me first thing in the morning. In the meantime, try not to put any more strain on the drain. I warn my neighbour. She is sanguine about it and offers to share whatever costs there are. Then she goes off to her Lindy Hop class. No panic.

By Tuesday morning, the sun is shining and the purple, white and yellow crocuses in the park are blooming through the sodden ground. Severn Trent phone early to say they will be here today.

A plain white van arrives. A young man with a Geordie accent gets out and in no time at all has flushed out the drain, tidied up and everything is working perfectly. There is no charge because the water rates I pay to Severn Trent cover the cost of some repairs. But what is going on? There is massive unemployment locally and the job has been contracted out to a firm in Newcastle upon Tyne, more than 200 miles away. The engineer tells me they come down to the West Midlands on Mondays and go back home on Thursdays. They have come to where the work is. Good luck to them, but this must be adding to the cost of water supplied by Severn Trent. I wonder where the engineers come from in Newcastle upon Tyne?

Anyway, the washing machine is back on, the toilets are flushed and I heave a sigh of relief and am grateful for the service I have received.


Went to see the Lego movie with family. They loved it. It was clever and funny and sent out the message that Lego can be used for more than the picture on the box … a metaphor they rammed home. The audio description was poor and I could not see much, but will buy the DVD.

Am planning an occasional audio book review post, so watch this space. I’ve also been tweaking this blog a bit in general, with a new sub-title, hopefully more inviting Comments section and advert removal. Do let me know if you like the amendments!

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2 Responses to Drains

  1. Nordie says:

    During the 1980s 3 of the top 5 building companies in London (Murphy’s etc) were Irish owned and employed Irish Navvies. This was for several reasons, including that it was cheaper for the Irish crews to come over on a Monday, stay in a B&B and go home on a Friday than trying to source the equivalent English crews.

    There was also another important factor: English navvies worked to rule, Irish were less rigid. English dug to 6 foot deep or 5:30pm, which ever came first – the Irish would keep digging until told to stop (no adherance to HSE, and it’s not like they had a home to go to!)

  2. Point taken! But Geordies are English.

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