It started months ago. The heavy rain fall, coupled with the low water table where I live meant that the contents of my septic tank were almost meeting me in the driveway. Taking no chances in the preparation for the 50 or so Easter Hunt visitors on Easter Sunday morning, I called Mr Drain Clean Man and got him to unbung me well in advance. I felt so relieved, that I may as well have had a colonic irrigation, even if the parting with e160 hurt ever so slightly. (How ironic though that despite my boy-scoutesque preparation for the Easter Hunt, I ran out of heating oil the night before. As my little girl would say ‘Not funny Mam, not funny.’)
I didn’t oversee Mr Drain Clean Man at his work, because quite frankly I don’t need to see my own poo and I’ve cleaned up enough of my twinnies over the years. It was only a week or two later that I noticed that the drains were a bit slow to clear. I inspected the manhole, en route to the septic tank. It was full to the brim. Mr Drain Clean Man hadn’t cleared it. I used a range of expletives, mostly in the poo, shit, shite range. It didn’t occur to me to phone and say ‘hey boy, get your ass back here’. Oh no. Sure that would be the sensible thing to do.
I asked a friend if I could borrow his set of drain rods. He kindly offered to have a go at the unbunging, but I declined. Me, an independent woman, would sort this herself. Surely it was only a matter of a gentle prod ? Surely ?
Some tips on poking in sewer drains
1. Change your clothes and if not, definitely don’t wear a delicate pale grey chiffon geansai that can’t take a boil wash afterwards
2. Make sure that your waterproof gloves are actually, like, waterproof
3. Don’t do it when it’s nearly dark and you can barely see what you are doing
4. Do not have an audience of young children, screaming and laughing hysterically about ‘how disgusting’ it is
5. If an audience of young children is unavoidable, have some bribes prepared so that they will not tell everyone in school the following day
6. Keep turning the rods clockwise, otherwise they can come apart and get lodged in the drain, maybe never to be seen again
7. Prepare to scald yourself in the shower afterwards, scrubbing off layers of skin. But expect to smell like poo for at least 24 hours, even if you use all of your posh smellies.
8. Drinking wine does not ease the nausea associated with such activity. Necking Dettol, turpentine or the like might work.
9. If someone offers to help, accept grateful
Tips no 1. To 8. are what I did. I was kicking myself that I hadn’t availed for no. 9 before I considered no. 1- 8. I could have cried when I pulled the drain rods out, minus the plunger thingie at the end. More bad language involving poo related words. The following day, I purchased a new set of rods from my local hardware. ‘What are you up to with these’ ? , asked the shop assistant. I explained quietly, feeling like a real fool. ‘Easily done’, he said, ‘ you need to keep turning the rods clockwise’. I smiled appreciatively.
I went at my man hole again, this time not wearing a chiffon top and all round, better prepared. But nothing was stirring. Panic set in. I worried about contracting Weils Disease from rat's pee and not realising before it was too late and I died leaving two young children and a still-blocked-drain. I decided to just leave it for a few days, hoping that it would magic itself better. It didn’t.There was nothing for it but to call back Mr Drain Clean Man. I explained that his colleague hadn’t really cleared the tank properly the first time around, hoping that he would insist on calling around immediately and fixing it free of charge, but a whole 6 weeks had passed, so I wasn’t in a strong bargaining position. Another e80 fee. The same price as a small bottle of Chanel No 5. More poo related expletives.
The last thing that you want Mr Drain Clean Man to say is ‘We have a problem here’. He was hoking and poking, looking in my septic tank and man hole, turning on and off pressurised hoses and shaking his head. He interrogated me about how many rods were stuck in the drain. I thought that could be as many as 12. ‘With the plunger attachment attached?’ ‘Yes’, I squeaked. There was a shaking of head and he had his own range of expletives. He muttered about needing a digger and digging up pipes. I hid in the kitchen, venturing out every few minutes to see if there was any progress.
He put on a rubber glove, that stretched up to his shoulder, lay down on the ground and stuck his arm up the man hole. I could hear him retching, in between expletives. I tried not to laugh. I offered him a cup of tea. And then, halle flipping lujah, he pulled the rods out, plunger and all attached. I was so happy, I could have kissed him, had he not been up to his oxters in my family poo.
Relieved, I left him to pack up. He appeared at the door.
‘Have you got a spade ?’
‘For what ?’ I inquired, half hoping that he was a gardening enthusiast and wanted to do a stop of digging.
‘My hose is caught in the septic tank. I’m going to have to dig it out.’
Before my eyes, I could see my bank balance decreasing further, men in high vis jackets, cranes lifting new pipes in … But after more hoking, he released the hose, without having to tear apart my system. I didn't feel like kissing him this time, as now, as well as being covered in human poo, he was sweating like goodo. After all the drama, I felt a bit guilty only giving him e80, but it was all the cash that I had. He seemed pleased anyway and happy to see the back of Poppy Cottage.
It’s such a relief to be able to relieve myself, safe in the knowledge that I can now flush in peace.
And remember peeps, always turn clockwise ....
And remember peeps, always turn clockwise ....