Blog post number 42. Writing life, what is the universe trying to tell me and blocked drains

I was going to sit down today and blog about my second favourite piece of writing advice. It’s about getting the maximum use from the precious time we carve out of our busy lives. It was about not procrastinating or getting distracted, about not being a perfectionist or waiting for the muse to strike, it was about protecting and valuing writing time.

But I forgot all that advice and so this is about blocked drains.

I had such good intentions; an early start, get writing before even thinking about coffee – it could be my reward after an hour. But then I thought about toast…and had another cup of tea…and where had 45 minutes gone?… OK, now I was sitting at the laptop, better check my previous pots on writing advice…ah, so I’ve written a lot of what I was planning to write already…(is there a name for people who don’t even remember their own advice, let alone take it? Should I look that up? Could I get another blog post out of it? Shut up)…look how windy it is, a good day to dry stuff on the line…

OK, so now this was obviously just procrastination but I had been putting off the handwashing and I’d already lost so much time what was a little more? I know, I really am my worst own enemy, and I have no right to preach what I don’t practice.

So, head full of writing ideas I stepped outside with my wet washing, and wondered why there was a pool of soapy water over the paving slabs. It took longer than I like to admit for me to realise the drain had over-flowed. I remember Prof J saying we needed to check the drain was properly in place after some building work….a year ago…I moved a bench, had a look, recoiled from the sticky sudsy morass and went to put the washing on the line.

After which, the water hadn’t gone down at all.

Everything was fine in the house, no dirty water backed up. Do I call I plumber? OK, I’d better have a look myself first. Prodding the water with a stick had no effect so I plunged my arm into the greasy sludge – and pulled out pebbles. I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t be there. Then I found some broken roof tiles – it’s a big drain. More stones, more unidentifiable sludge whose stench made me gag – and I have a very poor sense of smell.

Eventually the water started going down and as far as I could see all that had happened (all? ALL?!) is that a bucket full of stones and debris had somehow slipped under the plastic drain cover and blocked the grill. It could have been much worse, it was still baffling, there’s a lot of cleaning up to do – some of the lumps I removed were of suspiciously fatty slimy things – I have never flushed a wet wipe down a loo, let alone a sink, but I’ve read about the fatbergs in British sewers and this drain leads from the kitchen so some cooking fat might have escaped. (Trust me, I’m careful, I never knowingly tip away fatty liquid and I have a plughole filter to catch waste)

But by now of course I was mulling over the possibilities of linking this to my writing – if I hadn’t procrastinated with the washing this wouldn’t have happened (until another day). Terrible puns were swirling through my head; Sense and no sense of smellability, drains on your writing time, getting blocked – don’t worry, I won’t use any of them.

There is something oddly fitting about the fact that I wanted to write about protecting writing time and using it in the most productive way possible, and instead I feel sick and I stink. I mean really stink. I’ve washed my hand three times with different soaps, scrubbed it under scalding water, sprayed it with perfume and I can still smell the indescribable smell of blocked drain. I’m not sure even fetid or rancid do this justice, it’s not quite as bad as when I have to get cat poo out of the vegetable patch, or week old decomposing mouse (which is actually oddly sweet) but I cannot get rid of this smell, it’s stuck in the back of my throat and not even scalding coffee has shifted it. I can’t imagine how bad this would be for anyone with a normal sense of smell.

Anyway, that’s my morning so far. This was going to be filed under advice and writing but maybe it should just go under “about me” as it tells you far too much about my lack of domestic skills. I haven’t taken any pictures of the drain and resulting sludge (every shade from fatberg-white to peat-bog-black – names coming to a paint range near you soon) and instead I shall show you the first (sadly out of focus) wild violet that I found this Saturday. Don’t worry, that’s not the finger that’s been in the drain.

20190302_145219 (1024x729)

Oh, and it started raining before I even finished unblocking the drain, so not writing and putting out the washing instead was a really good call. Now I’m off to wash my hand again.

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