Real life

My toilet ultimatum to the builder boyfriend

9 May 2020

9:00 AM

9 May 2020

9:00 AM

The rain showers had a strange and wondrous effect. All the cyclists, joggers and dog walkers that were coming from miles away to take their essential exercise in the countryside magically disappeared.

No one we didn’t recognise took any essential exercise in the downpours, but then resumed it when the weather changed.

I find this odd because the explanation of the day-trippers for putting their bikes and their backpacks and their hiking equipment and their picnic baskets into the backs of their cars had been that they really, really needed to do that — come hell, high water or Covid.

The locked-down inhabitants of towns and cities needed to pedal around the countryside hour after hour, day in day out, so badly that we lot who live here ought to get out of their way.

When we were coming out of our houses to get food or see to livestock, or when we were attempting to walk our dogs or ride our horses down the lanes and bridleways by our own farms and fields, they intimated that we should throw ourselves into hedges as they came past to assure them of their two-metre distance.

So I was delighted that the cycling, jogging and essential picnicking masses underwent a Damascene conversion on the matter of taking these unprecedentedly conscientious bouts of daily exercise and reverted to slobbery, which meant the rest of us who exercise 365 days a year in all weathers could walk our dogs and get our horses out of their paddocks as usual.

I celebrated by hacking to the woods on Darcy and we had a lovely ride in the rain, with no barking dogs snapping round her legs, and no cyclists foaming at the seams with adrenaline as they sped past so close they knocked their handlebars against my stirrups.


Alas, when the showers abated, the Pandemic Picnickers swarmed forth again to rampage down the footpaths, backpacks bursting with essential sandwiches in essential plastic bags that were duly thrown on to village greens and lay-bys.

When ministers announced they might allow car travel to exercise, along with picnicking, for the first time during the lockdown it was news to me that such things had ever been banned.

Another consequence of the changeable weather was that the builder boyfriend was rained off jobs. So I asked him, in all innocence, was it not a good time to fix all the things I had been cack-handedly trying to repair myself around the house?

Doctor, heal thyself. Builder, do thy girlfriend’s jobs. The most urgent problem was the upstairs loo, which hadn’t performed in months and was getting beyond a joke.

Whenever I asked about it, he banged on about the drawbacks of the Dudley Dual Flush, hoping, no doubt, to blind me with science. I hit back by insisting that the matter of Mr Dudley’s flawed genius was of no consequence to my wanting the loo put right. He would get cross. And that was as far as we got.

I called a plumber and he went mad. ‘Don’t you dare pay someone to fix that loo, I can do it,’ he ranted. I went on pleading, and weeks later, when the loo was still Dudley Don’t Flushing, I called the plumber again and the BB made me cancel again. And so on.

During a rain shower, however, I felt more chipper about resubmitting my application for a fully flushing loo.

And this time, I added a caveat which I believe is the standard method for getting any builder to do anything, and it’s no different if you are ‘married’ to them: either do it or never darken my door again. Naturally we had a huge row over how I could threaten to throw him out on to the street over a half-flushing lav, during which I kept my poker face and insisted I darn well would.

But it had the desired effect and the next day he came home with a new toilet syphon from B&Q, now so called because you have to B there & Q for many hours.

He then placed the syphon in its sealed box on a shelf in the kitchen and no more was said about it until days later when I threatened again. Look, I know it sounds harsh, but it’s the only language builders understand.

‘See that syphon?’ I said. ‘Well, it’s a good job it’s got a ten-year guarantee because it might still be under warranty by the time you fit it.’

He ignored me. I continued: ‘Either fit the new syphon or find a new girlfriend.’

Between you and me, my poker face was stretched to the limit but I just about managed it.

He fitted the syphon that evening in ten minutes flat and the loo flushed like Niagara Falls.

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