Diary Entry 12: Water Shortage
A few weeks ago, hubby and I finally accepted that the damp problem in our flat would have to be resolved for once and for all. And I also accepted that it would be madness to try and stay in the flat while the professionals shredded my walls. Hence I decided to book holiday accommodation near our flat.
It was great! I set myself a five-mile limit and took to Trip Advisor as if I were a visitor from the Far East, rather than someone who was born and bred in the area. And two weeks later, we were off! With bags packed, we merrily drove three miles out of town and commenced with our ‘holiday’ in a lovely wooden cabin high up on the hill.
Given that our ‘holiday lodge’ was only a few miles from home, I had no need to torment myself with my normal travel anxiety; the endless visions of illnesses, air disasters, muggings, deaths and any number of other incidents. I could enjoy the excitement and relaxation of being away from home – without the anxiety of being away from home! Brilliant!
Unfortunately, anxiety will always track me down in one form or another – and it came knocking at our door on the evening of our second day.
The lodge owner turned up on the step with a five-litre bottle of water for us. My heart sank as soon as I saw it. I knew exactly what he was going to say – and my instincts were correct.
“The water is going off tomorrow” he said. “Essential works in the area”.
“What time?” I said, pale-faced.
“8am” he replied. “It should be back on by 4pm but remember to let the water run clear before you drink it again”.
I wanted to tell the owner that I felt mildly anxious at the thought of this ‘life essential’ being cut off; that having no water would give me a cold glimpse at what the world would be like if civilisation collapsed. Crucially, I wanted to know what would happen if I forgot to run the water until it cleared. Would it kill us stone dead if we drank it?
But the questions died in my throat and I could only manage a meek ‘Thank You’ before the owner was gone.
Now I wouldn’t say I felt panicky as such, but there was a definite unease about me and I took it to bed. Hubby fell asleep quickly but I lay awake for a while pondering the risks of ‘the water going off’. And the more I thought about it, the more I reckoned that the five-litre bottle of water we had been given, was woefully inadequate. If I wanted to remain in control, then I would have to get up sharply the next morning and get ready for it.
I set the alarm for the early hours and, when it went off, I was up like a shot. I was poised, alert and highly focused. I filled the kettle with water and had a shower. Once dressed, I decided to fill the bath (not to bathe in but just to keep the water in case of emergency). Sadly, the water flow was so slow that I abandoned the plan because I needed to make sure that Hubby had time to shower before ‘the water went off’. Time was passing quickly so I fell back through the bedroom door and shook Hubby awake with dramatic urgency.
“Quick, quick – get in the shower” I shrieked. The water is going off!”
Hubby said he didn’t care and that he would ‘shower later’. Well – I was stunned by this relaxed approach to ‘the water going off’. While he snoozed for a bit longer, I let my water shortage fears fill me. What would happen if I had a stomach upset during the day? What if I could not use the flush and I clogged up the pipes? Even if I didn’t develop mystery dysentery, there was still a risk of having to leave something lying in the toilet for hours. I tried to solve this problem by sitting on the pan and willing everything to pass. No such luck.
There was nothing else for it but to get on with the day and to pray that we would survive the next 7 hours without running water.
And here’s the funny thing. It was 6pm before I remembered that the water had ever been off. And by that time, it was already back on again. After all my fretting, I was taken aback at the absence of consequence. No toilet disasters; no crawling to the roadside gasping for a drink; The emergency five-litre bottle of water lay unopened in the porch.
When I realised that I had indeed survived a few hours without running water I was euphoric. I had some residual panic because I could not for the life of me remember if I had inadvertently drunk it without ‘running it clear’ – but I am still here to tell the tale and that’s all that matters.
And so, yet again, my anxiety about something that might happen – was far worse than the thing I feared. When will I learn?
Having said that, our dependency on water does make me nervous because it is such a vulnerable resource. We are fortunate that, in this country, we get more than our fair share of the stuff falling from the sky. But how easy would it be to poison the supply? How quickly would a major engineering problem bring the nation to its knees? Quick as a flash we could find ourselves brawling in the street and pushing each other out of the queue at the army patrolled water station.
So for that reason, I will be taking that unopened 5 litre bottle of emergency water home with me and keeping it in the hall cupboard – along with the others…….
Next Week: These Boots Were Made For Walking