Water, water, everywhere; but it’s all bloody snow

What a Boxing Day.

I was talking with someone a couple of days ago about a miserable Christmas they’d had; the oven had broken and they ended up barbecuing the turkey in the garden. It seemed like the worst Christmas ever, merry hell instead of merriment, but it’s the best remembered one now, the Christmas they all tell stories about.

I’ll tell stories about today in future, I think. At 8am I got up and went downstairs, turned the tap on, and watched a feeble dribble quickly stifle into nothingness. I checked the upstairs taps. Emma checked the weather app on her iPhone. -14 degrees outside. Frozen pipes. I checked with our elderly neighbour, and she too had no water; faint relief that it seemed as though it might be the mains rather than our own pipes, and thus the water company’s problem and expense. The people in numbers 3 and 4 (we are 5, our neighbour 6) had water. 7 and 8 did not.

At 10am I drove to Sainsbury’s and stocked-up on bottled water for our elderly neighbour and us. I gathered two bucketsful of snow and left it to thaw in the hall, intending to use it to flush the toilet. And then we sat, unwashed, unable to wash, and fretted for the next 8 hours; checking the temperature every hour or so and watching it slowly, slowly climb. At midday it was still -8. At 6pm it finally reached 1 degree above freezing. I tried the taps on the off chance. Water!

But no water for our neighbour, who spent the day at her daughter’s house. When she got back just now we investigated her stopcock and water meter; the meter is under the stairs to her front door, exposed. The water in it had frozen and shattered the meter. I don’t think South West Water ever expected it to be exposed to -14 degrees. I have certainly never experienced such cold in this country. Nor do I ever want to again. I don’t remember ever being without running water like that before in my life either. The emotion that ran through me when the tap spouted forth this evning can only be described as absolute elation.

I was going to blog about Christmas music today; about Sufjan Stevens and The Waitresses and Vince Guaraldi. That can wait until tomorrow now.

I hope your Boxing Day has been less worth retelling as a story than mine.


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