For the first time ever, the premises have been adorned by both the Tropical Godfather AND the Tropical Godmama. This was very nice, but after a couple of days we awoke to a crisis; the total absence of water emerging from any tap on the first floor, where the bathrooms and lavatories are. At that point, The Tropical Godparents had a lunch engagement on Deeside, and were kindly dropping me at my dentist’s to have the broken tooth properly repaired. There were things to do at the university, and what with one thing and another I arrived back at the old homestead just before suppertime to find that the problem was a long way from being solved. The water is not, at the moment, safe, so we are back on carboys of mineral water for all drinking, cooking, toothwashing and so forth. We have a pump which was the penultimate water solution, which makes a hideous racket but will fill the cold tank, so we can get washing water into the house. For washing up, we can fill the sink and add Milton sterilising tablets, remembering of course, not to absentmindedly rinse anything. The farmer who owns the field in which the water springs, despite the fact that this is the middle of the harvest, is devoting a good deal of time to the problem, which clearly originates in the middle of his barley field. It’s true that he has tenants in a cottage sharing - or rather, at the moment, not sharing - this water supply, and he has a legal as well as moral duty to sort them out, and come to that, we’ve got covenants too, though they’d take rather longer to deploy if he was minded to be difficult. But our plumber, who’s a bit of an old misery but seems perfectly honest, asserted roundly back on the first day of all this that he thought our woes stemmed from a combine harvester. This was flatly denied by the farmer, who got quite angry. We have maintained a posture of sweet reason and calm, and it is true that our neighbour is a nice man. However, the extent to which he is putting himself out is leaving us increasingly persuaded of the likelihood that the plumber has the rights of it — even with the pipe a couple of feet down, there has been a lot of rain for weeks and so the ground is soft, the combine is colossally heavy, and all it needs is rolling majestically over an unluckily placed boulder to squish the pipe. Today he was doing hero work with a compressor. There will be digging operations tomorrow, I believe. With any luck, ‘a blockage’ will be found and dealt with, nobody’s amour-propre will have been dented, no nasturtiums will have been cast, and normal service will gradually resume. Fingers crossed.
PS. Meanwhile Godmama and Godpapa have gone to Edinburgh. Not that we didn’t weep to see them depart, but I have to say that, given that life involves pumps, plumbers, no bath water, Milton sterilising tablets, mud, and carboys of mineral water, it’s quite nice not to have anyone else to worry about. I envisage them taking about three baths each in a soulless but clean hotel, having perhaps had quite enough of Country Life to be going on with.