Gary’s overflow is leaking. It’s been leaking for six or seven weeks now. A constant trickle of stale smelling water dribbling out beside his drive. He stopped me last week–actually, I couldn’t avoid him because his mate had expertly parked a Range Rover partway across my drive. Obviously doesn’t want to get those delicate 4×4 front tyres wet in the overflow spill.
“Hey, Keith! I’ve been meaning to have a word with you about this leaking water.” Oh, yes? “Yes, I thought it was me. But have a look…” He showed me the pipe. It goes back though his shed, into the adjoining wall to my shed… My shed. Ah. It’s my pipe. My overflow is leaking. It’s been leaking for six or seven weeks now…
Still, shouldn’t be too hard to fix, should it. It goes up into the loft where, presumably, there’s a water tank and a broken ball valve/stopcock. All I have to do is find the tank and replace the valve. While I’m at it, it might also be a good idea to get all the crap down from the loft. Especially since I’m moving out in two weeks.
Today was the day. Balancing on the wobbly kitchen chair, I climb up on the back. I brace against the wooden beams, rubber soled training shoes walk Spider-Man-esque up the cupboard door and I’m there. In the loft. Maybe I should use a ladder but where would the fun be in that? No, thrill-seekers, if you want a frisson of excitement in your Sunday, then climbing up to dangerous spaces on the backs of chairs is the way to go.
Risk reminds me I’m alive. Thirty minutes later, I’ve manouevred half the loft contents down to the floor below. Mostly empty boxes. Where did all this crap come from? Why did I keep it? Note to self: don’t keep any more crap. While risk reminds me of life in the present, crap reminds me of life in the past. Emotional baggage. Real baggage. It’s a pain to sort out.
Last week I was sorting through a huge stack of comic books trying to decide which ones to keep and which to give away. I took out about 15 and a complete series called The Kents. I felt vaguely uneasy about offloading any of them. Now I realise I was merely tinkering at the edges of a much larger problem. Half the contents of my loft fill nearly all the floorspace of my flat.
Eventually I make my way to the far end of my roof space, the place where the pipe should exit down into my shed. It’s a section that drops down, over the stairwell. I shine the torch down into the void to find the water tank. Except–there is no water tank. There’s nothing. Just rockwool insulation everywhere and a thin layer of plasterboard sloping down over the stairs to an empty space above the front door.
Where is the tank? Where is the pipe? Is it under the rockwool? I’m not putting my hand in to find out. It’s nasty stuff, that glass fibre. Once it’s in your skin, it never comes out. Ever. At least that’s what my dad told me a long time ago, when I was a kid.
I suspect it was to discourage me from going up into the loft. Now I’m discouraged by the dark void where the pipe might be and the fragile looking plasterboard which I know is all that would be stopping me plummeting down to my own staircase. Why would someone hide pipes like this? It makes no sense at all.
I shrug, give up and go back down into the living room where I regard all the boxes. It’s going to fun crushing all those unwanted videotapes over at the dump. It will be a joy to free myself of the baggage of old kettle cartons, crating for light fittings and flattened blueprints of Gotham City stolen from the bins at Shepperton Studios when they filmed Batman. It’s not going to be so much fun paying out for a plumber to sort out the leak.
It will have to wait. I find an original series Star Trek communicator still boxed among all the other crap. Enterprise. One to beam up. I’m moving. I’m gone. Meanwhile the constant stream of stale smelling water dribbles relentlessly beside Gary’s front door.