Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Such a night. Splashing around in my indoor swimming pool was not what I had in mind last night. While I was writing my blog, things were happening in my bathroom. I felt the urge for a pitstop but didn't enjoy the cold tide that came out to meet me. It constantly welled up from the floor in the corner of my studio. Despite laying out my towels on the floor to soak it up it just kept flowing.

I tried to create a barrier of towels around the electricity connections on the floor. I uplifted my books and carpet, instruments and videos in case the flood spread towards my bed. It seemed to be fresh water but one can never be sure. Being just one room there wasn't much room left for me to escape the water. I was scared to go to sleep and worried about whether I could go to work the next day so I sent an email to my boss who rents me the studio. I sent it late at night hoping he'd get it first thing in the morning.My bladder inconveniently woke me at 4am - not nice paddling in such cold wetness and I could see it was going to be tricky using the bathroom at all. It was too deep to allow me to wear trousers and keep them dry.

I called my boss on his mobile the next morning and he called the property management company. Nothing's simple in France. Large ancient buildings like mine don't necessarily have one owner but a group of owners who rent space out- therefore there's a body corporate to deal with plus the real estate agency. I had no access to anyone. Fortunately the agency called me and told me a plumber would be arriving in the afternoon. Great, so I worked from home, wringing out towels to halt the wet advance.

The agency phoned their owner to alert her that a plumber would be arriving. Since she was in Cafeolait she decided to stop off and see if I was home. I invited her in to see the problem. "Oh, c'est grave," she admitted. Yes, pretty serious, and she agreed I couldn't live like that and that she'd better get onto the insurance company. Nice lady, understanding, and I appreciated her personal visit.

The young plumber duly arrived but had no idea where the central control for switching the water off was. Neither did the agency (not professional I thought). He guessed there must be a 'cave' under ground somewhere so we looked up and down the driveway, he buzzed an intercom and the resident 'grump' answered, glaring at me in non-verbal French. She directed the young chap to a doorway hidden inside part of the building and supplied the key.

My tiny bathroom was now full of water, towels, welding equipment, solder, displaced tiles and a young man whose trousers headed too far south when he squatted. I turned away to get back to work when I heard him muttering in frustration. Did I have a lighter? No, of course not, I never smoke. It seems the plumber had no way of lighting his own plumbing equipment. Incredible. He was becoming agitated so I suggested matches. He went through half a box because each time he lit one and turned on his gas it blew the match out. Then he looked up and noticed a candle sitting there so he tried that with more success. My studio smelt like a blacksmith's shop by now.

Bad news, he said. He could only do a temporary fix. The water supply pipe was pierced and needed a major repair. This would affect the whole building. Everyone would lose water supply for some time, he'd have to break into walls to get decent access to fix it and fix the leak in the toilet. There would be expense and mucking about. As a result of the expense and loss of water supply to the building there would need to be a decision made by the body corporate before true repairs could proceed. The temporary repairs would only hold a short time.

Repairs to buildings such as mine which were built in the eighteenth century before the French Revolution are fraught with difficulties, especially since most like mine are chopped up into individual units of one or several rooms for rent. The services are very difficult to locate. At least I hope to have an event-free evening where I can chill out but not in water. My dirty towels are dripping outside in front of my windows. An eyesore but I've no alternative. If any one wants to steal then good luck to them.


Alison said...

Heck, how awful! I hope that things get resolved very quickly!

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