The noise is like a coffee grinder on ‘speed.’ As the farmhouse shudders I rush indoors to discover it’s coming from the bathroom.
My friend is standing on the toilet with one hand held above her head and, as I watch in fascination, she slowly dips her hand into old fashioned high hung cistern and plays with the ball cock. The noise subsides but then restarts. She twiddles some more. After several attempts the Cistern Beast is subdued – until the next flush. We retire to the garden.
Years of travelling have taught me that plumbing systems need have to be respected and treated with care – as befits old and venerable fitments. First you try ignoring the groans and moans of the toilet innards or maybe fiddle around with the taps and pipes. Sometimes a quick fix with a strong mallet can shift an airlock but the klaxon like noise has spurred my traveling companion into a different kind of action.
Our ‘man’ who looks after the villa seems particularly uninterested when we report the situation and mutters about having to get permission to look into it. Sometimes the Beast is peculiarly quiet for one or two flushes and then springs a surprise. So, we play a game of flush or no flush. Usually it’s flush and run. Often we’re caught out by the Beast playing games on us when it remains silent and compliant and the water flows gently down the pipes. One flush later, when we are lulled into a sense of false security, it snarls into action as we vanish through the bathroom door.
We’ve now drawn up a set of agreed rules and there are no flushes after bedtime. Thank God there are only two of us here and we have a sense of humour about hot flushes.