Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Me versus the toilet

Whilst Mr FF is spending a couple of days in Paris getting acquainted with his office and his team, ready to start there for real on 4th January, I've come up against my first hurdle. Every house has at least a couple of things that are not as straightforward as they should be. One of our little problems can be the toilets.

First of all you have to realise that I am the least handy person in the world. I can't wire a plug, change a fuse, put up a shelf - all that sort of thing is a mystery to me. I grew up in the sixties and girls were not then taught woodwork,electrical and plumbing basics or how to wield a hammer; on the other hand I am a good cook and can run a home quite well - who says gender sterotyping is a waste of time?

Back to the toilet - for the last couple of years both the upstairs and downstairs loo have developed an intermittent problem. They keep flushing and left unattended would just go on for hours and we would have the most horrendous water bill. Most times a couple of presses of the knob is all that it takes to make it stop. Occasionally this fails to work and Mr FF removes the top and fiddles about in the wet bit with all the levers and knobs - this does the job. My biggest worry about Mr FF being away is that the toilet will perform its major problem - yes, this did happen yesterday evening.

I only had a moment of mild panic before I eventually unscrewed the silver screw on top, lifted off the cistern lid and tried to scrabble around to re-attach the left side lever that had come adrift. I couldn't find what to hook it on to though - I tried all sorts of variations and the wretched thing refused to click into place. I did however press everything else that was inside and pressable and lo and behold I got the flushing to stop. So, the downstairs loo is now out of action but at least there isn't the sound of the perpetual pump in the background.

So I guess in my first household challenge I got around 6/10 - I solved part of the problem but didn't resolve it to my satisfaction.

Must do better


LadyFi said...

I know the feeling.. I*m not very handy either.

Still, you can get Mr. FF to show you how to stop and start the loos as I don't think it is very difficult.

Sallys Chateau said...

I do sympathise, had one of those myself, seemed to have a mind of its own !! In the end I unplugged it for some peace and quiet overnight.

Vera said...

We don't have that sort of problem with our porta-potties, the real loo being only a pipe dream at the moment. All we have to do is drizzle some water from out of the watering can handily placed beside the porta-potti, but not TOO much water otherwise the potti has to be emptied out more frequently, which is the weekly task of Hubs, who has to dig a hole in our little woodland but running out of places for the holes because we have been here for eighteen months, which is just about 72 holes! Wow! Hope your loo behaves. Will look forward to wrestling with a posh loo ourselves sometime in the future!

Jennysmith said...

Oh blimey, FF, I had to do that recently. Or something like that. And like you, I had no experience of any of those skills.

Yes, had to dig down into the cistern and get the flush thing to work. It was either that or wait till Husband came back from work.

The survival thing inside you must go off or something.

Happy Christmas xxx

French Fancy said...

Ladyfi - the thing is that he has shown me but, because there is only so much space when you are both crouched over the cistern, I couldn't really see what he clicked the thingy into. I've just been looking online and I think the thing I can't connect is the *float*. I've just tried again and guess what - I still can't do it.

Hello Sallys Chateau - a new name so a cheery mince-pie laden hello. Boo to toilets that don't work properly

Vera - your woodland must have some great foliage and flowers with all the manure's nutrients soaking through. Back to nature, eh

Jen - but you did it! I'm still thrilled that I even managed to undo the screw - I don't have very strong hands. Shame I coulden't do it - I'm going to try again later

Anonymous said...

Congratulations for that quick fix. I do hope you learn some basic skills to tide you through the times when you're alone. I shouldn't talk however, I can't fix anything either.

The Machinist's Wife said...

Hello FF, good for you on working out the cistern problem. Ours can sometimes do the same. Now you know what to do. I agree with you - the main thing is to stop the pesky pump going off. People with town water / sewer / disposal facilities might not relate to our plight. I remember the first night of moving out here - I was up late, and sat at my kitchen table, just thankful and grateful that we lived in the country. Then the pump started, and for the life of me, i had no idea what the noise was. I decided to go to bed and to the safety of the Machinist. I'm such a scaredy cat. I also can relate to being much better at home management and cooking etc, than 'men's jobs'. I say let them have 'em. I enjoy being a lady... "A spade? What's a spade?..."

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

See you are erdaing JohnIrving ...l love the man...but lve not read this one, how does it compare???

love eharing about your travails!!

the fly in the web said...

Oh the joys of repairing the loo!
Mr. Fly's hands are paralysed, so it's a combination job...he directs and I fiddle incompetently in the innards of the brute.

He knows what he wants to achieve...I don't know what I am attaching to what, or why, but I can do it on my own...sort of...after a while...

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Well done, FF, for managing on your own - I often worry that I could never change a tyre if I were on my lonesome... I am so cack-handed that I break most things I try to fix, so I just don't bother...

Don't know if that's really a solution! My best to you, Mr FF et les Bichons, Christmas Carol x

French Fancy said...

Dedene - I've got a list of things I want him to show me but we are now running out of time. He's got tight deadlines to fulfil on some work he is doing for someone, plus the finding a place in Paris will take time. Everything is now a rush. When I spoke to him last night he suggested getting two new loos put in so on verra.

Hiya Helen - I've got friends who are so handy - they can strip an engine, make furniture and I feel so woosy and helpless. I've always been someone who asked other people (either experts I paid for and friends who could do stuff)- this self-reliancy thing is completely new. I did feel good I could stop the bloody pump going - that droning noise in the background could make you want to leave home - as you found out :)

Hiya Saz - I'm only a few pages into Hotel New Hampshire and it has all the Irving trademarks I love. I've got three more of his on order and at the end of them I will have read everything of his bar his memoirs (which other Irving afficiandos have told me not to bother with).

I still love 'Owen Meany' best though

French Fancy said...

Oh, two more arrived whilst I was typing -
tfitw - when Mr FF arrives back late tonight I'm going to let him supervise me trying to hook the thing in. I hope he is patient after his long drive. (I'm sure he will be)

AWONI - oh I could never change a tyre - I don't think my little fingers could turn the screws.I hate not knowing how to do stuff.

the fly in the web said...

Tyres, yes...they're sort of big and clunky and I don't worry about breaking things...the only problem is the new all singing all dancing car jack that Audi send with the car....I look at it and it looks at me and nothing happens, so I carry my old one around in sacking in the boot...

Lane said...

I think you did extremely well. Definitely worth more than 6/10.

I'm no good with all that dull stuff either although I would like to learn how to wield some power tools safely.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hello there, FF, as always thank you for your very lovely comments over at mine.

I thought I would have more time to blog this year -being in the little house-with the children but it's gone in the other direction!

Even if I don't reply or it takes me ages...I always read your comments when they come through to me on e-mail and they help me get through the day.

Glad that it is all working out for you. Delighted in fact. Is Mr. FF. working for SocGen? The team I met from there once...was wonderful. You'll be nearer Paris...how brill!

Hope all goes well for you next year (I'm sure it will) and will be following your move....

Good luck with the loo! You seem to be doing just fine....

Merry Christmas and all the best for 2010. love Hadriana xx

French Fancy said...

tfitw - the one time my tyre burst I was in the middle of Camden Market, North London and a kind taxi driver stopped and helped me - when I say helped me - I stood there helpless whilst he replaced it.

Lane - Mr FF's ma is excellent with power tools and she once let me hold the drill with a view to teaching me how to use it - but I found it too heavy. See, I said I was weak

Hiya Hade - I know how busy you are and never worry about you not being here quickly. I've got a lot more time than most people so I'm about a lot more

As for Soc Gen - no, Mr FF is not in banking and I'd never reveal the name of any company for whom he worked in the past or was about to join - but it is definitely not a bank.

Merry Christmas Hade

Steve said...

The internal workings of a toilet are inscrutable at the best of times - I reckon you did well there!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Oh well...I thought it might be. Am confusing it with the post where he got stuck in a bank. No...best never divulge that sort of stuff...by e-mail perhaps but not on the blog! Too risky. Well...whichever company/societe he is working for...best of British and French! Hxx

Mark said...

You see men have there uses after all!

James May was talking on the radio the other day on women's hour - he is said his idea of being a man was none of this modern metrosexual nonsense, but instead it was bring capable and competent at practical things. Not very PC, but sort of right said Jane - she then handed me a list of jobs.

Angie Muresan said...

I didn't think I was very handy either, until recently when I was forced to paint my office and disassemble the bookcase, unscrew it from the wall, paint, and screw it back on. With a powered tool! Now, I feel ready to tackle anything. Not that I would want to, of course.

Beriwbe said...

When we stopped living in apartments and bought a house I soon learned that it was important to understand, and manage, toilets. A plumber these days wants a hundred or so -- dollars, that is -- just to ride by the front of the house, so I got a book on the topic and studied it as though it were sanskrit.

It's really a clever gadget, a toilet; it does a series of remarkable actions and it doesn't at all hurt to have an advanced degree in hydraulics to help you deal with them. Even without that, however, the more you understand the device the more you're able to handle the emergencies.

Wait -- what's that sound of water running over in the bathroom??!!

Berowne said...

Note above: I typed in Berowne and for some reason up came Beriwbe.

It's clear toilets are not my only probloem. :-)

Carol said...

I'm pretty good with a hammer and I'm not bad at building furniture but when it comes to anything like toilets or plugs...nope....not a hope in hell that I'll be able to fix it!! Mind you...Chris is not much better!!

I think you did a sterling job and you deserve waaaaay more than a 6 out of 10!!

C x

lulu labonne said...

Nothing more frightening than an out-of-control loo (actually boilers can be scary too, ... and drains oo eer)

Have a lovely Christmas, I would have send an email but I don't think you post your address here - have a healthy and prosperous 2010 and may all the changes go well for you both

Much Love

French Fancy said...

Steve - I'm just delighted I got the top screw off to remove the cistern. I can't even open most jars!

Hade - he got stuck in the lift whilst getting money out of an atm in Barclays - he was trying to kill about an hour and ended up trapped for 50 mins - just making it to the interview in time - and with torn trouser leg a-flapping. I don't know if I could have been calm enough to do an interview after a trappage.

Mark - I agree with James May but then I've got quite old-fashioned views in a lot of ways I think - although I do put the rubbish out. I'm just not very strong and can't bring the shopping in - that sort of thing. I don't expect men to stand up when I leave a dining table though :)

Angie - I've helped with some of the painting here - although that was in the early days before Mr FF saw my painting standard. The last time he volunteered his mum to help him and I was on tea and telling stories duty

Berowne - it's you! Blogger sure has been playing some tricks with people's avatars and names lately. As for studying the workings of a toilet - I did go so far as to study how the float worked - but I still couldn't find out from the online diagram how to hook it back on.

Mr FF has now done it and was too quick to show me, although it's on my list of Things I Have To Understand Before You Leave For Paris list

Carol - I have a Readers Digest book of household maintenance and sometimes even browse through it, impressing myself that I'm actually taking in something. The thing is that ten minutes later and I've forgotten what I read

Lulu - I tried to put an email addy on here but we had a few problems. I kept having to relog in and got blocked now and then - decided it was just easier not to have one.

I won't even think about the boiler or drains going wrong - you don't get Dynarod out here.

As for Christmas and new year wishes - right back at you, Lu


Angie Muresan said...

Tea and telling stories duty, is the best job one could have around the house while remodeling. Glad Mr. FF spared you.
Thank you for your lovely words. Honesty makes many uncomfortable, yet I still aim for it. Wishing you a good evening, dear friend.

The Dotterel said...

You solved a plumbing problem! That's got to be worth at least a £500 bill!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Small steps, FF :). Congratulations! Trial by fire isn't easy, but it does make us creative, no?

Kathy said...

You are gonna be an expert by the time you get to Paris, nothing like being thrown in at the deep end (pun intended) to learn all of this men stuff hehe. Our loos are strange here too, but you sorted it and I think 8/10 is a much more appropriate mark. Happy Xmas until we meet in person (Paris, London, who knows) keep safe and well, Kathy, Vanni, Stephen and Hayley xxx

Anonymous said...

To be without a functioning loo is not a happy state of affairs. Glad you got it rectified.

Very Happy Christmas to you.

Desert said...

Flushed with success-well done you!! :)

French Fancy said...

Angie - honesty is good - for you to get it off your chest and for us to see it in action. I love your openness (that spelling sure looks wrong) and from the heart posts.

The dotterel - I'm going to have lessons from himself next week

ContemTroub - maybe I'll just flush once a week to eliminate that nano second of 'will it won't it'

Kathy - I might not end up an expert, Kath, but I'll be able to make mistakes with more confidence I think

All the best from us too

Ian - groaning at the pun

Desert - hello again and another groan for the pun


Contemporary Troubadour said...

Joyeux noel, FF! So glad to count you among the friends I've met in the blogosphere. Best wishes to you.

@eloh said...

Is there a way to shut the water off just to the toilet until help arrives?

That way you could use it by turning the water back on for a minute or two.

Debs said...

It sounds like you did very well, I would probably have made a complete hash of it and ended up breaking the loo.

Phil Lowe said...

I too had a problem some while back with the toilet systern over filling and causing damp problems on my neighbour's stair wall. ooh that was fun, not.

I confess I am a bit crap at DIY - just ask the ex missus. Oh she loved to hear about the coat hooks that may soon fall out of the wall and the book laden shelves over her head that might well do the same. I hated drilling holes in the wall. My drill always wanted to skid off in the other direction leaving a deep scar across the wallpaper. However, I was good at putting Ikea furniture together. They are supposed to have the drawers upside down aren't they?

Rob-bear said...

Well done at your first go with the loo problem, Julie!

On the other hand, with Mr. FF being away, this might be an excellent opportunity for you to learn some new abilitis -- like how to "wire a plug, change a fuse, put up a shelf [and] . . . wield a hammer." Not to mention fix a loo.

Here's to your skills diversification in 2010! :)

French Fancy said...

ContemTroub - best wishes? best wishes? Nay, my bloggy friend - virtual love comes to you from this little corner of France. I am very pleased we got to know each other through our blogs.

eloh - the thing is that the downstairs loo is the one with the oldest and stiffest little water handle in the world. Even Mr FF has trouble turning it and his hands are almost twice the size of mine. It was a good idea of yours though.

Debs - well the two bichons wandered in because they are not used to seeing someone standing there with the door open. One of them nudged the cistern top that was leaning against the wall, it fell over causing panic amongst the dogs and it nearly chipped - so it did actually almost get broken (for once blaming something on the dogs would have been the truth)

Phil - it's hard for blokes that aren't DIY minded because people (i.e. women) always expect them to be handy. My dad wasn't at all handy although when he got older he did go to woodwork classes and got very proud of perfect dovetail joints

Frankofile said...

I'm watching with interest - love your will-do attitude. Thanks so much for keeping an eye on my very quiet blog (I've been distracted by work)

marc aurel said...

Very best wishes to you both for the new decenium. If there isn't such a word, there ought to be. The best of luck to you both with FF's new work arrangement. Some people thrive on a long commute, (some used to learn a new language on cassettes etc.).
As to the toilet, it is the simplest mechanical device in most households and getting used to coping with its vagaries rates high in the skills inventory of our house. Re-attaching a wobbly bidet is more problematic.
The bichons look well.