Monday, April 02, 2012

I’m not quite sure which end to start with, on this one.

Yesterday we had a flood. It came down through the dining room ceiling. Lots and lots of water, from various points. I went haring upstairs as soon as I discovered it, of course, and found an incompetent grandmother and a small child who had just finished – they thought! – mopping up a flood in their bathroom, caused by leaving a tap running and the plughole blocked while they went out for a walk.

When our downpour hadn’t diminished after a few more minutes, I went haring back up again and lifted their bathroom linoleum with my own hands. There was some water underneath, but not much. Nothing to do but wait it out. My husband kept telling me to make them turn it off at the mains, but that wouldn’t have helped. a) The grandmother didn’t know how to do that and b) the water had already escaped and was lying there under their floorboards, above our ceiling.

It fell hard for perhaps ¾ of an hour, then tapered off. The ceiling has stayed up, although a strip of its paper has fallen. But presumably it’ll have to be replastered after suffering a deluge like that. There is damage to furniture, pictures, and books, although it doesn’t seem quite as bad this morning as feared last night. I’ll start phoning insurers soon.

We alerted our nice neighbours downstairs, for fear water would find its way on down to them. They came up and helped for a while.

So what is the other end of this story, where I might have started?

Very devoted readers might remember that something like this happened – when? Three years ago, perhaps. That time there was a torrential fall in our subsidiary lavatory, from their subsidiary lavatory. Their household was in a disturbed state because they had just had a baby named Alexander who was in a critical condition in hospital. He died a few weeks later.

Well, they’ve just had another. A girl, six weeks premature and with Down’s Syndrome. She’s in hospital (hence the grandmother) but doing well. When her father eventually got home and came to view the scene, he seemed cheerful and optimistic about his daughter. Helen and David’s eldest son Oliver, who died at 6 ½ weeks, also had Downs. Will this baby turn out to be named Rachel or Helen, when I get around to asking?

If one is forced to look on the bright side, it was just as well it happened yesterday and not next Sunday, when we hope to be away. And there was no yarn in the room.


You won’t be surprised to hear that I ordered some more Zauberballs, although in fact I did it before disaster struck. I was quite wrong to say yesterday that they aren’t widely available in the UK. I ordered from my new friend Meadow Yarn. The difference between Crazy Zauberball and not-crazy, I learned, is that the former has two differently-coloured strands plyed together part of the time.

Time to stop. No luck with Royal Mail – it gets through to the verification screen, and then says “Payment unsuccessful. Please try again.” Mary Lou, I want to say more about the Dutch heel.


  1. Oh you poor things! If there are any really water logged books I understand that one should put them in a freezer. It sounds odd but a writer friend told me that she was told to do that before attempting to separate the pages. I wonder if it works and hope you do not need to find out!

  2. Anonymous12:01 PM

    I found your blog via a rather circuitous route, which began and ended at knitsofacto. I think.
    Anyway, I have really enjoyed reading back through some of your posts. I like your style.
    And empathise with the flood thing. We had one many years ago when the round knobby thing on the radiator leaked in the bathroom, and water flowed down through floorboards and on to the bookcases in the hall. It broke my heart to see so many beloved books ruined, laid out and open on the floor of the little sewing room we then had (since been converted and extended into a kitchen, but that's by the by) waiting for the insurance assessor to come and look at them in their sorry state. Luckily he was a fellow bibliophile so understood my misery.
    And now I shall worry about that little Down's Syndrome baby girl and what her future holds. So sad, that whole story. So brave to try again.

  3. The Law library at my university suffered a flood of near epic proportions. The insurance adjustors arrived with a reclamation team unit that included the largest freezer truck I have ever seen. All the books went into the freezer to prevent mold / mildew from growing. They were later thawed in small batches and dried by forced warm air units ( perhaps the household version would be a hair dryer set on low).

    I would cry if my own books were flooded. They are all such good friends.

    Good luck with your clean up.

  4. Oh, I'm so sorry. I've had my dining room ceiling collapse from a leak and what a disaster! No books involved, at least for me. You sound rather sanguine about the whole thing, but I suppose that's the only way to face it.

  5. Sarah JS4:37 PM

    Oh my. Best wishes on the recovery of your waterlogged items and to the family upstairs.

  6. Oh no! This is just awful. I have been reading back through your blog from its start up to the time when I discovered it, somewhere around mid-2005. I have just read past your account of a water leak through that ceiling when some girls were renting the flat above you. It seems unbelievable that in such a short span of time you would have had this happen three times. I hope you are able to recover everything, and that the insurance company is good about getting the ceiling repaired. Oh, but what a headache to have to deal with this.

  7. Anna Livia6:12 PM

    I've had the flood happen to my books. I would not wish it on anyone.

    It was the perfect storm of a mother who cannot understand that books should be in warm dry places. Like on my bookshelves in my vacant room. Where they were causing no one any harm. So she dumped them, in heaps, on the floor of a basement that is prone to flooding because it made the (vacant!) room 'look tidier'. Despite the fact that no one ever used it.

    And then the flood happened. After which said books were shoveled, sopping wet, into cardboard boxes. Where they sat for a further three years. After three years I was informed that I might want to have a look at 'all that trash' down in the basment. A good three hundred books, including some quite old ones, were lost to black mould.

    Regarding the post office- is it scrambling your address? I have had similar payment problems with the Royal Mail as their site insists on rearranging the address so that it will not match your bank's records and will not authorise.

  8. Oh goodness,but I'll second catdownunder's suggestion of freezing the very wet books. And if you need any further suggestions I could ask my daughter, she's an archivist and conservator.

    I do hope the insurers play ball and all can be sorted soon and with minimal hassle.

  9. Be careful that you don't get mold in your home from this.

    We had a bathroom flood a few years ago and we had to take down walls, ceilings, and all kinds of stuff. The cleanup crew from the insurance company had fans and dehumidifiers going for 3 or 4 days so things didn't mold.

    We got lucky and escaped that.