Friday, December 31, 2010

Fast away.

There are a few things I've ended up doing in 2010 that didn't even occur to me as possibilities at the end of 2009. Saying 'it's just the ending of Press Gang, but without the humour and eye candy'. Reading more Thucydides. Becoming obsessed with flushing the loo with melted snow. That kind of thing. I'm convinced it all shows my endless resourcefulness.

I'm flying solo again this New Year's Eve. I did last year, too, but that time not through choice, so this time I'm actually going to enjoy the solitude. Probably the strangest New Year's I had was at a party in a barn in Surrey: the electricity went at 11.30, and everyone took this as a cue to start singing and telling jokes like we were on a school trip. We weren't. We were in our early twenties. I also remember fondly standing on the seats in a tram shelter in Danziger Strasse to avoid the fireworks being aimed through the gap between the perspex and the pavement. When I was very young, my parents used to let me have a glass of Advocaat on New Year's Eve. Despite this, I still like alcohol. Nice try, though.

The only New Year's Resolution I've ever managed to keep was my 2008 one: not to add salt to my food before I've tasted it. Probably this is because no-one has since offered me a glass of Advocaat on New Year's Eve. I don't know if I have any resolutions this year. I expect if I had, they'd have occurred to me by now, but I'm keeping an open mind, just in case.

At the moment, everything's a bit mucky out, as the slush has mostly melted (a few large clumps of icy mess still knocking about on the side streets, but only a few), but we haven't had a proper rain yet. It seems right for the year to end a bit messy and understated. Well, comforting, anyhow.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to flush your loo with snow

I have learned many things this year. Most of them I'm keeping quiet about: they're known unknowns, or what Vince Cable says when he's being discreet. But there's one thing I really have to share. It's the very special knowledge I've gained in the past few days. About how you flush your loo when your pipes have frozen and you have no water supply anymore.

Cos you have to keep flushing your loo, right? That's a given. Imagine what would happen otherwise. The police (or someone else who can just demand to come into your house and you have to let them – the Queen, Jesus, one of those people from that programme) could come round on Important Business of National Importance, and then one of them needs to use the loo, or maybe they think someone bad has hidden something in the loo and they have to find it, or if it's the Queen maybe she just says 'show me your lavatory now' and you have to, because she's the Queen, of Australia, too, not just Britain, and even if you're a republican you still have to show her your loo at that point. That's a given. So it needs to keep being flushed.

But what with? All your other water needs can be met with bottled water. You can drink it, cook with it, wash with it (though having a sink wash using bottled water is a very confusing experience: where does that go on the 'decadent – Turn-of-century-East-End-of-London-lifestyle' spectrum?), all that. But COME ON: no-one is going to pour bottled water down the loo to flush it. That's a bit like going back in time to the period just before the French Revolution with three months' worth of food in a Porsche, and setting light to it in or around the Bastille area.

Also, if you do pour bottled water down a loo from the bottle, it won't have enough oomph about it actually to flush the loo. You definitely have to put it in a bucket first.

The answer is simple. What you do is: 
have snow outside. 
Then, you put the snow into buckets. 
After which, you transfer the snow from the buckets to a pan on the hob, and melt it (please lose all cartoon-inspired dreams about how quickly snow melts. The motherfuckering stuff takes FOREVER to resolve itself into a dew. FORFUCKINGEVER). You do this two, maybe three more times (it takes about five buckets of powdery snow per flush). You start to remember fondly the time when you had a sense of humour. You reflect on people's determination to simplify their lives and get back to nature, and the fact that those people have likely never had to flush their loo with snow. You assert, loudly, to the pan of snow that you just started stirring with a wooden spoon through reflex action, that Thoreau was almost certainly batshit mental. 
Then you take the pan into the bathroom, lift the loo seat, and pour with as much gusto / oomph as you can manage.

After that, usually, you have to go outside to get more snow.