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.