Heroes, villains and the Victorian Underworld!

A heroine in peril.

Have you wondered what horrors lie beneath the suburban streets of Britain? What nasties lurk in the dark while we go about our daily lives? And when they show their evil faces which heroes do we call to save us from their murky blackness? Well, I found out this week as I came back from a run to find water dribbling up through my front path. Not very nice water either, water that, er, smelled of wee…I needed a hero and I needed one fast.

Enter, a hero.

On a dark and stormy afternoon Welsh Water Guy came to my rescue, or tried to. Who knew there were such dark lairs under my house until WWG (Welsh Water Guy) turned up with a long camera on a tube and revealed to me the unseen world beneath. Yeah, we had a blocked pipe. I could see the block in nasty bubbly glory as the camera snaked down beneath our feet, via the manhole, through crazy pipes with more twisted angles and weird drop offs than the rides at Alton Towers.

This was Victorian sewerage at its, well, not best exactly. I don’t think Joseph Bazalgette, who designed the fascinating and elegant London sewage system, would have employed the guys who laid the 15 metres of fun-house piping from the side of my house under my six foot high steps to the street.

So how do you get rid of a block? There’s a big high-pressure hose thing on a pipe that can work wonders if the WWG is willing, and he was, to heroically swish and push and pull to vanquish the demons below.

The villains.

Do you know who the arch-drain villains are? Wet Wipes – arrrgghh! Don’t ever put one down your loo. They act like ‘Velcro’ and never, ever degrade, and trap all your unmentionables in their evil web; and kitchen roll, so strong and absorbent they football-net-catch your toilet items. WWG told me this – and he knows!

Sadly he couldn’t flush the evil monster out, but he had some mates who might help.

Enter, two more heroes.

Dyno-Rod men arrive – da, da daa! Two heroes who we’ll call Dai (Dyno) and Rod (er, Rod, obviously) to protect their secret identities. Dai wiggled his foot on my flagstones where the wee-water had been and said, ‘bet there’s an access there’. He pried up the slab, pulled up a bit of lead capping that had been down there 100+ years poked a plunger in and, voila! – the black terror showed its face, gurgled in its death throes and fled back into its lair (hopefully) never to be seen again.

Dai did the thing with his camera on a tube and said one of my pipes had ‘slipped’ meaning the bore was much smaller than it should be.

‘I won’t be putting any wet wipes down there then,’ I joked. His thousand-yard stare said never, ever joke about the nemesis wet wipes. To ease the tension, and being a writer, I asked Dai if he’d ever found anything interesting in a drain, like fingers, treasure or fighty turtles. Mainly rats, apparently.

Hurrah!

So, thanks to Dai and Co, Casa Bev is once again safe from the wiles of the evil wee-water monster. I mustn’t forget Rod, though, who was a very good sidekick, ‘assisting’ with the camera. He also knew a surprising amount about British wildlife – my hedge is Alder, and is poisonous so I should wear gloves when trimming it. He was also able to name a large number of British birds of prey and native woodpeckers.

So, with water flowing freely into the underworld Dai and Rod sped off to the aid of their next homeowners in peril.

For those of you who’ve read this blog before and know I am partial to sarcasm – let me be clear about this. Anyone who comes to your house and can keep a smile on their face while fighting sewer monsters then leave you with no wee-water where it shouldn’t be and confidence in the musical flushing of your loo is a hero in my book! No kidding.

Thanks WWG, Dai and Rod, wherever you are tonight!

*****

Don’t need Dyno-Rod? Adventure underground and keep your feet dry with:

Stephen King’s It. Yep, ’We all float down here!’ That Pennywise the Clown gets everywhere. Didn’t that kid’s mom tell him not to stick his arm down storm drains?

The Fugitive movie – if you live near a big dam in America there’s a fair chance Harrison Ford, aka Richard Kimble, might be doing his uniquely ‘awkward running’ under your house. ‘Don’t slip!’

The Third Man movie (Graham Greene and Orson Welles). It’s a stone- cold classic and the Harry Lime chase through Vienna’s sewers is pure cinema art-scape. Bleak, whimsical, creepy and no happy ending!

The Great Stink (novel), Clare Clark. It’s 1858 and the sewers of Victorian London smell so bad ladies are fainting and parliament is shut; even worse, dead bodies are bobbing up, left right and centre. (Based on the actual summer stink that led to Bazalgette’s wondrous sewer system being installed.)

Every season of fab US TV series Supernatural – evil stuff comes up through sinks and baths all the time in this show and people get whisked into the depths. Keep the plug in in case Sam and Dean, the demon-hunting, ghost-busting catalogue models are out of town!

Creep, the movie starring Franka Potente – okay, it’s not technically set in the sewers but in the London Underground. Locked in at a deserted station at night Franke soon realises she’s not alone…nasty and, er, creepy…

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Heroes, villains and the Victorian Underworld!

  1. Servetus

    After last summer I can add to the list of nemesises (nemeses?): saturated surgical dressings. Sufficient to plug up an entire house for hours when they fall into the toilet unnoticed …

  2. Eeeww! See, you never think about these things until they go wrong. I will never flush the toilet again without a a degree of trepidation and fear! 🙂

    • Servetus

      It wasn’t my dressing or my fault but it happened on my watch, and OMG, did we ever go through a hassle. It has also made me a bit afraid of the plumbing and happy that in my real life (when I’m not taking care of my mother) I live in apartment with a number of a guy to call if there’s a problem …

  3. Clarissa

    Yes I know all about victorian houses as I live in one myself. Yes I agree about the heroes who save us from sewage hysteria.
    Many years ago our main sewage drain was blocked outside and I had visions of really nasty stuff finding itself to our back door.
    One phone call and not to long afterwards two lovely men from Welsh Water arrived.
    Don’t worry love, put the kettle on, we’ll have a cup of tea in our hands and we’ll fix it.
    Ear to the ground one shouted found it ,such talent going unrecognised and often unrewarded today
    Probably not the same two people but with the character and kindness to do a job many would run a mile from.
    So here’s to all those who perform the most awful tasks to keep us safe.
    They are the real heroes

  4. Pingback: Richard Armitage Legenda 80: Stuff worth reading | Me + Richard Armitage

  5. Way to turn the irritating into a nice little funny yarn

  6. nme16

    “This was Victorian sewerage at its, well, not best exactly.”
    This post is awesome, as is your entire blog! Followed and favorited

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