Water is precious, says the little logo on the NI Water company vans. It’s particularly precious when you haven’t got any, but that’s not a problem the Norn Irish have ever had.
For here, it rains… and it rains… and it rains. Most of the year round, in fact, except when its too cold to rain, and then it snows. And freezes. And then, as has been the case over the past few days, it thaws. Drip-drip-drip… it’s all you can hear all around as the snow gradually disappears. Drip-drip-drip in the gardens, drip-drip-drip on the rooftops, drip-drip-drip in the living room… oops, hang on, that can’t be right, can it?
But sadly I have returned to the Home Land at a rather chaotic time, and we have gone straight from the madness of the icy roads and snowed-in homes and frozen pipes to the nightmare of The Thaw. The frozen pipes all across the country have melted and promptly burst in vast numbers. Shops throughout our town have hastily scribbled signs outside saying “CLOSED DUE TO FLOODING”. Tearful women on the TV are showing the news reporters through their ruined houses after drains overflowed and filled their kitchens with raw sewage. Town by town, the water supply is being shut off in an attempt to ration the now extremely low reservoir supplies caused by all the leaks and floods. Leisure centres and suchlike have been set up as emergency drinking water distribution venues (limited to 20 litres per family, and bring your own buckets!), and offering free showers. People are queuing for hours and then discovering that there’s no water left anyway.
It truly is a case of water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Dad sauntered in this evening and cheerily informed us that he’d heard that our water would also be cut off, at 6pm. Which is in about, erm, 7 minutes, he added, as I leapt up and bolted upstairs for the fastest shower I have ever taken – and the coldest one I’ve ever taken in December, I might add, not having had time to wait for the water to heat up. We filled the sinks and buckets and the bathtub.
It is now 7.30pm and the water is still on, but at least we’re prepared, I suppose… and if nothing, that shower was probably good for my circulation after a week of sitting around watching TV and eating chocolate!