The Day MM Pooh-poohed the New Year.

I’m a self-confessed New Year party pooper. Call me cynical if you will, but I don’t do New Year celebrations. Much my teenaged offspring’s disgust, I don’t party, get drunk, sing Auld Lang Syne, kiss strangers at midnight or wear silly hats. I will happily settle for a nicer than normal meal with my family, then switch off my mobile phone and toddle off to bed so that I can make the most out of the following day, when we generally have the world to ourselves as the rest of France either gets over its hangover or feeds its face once again. But this year, Karma decided to bite me on the bum for pooh-poohing the New Year, and this is how it happened.

English: Bulldog

MM at a New Year’s eve knees-up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I woke up happy and hang-over free on New Year’s day. After a leisurely breakfast with PF, I power-showered myself into positive thinking for the day. I congratulated myself on the fact that I was a practical woman who can change a wheel and paint a ceiling. Come to think of it, my eagle eye had spotted that the bath plughole was not draining fast enough during my power shower…

Three years ago, MM and PF were silly enough to buy an old house with waste pipes the diameter of your average toothpick. You could have driven a Sherman tank down the  waste pipes in our previous house – a luxury compared to the congested B-road network we have in our current bathroom. The equivalent of three narrow Cornish lanes join together in a pint-sized spaghetti junction, hastily assembled and buried forever in a cement sarcophagus by the previous owner of the house. Needless to say, when this particular junction gets blocked, the traffic backs up further than anything you can see on the M25 at rush hour, with wet and smelly consequences that must be avoided at all costs. But I could deal with that – easy peesy, lemon-squeezy.  I’d already proved my prowess as a bog-standard plumber.

And THAT was when MM made the mistake of biting off more than she could chew. Pride comes before a fall, and Karma was ready to bite me on the bum with a crap surprise she had waiting in the pipeline. Cue theme music to “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly” to get you in the mood:

As the rest of France was settling down to their starters on the New Year’s ritual gastronomic frenzy of oyster/salmon/foie gras quaffing, MM was peering down the open washing machine waste pipe – the only available access to the lost tunnels of Sewage City. Grasping a coiled, 10m long snake in her right hand, MM was a hybrid of Calamity Jane and Indiana Jones: a mean, clean, bog-busting machine.

For those of you who are happily unsavvy about the plumbing world, the snake ( – or the “ferret”, as the French nicely call it -) is a basic necessity for unblocking pipes. This long, flexible, metal rod can go where no woman has ever gone (nor would ever wish to go): through the murky labyrinth of stinky pipes stretching from your bathroom to the rat-infested sewers below.

In theory, Mr Snake blasts his way through the blockage in the pipe, and dislodges it. The pipe then belches loudly and sends up fumes that make Indian take-away burps smell like cherry blossom, then MM tidies up her equipment and gets back to more feminine activities. In theory.

In reality, MM looked for her rubber gloves, and couldn’t find them anywhere because PF had tidied them up so well they’d disappeared. Rather than acknowledging that reality was tapping her on the shoulder, MM unwisely decided that she would go for it anyway, equipped with two old t-shirts and her inimitable optimism: having power-showered all self-doubt into oblivion, she was certain that this would be sorted in five minutes flat because she was simply the master of the Universe.

Calamity Jane (film)

MM, Snake Charmer and Master of the Plumbing Universe.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

45 minutes later, MM was feeling flushed (for lack of a better word), squashed in the small space behind the washer with no more than her heaving stomach for company. Battering away at the constipated pipe with Sammy the snake, I coolly enquired if a few prunes would do the job. A little while later, PF popped his head around the door and grinned as I swore copiously at the plumbing in both French and English. I finally realised that whilst I was probing the innards of the waste pipes, the rest of France was dipping their crudités in tapenade. I promptly lost my cool, and angrily yanked the flexible rod back out of the pipe.

Now flexible rods, being flexible, tend to have a life of their own when pulled at speed from a confined pipe. That’s how MM ended up redecorating herself, the floor and the bathroom tiles with modern, albeit odorant, art. Bang on time, Little My opened the bathroom door and wrinkled her nose delicately as she contemplated her mother, who was splattered from head to foot in raw sewage and looked like she’d been mud wrestling with hippos at the local water treatment plant.  I suspect that I have put her off Nutella for ever.

I attacked everything in sight with bleach (rest in peace, black t-shirt). I had a second, (not so power) shower. I sat down to lunch with wild eyes and frizzy hair, stinking of bleach. The plug hole still drains slowly. But looking on the bright side of things, if you start the year up to your eyeballs in shit, things can only get better.

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64 thoughts on “The Day MM Pooh-poohed the New Year.

  1. I’m really sorry that you started off the year in such a way!! Your post made me laugh… the only way is up from here! Happy New Year!

  2. Happy New Year MM!! I can identify with your old fashioned pumbing system and having baled out many a blocked fosse septique in my time you have all my sympathies…only I have to admit to copping out and leaving most serious blockages to my very capable OH!!

    I hesitate to say things can only get better as with these old places, one never knows 😉
    All the best for 2014!!

  3. The music was a fine background to this tale of terrible tubing, but I did laugh – sorry. I am chief tube-unblocker chez nous, but I think ours are marginally less hazardously installed because I have never found myself parked in poo.

    Sounds like you needed more than a power shower at the end of it – perhaps a deep-cleaning mud bath…? 😀

    I never go out on NYE. Going out = no drinking at all = bad temper = start to the year as bad as if one were covered in a splattering of poo…

    • Isn’t it funny how we girls are good at these things? PF hasn’t tried yet, he just asked me if I could clean the joints between the tiles whilst I was there. Cleaning the joints between the tiles seemed about as good an idea to me at the time as cleaning an elephant with a toothbrush, and he was told so in no uncertain terms.
      I’m not a big fan of going out in the evenings – it’s a long way back to the back of beyond at gone mindight, my car has already turned into a pumpkin, and I need my beauty sleep.

  4. Oh merde!! 😉

    This had me howling, I’m sorry but it did.

    I can’t count the amount of times I’ve ended up covered in other people’s sh*t. It’s good to know it isn’t just me!

    Happy New Year, at least it’s one to remember xxx

    • Merde is exactly the term, believe you me. I don’t know how many times the neighbours must have heard me yelling it at the top of my voice. It was the “whose shit is this” bit that made my stomach turn. Yeeeeurch.

  5. Oh my – 2014 certainly expressed itself in a rather … spectacular … display chez vous. Sorry, but I had to laugh. The visual was just too much to resist. Now if your children are like my children, you aren’t going to hear the end of this one for a very long time. Maybe never.
    Wishing you a smoother flow to the rest of your year 🙂

  6. So which child are you taking on as a snake apprentice in the New Year?
    The mark of someone truly integrated into French society is knowing how to use this essential implement.
    Notaires should hand them out with the acte de vente…..

    I’m sorry that I laughed so much….I could see the scene!

    All best wishes for a ferret free year to come!

    • Don’t apologise for laughing – at least it makes the crappy experience worth something 🙂 French plumbing is appalling, and ours dates back to the 1880’s, when they had bed pans rather than bogs, and no washing machines; Ours can’t keep up with the voluminous end products of a French family Christmas …
      Love the idea of training someone up to walk the ferret. May start with PF first, though…

  7. The French say that walking on a merde, no matter its origin, is good omen provided you hit it with your left foot. Bonne année !
    As for unplugging pipes, before to use that diabolic flexible “ferret”, try real “soude caustique” (not the one you find at the supermarket and advertised at TV, it’s useless, but go to a shop specialized in chemical products) or use chloridric acid. Beware, these chemicals are very aggessive, so put on gloves and pour them carefully into the pipes.
    Good plumbing work !

    • Hi there, Papounet 🙂 It was more a case of left hand, cheek, arm, leg, and foot…If walking in it brings luck, showering in it must make me lucky for the next ten years and more 🙂
      I will try out your miracle remedy, but the problem is that it will filter through the small outlet there is in the blockage… Won’t I run the risk of burning a hole through the PVC pipe and flooding the neighbours dwonstairs with our poop?

  8. There have been a lot of plumbing ads on the TV over Christmas (can’t think why?!) and it occurred to me, who on earth would want to do that job? Job satisfaction is one thing but getting covered in sewage to achieve it? It made an hilarious tale but isn’t that an extreme way to create humour for your blog? I would have loved a photograph. Merde!

    • I’d say that the blog was a good way to flush out the bad feelings (in fact I was laughing to/at myself at the end of the experience and thinking about how I would write it up…). We asked the plumber to come around once for the same problem – it cost us a mint and it didn’t work for more than a week. I have a feeling that it’s better to be a plumber than a translator as far as income is concerned…

  9. Ha, I’ve got sammy the snake’s twin brother. I keep him in the garden shed, chopped up into several lengths which screw together to size required depending on the situation (location of the blockage)

    It may sound cruel to keep him in the shed rather than in the warmth of the house but given the choice of the shed or being rammed head first into a pile of shit, I think he prefers the shed 😆

    • I’m sure that if you go and talk to him from time to time, he’s happy. I did tell mine that I’d promote him to super star status and call him Nagini if he managed to deal with the new year blockage, but he didn’t, so he’s still Sammy. He’s been put in prison on the bathroom window ledge until I forgive him.

  10. Oh dear a truly sh*t start to your new year! 🙂 My husband says that whatever we do on the first day of the year we’ll do for the rest of it….. good luck with that!
    Personally I think if you’d had a big celebration the night before you’d have been too tired to get into all this bother. There was no fear of me being up to plumbing on the 1st.
    Happy New year. Great first post. I’ve been mad busy partying and visiting I can’t wait to get back to normal next week. I’m missing writing too.

    • Don’t wish me a year in the shit, pleeeease 🙂 The plug seems to be draining better all of a sudden – maybe my job worked with delayed effect.
      I’m looking forward to life getting back to normal again too – every time I sit down to do something for myself (ok, to blog) I get caught by one of my offspring and told off.

    • Just try staying in bed and feeling sorry for yourself with a family like mine.. 😀 The only way is up, baby, la la la laaah… Even the plughol ha made an effort and now seems to be draining properly again.. Hooray!

  11. NO. Just… no. At first I was like “ooo! I recently unplugged a drain! I can relate!” But, no… this is like something from a horror movie but I like how you summed it up in the end– the only direction you can go is up!

  12. That was funny. Sorry for such a stressful new year but MM you should know that women and plumbing works is a no no. I’ve never even tried unplugging those drains because something disgusting always comes out. But I think I’ll try it one day since you just said it’s character building stuff haha 🙂

  13. From this beginning the only way is up, MM! Sorry for laughing at your plight, but I could see you so clearly as the snake bit back. 🙂 Our shower is draining rather slowly too, but I’m going to plead age and get DH to deal with it…..

  14. Where was PF through all of the wading ? I am hesitant to say Happy New Year but I do think that after reading it can only improve !

  15. This had me in hysterics! I’m sorry your new year started off crappy! I hope it’s improved over the last couple of months? One thing’s for sure, after reading your post… I’ll never pull an unblocking snake from any pipe at speed! 🙂

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