Thursday, July 28, 2011

Indiana Jones and the Water Meter of Doom

Surfacing with the hoover from a corner cranny under the table, I was startled to loom face to face with a Face at the french window!

"Water meter!" he explained, when I’d regained my composure.  (has the uniform changed...?)

"Ah," I frowned, grinning frozenly and thinking, Where IS the water meter?’

"I’ll just find the key…" I shouted, gesticulating idiotically, "Meet you down there…"

The WaterMeterMan comes but once a year (I shan’t bother with the Santa joke), so I always forget where the bloody thing is. We have two cellars at the bottom of the steps outside - I cantered off for the washing-machine cellar, then remembered the meter actually lives in the never-bothered-with cellar, and its key had disappeared, unmissed.

George wasn’t around, so I ran up and down the steps a few times, urged on by the Man looking at his watch and raising his eyebrows, until I happened to notice the key sticking out of the bloody lock.

It was not easy to see, enmeshed as it was by a year’s cobwebs and the remains of their unfortunate captives. The door to this cellar is a sturdy old wooden door, arched, with black metal bands... At least it would be, were it not rather rotten, somewhat splintery and jagged. It has character rather than beauty.

A hundred and fifty years ago before the rain and bashings set in, it probably looked exactly like this: parts.

The door is hidden in an alcove of stone at the bottom of three further steps. "We don’t use this cellar much…" I shrugged to the Man as we battled through the overhanging bushes, and, "Oh! Well I’m sure they won’t sting if we just ignore them…" (Were they wasps or bees, I wondered).

Anyway, having made it to the door and hacked through the webmesh with a big pointy stick I managed (with two hands), to turn the enormous key and very very slowly, opened it. The creeeeeak was magnificent, and I was aware that the Man had stepped back several yards.

There was an illogical yet intense terror in groping for the light switch. But I found it and suddenly the single bulb glared into the far reaches of a cellar packed with wine bottles, bits of cardboard boxes, paint tins, rusty chairs, half a barrel, an open box of rat poison and… a frenzied flock of bats.

I was fairly certain that all the Psycho Screeching was just in my head. Or in the Man’s head… I said to him, "I think the meter’s over there somewhere," and pointed at the far wall. He gazed at me as if I’d asked him to just pop over there and set fire to yourself, will you…?

But, with me gingerly leading the way, we and the bats read the water meter. Then the Man, grinning rictusly, leapt in his van and drove off. Pitiful. Surely it can’t be the only bat colony he’s encountered on his rounds?

And after all, they’d been wonderfully behaved, and much more exciting than the bucket of WWII German rifle cartridges George found a couple of years ago (the gendarmes took them). I read that bats are gentle, docile creatures, just looking for a place to hang out.

It was a pity we disturbed them. Particularly since the episode encouraged us to de-clutter the cellar and now, free of its 1500 empty wine bottles and assorted crotte, it looks splendid… but sadly Batless. They evidently got fed up of our traipsing in and out, and have found calmer quarters - this is an area bursting with appealing old outbuildings they could have mistaken for home. 

So - If you've seen Derek or Tufty, please tell them we've done that repointing on the ceiling...


Expat said...

Yikes! Bats! I hate bats. But on a practical level, think of all the guano you can put to good use.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Yes, Expat! There must be a trillion things for which bat guano would be handy! Shall start with Facepack.

But we'll have to be quick - the Bat Conservation Trust informs that bat crotte falls quickly away to dust if not carefully preserved...

JW10 said...

I think I'd run a mile if I came across a BatCave like yours, Dolores: women and cowards first and all that.

Have you cleaned the cellar of all stalactites and stalagmites?

sorry DD, I watched a caving documentary last year and have been waiting for a chance to use my new found fancy words

Dolores Doolittle said...

And beautifully used too JW, if I may say so!

Some friends of ours have an endless cave that starts under their house and goes on to Bognor Regis (it is rumoured). The first time we plunged into its amazingness I remember thinking, Oooh - what's this?

End of delicate twinkly stalactite.

And do you cave, JW?

Dolores Doolittle said...

PS - JW10, how does one display on one's bloglist - as you do - how long ago each person's last blog was published?
If you have time, I'd be exceeding grateful to know, please - my researches have been fruitless...

Araminta said...

I battled my way over here, having signed into everything at least three times and it's all Bats!

Thank you for your comment chez moi; I've been away for a few days and I'm lurking in cyberspace at the moment so I thought I'd surreptitiously sneak in here. :)

JW10 said...

No caves for me, Dolores, I’ll stick to watching the documentaries. Incidentally, have you seen The Descent? It’s a film about women cavers and very scary. I’ve not seen the sequel though I fail to see how they could better the first one.

I’m always happy to help with technical advice; it makes me feel like I’m Charlton Heston bringing the plane down safely.
OK, here goes.
On your dashboard, go to Design.
Click on edit at my blog list.
A pop-up with configure blog list should appear.
There are five boxes you can tick. On my blog I ticked: icon, Title of most recent item and Date of last update. Don’t forget to click- save. Close the pop-up and the changes should be made.
Good luck.

Also, you can resize photographs that you upload. Your last bat photo is too wide for the blog page. If you go to edit blog, in amongst all the gobbledygook of the photo code try to find the word width. From here change the number to 400, that fits the page nicely I think. When I upload a photo it takes me 3 or 4 attempts to get the sizes right. For Grand designs you can align your photos left and right to run beside the script.
I’m delighted to have given you some homework.

JW10 said...

Just noticed that it is two seperate photos and not a super-sized one. How'd you manage that?

Dolores Doolittle said...

Ara - WHAT was I thinking?! Splendid to see you and in honour of your Battle, a snapshot of the WaterMeterMan!

Dolores Doolittle said...

JW - Thank you hugely for intructions. I haven't quite managed to make them work yet on blogs-I-like, but it's only a matter of brain malfunction and I Will!

As for bat photos, I spent several decades putting them side by side in small, but it wouldn't transfer from Preview to Publish. I suspect a conspiracy.

Haven't seen Descent - thought at first you were talking about the Man who Hacks his Arm Off, but shall look out for scary women one.

And now, I noticed during dashboard fiddlings that you've posted anew - shall visit forthwith!

JW10 said...

Well done on all counts, Dolores. Count Dracula will be happy, too.

The 1500 empty bottles of wine are a mystery. You don't suppose the bats drank them? Was it red wine? The bat hanging upside down looks as if he's had a few too many.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Thankee GREATLY JW! Those evil Empty bottles were the leavings of previous owners. Though you're Right about upside-down-bat...

At the final signings of buying, Mrs Previous Owner said 'we've left a few bottles for you'. Thank you, said I - how kind... (thinking of the champagne our last vendors in UK had left us on move-in day).

She and the solicitor Burst into gales of hilarity - 'They're Empty.' Ho bleeding ho.

Canary Islander said...

I'm beginning to think that we are all weirdly interconnected. Our Water Meter people sent us a bill for an amount with a zillion zeroes after it - for a period of time when we out of the country.

Quite batty, I thought...

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hello CI - how splendid to see you back, for How we've missed you - of course we're all Weirdly Interconnected!

As for your fiendish WaterMeterMan, we'll set Derek and Tufty and their Very Toothy mates on him!

Araminta said...

Ah, how kind, I approve, Dolores.
I'm umming and ahring, as one does, about having a water meter installed here.

I'm sort of wavering on the side of having one installed, but I do realise that not all Watermeter Chaps come up to scratch.

Sad, though, innit?

Bilby is quite keen, but I think it's more a Green Thing; she's very into Saving the Planet!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Ara - DO have one! Here in France they're just There, like the electricity meter.

At first we thought Bloody Hell! But it's just logical - I wouldn't like to share a general electric bill with the Dazzlingly-Illuminated of the vicinity.

Also, we haven't half curbed our water use (who needs a weekly shower anyway)?

Expat said...

Araminta, I'm not clear on this. If you don't have a water meter, how are you charged for your consumption? Is it a kind of "Divvy up the estimate by the number of people on the grid and hope nobody complains" kind of thing? Or are you not charged for water at all and monitoring consumption is a personal effort?

Here in the USA we pay for water. We have two meters, an outside one (no home invasion required) and an inside one in the crawl space as a back check in case the outside reading is disputed by either party.

But of course, if you're out in the country and off the grid and have a well, you don't pay water rates. All well ( pun intended) and good until there's a power outage and the electrically-driven well pump doesn't work!

Araminta said...

Hello Expat.

It's a rather odd system in the UK. Most of us pay an annual charge which is based on the old rateable value of your home. The rateable value of the property was calculated mainly on size and nothing to do with the consumption of water.

Meters are now slowly being introduced, which seems rather more sensible, especially if you are a relatively small family in a large house.

The charge also includes a fee for sewage removal and treatment.

Frankly, I can't really see a reason for not installing a meter. If you find after a year that you are paying more for your water, they will uninstall your meter!

Araminta said...


The only reason for delaying the decision was more to do with my antiquated plumbing, and very leaky taps which have now all been fixed.

Expat said...

By the way, it's lovely to see you here. I remember you from my occasional forays into MyT in the past.

I hope you'll stay around. We happy few are all slightly batty, but harmless enough.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Expat, we may all have indications of the bat kind, but harmless? - I can be Really Scary! Could if I wanted, anyway...

Dolores Doolittle said...

PS - Wonderful Ara bee pic can be quickly located from my fabulously revamped (thanks to JW advice) Blogs-I-Like above. Bilby's there too, Expat...

Araminta said...

I'll pop in occasionally, Expat, when I have time off from my Mother of the Bride and Doting Grandmother role!

Batty and harmless is good! It makes a refreshing change from Some People I would Rather not Invite to Tea.

Dear Dolorous.

Thank you for your link to my site. I think I may change the name to Weird Experiments with My New Camera. I'll get round to reading the instructions soon. :)

Jon said...

We are infested not with bats but with dormice.

I wish to wreck death & destruction upon them but am being prevented by the children who think that they are "sweet".

Pearl said...

I once had an encounter with ONE bat. It involved a tennis racket, the opening of all windows and doors, and the screeching of which you speak...

Nice post!

:-) Pearl

Dolores Doolittle said...

Well Jon - they ARE sweet! But perhaps not in your pantry, as we once had. They also chomped through a pile of plastic carriers waiting to go shopping.
They disappeared when we blocked up their thoroughfares.

Thank you Pearl, and I can picture your frenzied scene. Does he ever come back to visit?

Canary Islander said...

Bats are 456, for only 3 down.

Dolores Doolittle said...

CI - sorry your comment went 'to moderation'. It happens once the blog's been up for a fortnight - I get zillions of advertising comments on posts going back YEARS!
(some rather dubious...)

Wish I could work out how to allow Friend Comments. And I can't Believe it's a fortnight since BatPost! Must haul my torpid brain into action. You put one to shame, JW, with your frequency!

CI, though, I understandeth not your comment - assume it's something to do with the dreaded Cricket...?

Please explain - your comment will go to my hotmail, where I will be waiting, breath bated, to publish it! xx

farming-frenchstyle said...

Presumably as the Man was looking at his watch it was getting to 12 o'clock - he was getting worried about his 2 hour lunch!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi f-f! You're probably right! Then having put him through such trauma AND delayed his lunch, I suspect he'll have put us on a very Black List... And adjusted the clock!