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Captain Disaster



I tend to put the seat down when I flush. Not just for the sake of hygiene, but because my alter-ego is Captain Disaster, breaker of houses and mortal enemy of the vortex of lost things. Oh, the things I’ve managed to drop into toilets.

In June 2013 when I found myself in an accommodation pickle for the second time during my six months living in Aberdeen, my amazing friends Fran and Tom came to the rescue. They still refer to their spare room as ‘Paula’s room’, even to other guests. And how did I repay them? I accidentally remodelled their bathroom.

That’s a bit over-dramatic, but I felt terrible about it. The plunger on top of the cistern was a bit loose, and of course – of course – it popped out and dived straight into the flushing water. Of course it did. It didn’t even knock the side of the bowl. I couldn’t have done that in a million years if I tried. I lost count of the times it hit the lid when the same thing happened before, but the one time I threw caution to the wind and didn’t put the lid down, straight down the drain it flew. Couldn’t have just bounced off the seat and onto the floor. No.

Nothing to be done. Had to just go and admit I’d broken their toilet. Instead of annoyance or a ticking off or a passive aggressive acceptance, my story was met with hearty warm laughter and sympathetic exclamations of ‘poor you!’ I felt like the luckiest gobshite in the land to have such lovely friends who see the funny side of things.

I think all this happened while Tom was at work and we were marking from home. I didn’t know him well yet and was worried he’d be angry or miffed. Fran assured me not to worry, he’d likely find it funny too, and after all, it was loose and could have happened any time.

We had a problem, though. The mechanism needed a plunger to trigger the flush. Fran hunted in her office and retrieved an old pencil. It worked a treat.

Tom did indeed find it amusing and was laid-back and good-natured about the whole silly business. He never did get a proper replacement. That pencil lasted until fairly recently when it snapped. A work of sabotage, they suspect. Another old pencil took its place, and Paula’s Bespoke Bathrooms is taking orders. If you’d like me to visit and accidentally destroy a small but necessary aspect of your home, do get in touch. Apart from extreme clumsiness, I’m a delightful house-guest.

Tune in next time for more thrilling tales with Captain Disaster – take the ‘more thrilling’ bit as you wish.

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