Picture the scene: You get up on a Sunday morning, open your bedroom curtains and take in the view. Looking out across your garden, you can see your neighbours house at the back of your garden. Nothing strange there then. Except this particular morning you can see a figure balancing on the window sill of a bedroom, in his boxer shorts, t-shirt and slippers, wearing yellow marigold gloves, trying to bend his arm at an unnatural angle out of the window and into an overflowing gutter. This is what would have greeted my neighbours had they done the above, last Sunday morning.
I was awoken by my wife from downstairs, shouting that we'd "Got a problem down here!" The torrential rain had managed to find a way through the conservatory roof and was dripping onto the floor. Part of the problem was that the guttering had become home to a very resilient plant, and so couldn't shift the deluge of water. It was overflowing and the water was falling onto where I thought the leak was coming through. After putting the job off for a long time, I had no option but to try and clear the gutter. The biggest problem was access due to the extension we had above the kitchen, for the bathroom. So it began, the impossible task, as I had put it. I couldn't reach the gutter through the opening of Luke's window so I had to remove the window. Yes, remove it. "Can't be hard," I thought, "Just a couple of screws."
With Louise's help, I removed the frame from the hinges and slid it into the room, bearing in mind that one slip and it would plummet down and through the conservatory roof. Stage One complete, I climbed onto the 'sill and leaned the top half of my body out and reached up into the gutter to attack the plant. I could only manage to tear off a few leaves and strands of my nemesis and so had to assemble a selection of weapons to use. First up was the wooden spoon, so many times presented to the loser of a competition, I wasn't about to allow myself to be defeated. Unfortunately it lived up to its billing and all I managed with it was to scoop black mush out of the gutter and together with copious amounts of rain water, dump it over my head and down my neck. Angered by this and getting colder, I moved onto my next choice. I had cleverly adapted (ripped the roller off) an old paint roller. Surely given its angled arm I could get enough force behind it to stab down, into the heart of the beast, unblocking the gutter and letting the water flow. Alas no, it was like a bird tapping on a window, another poor attempt. I'm sure that if the plant had vocal chords, it would have sniggered and mocked my feeble attempts, but I wasn't beaten yet.
My last weapon, my last ally, was a knife sharpener. Legs like jelly, once again I took my position on the window sill. The cold wind driving the rain into my eyes and down my back, which itself was aching from the position I had been adopting, I summoned one final effort and drove the bar down into the black core of my foe. Was that something? Did it give a little? Again. Yes! The plant slackened its resistance to my will. Again and again I thrust the bar into it, each time it driving a little deeper. And then it happened. I almost lost the whole tool into the gutter pipe as the blockage gave in. Lumps of stone and mud dropped out of the bottom of the pipe, followed by the blackest water I have ever seen. Stab! Stab! Stab! I was unrelenting now, destroy, destroy!
I shouted down for someone to get a bucket, fearing the tsunami like water pouring from the gutter would snake its way into the conservatory, but thankfully this didn't happen. My job complete, I slid off the window sill and surveyed my work: muck splattered walls, drain pipes and windows all for a small dribbling stream of water from a pipe. After all this, I realised one thing: I still needed to source and repair the leak! That'll be another story, hopefully that won't conclude with me falling through the roof, we shall see....