THERE are varying levels of cleanliness in our house, and without wishing to gender-stereotype, the boys can get rather smelly at times.
However, there’s nothing like sudden unavailability of hot water to make people realise just how whiffy they’ve become – and how reliant we’ve become on the shower.
When our hot water pipes froze over the weekend I wondered whether we’d ever be accepted into polite society again.
One of our sons has worked out that short daily showers before school keep the spots under some control, while another will only shower after sport, and there hasn’t been much of that recently due to the weather. Son three would happily go a week without a wash if he were allowed to.
Daughter will take ages over any type of washing, but is also happy to accept a wet-wipe over the face and hands if time is of the essence. Thankfully, this is one of the few areas of life she’s not too fussy about.
We didn’t realise the hot water had gone until quite late in the day on Saturday because, well, it was the first Saturday in ages we hadn’t had to be anywhere or do anything.
So were all slobbing about in our pajamas until lunchtime, and our basement kitchen taps had been working perfectly.
Our hot water pipes froze during last winter’s snow, but had thawed out after I’d scrambled about on my hands and knees for a few hours under sinks, armed with hot water bottles and a hairdryer.
Not this time. Not so much as a drip.
Now any normal person might have just called it quits and accepted that the pipes were going to stay frozen for at least 24 hours. A normal person may have just boiled a couple of kettles for a wash. A normal person might have continued to slob out for the day watching the Saints and England rugby matches on TV.
But no, I had to try to beat the pipes. We needed to have showers.
I drove to Argos and spent £40 and probably a lot more electricity on two fan heaters, and by the time the kids had gone to bed – filthy – the house was like a sauna and the pipes were still frozen.
Bloke knows there’s often little point trying to deter me from a determined quest. But he gave me a look. It said: “The kids are in bed. No one is going to have a shower tonight. The pipes will freeze again overnight. Is it time to give up?”
We turned off the heaters, made some hot water bottles and went to bed. I lay awake trying to think up a Plan B. We’d get up early, go to the Mounts swimming baths and have a shower. Like people did when their loos were still outside and baths were copper and placed in front of open fires.
The next morning, early, I woke up to the sound of running water. Hot water. Running. No need for Plan B after all.
By lunchtime everyone was clean and we were all slobbing out watching the rugby. Sometimes I think I worry too much.