Favourite shirt


It rained, heavily, at last (Mrs R is not happy because I have become one of those people who says “well the garden needs it” when it rains and “we need a bit of rain for the garden” when it is sunny for more than two hours – but us pioneers of sustainable living, at least in vegetables for two weeks of the year, must shrug off such jibes).

Within minutes of the downpour starting the gutter downpipe was blocked. Just where I had installed a clever diversion to fill my empty butt (rainwater).

We had guests for lunch. As we watched, water began to spout from various cracks and crevices in the pipe above. Someone needed to go outside and unblock the pipe.

Taking an umbrella to protect the smart shirt that I was wearing (because we had guests) I went out into the downpour. In front of the small audience, sitting dry inside, I struggled to loosen the pipe at the blockage.

It was too difficult to do with one hand. So I had to put the umbrella down. A few drops of rain would soon dry off my smart shirt.

With a double-handed pull I separated the pipe. One moment my shirt was clean and slightly damp, but still smart. The next moment it looked as if I had been baptised by full immersion in pigeon shit and decayed leaf mould.

For a few seconds I stood there dripping, while the muck slid off my glasses. Then I shook out the pipe section with a flourish and reinstalled it. Before picking up my umbrella and retreating to the sound of laughter clearly audible through the double glazing.

5 Responses to “Favourite shirt”

  1. 1 John

    Pigeon Shit and decayed leaf mould – as a mulch it will probably do wonders for your veg!

  2. 2 Fiona

    Hopefully the shirt was put to steep in a solution of handwashing liquid and luke warm water immediately you returned to the house. If this was the case then I would expect any stains to not take and following a wash at the appropriate temperature, being hung on the famous washing line to dry and being ironed by the extermely efficient Mrs R it will be as good as new and can be worn again the next time you have guests and require a “smart shirt”.

    For next time I would suggest that putting on a jacket while working in the rain may save you from a soaking (be it with water or organic matter)

    And well done for the description – I made me crack a smile at my desk 🙂

  3. 3 Camilla

    Why is it that when you buy clever patent rainwater diverter thingies they never tell you that they will block up at frequent intervals? My last unblocking experience involved a very dead snail, so think yourself lucky.

    Efficient project management would suggest a weekly blocking check during a period when it is not raining at all. Of course you need a proper risk assessment to understand if it is worth doing this, or if it is actually more efficient just to cover your shirt with muck again next time it rains…

  4. 4 Dr R

    Ah yes, the penalty of (other peoples) pigeons or “beautiful snow whte doves” as I’m sure the neighbouring owner calls them. It is well known (by me at least) that you only discover such a blockage when (a) the water butt does not fill up when it rains and (b) when water spouts from unexpected places in the gutter.

    In full knowledge that I had a similar problem I waited for a dry day to sort it out – this of course didn’t work. Having dismantled and cleaned the water diverting assembly it was still blocked somewhere (judicious application of the “jet” setting on the house meant I could simulate drops of rain on the roof). I thoroughly tested my reassembled diverter and still no water was diverted, but neither was it undiverted trickling into the soakaway…

    I carefully disassembled everything again, and the gentle vibrations of doing so were just enough to shake free the combined mass of water-lubricated pigeon excrement, leaves, small twigs and various forms of invertebrate life in the pipe just above my head.

    I gave up and went inside and had a second shower.

  5. 5 alexoutside

    John – yes, it has certainly made my eyebrows bushy. I’m sure that it will bring the runner beans on a treat.

    Fiona – I hope Mrs R doesn’t read your comment about ironing my shirts. She will make me do it myself to stop me getting complacent.

    Camilla – you are quite right. A weekly blockage check would be useful, but it only seems to get blocked when it rains. Did you train the snail to do the blockage checks? Was it a work-related accident?

    Dr R – I wish my house (sic) had a ‘jet’ setting, then I could lift it up to the clouds to do a rain simulation. Unfortunately I just have to make do with spraying the hose on the roof. Oh, and I expect that Camilla and Fiona would recommend that you wear a hat next time.

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