Organisation in adversity

Last week, while wallowing, I mentioned that we’d lost our water supply. What I hadn’t fully appreciated at the time was just how disastrous and newsworthy this event was. By the end of last Tuesday, more the 40,000 Northern Irish homes were without water – some having lacked this essential commodity since before Christmas. We knew things were serious when it made the main BBC news.

In the Clutterbuck household, the former missionaries rose to the occasion. On the first morning, I was the only person (out of six) to not have had a shower before we realised there was a problem. When you’re wallowing in the flu, the last thing you want is to be left in your sweat all day (not a pretty image? I do apologise), but fortunately my mother came to my rescue with a veritable cauldron of warm water – courtesy of the college’s kitchen (which still had at least a partially full tank). She did also attempt to instruct me on how to wash with a saucepan, but I reminded her that I’m a festival regular, so know all about washing one’s body without the aid of a shower…

The next day, things were a lot more organised. A bonus of living in a college was the sheer quantity of water storage and heating devices that could be borrowed. Stepping onto the landing I discovered one of two 14 litre urns producing hot water – genius. [However, on this occasion I left my showering so late that the water had returned again, in a reversal of the previous day’s events, I was the only family member to get a shower.]

But, my favourite piece of water conservation/organisation was this discovery in the guest bathroom:

The label reads ‘water for teeth’ in case it’s not obvious

Those labels are all over my parents’ kitchen – cake tins, the cupboard full of tea, home-made chutneys – so of course, it would be the obvious way to denote which water ought to be used for which purpose.

In the kitchen was a variety of bottled water, only a small amount of which was still (thanks to the national shortage which led to Scotland promising NI 160,000 litres of the stuff – but this was before it arrived) but what still there we had was earmarked for me and the dog. I like where I sit in the family hierarchy when I’m ill.

The lack of water was inconvenient, but not a total nightmare. Generally, it came back on mid-morning, no thanks to the next to useless NI Water website that never said when the water was going to be on or off. By New Year’s Eve it was back permanently. I have an awful lot of sympathy for those that were totally without water for days and days, and even more for those who have no regular water supply at all.


  1. Those have to be the most hideous labels I have ever seen… *shudders*

  2. They are aren’t they! Think they’re a Lakeland special. Presumably Mother is saving the gorgeous Cath Kidston ones I bought her last year for ‘special’ occasions.

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