So on Wednesday I went to empty my loo. Once or twice a week a put a full cassette of waste on the back of my bike, sling my pannier on my shoulder, and ride 20 minutes or so up the river bank and empty our effluent into the sluice at Jesus Green.
I've been doing this for more years than I care to remember and now we've 3 cassettes I can afford to be a little blasé about my routine. Wednesday though I had only a little amount of stuff to put in the pannier so thought that it'd be a good day to empty the cassette.
Anyway I got there and found the door to the sluice open. This is annoying but fair enough as the lock has been broken for a while and after phoning the Cambridge City Council and complaining about it once to be confronted with it being replaced with a lock which no one had a key to I've come to the conclusion that, at the end of the day, it's better to have a door which won't lock than a door which won't open.
I do though, every time I go past and notice it swinging open, use a dog end to wedge it shut. Not the best solution I know, but security through deception is better than no security at all.
I emptied my loo but nothing went down the sluice (that might not be the correct phrase - coming from the world of nursing as I do though - it looks a lot like a sluice in a hospital), but it wouldn't go down! Not only would it not go down but it started bubbling and splashing all over the shop! I've not got the most robust nature when it comes to bodily fluids at the best of times but I challenge anyone to be relaxed at a pot of shite bubbling and splashing!
I've got a thing whereby I choke if anything constructs my chest or neck, even to a minuscule degree so I'm doubled up and dry heaving from the pannier being around my shoulder and then these's some sort of gelatinous bubbling monster growling at me from the pan smelling like we've been eating dead things for the past half week! Not nice!
So I leave the sluice without rinsing out the cassette - which I like to do so that we're at least pretending to be hygienic - and phone the Cambridge City Council again to suggest that someone unblock the sluice. They assure me that someone will do so and take my phone number. Come the end of the day and no phone call so I check anyway. Guess what? Still a bubbling brown mess in the pan (what had I been eating?) and a handwritten note from another boater saying that s/he too had phoned the council at 14:00hrs and been assured that the problem would be resolved in a couple of hours. It was 3 hours later when I came past.
I pay my mooring fee and I welcomed the Cam Conservancy when they visited boats with the Environment Agency and talked about the importance of not emptying effluent into the Cam. I've been faithfully emptying mine into the sluice, as I've already said, for more years than I care to remember. Cambridge attracts an awful lot of visitors on boats and the boating community is a vibrant part of life in Cambridge. you'd think that making it possible for locals and visitors both to not put our shit in the river would be an important thing for the Council to understand.
Saturday morning and I've been up there again with a full cassette and nothing happening! I've come back with it full because, frankly, I can't be doing with heaving again. Strawberry Fair is on today and I want to save my heaving for the beer tent later on!
Perhaps I'll phone again on Monday and suggest that when they unblock the loo they might want to look at fixing the lock so that random piss-heads wandering on Jesus Green can't decide to shove random crap down the sluice and block it again... At least I assume that that is what happened!
To an extent I'm all for the big society but after clearing shite professionally for donkey's years I draw the line at unblocking drains filled with shite and goodness knows what other shite (see what I did there?). Running the risk of getting a needle-stick injury at my age is no fun at all.
We've a cassette and a half empty so I'm hoping that it'll be fixed by the end of next week or I'm not sure what I'll do. Perhaps I should start flinging it in the river or throwing it at the coaches using loudhailers outside the boat at 06:00hrs? Perhaps it should join the cow crap all over Stourbridge Common... I could even dry it out on the roof and burn it when it gets cold on an evening?
Anyway, rant over. I'll keep you updated.