Amy Higgins was in a race against time with the cistern of a downstairs lavatory in Surrey yesterday, after a single flush at an intimate dinner party for six proved itself not up to the job.
Several minutes have already passed since Higgins left the table between the mains and pud, to deal with "an unexpected situation", which she blamed on an earlier excess of lentils (“I’d like the guy from the healthfood shop to get in here now and explain to me again how they’re a super-fucking-food”). And now the window of opportunity for Higgins's absence to conceivably be “just powdering her nose” is rapidly ending.
“It’s not something you want to do in someone else’s house at the best of times," Higgins admitted, " but I’d already dodged a bullet when the dog took the fall for me during the beef wellington, so it became clear that sitting it out was not an option. When Phillip launched into his anecdote on negative equity I grabbed my chance to evacuate”.
The operation had initially been a text book example, with the facilities featuring loo roll in abundance, and the emergency match Higgins kept in her purse for just such occasions doing its job effectively. However the episode of “unexpected buoyancy” which became evident as the first flush died down, was exacerbated by an over-eager second crank of the handle before the tank had time to re-load, resulting in ineffectual bobbling, and some associated scuffing along the waterline of the bowl. A further attack with the toilet brush was deemed too risky, escape through the toilet window impractical, and a “grab, roll up, and bag” recovery exercise dismissed as “too disgusting, even for Woking”.
Meanwhile, time is rapidly running out.
“If it doesn’t sound full in 30 seconds I’m just going to have to cover it in toilet paper and gamble” announced Higgins. “And if that doesn't do it I’ll dash back in here straight after dessert and if anyone looks at me funny I’ll just tell them I’m bullimic.”
"I'm getting too old for this shit," muttered Higgins, winding copious amounts of quilted paper from the holder.