Every time I return from a several month long blogging hiatus, I usually have some kind of lame excuse about how busy I’ve been doing this, that or whatever. This time I think I might have a good excuse…
Back in November last year, this happened:
That is my house, and what the video doesn’t quite portray is the foul stench of the several inches of raw sewage that completely flooded the downstairs of my home.
That scene repeated itself on four further occasions. Spending Christmas Eve wading through several inches of human faeces put something of a dampener on the festive period.
I’ll talk a bit more about what it’s like to be flooded, but I’m not finished with my excuses. Shortly before the flooding, this had happened:
Which meant earlier this month, this happened:
In the last eight months I’ve cried tears of despair, tears of joy, and every kind of tear in-between. My life has been turned upside down, inside out, and more than anything else, has been dominated by… poo!
Getting flooded sucks. It’s not so much the actual flood - watching the water come into your house and submerge your belongings, ruin and permanently soil your property. That of course isn’t fun, but it’s what comes after that just grinds you down.
Having to immediately move out; having to find rented accommodation so quickly you’re forced to settle for the least bad place you can find; having to live in that place for six months; having to meticulously work out exactly what you’ve lost and how much it all costs; buying all that stuff again; waiting a few months for your house to dry out; waiting a few months for builders to restore your house to how it was; telling the incompetent builders that they’ve got it wrong, again and again…
In our case our house was brand new and was flooded from overflowing sewers. Clearly someone has been negligent, but do you think anyone willingly came forward to take responsibility and help us?
My time this year has mainly been consumed doing battle with the water company, our builders and the local authority as I demanded some action. I’ve discovered a general incompetence with all these agencies and a downright scandalous planning system that would scare you from ever wanting to buy a new home in this country if you knew the half of it. I’ve met with Councillors, with my MP, I’ve stood up in residents meetings and demanded action. It’s a fight that has driven me down and down to the point were I was forced to seek help for stress.
Thankfully, with some legal assistance I’ve managed to make progress and this week work has started on digging up our’s and four neighbour’s gardens (more fun) to relay the drain. I’m living in my house again, everything we’ve lost has been replaced, and I’m getting on with life again. Because life has got on.
Being a dad is amazing! If I needed a pick me up after the year I’ve had, I’ve received the best one possible. Holding my little girl for the first time and looking in to her eyes was such a moment - even if it was in a busy operating theatre, following a tortuous labour and having had absolutely no sleep. Every time I hold and cuddle my girl, I’m right back there in that magical moment.
Being a dad is hard work too, especially as in our case my partner ended up having an emergency caesarian. But I totally enjoy (for now at least) being the one doing all the housework, all the cooking, all the washing and all the million and one other things that need doing. As anyone who has witnessed the life-changing commitment a loving new mum makes to their child will know, that is hard work.
I’ve had almost three weeks devoting all my time to my three girls (my partner, our baby, and our dog), but alas this week I’ve returned to work. I’ve got plenty of things to share here but couldn’t dive back in without explaining where the hell I’ve been and what an intense and immense year it’s been.
I’m hoping the rest of the year will calm down a bit, but I’ve got a funny feeling I’m not going to see much in the way of “calm” for the next 18 years or so. After the quite literal shit I’ve had to deal with this year, bring it on!
As a footnote I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who I worked with from December through to April. It all got a bit messy for a while. Projects were late, deadlines were missed, my head was all over the place. But everyone I worked with showed great understanding and for that I’m incredibly grateful.