There was a slurping sound. Man, that felt good

Battle with a blocked wastepipe plunged me into thought: I don’t really understand the varied tapestry of this country at all


Friday night and I was sitting on the side of the bath, reading an out-of-date newspaper, waiting for the sink to unblock, winter wind battering the window (I know, I know, the glamour would only kill you).

I was reading an article about a young man who was before the courts for procuring other people’s money, by some nefarious scheme or other, in order to fund his “cocaine lifestyle”, when the slow gurgle from the drain stopped mid-paragraph and the scummy water stilled in the sink.

Full tilt, I flung myself at that obstinate outlet with some full-on plunger action. There was a deep slurping sound and, lo and behold, the scum succumbed, twirling down the plughole like a frightened rabbit. Man, that felt good, I thought, liberally spraying environment destroyer around the sink and wiping it off with a splodge of cheap loo roll.

I never did get around to finishing the article and finding out just what constitutes a cocaine lifestyle, but somehow I don’t think it involves getting your Friday night kicks from a pair of rubber gloves and a plunger, although each to his own.

That’s fine by me; I can do without having a disintegrating septum as well as a sluggish wastepipe. A disintegrating what, you ask. Septum. It’s that bit under your nose that attaches your nostrils to your face, which can crumble with heavy cocaine use. Apparently you know you’re in trouble when you start finding bits of cartilage in your hanky – now aren’t you glad you asked.

Plunged into thought
I was putting the plunger away when I realised that I don’t really understand the varied tapestry of this country at all.

It’s very easy when you live in a community, and your children go to school in a community, and you spend great swathes of your time flinging yourself out of bed on dark mornings to drag recalcitrant teenagers into consciousness, and standing on the side of football pitches in Bally-go-shag-me-sideways on wet weekends, and queuing up in long lines in fluorescent supermarkets, and furtively disgorging your empties into the bottle bank, and running up and down the road like a gormless idiot in awful leggings trying to dissuade your thighs from getting any bigger, and pushing on with your work or responsibilities, to assume the entire country is doing the same thing.

But they’re not. The entire country is not crawling under the couch on Friday night picking up monkey-nut shells and wondering if they can afford to get their roots done.

Pre-loved and still expensive
I was in a second-hand designer-clothes shop over the weekend. It’s a pretty shop, where elegant women sell on their “pre-loved” clothes and belts and bags and shoes, maybe so that they can buy newer trinkets to shower with affection or possibly as a way to pay the gas bill. There are clothes in the shop that, at a fraction of their original cost, still cost hundreds of euro.

The women who work in the shop talked about their experience of working in luxurious Dublin stores where, even now, in these straitened times, clients drop thousands upon thousands of euro on designer bags and silken scarves bearing certain logos that are supposedly the hallmark of quality and taste.

Granted, I wouldn’t recognise a Prada bag if it jumped up and bit me on my sagging bottom, but even if a handbag was hewn from the pelts of milk-fed Botticelli angels, surely there have to be better ways to spend your money.

I read recently that an apprenticeship at Hermès lasts five years; a trainee can spend three seasons in the atelier searching for the perfect sound that a piece of hardware should make when a buckle shuts on a bag. I don’t know whether that’s art or insanity.

In the pretty shop, one of the women told me about a top-selling luxury lipstick that comes in a box that closes with a magnetic whoosh, a particularly satisfying whoosh apparently, causing the user to feel happy and content. “That sound,” she said, smiling. “You just know you are dealing with quality.”

I looked around me, at the clutch bags and bucket bags and beaded evening bags, at the rails of wools and silks and leathers, and decided to get some air.

Pounding the street in my sad leggings, I thought back to the slurp of my sink, post plunger attack, that satisfying howl of matted gunk washing down the plughole to an oceanic adventure.

I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to an appreciation of aural beauty, you’re certainly dealing with muck here.

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