Builders have been laying a new courtyard in my flat block for a month now. I've got used to all sorts of things - the occasional toplessness, the merry swearing and the jolly pet names "BlackBoy" and "Poof"- but i never expected to see their brickwork floating merrily in an instant lake, like the old GMTV weather map.
I reported our magnificent water feature to Thames Water. And this is where things got tippy. I've spent the last two years cutting down on my water usage, often at Thames Water's urging. There's been a lot less flushing, I can tell you.
And what do they tell me when I report a massive leak? "We aim to get a technician on site to investigate within 3 days. Following the investigations, we aim to repair the leak within 7 days."
Hmmn, I think. I'm now flushing when I fucking like. Except that, when I wake up the next morning, the block has no water. So, I spend the day watching water gush past my door, while being unable to get a drink from the tap. Eventually I ring Thames Water who tell me the worst possible news: "Oh, we've passed this on to Camden Council."
Bravely, I phone the Camden repairs hotline. "Who gave you this number?" they demand, before putting me on to the Estate Officer for my block. "Hello!" she says, "Is this a leak in your flat?" No, I tell her - the entire building has no water, and you've an hour till the kids get back from school and merry hell ensues. "Ooooh," she says. "I wonder if we can set up a standpipe."
I've always been complacent about water. It's a big lesson to discover that flushing a loo requires a big bucket full of water. Especially when you carry two buckets 100 yards and up two flights of stairs, thinking every miserable step of the way "How do they do this in Africa?"
On the way, I meet a man back from an evening on the lash. He looks at me with my buckets and grins. "What's the matter mate? Got no water?"
"No," I say, "And neither have you."
I'd like to think that he immediately started thinking about the problems of the third world.