My cousin's visiting me tomorrow. Big deal, you may think. But it is a big deal. She's my dad's niece, is ten years older than me and as far as I'm concerned, I've only met her once, being a migrant and having left England when I was just eight. She remembers visiting our family in Sheffield, but I have no memory of meeting her, nor her brother. Given that age difference, she would have been off my radar, just another adult.
She's lived most of her life, since she was twenty-one, in Holland. After retiring, she and her husband moved to France, to the Loire Valley. We decided to look her up a couple of years ago when we were in Europe. I'm fascinated by my distant - far away, that is - relatives. We discovered on that trip that there are two Loire Rivers, and my cousin didn't live in the environs of the one that the tourists visit.
Anyway, she's visiting tomorrow and we're going for a winery lunch somewhere near Nagambie.
But this isn't about my cousin's visit. It's about my toilet. Or rather, my toilet seat.
My daughter just came to visit. 'Ugh, mum, get a new toilet seat! It's disgusting. You can't let your cousin see that!'
It is. It looked good new about eight years ago, but there's a sort of skid proof laminate on the seat, cos god knows it could be dangerous otherwise and we wouldn't want to slip off. Anyway, the laminate has yellowed with wear, perished and flaked off a bit around the edges. Gets cleaned regularly, but it looks manky.
Thought I'd tackle it today with a bit of Jif - creme cleaner - and a scouring pad. After about half an hour, hugging the toilet bowl and scrubbing, I'd made it worse; more flaked off around the edges and more conspicuously worn. (And might I say it's the first time I've hugged the old porcelain for the purposes of cleaning? Hmm.)
'Al!' I yelled through the house. 'Help me get this toilet seat off!' He was doing something domestic, like preparing chicken, but he took his apron off and scooted through. He had a bit of a play with the sprung lugs at the sides of the toilet seat and tried to lift it off, as I had, but to no avail. Off he went and got a couple of alen keys - not sure of spelling - and tried to prise the lid off whilst depressing both lugs. No luck. I'm leaning on the window sill watching the sweat soak through the back of his tee-shirt.
'I've got no idea,' he said, throwing down the towel he'd been kneeling on.
'Built-in obsolescence,' said I, ' They probably make them like that so you have to replace the whole toilet. I'll have to get a plumber.' Yeah, dollar signs exploded in speech bubbles around my head.
I resigned myself to getting back on my knees and scrubbing the flaking laminate for a couple more hours. And then I had an idea. Check the internet.
Googled 'remove Caroma toilet seat' and bingo. There's a YouTube video, called, logically, Removing the Caroma Quick Release Seat. And it couldn't be easier. We should have pulled, not lifted, after we'd depressed the side lugs.
I'd rather not describe the eight years' build up under the seat, but suffice it to say, I've still got a bit of a grimace on my face.
Meanwhile, the toilet seat is soaking in bleach and I'm having a reviving chardy. Don't think I'll be able to get that perishing laminate off, but I might be able to freshen it up a bit for my cuz tomorrow.
And Al and I had a laugh.
Thanks for reading.