There are some experiences which are simply easier to cope with, if, while they’re going on, I think about how they are raw material, which I shall be able to use one day. It is by no means always clear how I might be able to use them, in fact it frequently seems highly unlikely, but that doesn’t stop the thought process from being extremely helpful, especially when the experience in question has exercise in futility written all over it.
This all started when, for reasons that are far too dull to bore you with, I needed to take a reading off the water meter for my flat. Now I’ve lived in the same flat for several years, and I pay for my water with regular monthly direct debits, and a couple of times a year I receive a bill, which, so long as, using that age old auditor’s trick, it looks much like the one for the previous year, I’ve never thought twice about.
According to these six monthly bills, they are calculated according to an accurate reading from a meter; so someone must come periodically to take the reading. But where from?
Just outside, and around the corner, there are four manhole covers, down which I was promised I would find my meter. Trouble was, no-one knew down which of the four it would be, nor which of the 8 dials in each hole would be mine. I have a 16 digit alpha numerical identification code, but embossed plastic when down a five foot deep wet hole become encrusted with mud very easily.
I was lucky to have help from S, who came equipped with a crowbar to lever up the manhole covers, and the thick gloves necessary to operate this sophisticated tool; and thankfully, most usefully of all, he was prepared to lie full length on the muddy turf beside the hole to try to decipher which meter was which. When this revealed nothing other than the installation appeared to be in a random order, I ran inside and sent a morse code message through the pipes by way of turning the kitchen tap on and off at 10 second intervals.
Ta da! Finally it was identified. It has left me with the lingering doubt that I have ever received a bill for the right supply, but, more importantly, I’ve seen down the hole, and through into an underground world where confusion reigns.