I came back to my hotel suffering from severe hydraulic overpressure caused by the drinking of lashings and lashings of ginger beer (the Famous Five and I had been having a party). I took the lift up to my room and then had a very satisfying wee wee. Once I was finished, I pressed the button to flush the toilet. To my consternation, absolutely nothing happened there was no comforting sound of rushing water to be heard. I pressed the button again and exactly the same thing didn't happen. Oh dear...
I closed the toilet lid and rang reception.
"Reception how can I help you?"
"My toilet doesn't flush any more," I said.
"Oh no!" said reception. "That's not good. I'll send someone up."
About 10 minutes later there was a knock on my door. I opened it and standing there was a svelte and handsome young man dressed in the standard hotel uniform. Behind him was a young woman, also dressed to the nines in a beautifully ironed skirt and top. Neither looked at all like a plumber, but I let them into the room anyway.
"I gather your toilet doesn't flush," said the svelte young man.
"That's right," I said.
The young woman said nothing at all. Her presence remained unexplained. Perhaps she was a chaperone, there to guard the honour of the svelte young man in case I should be overcome with carnal lust at the sight of his sveltness.
We all went into the bathroom and the svelte young man pressed the flush button on the toilet. Nothing happened.
"Your toilet doesn't flush," he said.
"How clever of you to notice," I said. "It took me ages to figure that out."
The svelte young man didn't react, but the chaperone turned pink and started to vibrate. I winked at her, and a distinct giggle escaped before she gained control of herself again.
The svelte young man removed the top of the cistern and played with the ballcock. Flushing noises happened and he smiled in triumph. The cistern refilled and he smiled even more triumphantly. He put the top back on the cistern and pressed the flushing button with an exultant flourish.
The svelte young man stopped smiling and took the top off the cistern again. A previously unnoticed piece of plastic was dangling forlornly from the flushing mechanism. It gave every indication of having once been connected to something important, but now the connection was irretrievably broken, no matter how hard the svelte young man tried to reattach it. It was quite clear to all of us that I would have to do a lot of manual ballcock manipulation to satisfy my bodily needs.
We all contemplated that thought in silence for a moment. Hmmm...
"I'm very sorry about this, sir," said the svelte young man. "We really should move you to another room, but unfortunately we are fully booked at the moment."
"Oh, that's a shame," I said. "But never mind, I can always pee in the wash basin." Out of the corner of my eye I could see the chaperone starting to vibrate again. I decided to see how far I could take this. Would I be able to make her lose complete control? "However by tomorrow morning," I continued, "I will be full to the brim with unsavoury substances, and I am going to require something which has a much larger aperture than the wash bowl to take care of the problem. In order to prevent that catastrophic occurrence from taking place, I think it will be necessary for you to supply me with a cork."
By now the chaperone was making ominous rumblings, but the svelte young man remained stony faced.
"Perhaps you could get me a free bottle of fine wine," I mused. "I could use the cork from that." But then I was struck by a sudden thought. "Oh no, that won't do wine bottles come with screw tops these days. And they are most unsuitable for the purpose I have in mind. You will have supply me with champagne instead. Champagne bottles have lovely corks. And the corks come with a nice lip on the top so that they don't go in too far. Ordinary wine bottle corks are smooth all the way up and tend to disappear, never to be seen again. Yes, champagne will do nicely, thank you very much. How about you send a bottle of Moet & Chandon up to my room, compliments of the hotel of course."
The chaperone couldn't stand it any more. She rushed out of the room with her hand over her mouth. Hysterical shrieks could be heard from outside, together with the distinctive sound of heels drumming on the floor. Eventually she regained control and came back to us, looking slightly dishevelled.
"I'll see what I can do," said the svelte young man, completely stony faced. I admired his self-control. Obviously he had recently attended a Hotel Management Training Course. Those courses must be worth their weight in gold. He turned away and picked up the phone. He had a quiet conversation with reception. Then he hung up the phone, turned back to me and said, "We'll move you to another room sir."
"I thought you were fully booked," I said, somewhat surprised. The chaperone nodded in puzzled agreement.
"The Queen has a tummy bug," explained the svelte young man, "and she had to cancel her booking. So now we have a room."
The chaperone began to turn pink again. I awarded the svelte young man ten points out of ten a perfect score. "Thank you," I said. "I'll just need a few minutes to pack my things."
"I'll send someone up in about quarter of an hour sir," he said, then he and the vibrating chaperone left me to my own devices.
About fifteen minutes later there was a knock on the door. Another svelte young man stood there. "I come to take you to room," he said with a strong Slavic accent. "Where is bags?"
I gestured at my suitcase and he extended the handle and trundled it down the corridor. I followed. "Where are you from?" I asked him.
"From Ukraine," he told me.
"Have you been here long?" I asked.
"Since three years I have lived here," he said.
"Do you like New Zealand?"
"Yes. Is lovely country. Very quiet, very peaceful. Nobody shooting at me every day."
I didn't really know how to reply to that, so I said nothing. We trundled down the corridor to the lift and travelled up for several floors. Then we trundled along another corridor which was absolutely identical to the first one. Eventually we stopped outside a door which was indistinguishable from all the others except for the number on it.
"Here is new room," said my escort.
He gave me the key and my suitcase. I opened the door and went in. I was not completely astonished to find that the new room looked exactly like the old room. I went into the bathroom and pressed the flushing button on the toilet. I heard the very satisfying sound of running water. I flushed it once more for luck and then I went to bed.
In the morning I did everything I needed to do. The toilet did everything it needed to do. What a perfect start to the day. I hopped in the shower and turned on the tap.