So Christmas came and went, and was really very pleasant, despite my huge reservations about the all-consuming consumerism that descends at this time of year. Not really what God had in mind when the angel Gabriel descended methinks. Not much to do with a child born in a lowly stable.

Regardless of whether we believe that child to be the son of God and the saviour of the world, (the jury is out for me, although I can’t dispute the intrinsic goodness of JC’s teachings) surely we can do better than worshiping the great gods of retail as an alternative, better than coveting, envying, desiring all that we don’t have.  Religion aside, the end of the year is the perfect time to reflect, regroup, replenish, to become better versions of ourselves rather than buying machines who fret over what we do not have instead of feeling grateful for what we do.

I am not unaware of the hypocrisy of my words, having made quite a few house renovation related purchases this year – the latest of which, 75 square metres of pavers, had gone astray a few weeks ago you may recall. Back to that shortly.

So what of the NBN debacle? Well, I can now report that every device in our house continues to be reliably, if a little sluggishly, connected to the world wide web via the great Australian NBN, with the exception of my computer … still. I have discovered that the computer I have the misfortune to possess is renowned for glitches such as these.

I also discovered that you can buy a little USB wireless adaptor thingy which helps your computer to connect, which I did, but it is still very temperamental and most certainly not to be relied upon. Just about to buy that amazingly cheap flight to Europe? The connection disappears. Reading the latest Meghan and Harry gossip? A little triangle with an exclamation mark inside it suddenly appears on the wifi thingy at the bottom of the screen and Meghan and Harry dissolve into the ether.

I’m a bit late to ask Santa for a new computer so very soon I will have to brave the very best New Year’s sales ever with the most amazing never-before beaten and never again to be beaten bargains, in search of a replacement for my disappointment of a machine.

So the NBN situation is kind of resolved. At least the problem has been identified. And there’s more good news. My persistent yet friendly and calm reminders that we had been faithfully promised a pre-Christmas installation date actually worked and Richard the (very friendly after all) shutter guy came through for us on 22 December. Woo hoo.

As for the pavers, well therein lies a cautionary tale. Something about not getting too worried or anxious if things don’t quite work out as planned – something I’m really really terrible at – because it could be a whole lot worse.

So, last week, 4 days before Christmas, my son asks if it is normal for the toilet bowl to fill up to the brim and take ages to go down. WTF? It’s a brand new toilet.

The plumber comes to check it out: ‘You’ve got a problem further down the pipeline, you need a diagnostic plumber.’ ‘Shit, really’ I exclaimed, not realising the prophetic nature of my words. ‘Where do we find one of those at 4.30 pm 4 days before Christmas?’ We get lucky and Sam arrives an hour later. After much digging up of the courtyard, he is baffled. He can’t find either any blockage or any pipes. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere for our s*** to go. As very quickly becomes clear from the stench.

He gets a big machine and a camera to go down the toilet and still can’t find the source of the trouble. He declares the situation ‘an absolute nightmare’. Sam charges $220 per hour.

Two hours later, he has to leave. Panic rises. But he leaves his very expensive machine with us, so we feel slightly reassured that he will, as promised, return the next afternoon. In the meantime, he advises us to keep digging, to try and find the pipe (and save money), and so Ian spends a good portion of the evening and the next day shovelling shit. Nice.

We ponder the missing pavers and realise that had they been laid in our courtyard, outside our toilet, over the ‘absolute nightmare’ that was our plumbing system, things would have been a whole lot worse.

The shit shovelling pays off and something resembling piping is located. Sam returns. It’s late in the afternoon three days before Christmas. ‘Crikey,’ he says looking at the pipes, ‘I can’t believe it,’ he says, ‘your drainage pipes haven’t been connected. There is nowhere for the waste to go.’

He asks about the builder. It’s their responsibility he says. We call the maintenance office. They’ve all gone home. They’ll be back at 8 am.  We leave a slightly desperate message.

At 8.03 am the next day, a Saturday, and 2 days before Christmas, we call our builder’s maintenance service again. We get through, we speak to the head guy, we send him photos, he’s appalled. He’s on to it. He’ll get a team together. I am not able to bear the suspense (or the smell) and escape to the beach for a few hours.

I return to find it is all sorted out. Two very friendly plumbers arrived as promised. It was a total cock-up, they said, and they would fix it forthwith. The plumber who worked on our house had now left the company, never to be seen again, they explained, rolling their eyes. Enough said.

The two very friendly (and we hope highly skilled) plumbers worked hard to sort it all out and then checked the whole house, just to be sure. We breathe again. The gaping pit that was our courtyard is filled in. The smell has disappeared. Our builder will cover all the costs. Phew.

Just as the very friendly (and hopefully very skilled) plumbers are leaving, another truck pulls up outside our house and a very grumpy man dumps several pallets of pavers on our front lawn.


I hope your Christmas was merry and bright and I wish you joy and peace in 2018.  If you enjoyed this tale you can read more and order my books through or contact me on I would love to hear from you.




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