The waterworks. Except it doesn’t.

Sherpas in Nepal

Just about everybody who’s visited our house remembers at least three things:

#1. Book a Sherpa if they plan to return. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but GPS will land you at Huckabee Goober’s Moonshine Mill and Pit Bull Factory. Plus the Sherpas really need the work out here in the Blue Ridge. Most hikers are way too self-reliant these days.

#2. If you mention anyone in the public domain, alive or recently deceased, you will discover Sir Sackier (aka English hubby) has either gone to school with them, or shared a meal in a pub. It is amazing how many people in the world have gone to the City of London. Seriously. Google everyone.

#3. A plumber was buried beneath our house. Dead first, of course, or certainly soon thereafter. No one can last … what … six years since we moved in? Yeah, surely he’s dead now.

Phil the Plumber

Phil the Plumber (Photo credit: Badly Drawn Dad)

All right, we don’t exactly have proof.


But if it is true, then chances are the guy came to an early demise and is now taking his wrath out on the lowly inhabitants of his prior workplace. Not one month passes without the excitement of some type of waterworks calamity. Pipes burst, the well runs dry, the water turns to sludge and comes out of the faucets reeking of the sulphuric gasses of hell. It’s quite possible we’ve built our home on top of a volcano. Or the house of Beelzebub. And he wants his front door back. Since neither fully explains our problems, we’re back to square one with the dead plumber.

It used to be, in times of yore, that a human was sacrificed in the construction phase of a building. They were meant to be the future guardians, the spiritual sentinels of the structure. Criminals placed in every posthole, drunkards dumped in boundary ditches, unlucky short straws clutched between phallangeal bones boxed in beneath door frames. Sadly, more often than not, this human was a child.

Knowing this, Sir Sackier and I have developed two theories. He thinks somewhere between framing and dry walling, some unlucky bloke, up to his chin in the miles of pipe length laid for this house, lost his balance, thunked his head and passed out. Noted as missing from his bar stool that night, he was sadly plastered up and around without discovery the next day.

I don’t buy it. Understanding Sir Sackier’s fondness for his history in Albion,  and desiring to bring some of the more purposeful of ancient rites here to the Old Dominion—in particular one that will protect his fortress, my theory makes much more sense.

I believe as the framing was in its final stages, Sir Sackier was having a congenial chat with some of the fellas during a lunch break and maybe passed on the old tales of foundation sacrifices. Of course they were threaded lyrically between lectures of how America doesn’t know how to build houses, “because only when you can see houses that are considered young at 400 years are you going to find solid craftsmanship!”

English: A crumbling farm building in Watlington.

This aside, maybe one of the workman took him seriously—as if interpreting some sort of “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” message. The only other problem was the other interpreting necessary when speaking with him. Sir Sackier doesn’t speak English. He speaks proper English. And not too many people are still familiar with that kind of lingo any longer.

Quite possibly, he might have thrown out a, “So if we’re going to do this thing by the book, we’ll need to find someone who still rides a toy motor scooter,” NOT someone who works for Rotor Rooter.

Not too difficult if you’re reading it, but full of potential trip ups if you’re hearing it and you’ve not taken any community college course credits for Proper English as a Second Language. It’s a bit like the old verse, “You say tomato, I say tomato …” It doesn’t make much sense when you’re reading it. His dilemma was the reverse.

And there you have it. I think it was accidentallydone on purpose. And now we’re cursed.

The Wicked Witch of the East as pictured in Th...

The only other small factor refusing to be overlooked is that it’s not just this house that has been plagued by plumbing potholes. It’s been all of them. Which means somewhere during the last twenty years of moving houses, a plumber died in the basement and was packed up by a moving company and we’ve been carrying around dead plumber bones for the last two decades.


I wouldn’t be surprised. And I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’d gone to the City of London.


Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery this week (here) and what we’re all talkin’ about down in the pub (here).

14 thoughts on “The waterworks. Except it doesn’t.

  1. There may be an electrogravitational magnetic spiritual voltage potential through your pipes that causes the pernicious plumbing problems. Fortunately, I know of no data that supports the transference of this influence into the drinking and bathing water in a haunted house in central Virginia or London. Of course, there is always a first time, and perhaps either you or Sir Sackier could come under its influence from time to time. So watch out.

  2. A delightful and sensuous tour through the American province. The aromatic gap between Islay and Kenosha says it all. “Come smell our diary air” is a brilliant moment of olfactory nostalgia for anyone who has driven between Oconomowac and Gooseville in the summer, with the windows down. The gap between City College in London and a steep Virginia mountainside may be even bigger. Thanks for the first class seat on a scenic, vicarious vacation.

  3. At least the plumber didn’t get plastered in vain. He may not have reached the pub, but his skeleton in your closet has certainly inspired story telling that can only be described as, well, as “inspired.” Thanks to Sir Sackier for sharing these delights with those of us who don’t believe inhabitable lands exist beyond the subway lines.

  4. I think this is one of those cases where it’s quite a lot more fun reading about the misadventures than living through them! Hopefully the plumber spirit lets up eventually…

    On that note, I think he may have followed me home for a few days – 2 weeks ago every toilet in our house exploded all at once! I wasn’t home so Katrina had the joy of dealing with that on the day of. The water company says it was a contractor working on the sewer line. I’m beginning to think it was your plumber.

  5. I too, a Jersey fellow with a heap of rellies from Virginia, attended the City of London for a year. As someone who has moved around the planet a few times, and someone who knows a bit about Sir Sackier, I’d be fairly certain that a body was boxed by movers in the mid to late ’80’s. I’d look for a dusty worn but well crafted box in the basement built to show excellent craftmanship in 400 years.

  6. the bones certainly might be human. I’m not a forensic path guy, but the ribs look human and I think I see a proximal ulna…

  7. Nicely done, Shelley. Very entertaining. And explains so much about Sir Sackier. It does seem as if everyone knows him. Best of luck with blog and your writing. Hope you get of the drip soon….

  8. Its been some months now. Is your plumbing problem still in existance? If so, maybe you should try sacrificing something to the dead plumber i.e. a case of his favorite spirits OR look find the local exorcist….

    • What? Get rid of the dead plumber? I’ve finally gotten used to spending the rest of the day with the shampoo encrusted hair coiffure that repeatedly results when the pipes quit halfway through my shower. Give up that kind of fun? Okay, yeah, maybe we need an exorcist.

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