Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend...

“Ingratitude is treason to mankind.” James Thomson

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Rattus rattus at us.

Anyone else worried about rats climbing up from the drains into your toilet bowl? Just me?

Is that an apocryphal, urban myth sort of thing, that rats can run up the pipes and lurk malevolently* in your bog waiting for you? I think I must've heard about it first when I was a kid and there was that giant-New York City-sewer-alligator kind of story going around. (And incidentally, if the sewer-alligator thing sounds crazy, here's the abstract of a New Yorker story which begs to differ. This article alone is worth the subscription. God I love that magazine. Anyway.)

So last summer when things were getting a bit, er, aromatic in the drains department, we had a visit from a lovely sewer bloke (from the Council? or Thames Water? I don't know who deals with this sort of thing now). He straddled the Edwardian manhole in our front garden and shared all kinds of interesting sewer-related information as he observed the water flowing from the taps inside. It turns out that old drains, they're a lot less drainy than we'd like. Ours were pronounced generally fine, except that there were rats - yes, a whole lotta rats - meandering in and out. "There goes another one," he said casually, and gave us a few tips on how to discourage them, which we acted on immediately. 

But now every time I use the downstairs loo I can't help but think how here's the bowl, and then there are a few feet of drain and then there's the pipe with the rats in and now I have a listen before I pick the seat up.

*Is there any other way to lurk?


  1. Lurking in a pseudo-nonchalant way. When you're trying to meet the Important Person in the Roo but have to wait for the short lady in the fur stole to finish talking to him. And can't look as though you're just waiting for them to finish, but have to remain on high alert in order to swoop in before that other lurking person beats you to it.

  2. I'm with you on this one. As a young lad about town in Brooklyn at the age of 7, I lived on East 46th Street in Flatbush and up the block there was a RAT problem. They were emerging from the sewer and one had been killed in the street. It was the size of a medium size dog or so it was in my young perception, but whatever this rat was B-I-G! And I thought too that they would climb up through the pipes and into the toilet. I had nightmares for months.

  3. Yonderpaw, I stand corrected. That is indeed a non-malevolent, perfectly benign form of lurkery. But more importantly, what's the Roo? I have to know!

    Kelly, I'm pleased to hear I'm not the only one. I would really like to know if there is an actual, factual, documented case of a rat traveling from the sewer into a toilet. Shall we keep our ears to the ground? Forewarned is forearmed.

    Thanks for the groovy comments, kids!

  4. The Roo is not at all a messy typo. It is a nifty and very secret thing. That is real. And not a mistake.