Oh lawks, here come the waterworks…literally

If you think this is a mess, you should see the state of my hair these last few days…

Sometimes all it takes is the teeniest, weeniest snag to throw your entire existence off its orbit. For me, it was the tap.

It all started when I noticed that there were lines of residue coming down from my kitchen tap into the sink. Then I noticed a little stream of water coming from the bottom of the tap. Then, out of curiosity, I put the plug in to see how fast this interesting little waterfall was running. The sink rapidly started to fill.

Genius that I am, I then swivelled the tap from side-to-side a few times to just see if it was screwed on properly. The next day, I noticed that the little stream had become a little less…little. The next day, there were two little streams, each one trickling into one of the two sides of my sink unit. 

Over the course of the days that followed, this leak turned into a Chronic Gush. Water began to unabashedly flow out of the bottom of my tap in a way that made me whimper when I thought what it might cost me on my rent this month. In the mornings, the pipes began to make an alarming and unbelievably loud noise which sounded a bit like the cacophony of someone drilling a pavement with a pneumatic drill, and sometimes even a disconcerting high-pitched whine just to up the creepiness of being alone in a flat with wayward plumbing. One evening, as I was cooking, the tap gave a gentle cough – as if it were clearing its throat for attention – and then generous rivulets of water started to pour out of the handle too, a new trick it had clearly been practising while I wasn’t looking. I decided this had gone too far; and this was when things started to go off-kilter.

First of all I emailed my landlady to let her know that the taps in my spankin new apartment were not doing their job properly. In my email, I casually mentioned that some scratches seemed to have appeared on the floor from the old tenant moving out, just to make sure she was aware that I hadn’t caused the damages myself. The landlady replied to say that I would have to pay for the repairs myself and, by the way, this floor situation was no less than a travesty requiring absolute outrage and aggressive action. The old tenant, a lovely actress-lady who I happen to like and want to continue to be on good terms with, then sent me a traumatised message; apparently the landlady had demanded repairs and compensation from her for this act of sheer violence against the floorboards, and for this to happen FORTHWITH and WITHOUT VERSP√ĄTUNG. Oof.

Meanwhile, not wanting to let the world’s precious resources gush down my drain, I began turning off the water supply in the kitchen anytime it wasn’t urgently necessary. Because this involves squatting diagonally into a cupboard and blindly fumbling for two tiny, slippery knobs, I turned the water on less and less. Cups of tea became less frequent. Washing-up was done on a ‘wait until crisis point’ basis. A recent pot of soup was more like a stiff vegetable modelling paste because I had already turned the water on and off once to get enough liquid to make up the current amount, and I couldn’t be arsed to do it again to make up the amount extra that was needed. Ugh.

A brand new flavour of paranoia began to join my usual daily worries, too. Alongside the ‘Oh god, did I forget to lock the flat door?’ and ‘Oh cripes, did I leave my train card at home?’ and ‘Oh criminy, did I leave the stove on?’ (the real question is, what would I be thinking, turning the stove on at 7am in the first place) there was a new voice: ‘Did I forget to turn the water off?!’ With the teeny shrill worry in the corner of my mind that the tap was still broken and getting it fixed would cost me a shedload, I began to notice all the bits of my job which make me deeply unhappy when they come into focus. With the washing up not being done properly at home, the rest of the flat began to follow suit and descended into a carnival of mess. I was going from an office of mess and predicaments to a home which felt abandoned and broken; my safehouse had a kind of open wound which wasn’t yet healed and was quite poetically ‘bleeding’ (when I forgot to turn the water off). 

But at times like these, when things start to crumple in at the edges a little bit, it is time to man up and get things back in order. It is time to ask everyone you have ever come into human contact with if they know a decent plumber until you finally get one to come to your house after the weekend. Time to water your plants and put your laundry away and get a decent book to read. And it is time to make yourself a big, excellent, self-compensatory flatbread pizza with the recipe below, and then use the leftover tomato sauce and mozzarella to make Pizzaubergines the next day.

**** Flatbrad pizza **** 
This makes a crisper, more tender crust than the scone or yeasted pizza bases, and it takes no time at all to make. If you have any leftover dough, you can just crisp it up on the oven with nothing on top but a drizzle of oil and anything you fancy – parmesan, herbs, salt and pepper, cinnamon and sugar…

Important fact 1

Put your oven to its highest temperature and leave a baking sheet in there to join in getting fiendishly hot.

Flatbread base 

125g plain flour (or half/half plain and wholemeal)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons of olive oil
50ml warm water
giant pinch of salt

1. Put the flour in a bowl with the salt, then make a well in the middle and pour in the other stuff. 
2. Mix together, adding more water if too dry, until everything is incorporated into a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes, then roll out into 1 or 2 thin rounds on baking paper.

Topping the pizza

1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 minced garlic cloves
pinch of salt
black pepper to taste
*mozzarella and other toppings: veg, capers, olives, salami, shredded chicken…go nuts

1. Mix everything except the asterisked item together in a bowl. Taste and be amazed that you have made a small bowlful of Italy.
2. Spread the sauce thinly to coat the base(s), then scatter the other toppings on top. Always put the cheese on LAST, because otherwise it won’t brown and the toppings will burn. Bad news. A bit of extra oregano sprinkled on at this stage is a very good thing, however.
3. Slide the pizza(s), on the baking paper, onto the preheated baking sheet. Be careful not to scorch off your eyebrows in the process. Bake for 15-20 mins until the cheese is browned and the edges of the dough look juuuuuust a little charred in parts, you know how we like it. DEVOUR

Important fact 2: Pizzaubergines (pictured)

Get an aubergine. Slice it into planks about 1/2 inch thick. Score criss-crosses into the top of each plank, then oil a baking sheet and lay the sliced aubergine on top, criss-crosses facing up. Top with the leftover sauce and toppings, then bake as before at an insane, middle-of-the-sun high temperature. VICTORY.

Rose T