So I often get asked to write poems about issues and an issue was recently brought to my attention. I usually write about human rights and political matters but in this case I was asked by the Plumbing Standards and Water Supply Appliance Regulatory Commission to promote a campaign raising awareness of the contamination and pressure issues which come with unregulated backflow systems. The trouble was, before contacting me, they’d been watching videos of American slam poets, you know, those really big-voiced shouty ones. So they asked if I could grow a beard and wear a check shirt and come up with a poem for them.
He said, It’s there all the time, That drip drip drip, That rhythm which colours my life, This drip drip drip Like my life is a hip hop, It’s a drip hop It’s a drip drip drip It’s a clogged drain in a chip shop Like a clock tick tock counting down The seconds to the next time I have to do the washing up. And he’s tired. And he’s got a strange stain on his trousers, A kind of waxy residue.
He said, no pressure. I said, How dare you tell me there’s no pressure! You have no right to tell me that there’s no pressure! I’ve known pressure since before you were born. I’ve walked under stormy skies. I’ve asked such questions, the where’s and why’s, Life can be a disappointment but it’s seldom a surprise You can see it in my eyes You have no right to tell me that there’s no pressure! And he said, I meant water pressure.
He said, The pipes, they rattle, Like the plumbing in France. You never get a chance. It’s like a Broadway musical, You should see the tap dance. It’s a hotspot, it’s like hopscotch, I’ll show you where you can find the stop cock, Start a stopwatch I’ll time you It’s insanity It’s you and me, I said, It’s a violation of regulation six Slash four seven dash three, You see.
Because Because Because The two of us Brothers in arms Brothers with arms We can fix this leak together And be ever so clever Don’t tell me whatever The world is improving This really is moving But I tell you what isn’t moving - The water in these pipes. Don’t tell me you haven’t used an isolation valve. Don’t tell me you haven’t used a tap back nut spanner. Don’t tell me you don’t know your way around a pipe vice That’s not nice Like cooking a chicken tikka And then running out of rice Don’t you understand This stanza is so long I might possibly pass out!
Huhhhhh! (Pant!) The way I passed out from plumbing school. I ain’t no fool. Pass me that pipe deburring tool. But you, You’re a tap squirty bloke, You’re a basin filling jerk You’re a water meter cheater You’re a low flow joke And me? I ain’t going sixty foot down a well To fix a pipe, I ain’t plumbing the depths!
It’s heart skipping It’s reality tripping And all because the pipes are dripping I’ll leave a gap now For some audience finger clicking.
And now the emotions Are getting to me. Because no one understands that I need To
Let’s not succumb to the backflow. It’s a blowback. Like a distant memory, a throwback. Everything has been inverted, Like getting hot water from the cold tap. Like that time I managed to persuade my life coach On a change of career. He’s now a chiropodist. And me? I’m an optimist. And you? You’re a Sagittarius, And this? This? Needs no wonder Nor hearts to plunder This is going to take more Than a sink plunger
And it’s why We need Industry regulation in the plumbing and water supply Appliance sector.
That’s it for me now It’s the end of the poem Because just like the pipes I’m drained.