A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Hooptedoodle #303 - Flushed with Success [EXPLICIT]


Today was our day for a visit from the Septic Tank Man. The wagon duly arrived - all the way from Motherwell - to pump out our domestic drainage system.

As expected, it was all very professional and inoffensive. The driver/operator got about his business very quickly and efficiently - half an hour and we were done, and he was on his way to his next call.

It's not a big tank (1000 gallons), but it only services part of our house, so usage is very light really. This is our first clean-out in 13 years, and there were no problems - it was not an emergency. In the light of this (and the one-off service cost £250), consider, if you will, that Scottish Water, whom we approached late last year, will not touch your tank system unless you sign up for a 5-year minimum contract, with yearly visits which each cost more than Henderson's job this morning. Sometimes local authorities are not unlike the Mafia in their business model.

Anyway, all done, and now we are good for some years. Thank you, Mr Henderson. Remember: it may be just sewage to you, but it's his bread and butter.
...and, in case you missed their marketing push...

15 comments:

  1. An appropriate number plate. I wonder if it was intentional or fates random humour ???

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    1. Hi Phil - no, I would guess he paid quite a lot for that one - Fate doesn't do stuff as good as that, I think.

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  2. I always feel sorry for the poor guys when they do their visits to us. You can’t just apologize, blame last night’s curry and spray a bit of air freshener.

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    1. Not a job I fancy myself - the driver was a very pleasant, articulate man - quite a sensitive soul. Perhaps he writes poetry while he is making his tour of the shit-holes of the world (to quote Mr T).

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  3. Glad all went well. In plumbing as in poker, a Straight Flush beats a Full House.

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    1. Indeed so. I'm always nervous on occasions like this in case someone spots the opportunity to sell us some expensive repairs, but all OK. The water disappears into the ground via a network of soakaway pipes under the driveway.

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    2. I have new found interest in such matters Tony, all very interesting and I will admit - sad man that I am - that I did google www.wemovesh.it and up popped the webpage for Grant Henderson. Put it down to the Spanish sun!

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    3. Grant would probably send you a truck from Motherwell if you wanted - probably not cost effective...

      In addition to our own humble tank, the little hamlet where I live has a communal septic tank, which services 15 houses (including most of ours) and this big tank is no longer fit for purpose, according to the regulations. We'll have to provide TWO new systems - one for sewage and one for rainwater - and we are probably looking at £40-50K for installation plus about a thousand a year for the maintenance and electricity (these things have powered agitators). Split between 15 households gets the costs down a lot (though some of the neighbours will struggle to pay a share of the installation) - being mercenary about it, the potential increase in the market value of the property as a result should be more than the share of the installation cost, so I guess we just get on with it. Some of my neighbours have known for nearly 30 years that there'd be a big expenditure needed one day, yet somehow manage to be surprised now the day is coming. Ostriches.

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  4. I'm fascinated, have you really gone 13 years without emptying the septic tank? This is a whole new world for me having previously been a townie. Scottish Water said ours should be emptied every 2-3 years, is this a con?

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    1. It might be an idea to get someone other than Scottish Water to do the emptying, if you are not already under contract. If your tank deals with all drainage form the house that's a reasonable interval. Our little tank takes the output from the upstairs bathroom (not used very much) and the storm water from the newer part of the house, so very little actual sewage - after 13 years it was OK apart from some compacting of the solid material (better leave that chocolate eclair until later). It depends on the traffic!

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  5. I got an email from Geoff P, asking about what size of tank is necessary for a typical house. I'm afraid I don't know much about this - local water authority will have published guidelines and regulations. The nippy bit (as we are going to discover when we start getting serious quotes for the new village tank here) is that the requirement is not based on the number of people living there, nor on the number of bathrooms, but on the number of bedrooms. For future-proofing, it is necessary to base calculations on how many people *could* live there. In other words, if you have a 3 bedroom house, with only 2 people resident, you could potentially sell it to a big family, or to a landlord who intends to let out rooms, so in the future there could be 6 or more residents - that's what the sewage system has to be able to cope with.

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  6. The same process of municipally-driven renewal of rural waste water (ahem) systems is going on in here in Québec, with similar-sounding issues and calculations though prices seem somewhat more modest. It is hard to argue with as there are more and more outbreaks of E. coli and similar in drinking water across Canada, infrastructure is breaking down or never existed to being with.

    Here we would call Mr. Henderson's truck the "honey truck" and I would guess that he would charge $250 to 300 Canadian rather than £250 per, um..., delivery.

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    1. Thanks for that Jim - interesting. The E Coli thing is worrying, but a lot of that seems to be correlated to what used to be called the Safeways Effect here (in a previous decade). We now have whole generations of people who have eaten biologically sterile, hygienically sealed food for their entire lives. In the UK, the E coli bugs are not necessarily new, it's just that we have care homes full of elderly people who never developed a healthy immunity to this kind of stuff, and they are laid waste.

      Shades of HG Wells - the Martians were killed by the common cold virus.

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  7. I have this nagging suspicion that you will be proven right about overly-sterile Safe food, this is and was surely worse here. Nevertheless increasing the distance between we eat and drink and where we leave our wastes doesn't seem to be a bad idea. Admittedly, the local examples here start with no real septic system at all and almost no population density and arrive today with mediocre systems at best and much higher population densities, the fault in the system is not so hard to trace....

    One can only imagine and dread what Dickens saw, leading him up to Oliver Twist.

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    1. I don't know (of course), but I suspect that the situation in Canada may have developed along more sensible lines. In the UK, rural communities are now a very tiny minority, and policy focuses on the big crowds and the big purses. People (like us) who rely on a septic tank, on LPG heating, who have minimal broadband infrastructure and zero mobile phone service find that we do not seem to exist. There is no customer helpdesk anywhere that has been told there are backwaters like this. The local council does somehow manage to collect taxes, right enough, but there is a definite Third World feel about things. I suspect that Canada may take low-population areas more seriously, since they figure larger in the total.

      Policy for a lot of UK public services (including transport and hospitals, by the way) is that a good service must be provided for 95% of the population - this means that 100% of the people who live in inconvenient places (i.e. fall into the 5%) get hardly anything (since they are outside the target). The logical step is to pretend these places and people do not exist. [BT - British Telecom - has been an interesting case recently - as their expansion of fast broadband supply falls further and further behind what was promised to HM Govt, more and more of their dissatisfied customers jump ship and move to other suppliers (as we have done). This means that the percentage of remaining BT customers who get a decent service is increasing, since the really bad cases have gone off the books. Malthus would have recognised this kind of reasoning.]

      That was a digression, but the same spirit prevails throughout. There is a paradox somewhere - around where I live there are some very wealthy people - a lot of old farming money, some bearded aristocracy. I am prepared to bet you that the Queen gets decent sewage treatment and broadband (might even be the same department) at Braemar, for example.

      Mustn't grumble, really - we do choose to live out here. It has its compensations. Every morning when the BBC tells me about the traffic problems on the M25, I yawn and look out of the window, and make some more toast.

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