The foyer in the building where I work has, as its centrepiece, a water feature. A huge brown stone monolith of odd angles and aesthetically engineered drops that guarantee a playful background plash of water whenever a visitor drops in to spend a week’s wages on a cup of tea in the café.
Or at least is does when the bloody thing is working.
Unfortunately it hasn’t worked for about a year. It was turned off last winter due to suspicions of “a small leak”.
I guess this is an occupational hazard for a water feature. That and people lobbing pound coins down the plughole or going for a number 2 down the chute.
For various reasons it wasn’t looked into. It got overlooked. The water feature became a dusty dry stone sculpture that only dreamt of the cool flow of legionella rich water gently caressing its chiselled corners.
Until this week. The idea of restoring water to the “desert” feature suddenly became “of the moment”. It became my task for the week. My pre-Christmas mission.
Experts were called in and assembled. Opinions were voiced. An agreement was reached. Existence of the leak needed to be empirically proven or disproven one way of the other.
So an experiment was launched. The water was switched back on. The algae on the stone was moistened with H20 once more.
Like all water features, ours works by recycling the same water round and round. The continual movement prevents stagnation and bacterial build-up. A simple ball-cock mechanism adds fresh mains water whenever necessary to compensate water lost by evaporation or hoodies taking a rare bath. Yesterday, once the system was up and running, we disabled the ball-cock. With no fresh water topping up the system we’d soon be able to see if we were losing any.
We started at 3pm and my brief was to switch the thing off at 5pm when I went home and then back on again tomorrow morning at 9.
At the most we were expecting maybe an inch of water to disappear.
Instead, at 5pm I was gobsmacked to discover that not only was the water feature dry but the entire reservoir tank was also empty. The pump was gamely sucking up hot air.
Where had all that water gone? Several gallons of it had vanished down into the guts of the building in the space of 2 hours without any evidence of it ever having been there.
We have a mystery on our hands.
Further investigations will take place today. I daresay some dull, prosaic explanation will be found. Personally I’d like to imagine that the water has escaped into another dimension, possibly feeding a waterfall in Narnia or topping up a jacuzzi for a couple of half naked elf maidens.
Or perhaps, like a recent episode of Doctor Who, the water has taken on a sinister life of its own and is, even as I write, seeking out some poor unwitting human host whose body can be possessed and turned to some dastardly scheme of world domination. Indeed, it may explain the congregation of strange gentlemen who daily hang around the front of my work building, foaming at the nose with various sized cans of Special Brew growing out of their bottom lips and who have an undissuadable penchant for defecating up the pilasters.
It’s something in the water, I’m telling you...