Monday, April 11, 2011

Booger eyes and guttersnipes

Last night it rained for the first time in 600 years. Or something like that – it’s a record, apparently. Nothing new to me, because growing up in Namibia, which is considered to be one of the driest countries in the world, a few decades without rain never really surprised anyone. We were used to describing a yearly rainfall of 300mm as an exceptionally good year.

Anyway, that’s not what this is about.

The sound of the rain coming down is a pleasant one for desert rats like me – I was raised to always appreciate free water falling from heaven.

But the other noises that go with it – that’s what this story is about.

When I started writing this post, I recalled a funny word from memory – “guttersnipe”. I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant, but it sounded applicable to my situation. According to the World Wide Library, however, a guttersnipe is “a child who spends most of his time in the streets especially in slum areas…”, which isn’t exactly what I had in mind.


What I had in mind was something more like a combination between a sniper and a gutter, with the two connecting in a violent confrontation with each other.

The gutter next to our bedroom window has this awful way of making a dripping noise when it rains. Not a constant rhythm that you can get used to, but an annoying disoriented pattern of drips and bangs that makes you go nuts.

We had a similar problem back in Namibia, but there my solution was simple – place a flat rock or a sponge in the bottom of the gutter where it bends out, and the problem is solved. But this stupid gutter has no access point – it feeds into the ground and the water is being fed into some unknown abyss where no unauthorised members of the public have access to it.


This house also does not belong to me – I’m renting, so I can’t just start sawing and hacking off parts that I don’t like.

This does not have a soothing effect on my friendly character at 00:30 in the morning. In fact, it drives me insane. I have tried all sorts of nasty ways to get this ghastly guttersnipe to stop guttersniping. (Sounds like something the old seadog in the Tintin books would say…)

The best solution for the moment is to stick a little piece of plastic in there, so it stops the water drops from falling all the way to the bottom of the gutter. The fancy tool was hastily handcrafted from old ice cream containers. I might have added a little colourful language in the recipe too.


Every time this happens, I promise myself that I’m going to get out my electrical drill and drill out all the rivets so that I can remove (or is it snipe?) the bottom part of the gutter in order to reduce the noise pollution levels in my neighbourhood.

To top it off, once I finally got into bed, I felt my eye hurting like crazy. Went to have a look in the mirror, and it looked like I was just returning from a bar fight in a western movie. My left eye was puffed up like a watermelon.

For a brief moment I thought a spitting cobra had attacked me while I was hitting a hammer against its nest in the gutter, but then I realised that this may be a bit far-fetched. Although, at that time in the morning nothing really seems far-fetched, except the idea of getting some freaking sleep.

When I finally woke up this morning, the old lazy eye was still huffing and puffing, and this gave me enough reason to make use of one of my sick-days at work. I rang up the old doctor’s waiting room as soon as possible, but of course there is nothing available until tomorrow.

I later even tried to find a vet that would have a spot open for me. No one would make room for me and my booger-eye.

So, here I am, sitting lazily at home trying to fix up the booger-eye. Later I realised that we have a chemist within 10 minutes’ walk from our house, so I took the time and walked over to get some over-the-counter eye drops.

I’m busy preparing that drill. Today will be the day of reckoning.  Booger-eye or not, your time has come my little noisy friend!