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It took a little while to dawn on me; stuff usually does.

The laminate flooring around about my new rough n’ ready man-bag was slick and wet, and the bag itself seemed a little damp. There was no ceiling leak in evidence, no overturned glass in sight. The bag had been through a lot over the course of a little break in the country. However, why it should be wet was something of a mystery.

Percy the cat was the key.

Cat’s urine isn’t nature’s most subtle substance, but it can take a little while, and a little evaporation, before you realise that your possessions have been “claimed” by a four-legged friend.

Once I’d established Percy as the culprit, irony struck me. Earlier, in a shower cubicle somewhere else, I had done something rather uncivilised. I was in a hurry, fearful of missing a train, and… well. There’s no way of saying it gently, so I won’t. I peed in that shower.

Let’s try and be reasonable about this. This was a clear jet going into a clear jet, and lots of soapy detergent chased my waste down the plughole. And hey, why are we so discriminatory over water and waste, anyway? I’m sure I left lots of hair and skin fragments and god knows what else in the cubicle. Why be fearful over a few stray drops of pee?

And there was surely some sheep shit left over on my boots from a weekend’s hillwalking, lying in another bag. And yet, we don’t worry about that.

But still, I peed in the shower. This is not a normal thing for me to do. It’s not the done thing, I know. I wouldn’t like it if people peed in my shower.

So, the connection between Percy’s mishap and mine was made. I saw the irony, and I connected the dots. Coincidence, I thought. The stuff of stories and writers.

I began to fear supernatural agency when something similar happened on the train. I had already done something farcical and morally dubious by ejecting a girl from my booked seat. When she got up, I saw that she was quite obviously pregnant. I then had a comparatively warm conversation with the girl’s mother, who remained in the opposite seat. My morning, I reflected, with the bag still damp by my side and the stench of Percy’s love growing, was going well.

Then water began to pour out of an air conditioning vent near my seat, without any warning at all. My hold-all, which is big and durable and a veteran of many travels, but sadly not waterproof, bore the brunt of this downpour underneath.

God knows what was in this stream; just a spot of condensation, I was told by the train guard. Maybe we shouldn’t be too discriminatory about water and what’s in it, I thought once again.

And then my brain began to see connections between that jet of water, and yet another I rather negligently let slip over the previous day or so. I had been in a hotel, and I was in a filthy mood after a rather deflating piece of news. The hotel had a beautiful, spotless washroom with a bath big enough to drown in. The fittings were all in that lovely old Edwardian style, and I’d have been delighted by this were it not for one omission; a hook upon which to place the shower head.

Already angry and annoyed, I grew very frustrated with my lack of control over the jet of water and did something else out of character; I let the head fall and allowed water to spray over the walls and floor of the bathroom. I watched this, with a feeling of vindication as I lathered my bottom. Serves them right for not putting in a shower hook, I thought.

Again, I have no excuse for this whatsoever, it’s a lamentable lapse of temper and, I assure you, completely out of character.

So, one soaked bathroom, one soaked bag. One streak of piss going somewhere it shouldn’t, matched by one from Percy the cat. All of this is, hilariously, overshadowed by the natural wonder that had dominated my weekend away; a natural waterfall set in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, which you can see above.

The cute – the quasi-logical – explanation you could attach to all this is karma. But if karma exists, then surely everyone’s life would end on a note of peace and harmony, with all our pluses and minuses balanced. This is rarely if ever the case. So the watery weirdness wasn’t a simple case of equilibrium. But it makes for an interesting story.

And that’s all we can really do with the strange, cruel, unusual and bizarre things that happen in our lives. Make a story out them, construct a narrative. It echoes Wittgenstein’s idea that the universe is based not on numbers, but on the words that we construct concepts out of, from the very language we use. This is the only way to make sense of our universe, both inside and out, public and private.

Because the idea that all things are in balance – that life is fair, and we all get exactly what we deserve out of it – is the least plausible of them all.


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