The Taps

The taps have stopped dripping. Ever since the day my dad died, all the taps in my parents’ house have been dripping, like they were in mourning or something, dripping tears onto the porcelain of the sinks. The taps have been dripping for so long that the water-drops have grooved brown stains where they fall.

It would make sense that the taps were in mourning. My dad was a plumber and lived pretty much his whole life in this old house, ever since he bought it in the sixties with mum. He fixed up the central heating back in the seventies and he was always tinkering around with the pipes and the boiler. They must have missed him badly when he died.

Soon after the taps started dripping, mum called dad’s old mates in to sort it out. They tightened all the nuts in the taps – for free, they said, out of respect for my dad – and the dripping stopped. But as soon as they left, the taps started up dripping again. Mum decided to get used to it, she said it made up for the silence of my dad’s absence.

But now they’ve stopped, a year to the day that my dad died.

I suppose when you live somewhere for a long time, you and the plumbing start working in rhythm. The boiler warmly awakens you in the morning and heats the house for you in the evening. The water pipes expand and contract in diurnal exercise. The radiators flex into life in the winter and hibernate in the summer. There’s hot water just when you need it, cold when you don’t. The plumber playing on his pipes in symphony. And then, suddenly, only the taps drip-dripping.

I don’t live in a house. Not many people do these days. I live in a studio flat in the city. I moved in six months ago and I imagine I’ll move on again in another six months. I don’t think my studio flat will cry for me like this old house has for my father. It’s not like that anymore.

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

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