“Gardez l’eau!” the leathery little man bellowed, and promptly ejected the unpleasant contents of a small blue bucket from the first floor window.
Standing, as I was, directly underneath, I was shocked, stunned, and not a little bemused to find myself suddenley decorated in what had, until very recently, been the contents of a complete stranger’s colon. I am by no means xenophobic, but if I must find myself lathered in excrement at eleven o’ clock in the morning, I would much rather it was, at the very least, the excrement of someone I knew and preferably that of a close personal friend.
“I say,” I said, with a furrowing of my brow (which, incidentally, caused some rather nasty trickles to make their way around the sides of my face), “may I perhaps suggest a little consideration for passers-by when lobbing your unmentionables from your window, my good Sir?”
“No you may not,” snapped the little man. “I shouted the customary warning. Anyone hearing those words should consider themselves fairly warned. Your personal hygiene is not my responsibility.”
I squinted up at him, mopping ineffectually at my face with the morning newspaper. “It is also customary,” I began through gritted teeth, “to allow a little time to elapse between calling the warning and letting fly with the bucket of effluence.”
The little man’s leathery visage set hard, looking for all the world like a gorilla’s palm. “I allowed more than sufficient time for a plan of evasion to be produced and executed,” he stated.
“You did nothing of the kind, I cried, shaking my fist. “The two events were as near simultaneous as makes no odds! You need to leave a margin of at least a few seconds to allow the individual occupying your intended strike-point to take himself out of harms way – otherwise you end up in a heated debate with an enraged and excrement-soaked stranger.”
He leaned out from the window and studied me intently. He did at least appear to be giving the suggestion a reasonable amount of thought.
“So you’re saying,” he began slowly, “that I should call ‘Gardez l’eau’… and then wait?”
“Yes,” I said. “You should wai…”
The second flood of noxious semi-solids struck me full on the face, and the bucket followed less than a second later.
I danced from foot to foot in a furious little jig and shrieked incoherent outrage up into the annoying little man’s face. “Why?” I bellowed. “Why would you do that?”
“By means of demonstration,” he cried, offended. “As you are being so good as to assist me in improving this essential life-skill, I felt it only fair that I should take the opportunity to demonstrate that I had assimilated your information correctly!”
“But you didn’t have to actually throw it! And you certainly didn’t have to lob the bucket down afterwards!”
“Ah yes, I do apologise for that – I’m afraid I became a little over-enthusiastic in my learnings. In my defence, however, I should point out that you had adequate time to prepare yourself but chose instead to stand chatting.”
“What?” I gasped. “Because I didn’t realise you were going to throw another bucket of foul water on me!”
His eyes fairly bulged from his shoe-like face. “I cried the customary warning!”
“In demonstration!” I shrieked, recommencing my little hopping dance of fury. “In conversation!”
“When someone says ‘gardez l’eau'”, the little man said carefully, “It should be perfectly evident that something unpleasant is likely to follow. Whether in conversation or not.”
Before I could gather my rapidly spinning thoughts, the third deluge of filth sluiced down from above with the sound of an overinflated snail.
“Gaaaaaah!” I cried, and was suddenley cut short as a large galvanised steel bucket wedged itself firmly over my shocked head.
I staggered to and fro for a moment before grasping the bucket with slippery filth-soaked hands and pulled it from my head.
“That was deliberate!” I wailed.
“Of course it was deliberate,” said the little man. “That’s why I said ‘gard’…”
“Shut up! Shut up!” I roared, incandescent with smelly rage. I raced across to the other side of the street as the little man disappeared back inside the building. As I stood panting and leaning against the wall, he reappeared bearing what looked like a firehose.
I gaped in horror. “What do you have there, Sir?” I whispered.
He thought about it for a moment and then smiled.
“Pressure,” he said. “And range.”