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Wow! During our Skype chat this week, Gill enlightened me on a weird but very real phenomenon happening in (or beneath) her city. It’s called a ‘fatberg’ and is a huge accumulation, in the sewer system, of congealed fat. It is, I believe, the size of a huge truck and is threatening to clog all the local drains and have ‘s**t’ storms exploding up through the manholes and into homes. I had no idea.

And I thought MY drains were temperamental! Ha. Not even close. I try to be careful abut not letting substances like fat and bits of food collect in the sink, only to settle together beneath in a fetid collection of yuck, clogging my drain and forcing me to first use the plumber’s friend (not necessarily MY friend), get out the hardcore and very toxic liquid dissolver or call an actual plumber.

Grease is a tricky thing, however, since it slides down the drain before you can even see it. A bit of gravy from a plate here, a little dab of butter there, bacon fat from the frying pan. Of course, you can always collect your bacon grease and such in an old can and leave it to fester in the cupboard under the sink — as many of our mothers did so they could use it again and again when needed to add flavor to something they were cooking. It works but will eventually go rancid…or attract beasties.

The one beastie I keep in mind is The Pig. She can smell fat a mile away and has a reputation (well deserved) for raiding under-sink garbage. Just recently, L’il Sis had collected some in a jar and had put it on the porch by the door in preparation for putting it in the outside garbage. She left it unattended for all of one minute while she returned to the house to get something.

She arrived back at the grease to find The Pig’s mouth deep in the recesses of the jar, happily chowing down on the goop. She smiled happily up at L’il Sis, her expression saying, “Oh, how kind of you to leave this delicious snack here for me!” The fat was dripping down from her chin, forming what looked like stalactites hanging from a cave — or from a Fatberg. Yup, the Bristol fat bergs have formations just like stalactites hanging from them. Just imagine, we have, in The Pig, our own little budding Fatberg!

I don’t know how the city fathers are planning to remove the Bristol goop, but I thought something like the “poop sucker” we hired years ago to remove our German Shepherd’s backyard indiscretions might have some merit. The guys came, in spring, with what was essentially a vacuum cleaner. They sucked the poop into it, basically vacuuming the lawn. Perhaps this method would work in the sewers.

Fat is an unattractive substance — whether it is clogging sewers or adding unwanted padding to human hips. I still have nightmares about the Oprah show when, showing how successful her recent diet had been, she wheeled the equivalent of her loss in beef fat onto the stage in wagons.

What I really want to know is what they’re going to do with the Bristol Fatberg when they remove it. Anybody out there want it? Maybe they could set it out in the ocean, anchor it and,  the same way ships and other unwanted structures have been re-purposed, turn it into ‘prime real estate’ on which to build a luxury home with a view.It might stink, but every property has its down side.

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