At work today there was a bit of a storm in a teacup, or a mystery in the toilet. A private nursery rents a room opposite ours in the school building. We share the pint-sized toilets (that is, the children share them; the grown ups are allowed to use real-sized toilets with full height doors...). All my class were in Assembly when one of the nursery teachers beckoned me into the toilets.
'Has one of your children been sick?'
'Not that I know of...' I racked my memory to see if anyone had said anything about sick today. I couldn't imagine anyone being sick and keeping it quiet; it's a matter of pride to make the most fuss possible about vomit when you're four. In fact they're more likely to tell you they've been sick when actually they spat in a bowl, hoping you'd you'd send them home, rather than forget to point out when they have been ill.
'It looks like someone has been sick down this one and got it on the seat.'
I went to look, and there was the strangest sight. I can see why the nursery teacher thought it was sick, but it looked creamy and there was no smell. There was only one small splash on the seat, too. But whatever was floating in the toilet bowl was unrecognisable. I had to go closer to try and work it out. It was shaped a bit like a small box, but had gone pulpy and disfigured. When I say it was floating, really it was sinking and blocking the whole bowl. It was a fairly virginal white, though; my best guess after approaching it suspiciously two or three times was that someone had found a wad of squared toilet paper and put the whole lot in the toilet in one go.
I locked the door and promised I'd get the cleaners to come and sort it.
As soon as the children got back from Assembly, I sat them all down and began to lecture them on the evils of blocking toilets. Playing on their eagerness to blame someone else for anything possible, I even opened the floor to anyone who could tell me anything about what had happened to the toilet on the end. There was such a protracted silence and a sea of vacant faces turned my way that I began to doubt myself - was someone in the room an excellent liar?
'So no-one knows what it is? And no-one knows who's put something down there?' I said. I was feeling rather grim by now.
Just then a voice from the far end of the room said, 'The toilet? The one on the end? I've put something down it.'
My wonderful teaching assistant came around the corner, laughing. 'I didn't know you'd seen it,' she said, 'I was going to tell you, but then we had to rush to Assembly. It's frozen soup.'
I'm not often flummoxed, but I was then.
She explained that she'd found it when she was clearing the fridge in our kitchen, and she didn't want to block the sink by letting it defrost in there, so she'd put in in the toilet. In case you're wondering if a tupperware lump of soup would block the toilet, the answer appears to be, no. After she'd flushed it a couple of times during the afternoon, there was no trace, although the eternal smell of wee in the toilet area does have a delicate overtone of leek and potato now.