Tuesday, 22 September 2009
The Tower of Babel
Exterior of the house summer 2008. Scaffolding is roofers.
Exterior of the house September 2009; Scaffolding is what Nel and I put up.
Detail of masonry work repainted.
Front of house completed apart from drainpipe repaint. Note, if you will , that we moved the original fence.
Original rear of house. Photo of new rear to follow tomorrow.
As those of you expecting an invitatioin to our house warming party may be aware, we are nnot quite finished at Large Mansions. It would be face saving if we could attribute this to earthquakes, floods or other natural disasters, but unfortunately, the real reason is our work-shy nature and an element of planning deficiency that makes the UK's exit strategies from its various theatre's of war positively prescient. There is one target however that we identified as a "must do" this summer, and that is the task of 'winterizing' the old place. In that area, we have succeeded, and succeeded well. I may as well get all the terrible puns out of the way now, but the procurement of scaffoldimg last week (inbetween zipping up and down various motorways), and a subsequent erection that I was inordinately proud of, meant that Project "Wind and the Rain", ended on a high.
Winterizing, for us, meant an extenal treatment of all of our windows so that they are completely airtight, this removing unwanted draughts. This then allows us to choose where draughts and fresh air can ener the house as opposed to being constantly surprised by errant gusts of wind. In Large Mansions, night-time was when these draughts made themselves unpleasantly apparent. The household would prepare for slumber, usually in strict order : firstly RHB, announcing that she was 'done' in the middle of "Prison Hell: the world's toughest jails" or "Tough guy or Chicken: Can ten male models survive the world's toughest grooming regime?", would retire suddenly leaving a confused assemblage in her wake. The larger of the two cats and I, would sit up, noses twitching in a state of indecision : stay or go? which enabled the smaller cat to sneak out the room. She would, in a Liverpool phrase that is the only appropriate one I can think of to describe the urgency of her movement, "leg it" up the stairs, while Toshack and I were trying to unmesmerise ourselves, brains still focused on whether Reuben would survive the Leg Wax Challenge. Tosh and I exchange looks, decide to see out the end of the programme, then as next week's cliff hanger is announced, switch everything off and head for our respective ablutions.
It is at this moment that it all gets very tactical. By now, the remaining space on the bed is limited - RHB is a diminutive creature, but somehow gains volume when in repose. Callisandra Vella, Evil Queen of the BacK Garden, similarly grows to a stature that matches her many titles. The challenge, for me and the larger cat, is to claim space before the other does. After tooth brushing, during which he miaows at me constantly, Tosh and I stalk eachother, both headed in the general direction of the chamber.
Ten minutes later, I am usually to be found lying precariously on my side, along a 3 inch strip of mattress at the edge of the bed, covered with just the correct amount of duvet to perfectly constitute an irritant. The rumble of loud, contented purring adds to the effect. It is at this point that I was wont, for six long months, to notice a faint, but chill breeze across the shoulder. If sleeping was an Olympic sport, I doubt that I would ever achieve even junior qualifying standards, so bad am I at it: the faintest thing can cause insomnia, and the breeze was a persistant threat. Even as we gradually sealed the outside of the house, the breeze stubbornly remained. NIghts would pass spent wandering the echoing corridors with a lighter, holding it up to window frames, door seals and room corners, trying to establish the origins of the vent, but it did not reveal.
I was apprehensive about sleep - it was the first I had spent in the house (being otherwise than Birmingham) since completion of Project Wind and the Rain. equipped with all my draught detecting kit, I lay down hesitantly. Nothing. Amazed, but optimistic, I stopped breathing. Still nothing. Then, cautiously I breathed out slowly. The next day we drew up a new to-do list, very happily.
Posted by MJN at 17:25