Dont buy the Sun.

Dont buy the Sun.
Hillsborough Justice campaign - Remember the 96.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Stair renovations

Its a new year at Large Mansions. As some might recall, calendrical obsessions do not govern time here,: rather, time is measured via epochs or eras. Thus we are currently leaving "The Time of Sleeping Under Duvets Watching TV" and have entered "The Week of Annoying the Cats AKA Resuming Renovations". As anyone employed by cats will know, decoration is not a priority for cats. Or rather it is, but along a different trajectory than humans, reflecting different concerns. Thus, while humans might be concerned with aesthetics and the Golden Mean, or maybe structural soundness and efficient construction, cat's main concern in respect of living arrangements revolves around "As long as it doesnt inconvenience me". The problem with this of course is that everything which does not follow exactly the same pattern as yesterday is something which by definition DOES inconvenience cats. Thus the necessary re-arrangements of renovating - moving furniture, covering stuff with dust sheets, making any noise that hasnt been pre-approved and doesnt follow exactly the noises that were made at exactly the same time yesterday are immensely disapproved of by cats.

This is how it works: cats are asleep upstairs, usually precisely where you would prefer them not to sleep (like on your bed). You decide to move the kitchen table three inches to the left in order to accomodate your passage through a kitchen you are renovating. Within half an hour of doing this, you are happily engaged in your renovatory exercises, sanding perhaps, or painting, maybe chiselling some minor detail in your woodwork. A cat, previously sleeping, enters the room. At this point it should be noted that while cats can enter rooms entirely silently, this doesnt mean that you dont notice them when they do choose to appear. In fact the opposite is true.

At Large Mansions, its Saturday evening and we are happily painting our new staircase spindles, gossiping about our friends and arguing about Marxism. Suddenly we both stop our activities: Calli has entered the room, initially trotting in confidently. We both shuffle nervously - we have moved our kitchen table so that we can both paint the spindles, but have failed to consult the cats prior to moving the table. We look at the 5lb cat nervously to see what its reaction will be. Its not good. Calli trots into the kitchen for a second as if all is good with the world then freezes. She stops dead in her tracks. She raises her left front paw. Licks it, splaying her claws wide. Puts the paw down. Sits down. Stands back up and paces very deliberately towards one of the table legs. Sniffs. We are frozen to the spot. There's a disapproving miaow. We risk a quick glance at eachother - there'll be no sleep tonight. Calli circles round the room, hugging the walls, placing as much distance between herself and the moved table as possible. She makes it to the back kitchen door and miaows. Tentatively, RHB opens the door and the cat slips out. Our painting resumes, sombre, alloyed, optimism gone.

Despite our difficulties, we continue. And here's a few photos of what we're doing. In most of this house's previous existence, it had an elegant staircase. When taken over by landlords (in the dark, dark days of 1970's UK) the fashion was to remove all original features - intricate mouldings, carvings etc - and replace these by straight lines. THis is also known as vandalism. We are attempting to redress this architectural crime as inexpensively as possible. We dont use contractors - other than where safety and legality are issues - and use recycled materials as much as possible. Thus in the following photos, you will see a curved detail (in white) on the right hand side of each stair tread. This is now recycled materials, cut non-electrically by hand and painted by RHB. Its almost freeganism, but not quite. Also featured is what the staircase used to look like:

Included in the photos is, of course, an image of a cat. It is Toshack, demanding re-admittance. To those equipped with adequate cat face recognition skills, you will recognise acute disapproval on his face.