I am living on a building site.
This is not a metaphor for something, I am actually living on an actual building site, in the rain. This morning, early, I got up to investigate the dripping noise that was keeping me awake and found it was raining in the sun room again. I am so used to this I simply fetched the turkey tin from the kitchen, put it under the drip and went back to bed. Later investigation, through a bedroom window which had let in a flood yesterday, revealed the cause of the problem to be a stack of roofing tiles on the area of previous flat roof that was letting the rain in. It’s the weight, you know.
I have been living on a building site for some time now. Weeks.
I haven’t gone into what used to be the garage because it has no ceiling, so I don’t need to look to know that it will be raining in there and probably paddling We clustered the furniture together in the middle of the floor. That was the S&H’s old wardrobe that the porcelain slip lives in, obviously and some garden tools in plastic tubs. The tools will be OK but the floor of the wardrobe has been sitting in several inches of rain for some days now. It’ll have to come out to stand on the drive near the end when they add concrete to the side of the garage where the new foundations are and level the lot off. If the weather’s bad that will probably kill it off.
I have learned not to leave anything lying about. I have yellow trugs. You can’t tell from looking at me but I have. I left them in the front garden; I’m using them for gardening. They disappeared. Scaffolders arrived with yellow trugs. I asked if it was my trug and the scaffolders said it might be as they have yellow trugs too and gave me one back. But later the labourer climbed up the ladder with what was definitely my yellow trug. So I have the scaffolder’s trug and the labourer has my trug, in the absence of which what the garden has, is weeds. I would pull them out but my trug is full of brick dust and it is raining.
Then there are ladders. The plumbers left the old tanks in the loft and their ladders down the side of the house but I have stopped asking them to remove the tanks because the builders are using the plumber’s ladders on the third storey up, which is the new roof, or will be and they are still there, unless that the massive bang in the night was the ladders descending to the lawn.
I am quite tired. I am getting up before seven to let the builders in at eight, though I have taken to opening the door in my pyjamas which is a strange place to have a door.
There is a sand pile on the drive and has been for weeks and there have been high winds. When all this is over I am going to fork out for new contact lenses, ones without such bad scratches I cannot tell if my cataracts are getting worse or not. My eyes are permanently gritty.
I look after my builders. They get tea and biscuits at ten. Tea and crisps or savoury biscuits at one and tea and chocolate biscuits at three. The mugs are huge and they have access to the downstairs loo with clean towels, soap and a locking door at all times, though if it is occasionally raining in there that is not my fault. The polystyrene tiles are going to come off the ceiling at some point, on who is anybody’s guess.
There are acro props everywhere on what used to be the carpet.
The OH is finding this all very challenging. He keeps making gloomy predictions and absenting himself for hours at a time, shopping, to the gym, to the pub, anywhere but here.
I, on the other hand, am loving it. I love all the builders and they love me. When they took my bedroom window out and just put a bit of wood there I said I was cold and they fetched silvered insulation board in their socks and filled the gap on my side so I am toasty warm. Currently everyone is working their socks off to get the roof on and the quality and speed of the build is the talk of the parents collecting children from the primary school up the hill.
Why am I happy in the midst of mud, sand, rain in the house and builders everywhere?
I grew up on building sites. My dad was a builder. My treat was to go with him to a site in school holidays. Every winter when other firms laid the men off for bad weather, he did not. Instead my poor mother had brickies making unnecessary walls in the garden and covering the flower beds with concrete.
I could lay bricks by the time I was four, and, as you remember when we built my shed, I am at my happiest behind a cement mixer. Wheeling a barrow full of cement feels absolutely right to me. Even with the awful weather we are having it is a joy, though we could do with the Roman invention of waterproof concrete, opus signinum, a lot of the time. However, it is not too cool yet to stop the mortar going off, so everything is setting, the building inspector is happy, I understand when I’m talking to roofers, window manufacturers, brickies and labourers and we still have the lovely carpenters to come, though not until I have designed the cupboards, and I have yet to get started on carving the stone block to go in the archway.
It’s dolls’ houses but real and I am loving every minute of it.