This weekend I realised how many things I have been neglecting as I busily source for, decorate and obsess about our house.
Exercise, it occurred to me on Sunday as we arrived at the Woolwich Road too late for the uplifting marathon spectacle itself, making do instead with rooting for the rhino….is one. Current affairs, having been shocked by the news of the Boston tragedy by a friend four days after the event, is another. Household maintenance is a third.
On Saturday morning, in an unintentional example of bucking the gender stereotype, I made a fruitless call to our electricity supplier to enquire about upgrading the amperage…more of that later….as S ventured upstairs to the unfamiliar territory of O’s chest of drawers. Neither of us particularly knew what we were doing resulting in no progress on the electrics and our baby wearing what looked like a pair of culottes. Greensleeves playing irritatingly in my ear I shook my head as S carried O into the room, setting him down clear of the cut but unstuck hall tiles and their temptingly swallowable spacers.
“Mammy never likes what I dress you in” an indignant S whispered into his ear.
O stood smiling, inflatable-looking feet peeping from beneath his hem, oblivious to his unbecoming attire.
Getting nowhere, ‘the person who deals with data not in until Monday’, I hung up.
“He looks like he’s wearing a skirt.” I said.
S sighed. “I knew you’d pull me up on the T-shirt being too tight. I thought the trousers looked ok.”
Scooping O up I returned to the bedroom making a mental note to sort through and pack up his outgrown clothes which, I realised as I searched for something more suitable for him to wear, was most of his current wardrobe.
Expecting the arrival of the foreman to finish the unfinished snagging and instead greeting K’s plasterer and his whippet of a son booked to continue work on the bathroom ….we hung about the house drinking coffee. Eventually, receiving a text claiming food poisoning….a weak excuse on a Saturday morning – the sickness being more likely to have been caused, if present at all, by liquid rather than solids – S, O and I headed out, on one of the hottest days of the year thus far, to hunt for bathroom cabinets, carpets and extractor fans. On our return, again empty handed, we embarked on another pleasurable but overdue task…replanting the strawberry plants gifted by my father in law. O enjoyed the digging, watering and the ritualistic operation of moving stones from one pot to another, taking particular enjoyment in moving the heaviest ones (perhaps stereotype is ripe in our house after all). I enjoyed the serenity brought about by contact with living green things and crumbly earth and, strawberry plants repotted, I set about salvaging some of the plants thrown in a heap at the end of the garden by the builders. S enjoyed pottering about the house, making bread and reading the papers. With the sun beaming, the beginning of some form of appreciation for how the house might support the structure of our family as opposed to simply being a structure itself began to wash over us. A feeling abruptly curtailed later that evening as we surveyed the muddied mess we had made of our unsealed patio. The pressure washer lifted both the mud and our sinking hearts the next morning and its sealing was added promptly to our list.
Activity began again in earnest this morning with S beginning his day with a phone call to the extension company, employing the foreman and his subcontracted team, to register the list of issues befalling us primarily due to the incompetence of the foreman’s electrician, J. Following our introduction I had praised J for appearing to know his stuff. My judge of character now lies in tatters… as many other things are likely to if the tap above the external electric socket he installed afterwards does what it’s designed to do and gets things wet. A trusted electrician S had called in on Friday to offer a second opinion flagged up a number of other problems of varying significance.
Inadequate rated cabling going to our meter.
No labelling on our new fuse box.
A socket too close to the sink.
An external light positioned directly below a steam emitting boiler flue.
The absence of a certificate.
An incoming feed of 60 as opposed to 100 amps.
And, he noticed, a patchy ceiling (I managed to refrain from spitting in his coffee)
The last two are admittedly not J’s fault but the former is something which, we’ve been reliably informed, should have been flagged up immediately and in doing so would have influenced our choice of kitchen appliances. Switching one to gas, not an option at this late stage, would have reduced the pull on the supply and made the low amp rating inconsequential. Add to that the issue of extraction…another point our electrician claims should have been raised on first sight of the plans…and we have a watertight case against an electrician who appears to be putting a lot of faith in those very qualities of an external socket casing.
C, thrilled at once again being able to join in our tirade against the foreman’s team, helpfully unscrewed his multiple screwed ply and lifted floorboards to find out where the external feed enters the house. If it had come through the hallway we would have been left with the expensive situation of having C on salary with no work to do as tiling our hallway would have been abruptly halted until access to the cabling was no longer necessary. The findings were a relief… the cable enters through the lounge so C could resume his work. Meanwhile I was passed from pillar to post by our electricity supplier, eventually being signposted to a series of online forms, in order to upgrade the feed. We are not really any closer to finding out whether it will be costly or indeed possible but in a clear headed moment S put it all succinctly into perspective. All on the list can be sorted and even if the feed can’t the worst that will happen is our electric will trip at Christmas – probably the only day of the year we’d have both ovens and four rings going as someone flicks a hairdryer on upstairs. Repeating a phrase which is rapidly becoming our mantra…..bigger things have happened.