Our brief period contemplating how best to utilise the space offered by our newly cleared snug was to be short lived. This weekend C arrived, laden with tools (though few, it was soon to become apparent, necessary for any of his required jobs) and promptly reclaimed it as his own.
You may remember that his tiling of the hallway was brought to an abrupt halt when the seriousness of our amperage issue…our incoming electrical feed not being high enough to accommodate our appliances….was somewhat alarmingly brought to light. Access under the hall floorboards was anticipated, though it turns out not needed, but in erring (albeit frustratingly) upon the side of caution we stopped a momentum-fuelled C in his tracks with a promise to bring him back at a later date. Now in gainful regular employment and without the convenience (to him….not us) of the contents of his shed spilling waywardly across our snug floor he has reluctantly agreed to resume where he left off and complete work on our house at weekends until the hallway tiles have been laid and the snug cupboard refurbished. So Saturday morning found S and I optimistically looking forward to tying up an aggravating loose end…
It was the rather literal tying of loose ends, however, which was to be our undoing with the confusion starting midweek as both S and I pinged independent special requests to C in preparation for his visit.
Me – could C bring a suitable cutter for sandstone (an angle grinder I was subsequently corrected) to cut a section of our leftover patio stone to make a shelf-top for the basin wall in the bathroom?
S – could C help him thread some higher-rated cabling under the floor from snug cupboard (where the electricity meter resides) to the fuseboard (hidden behind a shoal of fish in the Worlds Smallest WC)?
Yes to both came the reply. Yet both did no more about it….our noble but often ambitious spinning of family, work and Pebbledashed Pad plates landing, once again, about our feet in a cacaphony of ceramic breakage.
No cable was bought.
No stone was selected from under the tarp in which it lies shrouded in the garden.
C arrived promptly at 9.30am to be greeted by S and his right-hand miniman (no one else but Daddy will do come the weekend)…me having taken the cheeky opportunity to leave the boys to be boys and disappear for some me-time. Arriving home a little while later I found C spread eagled on the hallway floor, face peering down into the cavity beneath the floorboards, wrestling with a rope. As I glanced left into the snug I saw with horror a trail of destruction with C’s name written all over it……. deep holes stamping their way from entrance to cupboard, created by the lifting of boards which had once been sanded and the gaps between them filled with resin-soaked sawdust and which were now cast aside as if they were firewood. Tools lay askew across the room. The pile of wood offcuts S had hoped C would either authorise the disposal of or take for his own use still lying propped layer upon layer against the wall making our snug look as snuggly as a branch of Travis Perkins. And, it seemed to my impatient eye, that there was a noticeable absence of tiling going on….
It turns out that he was still engaged in the process of floorboard sewing….attempting to thread a rope under the boards after which he would attach it to the cable and pull. Theoretically the rope, much like a needle, would guide the cable through the dark underbelly of our house until its emerged triumphantly at the snug cupboard ready to be connected by the relevant, hopefully qualified, electrician. After which C could at last continue to tile.
That was the theory….
The reality was that the cable required, 16mm we had been informed, following a comprehensive search of all likely outlets during a morning O had hoped would be full of football kicking, un-ripe ‘oooorgeeee’ eating (the red ripe strawberries from our plants having been devoured in a pink juiced frenzy a day earlier) and jigsaw puzzling with his Daddy, appeared to be disappointingly unavailable to the avid DIYer. In addition, as the hour hand spun (and the mercury rose) C became less and less confident that his own seemingly genius suggestion would work….the cable’s ample diameter rendering it, he feared, stiffly immobile and resistent to the yoga-esque requirement to bend around the beams and joists forming static and unwieldy obstacles along its destined path.
There was nothing for it. I put the kettle on.
“Perhaps you could tackle the patio stone?” I asked C tentatively as he, in a bid to kill time, adopted his familiar position rolling a cigarette on the island, coffee mug at his elbow.
“Ah.” He said in reply. “Well, its like all these things….” He licked the rizla. “I didn’t actually come very prepared today. I thought I would be tiling.”
“Oh.” I said “I did ask you to bring it…”
“Yes. It was in the loft. And the loft hatch is in my daughters room. And my daughter was asleep when I left. So I couldn’t get it…”
“I see” I said decisively as with no other tools with which to do anything but the tiling the solution was clear. “Then we need this bloody cable….”
Whilst S waited for a texted response from our electrician to confirm whether the cable really needed to be upgraded or whether we were simply belt, bracing and wasting (time), I tried to track down the elusive stuff. Meanwhile C, paid by the hour at this point to drink coffee, looked calmly on punctuated by fairly frequent suggestions that he pack up and go home early. Adamant that some progress would be made today I resisted his suggestions and finally, following a Google-Gamble, struck gold…or rather copper…..with the discovery of a local electric wholesaler.
I got out my phone.
“Hi” I began “do you sell 16mm cable?”
“We do…” said a man in response.
“Ah, great” I nodded encouragingly at C.
“…but what kind of cable?” he continued…not in an attempt to be helpfully of service but rather in the Tarrant-like bored delivery of someone being tested.
I paused. Ask the audience, I thought.
“What kind of cable?” I looked up at C.
“Twin and earth…. I imagine” C replied cautiously.
“Twin and earth” I said firmly.
Expecting “Is that your final answer?” the man tested again.
“How much of it?” he asked as he began to chew.
“Well that’s the issue we are facing….” I said with a sigh, “We need it on a roll….probably about four and a half metres…”
“On a roll?” he chortled. “Yeah love. We’ve got 16mm cable on a roll. Hang on a minute….”
“Yes, we have it”
I hung up.
“I don’t plan to meet that guy” I said later to S as I relayed the news of my find “so you will have to get it.”
“I think it might just be best if I went home…..” C tried again. “I’ll come next week?”
S’s phone beeped. He picked it up with a frown before replacing it decisively on the table.
“We don’t need the cable.” he said. “C. Tile away.”
And with that C unthreaded his rope, replaced the floorboards, reattached the plywood atop them with a series of loud ‘kerchangs’ echoed with each firing of his nailgun by a despairing little voice saying “Daddy….noise!” before proceeding to make himself at home. Tools were unpacked and lay strewn across the snug floor, toolboxes were stacked in the hallway rendering it obsolete as any form of passageway and dirty black marks were smudged over our newly painted white walls.
Combined with a steadily rising temperature C’s slow start, admittedly not his own fault, manifested itself into a slow day overall and so the welcome arrival of friends towards its end signalled an ideal time to draw it to an early close. In complete contrast to the way we had hoped the day might go, tiles which had been ‘set out’, measured, matched and cut were dutifully numbered and packed away whilst tools remained exactly where they were.
Next week, we have vowed, we will be better prepared. But for now thoughts of mist coats in the snug…be they light or dark ….are abandoned. Focus must switch again to other loose ends whilst we wait for C to evacuate the snug for the final time.
…Cue Project Carpet…..