Sooty and sweep

We thought we were buying rather a grown-up house. But, in the last week, I realise we’ve actually taken up residence in a commune. As I’m writing, there are two radios blaring out – one is Five Live, with the latest cricket scores, and another is an Asian station I’ve already grown quite fond of, which runs regular ads for a dating service to find your ‘life partner’ – no messing around going out for a drink and a chat or anything.

While writing this, someone shouted out ‘watch your head’, and I looked up to see a huge beam swinging right over me. That massive plank is going to be part of the bookshelves in the study. But all that seems a long way off. I’m typing with a backdrop of old cushions and overflowing boxes, and my desk, which I had managed to get all cocooned in a cosy little corner and set up just like before, is now completely exposed in the middle of the sitting room. As is the microwave, a broken sofa and ten thousand tons of tat.

I ventured down into the basement to attempt some washing earlier – perilous, because if you drop anything, even for a second, it ends up way dirtier than it has ever, ever been before. As well as the usual inches of dust, rust and yuck from excavating the floor, there were large pools of water. I didn’t think anything of it. After all, I went down recently and saw water dripping from the ceiling, made some enquiries, and was told it was all fine and exactly what was supposed to be happening. So I didn’t bat an eyelid at a small lagoon or two. Then one of the builders rushed up and said, ‘there’s been a flood!’ Turns out leaves had collected in a gutter I didn’t even know existed ….

At the moment, I can hear sawing, drilling and banging, all from separate bits of house. Which is probably not good, as everything is supposed to be going on in the cellar. Or at least I thought so.

Until, that is, the chimney sweep arrives later on. He’s doing the two fireplaces in the sitting room. I’ve got my heart set on one of those gas fires with a remote control. What hedonistic bliss. When I told the girls the sweep was coming, they were agog. ‘Is it going to be a child?’ they said. Alas no. They seem to have abolished child labour, in this house at least, I pointed out as I rushed around getting their packed lunches and tidying up the breakfast while they rearranged their hair in the mirror.

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