Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Cracks have appeared. Both literal and metaphorical. 

The literal ones are running in alarming lines down the back of the house, especially around the windows. 

The metaphorical ones are in our relationship with our builder, whom we thought was lovely, but have discovered was keeping things from us.

Meanwhile, Husband has had a significant birthday and we have since escaped to North Yorkshire to our favourite little hotel for some much needed R & R. 

Here is one of the cracks...

Here is the birthday...

Here is the hotel...

More next week...

Love E x


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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down.

8.20 am. Wednesday. I've just given the boys a lift to school and now I'm back at the house. As I open the front door I nearly step on my face. My smashed wedding photograph is lying on the hall floor, little fragments of glass scattered far and wide. Quite how it landed that far from its position halfway up the stairs where it was innocently resting on the wall is a mystery. 

I pick it up and start to carry it into the living room. The door bell rings. Again. I let a builder in. Again. Another one. There are already a multitude of them milling around at the back of the house. 

"What's that?" says the builder.
"My smashed wedding picture," I say. 
"Who did that?" he says.
"I don't know," I say.

Then I go back into the living room, still holding the picture, and switch on the kettle. Out in the hall the doorbell goes again and again and again...

The phone rings. I answer it, still holding the picture. It is my neighbour. He is calling to tell me about the roofer he just used to solve the damp problem in his top back bedroom. 

We also have a damp problem in the top back bedroom. It is on going. We've had three roofers up there in that past few years and spent a lot of money on it - all to no avail.

"I'll send him over to you in a bit," he says. 
"Thanks, I say, "but I have a governors committee meeting at the primary school this morning, so I won't be in." 
"Okay," he says, "I'll get him to ring you instead." 
"That would be better," I say. 

So now I'm in a hurry. There is something I want to do before the meeting. I want to make a message. The school just had a nasty OFSTED inspection and I want to cheer them up, especially the head teacher because he is a lovely man and a great head. I'm very fond of him.

I put the smashed picture down on the sofa and go upstairs with a piece of A4 card, lots of old newspapers, a pair of scissors, and a Pritt stick. 
I must remember to print out the agenda and the minutes from the last meeting as well, I think, and it's already ten past nine...

The doorbell rings. It is my neighbour, and he has the roofer with him. "I thought I'd send him over to you now," he says.

"Right," I say, and I feel my back teeth clamp together.

As quick as I can, I show the roofer the wet patch in the top back bedroom. It's Middle One's room. Since the building work started the problem has got worse. There are cracks, and where once there was a constellation of tiny luminous stuck-on stars for him to look at able his head, now limp lining paper hangs down to reveal a festering black hole.

We discuss the cost and feasibility of having the chimney removed. It's a shame you didn't think of this before the extension, says the roofer, because now it will be very hard to access the roof. I keep looking at my watch. 

We go back downstairs. He wants my number, or my email, but I can't find a piece of paper or a pen and now it's getting late so he leaves without either, saying he'll pop a quote through the door over the weekend (he doesn't).

I go back to my office and finish making the message. I print the last minutes and the agenda. I dash down to the school. We have the meeting and afterwards we chat about the OFSTED. I give the head teacher my unsigned message in a blank manila envelope. 

I walk home. I open the door. I go into the living room. I glance over at my smashed wedding picture. Except it's not. It's not smashed any more. 

I do a double take. I know I'm tired, I know I'm stressed and anxious and exhausted because there are 9 builders in the house and it's week 12 of constant banging and drilling and no kitchen, but am I actually hallucinating now? 

Slowly it dawns on me that someone must have taken the smashed photograph and had it mended and then put it back in exactly the same position, while I was out. The builder. 

So that message I made, out of lots of cut-out letters from old newspapers and stuck on a piece of card, to give to the head teacher and staff at the school where I am a governor, and where they just had a horrible OFSTED inspection, it said: Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down. 

Seems appropriate somehow.

Love E x

(That's the photo at the top, now back on the wall.)

P.S. Thanks for reading! Stats are very high. Several thousand over a month and now more than a thousand just on blog day. Do comment if you want...


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Monday, 14 October 2013

Double Edged Sword.

Smart phones are a double edged sword. That's my thought for the week. On the one hand they provide you with invaluable up-to-the-minute info, on the other they catapult breaking news straight into your hand, and nanoseconds later into your brain, that you sometimes really don't want to know, at least not that fast. Two cases in point...

Monday morning, before 9 am, I check my email before setting out to the edit...

I'm off to edit the two rap videos shot at my kids' primary school on Saturday and incidentally, a word to the wise, maybe don't try shooting two videos in one day with seven kids and a rapper in an old Victorian school when you only have the key for the main door and have to haul all the equipment up four flights of stairs and one of the children is an hour late so you have to re-jiggle your entire schedule and the client is coming to watch. 

It all went well in the end but we were really up against it. I only had one drink in seven hours and by the time I got home was so frazzled that I went straight to bed. But I digress...

So, the email is from the teacher whose classroom we used and she is not happy. She says she just had to spend ages putting it back as it was, which is mortifying because we really tried to leave it as we found it, we even took a photo at the beginning so we could match it. 

It was certainly clean and tidy but maybe not in precisely in the configuration it was meant to be. So, one grovelling email in return, and one also from the production company because I forward her email to them, and a mental note to take in flowers and chocolates later in the week, and I'm hopeful the situation will be ameliorated. But still, it preys on my mind the whole hour I'm driving to the edit: Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. Not a good start to the day/week.

The second is about the kitchen build and arrives on Friday afternoon. Two emails that top and tail the week, you might say...

I'm walking home with a jaunt in my step thinking how lovely the Common looks, even if it is raining, after a nice lunch with a friend...

and I check my phone as I do because, well, I don't know why, because you do, don't you? If you have a smart phone you check it all the time, constantly, it becomes a nervous tick: texts - check, email - check, Facebook - check, Twitter - check, and if I'm at home often the blog too - check. It's mad. I'm sure I find it harder to concentrate when reading a book or the paper now because I'm always reverting to my phone.

So, the email is from the structural engineer who did the drawings for the extension and he has been sent a letter from building control to say that, after a recent site inspection, it has been noted that the beams (steels) are wrong. In fact, to quote exactly, they are "at serious variations with the deposited and conditionally approved details." As one of the kids in my rap video says, as per my genius script, "OMG."

So why didn't the guy from building control raise this with me or the builder at the time? We both met him. Weird.

Much hyper-ventilating and many phone calls later and it turns out it's not half as bad as it sounds. I learn that the beams have been welded rather than bolted as the plans specify and that this in itself is not necessarily a problem so long as our builder can provide a welder's certificate and proof that the work is good - and safe. Worst case is that bolts might have to be added (by the builder, at his cost) but that's fine, it can be done from below without disturbing the new roof. 

Phew. I had visions of the whole structure being ripped down and rebuilt there. It was only an hour of phoning and panicking, all told, but I could have done without it. 

So why did I check my phone right then in the park on the way home when I was all happy-go-lucky-it's-Friday? 

I guess we all need to know this stuff eventually but there's just no let-up is there? We're bombarded. This has happened! And then this has happened! Oy! This has happened! It's exhausting. 

I resolve NOT to constantly check my emails and texts all the time from now on. It can all WAIT. In fact, I'm going to hide my phone right now and go and read the paper from cover to cover, just like in the old days...

just after I've checked what's happening on Facebook.

Love E x


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Monday, 7 October 2013

Bear with me...

Please bear with me...

I shot my rap video on Saturday - seven kids, one rapper and the client came to watch. 

I was editing it yesterday and again today. 

I will be back soon!

Love E x


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