Monday, 29 March 2010

Off the Wall

The Sock is miserable.  There are several reasons for this, the back to reality jolt after having an exciting time in Paris, the lack of chocolate, cheese and cake and more than anything else THE WALL.  The Sock has been putting off thinking about THE WALL because the mere thought of it leaves her paralysed and unable to deal with anything.  Activity is called for and it can't be put off any longer.

When the Socks moved to the house 20 years or so ago they got a full survey done.  At the time the Socks were rather aggrieved to find several pages of survey dedicated to the exterior garden walls which were in a state of disrepair, rather than bothering to note that the house needed immediate rewiring in case it burnt down.  Oh, and the hole in one of the interior walls which had been hidden by bunk beds so the surveyor hadn't noticed the lattice and horse hair sticking out. Or the rest.  No - the surveyor had spent some time stating the bleedin' obvious that the back walls were falling down.  As we are terraced the neighbours had cleverly abnegated any responsibility for them by erecting fences on either side giving us full possession of these hideous and crumbling, snail-filled walls.  The Sock didn't care though because possession of both walls makes her garden look wider and they are mainly covered in the summer with clematis and an aged honeysuckle on one side and hidden behind various shrubs on the other.  After a few years the Socks hardly noticed just how hideous they were, even getting Mad Andy to patch them up last year, a process we intended to continue.

That was until the great snow and rain of Winter 2010 fell upon us.  THE WALL (which was mainly bungaroosh in the first place) has disintegrated and must now be dealt with.   The Sock cannot face it.  THE WALL needs to be removed entirely which will completely ruin the borders, THE WALL must be carted through the house because we are terraced with no side passage and this will ruin the house entirely, the builders will be loud and annoying as they tramp through the house which will ruin the Sock's life entirely, the cats will be locked out of the way in a room which they will destroy which will ruin everyone's life entirely.   The very thought of it is mind paralyzingly awful.  Totally and utterly unbearable.  Last year with the greenhouse scattered across the garden until it finally got built and the death of my beloved Luka and the rain and misery, the garden was scarely used and now it will all be disrupted again.

The Bedsock is vilely upbeat about THE WALL.  "Think of it as a new challenge" he says brightly "you were saying you needed a new garden challenge".  You can just imagine how this makes the Sock feel.

It isn't just THE WALL being removed and having to deal with stuff like skips and the people who you have to speak to on the phone about skips and the neighbours who run out in the middle of the night to dump all their rubbish in your skip.... it is also the horror of having to find something decent to replace it with. Having to waste time looking at fencing and agree with the Bedsock what height it should be. The Sock thinks high enough to shut out the fact that the neighbours fence on one side is a decrepit eyesore that is only saved from falling down itself by the fact that our clematis montana is holding it up.  The neighbours fence is full of woodeating insects which may transfer to the expensive new fence the Socks will have to have.

As the Sock is sitting staring into space unable to deal with the magnitude of this task the phone rings.  It is Mad Andy asking when he should come down to finish patching THE WALL.  "THE WALL has fallen down" the Sock tells him "it needs removing completely and I can't ask you to do it because it will take one person forever and also you are not as young and fit as you used to be and it will stress me out badly if you drop dead whilst carrying bits of wall through my house."  Mad Andy says he takes the Sock's point but that he could get a friend to assist and that he does at least understand  how traumatic it is all going to be.

Mad Andy turns up to look at THE WALL.  "You didn't say the entire wall needed removing" he gasps.  The Sock gloomily tells him it is both side walls. "Oh dear" understates Mad Andy.  "What about building new brick walls to replace them?" the Sock asks this being her preferred option.  "Don't even think of it - digging out the footings, bringing the bricks through the house, the cement mixer, the mess, the dust.. you will have a major nervous breakdown - guaranteed."   Mad Andy is already familiar with the Sock's minor nervous breakdowns caused by 'work on the house'.

The Sock has told Mad Andy to seriously consider his health and well being before taking on the removal of the walls.  Mad Andy has said that he will seriously consider it and get back to her.  This is the current position.  The Sock has now stopped thinking about it and has mentally retreated back to Paris, chocolate, cheese and cake...

To be continued.....


Helen/patientgardener said...

Oh my goodness how traumatic. I hate having work done on the house and cant imagine having work done on my precious garden. When the kitchen was put in last year I just went into a sort of automatic pilot mode pretending I was living somewhere else!! Good luck

SS said...

It's a nascent rockery not a collapsed wall. I've always wanted a nascent rockery. Think yourself lucky.

......and "no" I wouldn't want to deprive you of yours!!

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

What a total nightmare. Hiding would be my response. I'm struggling to deal with the challenge of having half pruned a honeysuckle, thus revealing the truly ghastly, and very blue trellis behind. It was bad enough finally getting around to renovating the honeysuckle, I hate bare fence, but bare fence and tatty blue trellis? Did I mention it was tatty too? So will have to prune the ivy back too to get to all said trellis to stain it something better than blue and then wait for growth to reclothe it. Cannot imagine having to deal with all of the boundaries at once. Good luck - lots of chocolate and cheese and good wine...

Jane Powers said...

This is a tragedy of truly epic proportions. This sort of thing begets other unspeakably awful things, not least that sooner or later, someone is going to suggest Rescue Remedy for your stress.

Plant Mad Nige said...

My dear Sock! Always such an education to read your posts. Bungaroosh (or Bungarouche) is absolutely my favouritest noo word for Easter. I'll be bungarouching all over the place for the next few days. I thought it was only in Norfolk that they squidged together old bits of brick and flint with muddy chalk and pretended it was building.

Please don't despair about the wall even if it resembles the Tories' election prospects - well, on current polls anyway.

Think of the positive aspects.
1. Your house walls aren't in the same state.
2. You needed to revitalise and re-jig your borders anyway, didn't you? Oh, come on, of course you did. We all need a shake up in our planting from time to time.
3. The disassembled bungaroosh will make excellent fillings for the gabions that you will construct to replace your wall. In fact, if you make tall, thin gabions, you'll have a new wall with the bungaroosh set like aspic, but in wire moulds.
4. Er, that's it.

I hope the world looks brighter tomorrow. Meanwhile, would a few more caramel-coloured heucheras help?

Carrie said...

Do not fret too much dear sock, it is at times like these that we are likely to absent mindedly pluck yourself and heaven forbid snag and unravel! Keep yourself health;, eat chocolate (it is medicine for the soul) and for goodness sake get a flight back to Paris booked so you'll be away when the work gets going.

James A-S said...

It will be hell but not nearly as hellish as you imagine it will be.
Men with large boots will stomp back and forth but they will be nice cheery men who will make polite noises about your cats (even when one of them bites).
The skips will be yellow and smiley.
There is even a possibility that the offending surveyor may be passing, trip over a brick and land in a dog poo.
We must always look on the bright side - although I fully realise that saying things like that makes people violent

I will give you one very serious piece of advice. Do not get builders to do the work. Instead get landscapers as there is more of a chance that gardeners will take more care of your plants.

Can it not wait until the winter?

Do not buy larchlap fence panels. Eat less cheese for a bit and save up for a good looking fence.

Hope you are okay.

PS I also hope that this is not revenge concocted by dear Princess anne after your inflammatory and lightly treasonable previous post? You didn't see and guardsmen with pickaxes hanging around your garden?

Fat Rascal said...

Builders, landscape gardeners, plumbers, electricians -they all have feet and an insatiable thirst for large mugs of tea. (Except here when you know there is no point in offering tea and you have to go through the rigmarole of asking "would you like a coffee?"
"if you want"
"yes, I want, but what about you? But to be honest, I want tea but as I know you will snort and spit at the sight of a PG Tips teabag I will make you a coffee and hope I have enough sugar that you will pile in and then leave in an undissolved sludge in the bottom of your mug and then you will leave said mug cunningly hidden in a pile of rubble and I will only notice it is missing when it is pouring down but at least the rain will have gone some way towards washing off the cementy fingerprints you have left on the mug which is a special put aside for artisans mug because I know what you are like")

It's pants, the pits, but teeth have to be gritted. You can't go away because the fear and worry about what is going on in your absence is worse than living through it.
Hope that helps!

Simon said...

Bummer, puts my problem of not being able to see pictures on blogs at the moment into perspective

thebedsock said...

My poor sock. I wonder if Rescue Remedy would help with your stress???

Gilly in Ariège said...

I told you to stay in Paris. Didn't I say 'stay in Paris'? But you wouldn't be told. I think the suggestion to get landscapers rather than builders is a good idea. I live with a builder - they see the whole world as a building site and therefore a legitimate mess-making place. I'm not helping, am I?

Juliet said...

I have a WALL too, so you have my deepest sympathy. Mine is at the bottom of the garden and I have put a large trellis planter in front of the huge crack which is spreading across it (due to the house's original builders apparently not having noticed that they were building the WALL on top of the roots of a large tree) in the hope that if I don't see it I won't have to deal with it. I am also hoping that if someone else doesn't see it I won't have to tell them about it until after they have decided they want to buy the house - we will then tell them that we are happy to pay to have the work done (within reason) so long as they get it done after we've moved out!

If you don't want to move house, James's idea of employing landscapers rather than builders sounds a good one though.

Aspidistra said...

Dear Arabella, I am oozing sympathy. I have just had a hideous Men In The Garden experience and have decided I can't cope with another such trauma for at least another year.

And of course the Men in the Garden have not done as requested and the negotiations regarding this make Terry Waite look like a light waite...

Apart from not doing what I wanted, my Men in the Garden have managed to accidentally break part of a garden wall too. I am hoping lashings of sellotape and a bit of string will rectify this.

Arabella Sock said...

Thank you for the much needed sympathy. It doesn't really help but at least I get some attention.

SS - I already have a mini rockery and that is enough.

Janet - Hiding sounds like the best plan yet. I think I will lose my honeysuckle this time - it is at least 40 years old and I cut it right back to the thick gnarled stem a couple of years ago and it still sprouted back. THe smell of it is glorious and comes in through the patio doors filling my kitchen with scent on May evenings.

Jane - I never go anywhere without Rescue Remedy a compass and a whistle. I would like to add a taser to that but the Bedsock won't let me have one.

Plant Mad Nige - the only thing that is giving me any pleasure in this is the thought of replacing the wall with gabions filled with flints and/or old bottles with a few caramel heuchs squashed in along the top. It will be a real feature. Bungaroosh, as they call it in Brighton not being so posh, was a popular building style here. Some of my house walls are bungaroosh although luckily that is now covered with protective layers of cement and paint otherwise no doubt they would be falling down too.

Carrie - I wish.

James - your advice about Landscapers is very good. Unfortunately there are a lot of Landscapers in Brighton who are really builders charging more for the fancy name. You can usually tell by the bit of bumcrack showing above the "Landscapers" low slung trousers and the fact that in order to invade your space as much as possible they sing and shout loudly too each other whilst playing the radio on full volume.

Fat Rascal - I knew you would understand and that even at the top of a mountain these builders can still get to you! Artisan mugs - ha ha I have lost my 'builders mug' so will have to buy a new cheap and nasty one for them to break.

Bedsock - That little joke will be expensive for you.

Reply to the rest laters. AS

Ms B said...

Oh deary me, I might just have to send you a surprise easter eggy after all!

I suspect your point to Fat Rascal was slightly awry as I don't think Fat Rascal's builders do get there!

If 'it' happens I will visit, you can whisk me off to Bills for a fish finger sandwich & you may weep copiously into one of Mr B's copious handkerchiefs.

WV is minseat. Perhaps that is a sign to include a mini-seat in your gabion & heuchera'd wall!

Yan said...

Oh, dear, that is a horrible prospect. There is nothing worse than having 'The Men' tramping round the house and garden. And even when they try to be inconspicuous they somehow make it all worse. Perhaps you should retire to a mountain top somewhere till it's all over.

Or you could tie silk ribbons to your most precious plants and warn 'The Men' that if they damage even one leaf they will be cursed unto the tenth generation. A pointy hat and wand may help at this juncture.

Bon chance!

great big bloomers said...

You need to divorce the bed sock....he has no empathy with the wall...

Rothschild Orchid said...

Oh dear the wall sounds like a nightmare.

I wrote a play about a wall once, they are such tricky things...

I really just wanted to wish you The Bedsock and your little sockettes a very Happy Easter,

RO xxx

janerowena said...

That 'expensive' remark of the bedsock's - I suggest a little holiday, somewhere warm, while all the work is being done.

However, Nige's gabion idea would be a good way of only getting big feet through your house rather than several tons of rubble.

Measure up your hallways - narrow wheelbarrows may have to be bought.

Katherine Josh said...

As you know, bird's nest has been women's elixir to stay young and beautiful.

I am regularly consuming bird's nest for health and beauty~~ Usually I would choose the sugar free ones (e.g. for better control of energy intake.

Keeping fit and young, for both inside and outside is an important yet difficult goal to archieve.