So, it’s been nearly twelve whole weeks since we made the ill-advised decision to get a really cheap house that needs everything done to it. Lets see how it’s going, shall we? I should disclaimer first: a big list of stuff getting done to a house is not necessarily the most interesting reading in the world. However, plenty went wrong, so maybe that will help.
At first, I was fairly optimistic that once we had emptied the place of all the stuff that was lying around (including, but nowhere near limited to, an entire set of the Encyclopaedica Brittanica and the drum kit for Rock Band, which I assume is probably broken) then we would both start feeling a lot more positive about things. Only, there was rather more stuff lying around than I remembered, and my god, for some reason clearing it all up took just forever. (Although at least someone had gotten rid of that skip full of rubbish, which had been there so long it may well be listed in the Doomsday Book).
Also, we had to rip up the downstairs carpets, because they were absolutely soaking; as one might expect from being in a place that had been empty for over a year and urgently needed both the roof and the damp-work looking at. Sadly, it had been a while since I’ve done heavy labour that involved me getting covered in ming, allotment work and horse manure excepted, so I was relieved when, several days later, it was all over.
Ahaha, no it wasn’t. The local tip is now the place I have spent most of 2015; after the flat, my work, and of course, Beaky Hoose. My hopes that the kitchen would come up alright with a damn good scrub proved futile; the G-Monster declared that the whole thing was rotten and had to be ripped out, along with some perfectly good-looking fitted wardrobes that filled most of the back two bedrooms. We started on the wardrobes first; I personally took out over 300 screws on the first day, and was only one of three people working on it. Still the damn things were standing, like some sort of deathless curse on the place.
In good news, the G-Monster’s awesome mechanic came over and discovered how to turn the water on, and the gas boiler did not blow up when we turned that on too. That was as far as the good news went, however. The bad news included: the one nice-looking bathroom was leaking from everywhere; part of the house was not plumbed in, either with water or heat; and my fitness levels were worse than previously feared. I nearly passed out after disassembling the wardrobes and carrying the bits downstairs to pile neatly out of the way in the living-room. It was mortifying.
The very next day we got word that the damp-proofers were coming a week early, and the pile had to be moved up the other end of the house. It was a surprisingly long way and I fear that, once we have moved in, I am going to get fit just from getting where I’m going and realising I’ve left something I need back where I came from. Also, my joke about ‘going to the west wing for a pen’ doesn’t work any more, not when there almost is a west wing, not ‘the other side of the lounge’.
As well as all the physical work indoors, we had the outdoors to contend with. The garden is a fair size, so much so that I could easily double my allotment space and still have room for a lawn, especially if we get rid of that bit that was once a hedge, back when I was learning to walk, but which has been riotously out of control since; again, possibly a bit like me, if you listen to my parents. Except I am not fifty feet tall and in danger of crushing all around me. Alas.
It will have to wait, said the G-Monster, we have enough to be going on with. You just strim down the meadow (which had been waist-high in the summer, but had now all fallen in on itself and all the dog turds that someone’s dogs had been leaving there) and we will ignore all the rest. I faithfully did so, became immediately covered in pulverised dog-turd, and was greeted with a look of extreme disgust when I went looking for a petrol refill (in the house, not in public). I felt that a bit unnecessary, since I had pointed out what would happen, but was forced to put on the G-Monster’s overalls before I got in the car. I have not strimmed anything since, mostly as a form of protest, but also because damn, who has the time? We had a year’s worth of post to rip open, looking for information on who to contact about the utility bills (and no, I did not read any of it. I get good at that at work, haha), and also a lot of consoling the G-Monster to do. This is his first time on a house that needs a lot of work, bless, and he was feeling somewhat overwhelmed. Oh God, he kept saying, This is a catastrophe and it is all your fault because I only bought the place because you liked it.
Which, if I had known it before he bought the place, I would have insisted he didn’t. But it was too late now. So guess who was now feeling overwhelmed with guilt in case it was a catastrophe in the end. No pressure, like.
Anyway, December was upon us, with Christmas rolling up fast and cards and gifts and things of that Ilk to attend to, as well as all the homebrew needing to be moved on and tended, all sixty-five gallons of it, and gee, what timing, eh? But we had our feet clear enough that we could invite some professionals around to tender quotes that would involve things like kidney-selling.
The roofers were really sweet and I would totally recommend them if anyone wants and is in the central belt (of Scotland) – if only because they didn’t tut and announce anything would cost us umpty million quid, and also emptied the gutters on the garage as a bonus. Did I mention we have a garage? Oh yes, we have a garage, and I have already been banned from getting any ideas about carrying on with DIY in there, because it is the G-Monster’s garage. Instead, I have been granted The Shed, which is hidden somewhere in the ex-hedge. It is rather larger than the shed I am renting at the allittlement – about eight times larger – so there is that. I have also been told, every second day forever and ever, that I have been granted permission to sleep in the shed, too. To which I laugh politely and hope like hell that this is not going to be one of those situations where it turns out he’s actually drop-dead serious and I eventually escape from a life of being chained to a post somewhere, aged sixty, and everyone tuts, points at Fifty Shades of Grey and says I must have wanted it, somehow.
So that was the place damp-proofed and roof-proofed and wind-and-water-tight, just in time for the Storms of Winter (and are there ever some, up there on the high ground). We had also tendered for flooring quotes, kitchen-fitting quotes, plastering quotes and someone to come and totally redo all the wiring. I wanted to do these things Ourselves, with the possible exception of the wiring, but had to admit we had made practically no impact on the place for all our months of… what do you mean, it’s only been a fortnight? It feels like forever.
By this point, we had met the neighbours, well, two of them. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, we are in Central Spaniel, in that there are spaniels to the left of us and spaniels to the right (and horses at the end, go figure.) But there are spaniels all down the road into town as well. I was somewhat dismayed by this, because if me mate ever brings Dexter T Dogg out to play and he gets in among the locals, I am bound to bring back the wrong one and much wrath will ensue.
There was something of a hiatus over Christmas. My god, it was nice to have four days of sitting on me arse, rather than tearing up the motorway and hauling stuff to the tip; whether at the crack of dawn on a day off (crack of dawn rather more conveniently timed in winter) or in the dark of night after work (dark of night less conveniently timed, at around three in the afternoon). Did I mention everyone drives like lunatics when its dark and the weather’s bad? Because they do. For instance, back when the G-Monster and I were still trying to kid ourselves we had leisure time, he showed me Death Race 2000 over dinner, and the very next morning as I was walking to work, this guy sitting at a red light did his utmost damnedest to run me over as I crossed in front of him (on the green man, matey) – and immediately had to sit on his brakes so he wouldn’t screech out into the main road and get side-swiped. I ask you. I almost wish I had paused to get his numberplate, instead of fleeing like the wind, but I figured, if someone’s going to do that in front lots of other cars, what stops him getting out and going after me with something else, if I hang about?
I was just complaining about it to the G-Monster when he picked me up after work, when this other guy suddenly ran a red light from a standing start, the G-Monster sat on the brakes to avoid him and we got shunted by the poor wee lassie behind us. She was so upset I was forced to get her number and text her to make sure she was okay.
(Did I mention I am fitting driving-lessons in among all this? My licence is finally getting some use, after twenty years of languishing in a drawer! Now I remember why I stopped driving; well, I didn’t have a car, but apart from that, everyone else on the road appeared to be a cast-iron psychopath who was personally trying to kill me. It’s like nothing’s changed. Except I am assured that, this time, I have not been loaned a vehicle by someone who confessed afterwards, when it failed its MOT on seventeen separate points, that they knew fine the brakes were faulty and all four tyres were bald. God-dammit, mother.)
We then got norovirus for Hogmanay. Oh, how hilarious it was.
Well, actually it was, from my point of view. The G-Monster had been rather unimpressed by my saying I was going to take a day off from going out to Beaky because I was feeling ill; since he was going to his mate’s after, and I would have been left out there to take two trains home, I decided I’d rather not if it was all going to go horribly wrong en route. As it was, he had to take a detour into Beaky on his way home and was stuck there being horribly ill, and I felt quite concerned for him, obviously, but also quite vindicated. This lasted until the next day, when I was about to get on a bus to go see a mate for Hogmanay and got ill like anything. But at least it didn’t happen on the bus.
We laid in emergency air-mattresses, after that, since they were on sale at LIDL. Shame about the lack of anywhere not covered in nails and sharp dust and whatever to put them, really.