Saturday, February 23, 2008

Home Work

Not "Homework" as in extra-mural activity, or maybe it was, you can be the judge of that. We have had a new boiler installed and now the electrician has been and gone so it no longer runs on the jury rig that had been cobbled together. Its all up and running properly so the central heating isn't blasting away all day and night. The loft insulation people have been and improved that for us so this house is really warm, all the time. I really do "feel the cold" these days ever since my highly over-active thyroid was well and truly zapped with radio active iodine five years ago.
There is one advantage to a zapped thyroid, I may "feel the cold" but don't even break sweat in an Eastern Mediterranean heatwave, great. But I digress....
So, new heating system, the old one removed which means the copper recirculating tank in the airing cupboard has gone too. This has left a gaping cavern with a door.
Years and years ago, way back in the mid-twentieth century, when this then state of the art system was installed, the airing cupboard was little more than a plywood box built as an afterthought and now the water tank has gone we could see just how dog-rough this bit of joinery was.
We size up the job, head off to B&Q, get the timber and bring it home. My wife then clears off to Sunderland for a few days leaving the proverbial field clear for me to get on with rebuilding the cupboard. I said it would need some sort of lining and nice, big, full depth shelving. I decided it would look good with wood cladding. So after waving to my better half as she drove off down the street I set to.
It turned out to be a major undertaking. This cupboard had no right-angles in any of its corners and no two sides were the same. Everything had to be tailored to fit where it was to go. Plumb and level were foreign concepts to its very structure. Good job my wife had gone for a couple of days or so.
Day One, got the internal framework in place. At least internally it would be nearer to some semblance of a geometric aesthetic. I worked at it for twelve hours then, exhausted, crashed into bed.
Day Two, Installed the cladding to walls and ceiling of said cupboard and fitted shelf brackets as I went along thus ensuring they were hidden, or leastways not immediately visible. I had planned on a shorter day on the job but time flies. BBC Radio4 kept me company as Iworked and when "Any Questions?" came on I couldn't believe it was so late already. So a cup of strong coffee and once more unto the breach my friend.
I needed to get the job finished that day (Friday) because (a) my wife would be back on the morrow and the bedroom looked like a joiner's shop and (b) I would be at a retreat the next day.
The job was completed at 11-30 pm. I sat down amidst the clutter of off-cuts, tools, Workmate bench in the middle of the room and sawdust all over the carpet. There it was, finished, a brand new linen cupboard with three full-depth shelves and the pine cladding giving it the appearance of a miniature Scandinavian sauna. I felt as though I had just emerged on the summit of the Eiger having got there via the North Wall. ( I was a rock climber for some thirty years in my youth).
After a trip to the kitchen, a cup of tea and a bit of toast it was time to take the walk down the Mitteligi Ridge, to use the mountaineering analogy. By one o' clock in the morning, all was cleared up. The room looked as though I had never been, - apart from the new cupboard and the smell of new wood. I crashed into bed and slept the sleep of the bless├Ęd.
Next morning at the retreat I sat meditating in the Zendo quite surprised to find myself alert and awake, I was expecting to be struggling with sleep deprivation. But my body was aching and I really had to drag myself across the town to the venue. However, as the day wore on I felt better.
I got back home at teatime to find my wife had returned from her sojourn in the North-East. She likes the cupboard.

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