Thursday 15 December 2011

Eating an Elephant

This job has been described as "eating an elephant" as in the old saw, "How do you eat an elephant?" "One bite at a time!" (How we laughed!) and we are mentally trying to break the awesome whole down into bite sized pieces so that we have the task for the day. Today we have a couple. We have to meet the guy from the Irish Electricity Board (E.S.B.) about getting reconnected to the mains, we have to chop through the bases of the ivy growing up the side of the house and we have to (taraaaa!) clear the dining room including pulling up the lino.

We head out to the house fairly early and get the fires going at either end as usual. The house is now starting to warm up nicely. The E.S.B. man arrives and inspects and finds the equipment too old to be just turned on, so we have to pay them €390 for the privilege of a "new" connection. All they'll actually do is change the box in the hall and give us a brand new meter. What we need to do is engage a qualified electrician (step forward the family "Sparks") to declare the house wiring 'fit to be connected to'. There's a laugh. The wiring at present has all sorts of single strand wires twisted together, cables looping along the picture rails, ending in nothing where some kind of old electric fire used to hang. What Sparks will probably actually do is cut away most of this and leave us with one or two more modern bits of the installation so that he can sign the thing with a clear conscience. He'll then probably burst out laughing before giving us a quote for the repairs and rewiring.

We also get our first genuine visitor, the guy who rents the cattle grazing for the land, who we'll call Mike-the-Cows. He wanders in just to introduce himself and comments that he's been told that "an old couple" have taken over the house (Oy!). He's a lovely bloke who tells us he's happy to carry on the arrangement grazing the land and topping/spraying the rushy bits to keep the pasture in good heart, offers all kind of help including pulling out the old Volkswagen Golf from the brambles, ploughing the bit of ground I want to use for an allotment, helping cut down the loose barn sheeting and so on. He also provides a bit of local history including some 'back story' on our previous owners whom we will call, for these purposes TK Max (the old Dad, passed away in the 80's), TK Min (the son) and "the three sisters". Mike never knew the sisters but had plenty to do with TK Min. He also told us about a famous event which occurred nearby where a gang of bank robbers trying to escape from the Garda (Police) hi-jacked TK Max's car just along the lane from us and shot 2 Guards. The old boy was apparently upset enough to move out of the farmhouse and into the nearby town of Ballaghadereen.

Main job today was to clear the dining room and "lift the lino". Sounds easy doesn't it? Not quite so easy when there are three layers of lino in varying states of grottiness and decay. Under these was a layer of flattened out newspaper, then a layer of flattened fertilizer sacks and finally on the bottom a layer of closed newspapers dating from 1967, which had been in contact with cold damp concrete and walked on for 44 years and had turned into a greasy peaty stuff which had to be scraped up from the floor using a conveniently left behind kitchen knife. During the course of these works I got so sordid and dirty that Mrs Silverwood was aghast and there is another shampooing being threatened.


No comments: