Yesterday was emphatically More Rain Day, and a whole new torrent of water entered the house in a different place. Rather sheepishly I had to telephone Roofing Specialist Guy again. This time when he arrived, the first thing that he did when he opened his van was pull a dead Christmas tree out of it and stand it in the driveway. (This further supports my theory that he is actually a wizard.) Then he went on the roof, came back down, unrolled a piece of lead, went back on the roof, hit some stuff a bit, and the roof stopped leaking. He took the dead Christmas tree away with him when he left, presumably to use in subsequent roofing spells.
We had to go back to York again afterwards to pick up some more stuff. York was all damp and green and grey, and three blackbirds were sitting on different aerials in our old street, having a shouting match. It’s more difficult moving in stages. Every time we go back to our old flat, a cosy-but-too-small loft apartment in a converted warehouse, it predictably looks less and less like home, but there are still little nostalgia pangs. It is easier to move all in one go, in a way; this way is a bit like breaking up with someone, getting over it a bit, then getting back together and then re-realising it’s all wrong and breaking up again, over and over. But back in the new house again there is all the space and greenness and I forget all about the tiny transitory sadnesses, so I think it’s going to be all right, really. When the roof stops having these colander-like tendencies, anyhow.
People have been implying that they will fix the gutter – which was blocked-with-grass-growing-out-of-it and causing lots of water to flow into the wall – for several months. But they somehow haven’t. Today it rained. Because we have knocked part of the wet plaster on the wall down now, water was coming inside in a really obvious dripping/torrent way rather than surreptitious seeping/mould. So I phoned a roofing specialist, which was terrifying because TELEPHONE. But he said he’d unblock it, probably, if it wasn’t too high up, and would be here in an hour.
I spent an hour wondering whether I had been OK on the telephone, and said the right things, and what I thought was going to happen would really happen, or whether actually the roofing specialist would turn up on the back of an elephant and sing a few arias to me and then go home. This is partly because the concept of things proceeding as I would expect them to in a reasonable universe has been severely eroded by this consistently not happening. (Examples include the number of people I know who seem to be having babies [the motivation for which is entirely alien to me]; the government thinking it’s all right to retroactively change the law so the illegal things they did “weren’t” illegal any more, John Smith’s Bitter being many times more popular than Samuel Smith’s Bitter, etc. I’d like to also include some sort of amusing popular culture reference here, for stylistic completeness, possibly about Justin Bieber, but I don’t really know who he is. So I won’t.) But mostly because I’m really crap at the telephone.
But no, he turned up, accidentally spilt some emulsion paint all over the road and then immediately unblocked and cleaned out the gutter. (I don’t think the paint was part of it, unless he was really a Guttering Wizard and it was part of a gutter-releasing spell. He wasn’t very happy about spilling the paint, though, so probably not. Unless this was all part of the cover-up about being a wizard.) It was excellent, even watching it while standing in the rain, although it was a bit sad about the paint joining it running down the hill in a small river. Anyway, WATER HAS STOPPED RUNNING DOWN THE INTERNAL WALL NOW. I have done a little bit of delayed freaking out after being all sensible, and now I will probably have a cup of tea.
We have moved two vanloads of furniture and assorted smaller piles of mess, and now some of the things are in Durham and some are in York, and half of the things I need to make something that someone has ordered from me may be in one place or the other but I can’t tell which. I wander through a small forest of wardrobes and a sofa bed and a filing cabinet which we somehow, between two of us (one of which was me, and I am not exactly Strapping) manoeuvred down a flight of stairs and through a corridor full of crap and into a van and out again at the other end in the dark through a doorway with a particularly menacing door handle. (There was also the World’s Heaviest Mattress, moving which was what I imagine articulating a heavily sedated hippopotamus might be like.)
Somewhere in the forest there is / is not a small box containing components for the thing I am supposed to make; I cannot remember what the box looks like or what is written on it, only that it might or might not be here. It is the curious and dreamlike limbo period of having half moved house. Actually it is not at all dreamlike, it’s just bloody irritating, and at some point the wardrobes are going to have to be felled and turned into furniture.
Since October 2011 – when I stopped writing a blog in a fit of fragmented life-scrambledness and then deleted it all just to make sure neither of my readers expected anything, although this may have come across a bit like a small child having a tantrum, I suspect [sorry] – well. Obviously some stuff has happened, possibly more of it than I was expecting and/or was strictly necessary. But the life is becoming marginally less scrambled, and I sort of missed having a blog, so here we are. Here is some of the stuff, anyway:
- I went to New Zealand for the whole of February 2012. Doing so involved jumping in rivers, going up hills, chasing sheep (not maliciously, but for Farming Purposes), playing the viola at people, and occasionally (well, once) being outraged because someone in a restaurant served me a pizza which, inexplicably, had loads of barbecue sauce on it, completely eclipsing the taste of all other ingredients. (I have included the pizza part so as to not sound too smug about the weather and general niceness. Oh, and also at one point a calf chewed my tights that were on the washing line and got cud all over them. Which was kind of gross, but kind of cool at the same time because who expects that particular gross thing to happen? Also, it washed out.)
- Upon returning to the myriad pieces of ongoing-money-gaining activity that I’ve accumulated over the years, I did something I’ve been wondering about for some time, and took the decision to go completely solo and give up external work. I had two recurring freelance jobs, each happening about once a week in the middle of working from home on making jewellery and music and managing my own websites. One was doing SEO for an IT company. The other was playing piano very aggressively in a ceilidh band at Normal People’s functions. My brain was starting to feel like it was existing in several underperforming fragments. So I stopped doing them both (albeit a little regretfully because of enjoying the regular company of both sets of colleagues). Which was scary, because now I am entirely responsible for soliciting all of my own work and sometimes nearly run out of money and contemplate the horror that is busking. But also not scary, because my brain is now feeling less fragmented and I can concentrate on things and have more time to do them. So: phew, and also yikes.
- We (that is, Tom and me) are moving house. Having flirted with the idea of living in Bristol, then Wales, and propositioning Berlin and south west Scotland, we – actually this metaphor probably shouldn’t continue any further. We are moving to rural County Durham, because that’s where a nice house which is very cheap is situated.
- Even though I’m not really doing much in the way of trad. style folk music any more (other musics are being investigated, quietly), I made a book of sheet music which includes most of my folkier compositions. Also (in between bouts of house-hunting, chaos and despair) Rooftop Chartreuse made an acoustic folk-baroque live-in-the-studio EP, a video, and a studio single which our parents don’t really like.
- I got a sewing machine and can now actually use it (I built some realistic-looking curtains from scratch!*), learnt to cook dal properly, finally set up an Etsy shop, made sloe gin and pickled onions which were nice and apple Schnapps which was disgusting, and wrote a bunch of songs which will eventually be recorded (in the New House). I think I had approximately 6 really bad hangovers, but only one cold/sore throat. I ate 196 packets of Fisherman’s Friend, and slightly damaged myself on household objects 567 times.
*Well, they look realistic but actually I Photoshopped them.