I don’t know if I mentioned to you that I’ve been doing a bit of a job on the old house over the last while. Did I mention that? Maybe it was before anyone started reading this shit, so it could easily have missed you.
Anyway, I have. For the last three or four years I’ve been involved in a one-man campaign to re-model a house, including the removal of strategic walls and floors, by extreme jackhammer application and industrial cursing. Plumbing. Central heating. Not to mention building new staircases, knocking out new holes for light-inviting windows, and the fitting of solar panels by my favourite Aran-Islands drunken builder who curses as Gaeilge when he bashes his thumb.
In fairness to the Rockhopper, he was the one mainly responsible for the wall-taking-down-by-extreme-violence approach to building that we have here in this little enclave. It isn’t really a one-man operation. I was only looking to take all the credit, as you do, but I was found out. You saw through me as quick as the lies left my fingers.
It’s been fun. I never built a staircase before. Having some old hippy leanings I thought it would be very good, and green, to recycle the previous staircase, which was built of teak. I know. I know. It probably came from some badly-managed rain-forest where Indians had been slaughtered to make way for the loggers. I know. All the more reason not to throw it out.
The problem was that I had a plan to build a completely new kind of stairs. A new layout. The old one was straight down, but the new one would have two landings, and it would turn back on itself. In short, if we wanted to use the old one, we’d have to cut it in half. I didn’t know how to make the clever joints between the stairs and its posts, so I called a real hippy, but also a great carpenter.
I have this teak stairs. I want to use it again and I don’t know how.
No bother. I’ll be there in an hour.
He came two days later. He studied the problem. He made sketches. He smoked joints.
The Hippy didn’t know how to do it either, but that didn’t stop him staying for the week, during which time he built two gigantic coffee tables, one taller than the other. One was about four feet high and the other about two feet tall. He built them from ash and pine. They were beautiful and what’s more, they weren’t really coffee tables. They were landings.
And then we cut the old teak staircase in half, with great difficulty because it weighed about half a ton, and we dragged the bits into place, and we sat back. The Rockhopper had a beer. I had a beer. The Hippy had a joint. We studied it from every angle and we all agreed. It was shite.
No problem. The old staircase ended up in my friend’s garden. (He has a hill.)
After the Rockhopper and myself had constructed the flights of stairs (when we were sober, which was rarely) the entire thing fitted together like a sculpture. Beautiful.
And that was how I gained the confidence to hand-build the kitchen, but that’s another story for another time.