Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How the hell does this happen? Every time I do anything on this house it ends up taking fifteen times longer than I planned and always becomes three hundred and thirty two times more complicated than I could have ever imagined. Tonight, as a direct consequence of putting a skylight into the kitchen two weeks ago, I have decided to move the cooker - which means completely rewiring the kitchen.

The blocking up of the wall continues. Pa and I are managing a course a day and we are now over half way up. We're getting to the point where those rocks technically known as "The Big Buggers" are too big to get up into place without stupid and complicated amounts of work so we are using "The Little Buggers". This takes a lot more fiddling about to get them to fit but it's less likely to knacker our backs.

What's the most stupid thing you did this week? I ran out of heating fuel just as oil prices are at their highest point for years. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! A delivery of dyed Deisel is coming tomorrow - at which point I will realise I have absolutly no idea how to relight the boiler and no idea where the manual is.

Still, you gotta laugh ain't cha?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Scribble Scribble

In complete contrast to yesterday's stone whacking adventures, most of today was spent as far away from being a Neanderthal as I can imagine. Mike and I spent the entire day finishing the 30ish minute play we have been pecking away at for the last few weeks. It's hardly Oscar Wilde but it makes us laugh. Actually it's nothing like Oscar Wilde at all, it's more like an attempt to see how many times we could use the word 'arse' on each page. The word 'arse' being the funniest word in the English Language - next to 'Wankel Rotary Engine', of course, but Wankel was German, and a proper noun; so it doesn't count.

It was amazing how quickly we fell into working together. Both of us quite happy to loose things if they obviously didn't work, and quick to suggest new ideas. I had fun. And it was amazing how quickly we fell into the cliched stereotype habits of all those bad 40s movies we both must have seen over the years. Two writers at work hammering out the screenplay, one pacing, cigarette in hand, outlining the action, the other, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, hat pushed back on his head, pounding the keys of a battered upright Dell. Hoagy Charmichael over the way tinkling a melancholy tune, Joan Blondell wise-cracking as she delivered the latest in an enless stream of urgent memos from the front office and putting another pot of coffee on the stove.
"How do you want it, guys?"

"Like I like my music baby, Hot and Black."

Hoagy lets out a muffled sob and plays three bum notes.

"What's the matter, Hoagy? What's that you playing?"

"Nothing boss, just a little something of my own."

"What do you call it?"

"I dunno - I guess I'll call it Jazz."

Mike snaps his fingers:

"Hey! That gives me a swell idea for the opening number..."

Cut To:
Close up of Cab Calloway in white Tux, baton in hand.

"A one two, a one two three... "

Something like that.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Grunt Grunt

Most of today has been spent moving chunks of granite around my garden and trying to figure out how to jigsaw them into the hole where the door was. We're having to trim some which is bloody messy work involving grinding slots into the bits we don't want and hitting them with big hammers till they fall off. Very dusty and messy. Dead Neolithic. Pa knapped a small rock to make it fit a space. Held it in his hand and whacked its edge with a hammer till it was the right size for what he wanted. As I watched him I thought "That's one of the first things people ever did that made them human. Someone held a rock and hit it to make it a different shape. 4 million years of evolution later and we're still doing the same thing. Still hitting rocks." This isn't an original thought. I have it quite often - but it's still a true source of wonderment to me.

I also rediscovered today the heather smells nice. I was raiding the rockery for a triangular bit about "that big" when I became aware of a wonderful, very nostalgic smell. I was scrabbling about under on of the heathers which are in flower at the moment and the aroma was wonderful.

At the end of the day we have one row of blocks in. The doorway has been filled to a hight of 8 inches! (We are working in Imperial this week not Metric 'cos Pa is doing the 'working out what we need to do next' and he "doesn't do Metric" unless forced to. And sometimes it's just easier, though I don't admit that to him. This building was built in Imperial measurements and all the spare rocks and slates we have been using were all cut to Imperial measurements and well, let's face it 8" is a lot easier to remember than 203mm.)

Tomorrow we are going to put another row in. I unearthed a HUGE piece of dressed granite in the pile that ill do almost an entire course by itself. If we don't use it tomorrow there is no way we are going to be able to safely lift it high enough to use. I've been gathering every bit of dressed and semi-dressed granite I have found for years now and dumping them in my garden on the off chance that one day I would need them. Over the years I have collected quite a pile, all overgrown now with couchgrass and moss. Well, the day to use them has finally arrived. The first thing I did today was roll over one of the largest rocks in the collection to measure the face on the other side. I rolled it over onto a tussock of grass that wasn't a tussock of grass at all but another bloody great lump of granite with grass growing over the top of it. A fact that became painfully apparent as I mashed my left pinky between the two . Blood, swearing, and severe pain. Great way to start the day.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Oh God - I'm OLD!

I have just found out, obscurely, via FriendsReunited, that one of my classmates, Tony, is a Grandfather! A Grandfather! I'm not old enough to be a Grandfather - am I? No way! No way! No way! Lalala! Fingers in my ears and up my nostrils Lalalala!

"But at my back I always hear
Times winged chariot hurrying near; "

No, I can't hear you! I can't hear you! La la la la laaaaa !

Oh Fuck! I'm going to have to go lie down...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Economics. Me No Understand It.

The stuff for the new kitchen is ordered. For this (and a couple of other jobs) we need some sand. About half a tonne. The builders suppliers don't sell sand by the half tonne. They sell tonne bags and 25 kg bags:

"How much is a tonne?"

The Man at The Builder's Suppliers:
Forty-three pounds - plus VAT.

How much is half a tonne in 25 kg bags?

The Man at The Builder's Suppliers:
Erm... Hang on. I'll have to work it out...
(muttering and muffled stabbing at a pocket calculator)
That comes to... er Forty-two pounds. Plus VAT.

So if I order a full tonne, I'll be getting
twice as much for only a quid more?

The Man at The Builder's Suppliers:
...plus VAT, yes.

I'll take the full tonne then.

Anyone want to buy some sand?

Monday, April 17, 2006

My Life Has Come True - That is the Name of the Shop Where You Wash Ducks

Easter Sunday 2006. All over the world people are going to church, eating copious amounts of expensivly-wrapped, cheap chocolate Easter eggs and the manufacturors of novelty Bunny Ears are going on expensive holidays. Nuclear families are joyously rolling two point four brightly coloured, hand-painted eggs down grassy hills in pre-Christian fertility rituals. A happy time.

In our house it was the day I ripped out the kitchen.

With the new velux flooding the place with light it became horribly obvious what a ramshackle bogging shithole it really was. I decided I would have to do something about it - so I ripped it all out before I could change my mind. For good measure I didn't stop till I had also ripped out the unused door that led from the kitchen to the outside world. Unused because about 5 years ago I put shelving and a worksurface in front of it rendering it pretty damn useles as a door and pretty ineffectual as a wall. The wind used to howl in round the edges and water drove in underneath it. The space where the door used to be is now filled with a sheet of polyethalene stretched around a frame made from some old 3x4s. It's more weatherproof than the door was . One of these days I will have this place finished.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Window number two is in! Merriol took before and after pictures. Fraser and I had the thing in and watertight by 3.30 pm. That's three hours faster than Tuesday. It rained nearly all day so now I have an empty, wet kitchen with no ceiling and two dehumidifyers whirring away trying to soak up some of the sog.

It also smells like "the attic" according to Holly, though how she knows what an attic smells like is a mystery to me.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The window in our upstairs bathroom is in! Well, when I say 'bathroom' I mean the space where our upstairs bathroom will be one day - when we can afford it. We are sneaking up on it slowly. When we put the upstairs into this building we laid all the pipework ready behind the wall, placed the radiator and the lighting and light switch as if the wall was there but ran out of money before we got to putting all the expensive bits in. Putting the Velux in brings it another step closer.

The Veluxs were salvaged from a demolition site. I got five of them for 150 quid. Three of them got fitted three years ago when we did the last major works to the house; the other two, the two we are fitting this week, have been sat in a shed ever since waiting for this moment to arrive.

So, Tuesday; after several hours choppping a hole in the roof, stripping away slates and cutting away roof timbers we had the frame in place and instead of being inside passing tools out to Fraser, who was on the scaffolding, it was easier for me to work outside on the scaffolding with him. I climbed up. I looked at the velux we were fitting. I looked over at the one we had fitted three years ago and realised we were missing the metalwork that keeps the window waterproof. I had no idea if we had it or where it was if we did.

Total blank.

We had spent several hours making a, very neat, hole in my roof and I had no idea if we had all the stuff to fill it up again. And it was raining.

I found the stuff eventually but it was a real "How the Fuck could I be so stupid!?" moments.

Today, Wednesday, I spent the almost the entire day taking everything out of the small kitchen. Half an hour ripping down the ceiling and two hours shoveling up the mess. At least it was a plasterboard ceiling and I will only have black snot for a couple of days. If it had been a lath and plaster ceiling my snotters would have been black for a week. No idea how this works but even with a mask on ripping down ceilings always has this affect on me
The day and a half spent at Ilona's was great.

I slept.

Merriol threw me out of the house on Friday. She'd borrowed Ilona's house keys, Ilona and Andy being away for the weekend, and told me to go and get some sleep and do fuck all for a day or two. I went. I slept for 12 hours, got up did my eMail and a couple of other bits and bobs on Ilona's computer, ate then went back to bed for another 24 hours. I didn't sleep all the time. Slept, woke up, watched a crappy movie, slept, woke up, watched a crappy movie etc. I feel so much better now. Caught up on my sleep at last. Caught up on my craapy movies too.

As I arrived home on Sunday night Fraser came over and said he could start the roof windows on Tuesday! Which meant totally rearranging the week but as we have been waiting for him to get round to doing this for about 6 months now we were not going to put him off in anyway. Daisy is no longer sleeping on the balcony but Holly's room. A situation they both took in their stride.

I Love my Kids!

Friday, April 07, 2006

I'm on Holiday

Merriol has packed me off to sunny Kinlochleven to Ilona and Andy's house for the weekend. They are away somewhere else so I have been sent to sleep for a couple of days. A couple of kid free days.


Sounds so good.

Then what hell am I doing typing this?

'Night world.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I still think 'Blogging' Sounds Like Something Rude in Welsh

Don't you? Come on, admit it:

Start humming Men of Harlech to yourself and then read the following:

"Well it was like this see, Hew Davies, Dai the Flab and I were blogging Bronwen Jones up the alley when we hears this noise, see."

I rest my case.

Holly has been a monster all day, took herself off to bed this afternoon for a long nap and just howled and kicked and screamed all evening when we got her up for her tea. After a very short, very splashy bathtime; she and Daisy kept waking each other up all evening. We just got one sorted and settled - and the other would start howling. It took both of us three hours to get them both off to sleep simultaniously; that's getting on for an entire working day just to get two kids to sleep.... Christ! No wonder I'm knackered.

And that's about it. That's the most exciting thing that has happened to me all day.

Mike and I have started writing this stupid 30 minute play idea for a festival in Glasgow. It gives us a deadline which I think we both need. he rang this morning to cancel today's scribbling session because his eldest, Finn, has succumbed to a sudden bout of projectile vomiting. I can now fully understand why I see the lines "XX took up writing after her children had left home" on so many Author Biogs. Because it is neigh on fucking impossible to get anything done when they are still around. Mike and I must be crazy to try and do this.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Damn all this technology!

Tonight I was going to finally sit down and write a long entry. All About all the humourous and jolly things Phoebe, Tyler, Merriol and I got up to when they were here but what happened? I sit down in front of the computer and someone presses my Auto-Distract Button - ooooooh! shiny....

... before you know it 3 hours have passed and I have signed up to four new, free, online services which I will never use but, by virtue of my having signed up, have become just that tiny bit more sellable to Google. ("Hell yeah Mr Google sir, we signed up Nifty-three* brazillion new customers in the last three days alone!"). But dammit, I will use their servers for something. So here is a link to this blog's brand new, shiny, out the box Frappr group!. Frappr is an interactive map thingie that uses Google maps and lets you stick a little pin in and say "I am here! - Hello, can anyone see me?" - I'm sure it does a lot of other stuff as well but I will find all that later - or you could find it. Click the link, add youself to the map and have a poke about and see what is to be done there. If it's any good let me know.

Mike and I started work on a new play today. We had so much fun writing the Panto that we're going to see if we can come up with something of our own. There's a new writing festival in Glasgow in June that's asking for submissions, so we have a deadline to work to and a limit on time, cast, and budget. We already have a workable idea, a rough idea of what the set looks like, and have a few jokes written - why do I suspect that we are never going to write anything serious. We have 20 days to get it finished and posted.

There's no money in it if it ever gets put on but it will be something else for the CV and we'll have had some fun. Hmmmm, I wonder if there are any (paid) acting jobs going at this thing....

*Nifty n. maths N times 10

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