I am writing this entry not from my own home (aka " Jasper-Horatio Stafford's House of Pain and Pleasure") but from the residence of my partner's parents; to whither my partner and I have decamped for the immediate future. I am almost unbarkably livid. I am NOT the kind of man who goes running back to mummy - and you may be sure that my partner is equally annoyed.
You may be aware that my partner and I are currently in the midst of having our kitchen and bathroom completely gutted and all-new ones built in their stead. "Hurrah!" was the initial cry. "How delightful." Not so now though. Oh no.
I will explain.
Originally, the work was scheduled to commence on Tuesday (8 February). Shortly before Christmas, we received a letter to say that the work was put back by a day to the Wednesday. No problem there. Then, a few weeks before the builders were due to start, the firm sacked one of their main contractors for incompetence and we had to take a day off work to meet the new contractor and re-select our kitchen colour scheme and style of units. Well.... alright then.
Two builders arrived at the house on Wednesday, around mid-morning. They were pleasant enough, liked me greatly, and acted efficiently. My partner and I popped out for a few hours, leaving them to it. When we returned, the builders had gone - and so had our kitchen and bathroom! The water had been reconnected, but there was plaster-dust EVERYWHERE. Grrrowl. After a couple of hours had passed with no reappearance of builders, my partner telephoned the firm's office. Oh no, came the reply, those fellows were just there to take everything out. Different builders will be coming tomorrow to begin the new installations. "But," protested my partner, "I have to go back to work tomorrow! How are they going to get in?!" Eventually, she elicited a promise that someone would be here to collect a key before she and I departed for work the following morning.
We waited. And, after we had finished that, we waited some more. Finally, we sighted a builder going into Eddie the Rottweiler's house (Eddie's partner and her boyfriend are having a new bathroom). My partner dashed over and gave him a key. We managed to be only slightly late for work.
As we pulled into our parking space that evening, the first thing we noticed was that the builders had left lights on in the house, using electricity that we have to pay for (at this point it is perhaps relevant to state that my partner presently has £5 left for us to live on this month), as well as the fact that an incredibly annoying high-pitched beeping noise was sounding constantly. My partner turned to me and wondered aloud how much work had been accomplished in our home that day. Upon entry, it was hard to ascertain whether or not ANY work had been done. Closer inspection revealed that an electrician had been in (there were new plug-points and switches, as well as new smoke-detectors and extractor-fans). It wasn't long before the irritating shrill noise from outside began sending us over the limits of endurance (my partner assumed to begin with that it was the electricity key-meter from next-door. These money-hungry meters emanate such a tone when funds are running low, to warn householders that, unless fed, all power to the home will be cut-off. A bit like a cat demanding its dinner). My partner went outside to take up the matter with our neighbours, only to discover that the peals seemed to be issuing from a large plastic sack beside our wheelie-bin, containing the workmens' waste from that day. She made a closer investigation - and uttered extreme, though justified, profanity at what she found.
Yes. The clowns had thrown our old smoke-detectors - with their batteries still in them - into the rubbish sack, and tossed plaster-dust, scrapings, bits of wood and any old sh*te in after them. The thing about fine plaster-dust is that, in many ways - it is just like smoke. G*d knows for how long those bl**dy alarms had been going off and tormenting our neighbours. My partner had to go through the whole sack by hand, getting scratched and filthy, to retrieve the smoke-detectors and remove the batteries. She was not pleased.
And thus dawned the weekly miracle that is Friday. Off we went to work, thinking that better things would be awaiting us on our return. Sometimes, dear reader, I wonder why I bother with optimism, I really do.
No further progress seemed initially evident in the kitchen after a fleeting glance so my partner proceeded upstairs to look at the bathroom. She found that a new bath, lavatory and washbasin had been installed. MY attention, however, was arrested by the kitchen. I wandered in and sniffed around - something didn't smell right and there was an odd clicking sound. As my partner returned downstairs, something hit me on the head. "Erm... you might want to come and have a look at this." I wuffed hesitantly.
"What's up in there, Jazz?" replied my partner, entering the kitchen and switching on the light.
Water was steadily dripping through the kitchen ceiling (which is beneath the bathroom), and had clearly been doing so for SOME TIME. A small bulge was also forming around the source of the drips. Double-Grrrowl, which is mild compared to some of the remarks on the subject made by my partner.
My partner endeavoured to contact the "emergency out-of-hours helpline" of the building firm (though it was only 5.40pm) - no-one was there and mobile 'phones had been switched off. Hmmmnnn... Eventually, my partner gave up and telephoned our landlords' helpline. She spoke with a very helpful young man named Asif who, to be honest, was our first encounter with someone efficient throughout the whole business. He summoned a repair-man, who arrived after a couple of hours, and we took some pictures of the damage whilst we were waiting. Our repair-man did his best, but struggled to comprehend quite how the incompetence of his havoc-wreaking colleagues had been achieved. Ultimately, all he was able to do to cease the flow into the kitchen was to disconnect our water and heating until Monday. Had we no other options, my partner would not have been able to go to the lavatory for the whole weekend. I offered her some space in my favourite pee-patch in the garden, but she wasn't tempted.
My partner's parents kindly offered us sanctuary, and here we now are. We can do our laundry, cook our food, and have our baths. But that doesn't mean that we are not very cross indeed.
This, I suspect, is not the end of the sorry saga. Updates will be posted.