Monday 25 April 2011

I'm still around

But...  Sort of camping out at my mother's house, until we get it ready to sell, I've been gardening, mending things, patching plaster and paint, she'd laugh at me.... After all she's said before "You'll finish that when I'm dead!", and now she's proved right.
So far, I've not been haunted, unless the flowers leaping out of the vase at the funeral was a spot of poltergeistery.
One of the jobs I'm doing involves dealing with all the companies who are reluctant to believe she doesn't need to pay them any more money. Oh my. How difficult it is to  fight through level after level of simpletons, explaining the same thing over and over again, only to be told "I'll have to put you through to my supervisor", followed by an age on hold listening to elevator music.
Oh and "Your call is important to us. We are experiencing unusually high numbers of calls at the moment, All our operators are busy, thank you for holding........" Then, I either get cut off, and just like a character who's just been killed in a video-game, I have to start all over at level one, with no ammo-packs or medi-kits.
The final level boss usually expresses surprise that I've had such a hard journey, and been shot down so many times on the way to their door.
It's getting easier as I learn their ways.

Next up? I have to write a letter to a bishop in London, to get permission for interment of my mother's ashes in an officially closed churchyard.

So, I've not been wandering the blogosphere much for a while. There's no internet here.... unless someone leaves an open wireless connection up for a while. Hm. Well, there are about nine secured networks up right now and one open.
I'll assume, shall I, that the owner's just charitably offering to share a little bandwidth? (rather than just not having the sense to password his or her network?), So. It may disappear at any time.
Ave et vale, friends, with a swirl of my cape, I'm gone again.

I'll be back.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Ho Hum!

Back to a sort of normal on monday. It seems surreal. Early morning phone call, a tenant's premises flooded, fire sprinkler pipe high up holed. only a pinhole, but a lot of pressure and a weekend make a small problem a bigger one. I get a ladder, prop it against the pipe, a somewhat wobbly perch, getting very wet, so I don a makeshift rainsuit, made out of a polythene trash bag.
A piece of rubber clamped firmly over the hole will hold it until the sprinkler guys can get here with a scaffold tower and replace the pipe section. I drive a few miles to another site, load up a wet-vac and the numpty labourer, who, as usual, is griping about being expected to actually work. "Why should I have to do it?", he whines, like an eight year old.
I set the old misery-guts to work clearing up pools of water and picking rolls of furnishing fabric out of the pale, slightly rust-tinged flood.
He brightens up when i tell him I'm leaving him there all day. Sweep the roadway,  empty the bins, clean around all the fire-doors... A default activity that to him means "find a quiet corner out of sight of the cctv cameras and light up a cig".

Me? back to our main site to investigate a long term leak. The roofers and the steeplejacks have messed around up there many a time, they were ordered to scrape off  all the old repairs, get right to the root of the problem and fix it.

But it's not fixed, the tenant below has water seeping out of his wall. And the tenant below him had a window-ledge full of wet, too.
Time to get a ladder again. My verdict is that there's something I can't see going on behind the parapet wall, and the only way to find out is to dismantle a yard or so of parapet, which requires a lot of full-on hefty bashing with a big hammer, and quite frankly? I'm feeling a bit destructive.
Bashing a thick brick wall from a wobbly standpoint on a ladder would be stupidly ineffective, so it's time to wake the green machine and have a platform to stand on.

Having dismantled the wall, we find that the contractors have been less than diligent, and just pasted new goo over old goo, because it's not the gutter-joint that's failed, oh no, that's still as firmly bolted as it was on day-one, a hundred years ago. Oh no, it's just past that, where the cast iron, close-on an inch thick, has cracked right through, leaving a gap almost an inch wide all around. This annoys me. you pay someone to locate and fix a problem, only to find out months later that they took the easy way, and charged handsomely for not even finding out what the problem was.
The gutter's a hundred feet long, so, given the extremes between summer and winter, the expansion and contraction must lead to fearsome forces. And it sits atop a wall that's over two feet thick, so any leak goes right into the wall.

These days there are very good flexible sealants, able to accommodate 40% or more movement, and that's what I've repaired it with. Time will tell. 
My boss said "Can't it be welded?"
He doesn't know that cast iron needs to be heated almost to red heat before welding, and if we wanted to do that up there we'd need to take the roof off. I have another plan, if this one fails, always have a back-up plan...

So there we are. Right back to normal. 

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Graveyard Humour

As my regular readers will recall, my mother died, a short while ago. We (I and my sister, brothers, sister and brother-in-law) have been very busy in the intervening time, so much to do, so many people to contact, official forms to fill, appointments.
But on that night, shocked by what had just occurred, my brother and I left the hospital in the early hours, going to bed seemed.... inappropriate, so we walked, walked, and walked in the dark. It seemed a good time to go visit Dad's grave. The churchyard was locked. low walls though. I'm not sure which one of us said "Let's split up and go through the graveyard", but it's a good line, usually spoken in horror movies just before the flashlight batteries fail. In our case there was no flashlight anyway.
The old man had nothing to say. He did not materialise and say  "Why aren't you boys in bed?"  (On the night he died we walked too, until dawn).
Anyway, I took a pic of the church and the moon.
But I tried to post it and it was a tiny white spot in a black rectangle. My night vision must be better than the computer's.

I think the reasoning in the picture above is a little flawed. The graveyard in question is officially closed. Nobody maintains it any more. Monuments topple, history fades. But there are several generations of my forebears in there. None, so far as I know, was killed by a gravestone.