Random Play by Graham Reid

The smack ‘em debate.

The hidden costs of living in a leaky building are legion, but today we were dealt a bitter and somewhat personal blow.

But first let me backtrack a little and explain how costs can mount beyond the mere bill for repairs (in our case a tidy $60,000 or thereabouts, plus interest over 10 years).

Yesterday I was told that it would realistically be another month before all the scaffolding is down, the painting done and the drains re-dug.

So that is another month in which I will work wearing builder’s ear muffs to block out the noise of saws and radios, and another few weeks living under canvas which means another high power bill because you need lights on during the day and heating because the walls are now wafer thin until they finish the re-cladding. Another month in which dust fills the house so your home is not only a depressing place to be but often quite unhealthy.

My cough cleared up when I was in Canada, Megan -- who stayed at home -- still has hers. Hmmm.

So we have another month in which stuff stays in storage at $104, another month of getting so miserable you can’t be bothered cleaning dust off the bench to cook so you order a pizza or go out for dinner to cheer yourself up and to avoid looking at drop cloths over your furniture.

Another month . . .

Yep, all of these are hidden human and financial costs. And if you think I’m whinging . . . Well, yes I am.

We’ve lived like this since December 17 last year.

My “office” (ie laptop, notebooks and dictionary) has moved three times within the house as I tried to find a quieter and cleaner corner to work in.

But life isn’t so bad. We’ve still got our . . . . Oh, actually we haven’t even got that, right?

But today was a bitter one. One of the builders in the courtyard said, “Pity about your car” as I went outside to get the paper and see Megan off to work.

Because we can’t use our garage we have to park in the street -- and during the night some shitbags had come and taken a tyre. One single tyre -- and the bolts, of course.

So we have spent the morning trying to loosen the bolts on the other tyres to use them to put on the cheap spare (one of those thin things that looks like a bicycle tyre and you aren’t supposed to drive for more than a few kilometres).

I had to go to the local service station to borrow some gear to get the bolts off -- they’d been put on by a machine and were immovable -- and then we had to go to another place to get new bolts and hopefully a tyre.

That guy wasn’t there so we sat in the car waiting, and finally gave up and came home.

We listened to a discussion of the smacking debate -- and all I could think of is that I want to belt someone across the face with a spanner.

I wonder if it was the same shits who broke into 13 cars behind the service station the other night, the same people who lifted four Mag wheels off the neighbour’s car, the same ones who broke into another neighbour’s car parked on the street?

So today Megan couldn’t go to work and loses a day’s pay we can ill-afford not to have, and I’m so pissed off I can’t get on with what I need to do to earn money -- and we still haven’t got the tyre replaced. That will have to wait until the guy opens his shop and we can get back there.

Meantime we are sorely miffed (if I might speak so strongly) and we’ve written the morning off. One of my fingers is bleeding and I‘m mad as hell.

The builders have been great and offered to help. And I want to say they are all terrific guys so if you have to live in a leaky building I’m recommending these cheerful, nice guys.

But today we really have to get out of here.

We are going to cheer ourselves up by going to a cathartic movie. We’re off to see Out of the Blue. That should do it.

But it’s another hidden cost of living in a leaky building.

(An update later in the day! Neil who is trying to locate a tyre and rim has put me straight: they not "bolts" they are "nuts" that I need -- shows how little I know about such things -- and that also, and this is his official line, "the fuggin' country's gone down the drain, mate".
I couldn't bring myself to disagree.)