Friday, 3 January 2020

The aftermath of Christmas - and it’s not even Twelfth Night yet!

On Christmas Eve they dismantled the roadworks outside our house. The work wasn’t finished but someone decided that the residents would like to have the road clear for the Christmas period. So the barriers came down, the holes in the road were patched up for the time being and the equipment was stored away. A stack of great, enormous pipes were locked away behind a barriers further up the road, as if there was a fear someone might steal them - far too big for drunken pranksters to move them elsewhere! And yet the mound of fancy gravel, which did look very tempting fo anyone who had a drive to maintain or a soggy pathway to improve, was just left completely accessible.

The road was open, traffic could get through again and the air quality outside our house deteriorated.

We knew they were going to start up again yesterday but still it was a bit of surprise to get back from my daughters at the end of yesterday afternoon to find the road closed once again, making vehicular access to our house problematical once more! This morning it was obvious that the workmen were back ... with a vengeance! At 8.00 they were pounding away, digging up sections of the road. Heaven help any of the neighbours suffering from a hangover! I suppose the workmen have to start quite early because the days are still short, despite having passed the winter solstice. The sun still sets at around 4.00 pm and I imagine that they need to take advantage if the daylight hours.

I remember years ago staying with my Spanish sister in Andalucía in August. Construction work was going on not far from her block of flats and one morning we were woken at 4.00 in the morning by the screeching sound of iron girders being moved into place. It was too hot to do such physical labour in the heat of the day so they started in the wee small hours and finished work at lunchtime! Very nice for the workmen but much less so for those who wanted to sleep while it was still cool! Especially as we wanted to keep windows open if possible during the night. Her flat now looks out a very posh residential complex with swimming pool and elaborate gardens. And she now has air-conditioning and does not need to worry about keeping her windows open in the night. Very bad for the environment though!

So I spent yesterday at my daughter’s house, helping her to restore some order. She was expecting a joiner to come and give her a quotation for some work that needs doing and did not want him to be unable to see what he needed to assess because of continuing Christmas chaos. The tree had already been taken down. As she wanted a larger and taller tree than the one I had selected for our house, a rooted tree in a pot, she had opted for a tall, cut tree, which was a problem from the outset. First she had difficulty obtaining a suitable stand so that the thing would remain upright. Then it started shedding needles even as they put decorations on it. By Boxing Day it was looking pretty scrawny and by New Year’s Eve it was already standing like a skeleton outside her door.

There was another problem too: she had been “uncled”. Her uncle, my brother-in-law, and his wife have no children and seem to compensate for this by buying inordinate amounts of stuff for the offspring of both our children, or more specifically for our grandchildren. And our daughter had been “uncled”, as she and her bother refer to it, a couple of days before Christmas Day. Of course they really appreciate the generosity but in the rush to organise Christmas it had not been possible to organise things properly. And then they had spent Christmas Day at our house, Boxing Day at her in-laws’ house and the intervening time in a flurry of social activity.

So we sorted through bags of presents they had received and miscellaneous Christmas stuff that needed storing somewhere other than a corner of the living room. It’s the kind of task you need to share, especially if you have an almost four-month-old who has just had his latest round of inoculations and is a little cranky!

Now I think I need her to come and return the favour, helping to remove the yards and yards of paper chains made by the grandchildren and festooned around my kitchen by my son and daughter, who are both tall enough to blu-tack them up just beyond my reach! My small tree, by the way, still has all its needles.

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