Friday, 3 May 2013

On sitting in the garden and waving workmen into the house.

Today I sat in the glorious Bognor sunshine, in my garden that has suddenly produced glorious bright green grass with daisies and dandelions in it,  with Lizzie Hornby, Musician Extraordinaire and composer for A Graceful Death.  We sat in garden chairs with our lunch on a tray on the large trampoline which we used as a table, and from there, we waved carpet layers, delivery men and boiler repair men in and out of the house as if they were our dearest friends.  I looked out into the sunny garden from the studio at one point, having had to pop in there to answer a phone call, to see Lizzie preceding a ginger haired and tousled fellow into the garden and then into house through the garden doors, and I wondered what he had said to her to gain entry into the house.  What ho, I thought, I wonder who that fellow is?  And then I forgot about it to continue my phone call.  I felt very mellow, what with the garden looking so green and fresh, and the sun shining hot and bright around me.  He must be one of the blokes coming to do something or other to the house, I thought, briefly, and Lizzie knows how to defend herself if he isn't, and wants only to do a bit of murdering, or something.

Nothing fazed us today.  The carpet man arrived early at my studio door and looked delighted to be talking to an artist.  Before I could say, walk this way my jolly carpet laying friend, and lay me a carpet to make my friends and neighbours gasp, he began to talk about the paintings he was doing at home.  I could see that he wanted to come into the studio and see what was going on, as I was looking the part, covered in paint and wearing very old clothes, but I have learned that you need time to come into the studio and have the paintings of dead and dying people resting against the walls, explained to you.  He was very curious, but Lizzie was due any minute, there were other men due to do stuff in the house, and I needed a new carpet laid.  So I closed the studio door behind me, by stuffing a sock in the door to keep it closed since the lock and handle fell off, and led him into the house.

Soon, a little while later, Lizzie and I were sitting in the sunshine together, talking of the way the world works, and of how the creative process cannot be put into words, and how much we liked eating.  As we were on our second pot of tea, the carpet man severed an electric cable of some sort, and a faint alarm went off in a cupboard under the stairs.  "Don't worry", he called through the window, "I have called a man in Croydon and he is on his way.  He will fix it.  But as he is in Croydon it will probably be later rather than sooner."  "Will that be today?"  I asked.  "Yes", he replied.  "That's OK then," I said, "carry on and I will close the door on the faint alarm under the stairs, and if I can't hear it, it does not exist.  Life is too short and the sun is too hot, to worry about the severed cable."

More men arrived to work on the boiler, to check on the carpets and to deliver items.  Lizzie and I continued to laugh and sunbathe in the garden, and I thought - how amazing that I sit here outside with a friend, while inside the house, men bash and hammer and tweak and fiddle, so that when they are gone, I have a better home.  This is important.  Since Monday, my phone has broken, my laptop has died, my boiler has exploded and there are ominous cracks in the ceiling on the landing.  So far, I have a nice new carpet.  The men are still working on all of the other things.  I shall let them get on with it, and will have hot water again, I am told, by the tousled haired red head that Lizzie took into the house through the garden today in the sunshine.  I shall have hot water again, he said, next week, when I decide what to do over the bank holiday weekend and tell him of my decision.  "Fine," I said.  "Switch on my immersion heater, that will heat some water in the mean time.  Life is still too short and the sun is still too bright to worry about hot water".

And so.  I sit here tonight in my house, the men all gone, and the doors all shut.  Lizzie left a good while ago and the immersion heater has heated enough water for me to have a teeny bath.  I have a lovely new carpet, the severed cable has been mended by a man called Dave, or Bob, or something, and the carpet man boss turned up this evening to check on the work.  "Come in!"  I cried, "the house has been filled with working men all day, and you are welcome.  Come into the kitchen to talk carpets while I cook."

My laptop is at the menders, my phone is due an upgrade next week so I am holding out for that, and the cracks on the ceiling can only be seen if you look upwards while standing on the landing.  So I shall look straight ahead of me, or downwards, and sort it out that way until I find the next man to come and do something about it.

Oh, and the phone call I took in the studio was from Brighton University, where I am to deliver a talk on my work with the dying through A Graceful Death, with emphasis on the Motor Neuron Disease portraits of Mike and Julia.  And the exhibition will be shown there too. Life is good, eh?

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