Solemn signings and wild digressions.
Would someone kindly bring on the brass band, wind them up and set them to parping and tooting about the place. For we have, at very long last, procured ourselves a builder! I realise this may not sound just cause for a celebratory airing of the bunting, but it has taken almost exactly a year of wading through permissions and tender documents to get to this point. The tender documents alone took three months to produce – Esteemed Architect and his merry band beavering away behind the scenes to produce a mind-stultifyingly intricate set of documents. One reason for this was that, given the somewhat …ahem… challenged nature of the Regency Wreck, we wanted a fixed price contract – something that most builders refused to entertain. And those that did padded their quotes with such a thick layer of contingency wadding that we could not have afforded to do the project and continue eating, or get the dogs new collars, or furnish the house (which is still under debate), or buy ourselves new worry beads. You get the gist – a sort of Dickensian pathos beckoned us.
A neighbour remarked very pithily last week that the area has attracted a ‘postcode tax’ and has come to be seen as a money making venture by all and sundry, builders included. So in the end we have gone for an outsider, an unknown, to set the house to rights. He read about the Regency Wreck in the Sydney Morning Herald and determined that he would get the project, and so he has. We like him, Esteemed Architect likes him, his referees like him. But it’s a risk. If you have a spare couple of fingers, maybe you’d cross them for us.
So yesterday at oh eleven hundred hours precisely, give or take a storm or two (and a kangaroo), Mr Pimpernel and I presented ourselves at Esteemed Architect’s office. Phones were turned off, expressions were solemn and a cloud of gravitas hung low over us all. Together with the builder, and with EA as stern overseer and witness, we signed so many copies and initialed so many pages that by the end we were all suffering from acute RSI. None of your casual thumbing through the yellow pages, this. No ‘she be right’s or ‘we’ll work it out as we go along’s.
And so he begins on Monday, ripping off the roof and digging up the concrete slab in the basement where, of course, we all hope to find sandstone flagstones underneath, intact and precious as ancient bones.
After the Solemn Signing Mr P and I toddled a few metres down the road and beheld, between the piers of the Harbour Bridge, this piece of floating mammothness. It was so big it dwarfed the Opera House. So big it loomed over the tops of the old wool stores. We heard its horn last night as it was leaving Sydney, booming vastly in the hollow mist (and did you see the moon last night? – mighty outrageous!). Today, apparently, it had been replaced by another. I do love the idea of living next to this stately procession of over-scaled itinerancy – full of the promise of other places, of change, and therefore hope. It beats the more mundane vista we’ve been used to, where changes to the horizon are usually limited to the neighbour’s new roof tiles or a different coloured front door (in a good year).
(Oh, and bee tee dubs, I would have cropped the picture – you know, tidied away the bridge contractor’s bollards and suchlike, in much the same way as you’d plump the cushions before inviting someone over. But six months after moving over to the mac side, I am still so barkingly incompetent that editing is about as achievable as flying. And so it might, one of these days – the computer that is – out of the window and straight into the fish pond).
So anyway and anyhow, soon there should be some ‘during’ photos to go with the ‘before’s. Actually I’ve been thinking that the blog and I might disappear in a poof of silence for the duration and return only when I can post the ‘before’ and ‘after’s together. Because, really, nothing beats a good transformation. I am convinced we all long for them. The psychoanalytic contingent bangs on about it all the time – the yearning to be re-made whole, or different or something. And for once I’m in agreement with them. I’ll admit, somewhat shamefacedly, that deep down I believe I will be my young self again. Truly! A sort of retrospective transformation. Of course my head knows this to be the errant nonsense that it is, but heads are not the rulers here. Or at least not in my particular bat cave. Maybe in yours. But anyway I digress. Wildly.
While I’m at it, here’s an even further digression, in fact a complete and utter non sequiteur – I hear that the government of China is introducing organic cigarettes for its citizens who number one third of the planet’s smoking population. Ah well then. All’s well with the world.