As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I went off to “supervise” the plasterers who were completing some repairs to a wall of my daughter’s new apartment which she has just bought with her partner. Celebrations all round and a small milestone for the family. Parking is always a problem round there so I set off nice and early to meet the builders at nine thirty and after searching for a parking space managed to arrive at the property with ten minutes to spare: well done me.
I inserted key number one in the lower lock and pulled the door towards me as instructed. It is slightly warped and needs a bit of coaxing in order to bend to your will. Lock number one opened so I moved the keys up to lock number two and found I couldn’t get it to unlock. Odd I thought as I continued to fiddle with the key, trying various strategies to coax the tumblers into submission. Finally I had to admit that something was wrong.
I phoned my daughter and explained the situation and she arranged for an emergency lock smith to come and look at it. They would be with me in twenty to forty minutes. Luckily the builders arrived late and I had to explain to them that we couldn’t get in but that help was on its way. You never know with builders. In terms of character they come in many guises so I thought it important to engage them in wide-ranging conversation to stop them saying they couldn’t hang around and would have to go on to their next job. Finally the lock smith arrived and started fiddling with the lock.
He seemed to take a very long time fiddling with various tools before saying with the gravitas of a consultant surgeon “The lock is broken”. It’s always nice to have your diagnosis confirmed so I smiled at him and said “I thought it might have”. More tools came out of his van and after more fiddling he drilled the lock out and replaced it with another. Opening and shutting the door to make sure all was in order we then found that lock number two had also jammed. That had to be replaced as well. The builders stood around for the hour that this took with admirable patience and when he’d left started on their work.
Given that there is no furniture in the flat its a case of asking yourself which part of the floor you are going to lie on while they proceed with their task. That done I settled down with my book and read for the three hours it took them complete their task. Occasionally I got up to ask them a range of searching questions such “Hows it going” and “Are you warm enough” but otherwise left them to it.
Finally they called me down to examine the repaired wall. New plaster went from the door to a third of the way up the stairs and looked very smart to me. He explained something about the skirting board being to short and that he had to replace a bit by the front door and I nodded sagely as I absorbed the situation. When they had gone I shut the front door and left. At least that’s what I thought I was going to do but after two pulls I found the door jammed against the skirting board and wouldn’t close at all. “Ah” I thought. “This might be interesting” A careful and increasingly panic-stricken survey of the road revealed that the builders were long gone and I was now sitting outside a building with no way to shut the door. The smart new locks were waiting to spring into action and show how perfect they were but I couldn’t get them into place.
More phone calls till finally Mr Big from the building company came onto the line and told me I would have to pull the skirting board off the wall: it was only held in place by glue apparently. This I did. It took some of the shine of the newly plastered wall but what can you do. The door was now free to close and ,sure enough, the new locks eased sweetly into position with a satisfying clunk and I was free to leave.
I set off towards my car which was parked some minutes away. I got the strange impression that some clouds were chatting to each other over my head saying something like, “He’s nicely in position: let him have it” and sure enough a rainstorm worthy of the tropics emptied itself over my clothing and head reminding me that I hadn’t bought a coat or umbrella that morning. By the time I arrived at the car I was like a sodden tea towel.
Today I am involved in more tasks set by daughter No 1 and I am dearly hoping that my luck has changed.