Here on Pig Row the saga of my wife’s office continues. The grass is thigh high, whipping the sides of the tarpaulin housing my wife’s flat pack shed. Beneath the spread of the blue tarp the office sits in a silent cocoon oblivious to the trials and misdemeanours that have been done in its name. This is the flat pack office that with much grunting, swearing and heaving has come to rest a mere few feet from its final home. It has been here since March. This is not the story of a shed, this is the story of a hole in the ground, this is the tale of three people scratching their heads and swearing at the hole until the shed built itself. It is the modern gardening fairy tale set beside growing peas.
I and my wife, and her father, started this hole back in March. This planned weekend project has taken five months. Five months of arguments, smacked thumbs, jabs to thighs with planks of wood, and toes swollen from dropped hardcore. Back in April we managed to finish half of the foundation. In May we waited, it rained. In June we waited, it hail stoned. In July, it roasted then cooled and then in one blissful day we all trudged back up the hill, swore at the hole in the ground, swore our way back down the hill and we all realised the truth, we could finish the other half of the foundation in one day. We have taken so long, sworn so much that we have decided that all three of us how now qualified building contractors. We have tendered successfully for building the Olympic Games in 2016. By that time our son will have worked his way up the ranks from nude screaming toddler with plastic hammer to site manager at the age of six. We hope he will, with the same energy that he now hides his toys, miraculously make whole building sites vanish over night. We hope he will still perform his on the hour magic shows in which he will make diggers, cranes and builders somehow disappear and reappear in a cafe in South London when they are supposed to be in Rio. Our aims as builders are simple, we guarantee not to keep to a schedule and that we will miss all deadlines. We guarantee to accidentally bury feet of the Culture Minister in a concrete base and open him as the Games toilet block. We guarantee to undercut any other contractor because we will have a six year old managing the accounts.
The weather has not been the only problem in this tale; we’ve had problems with levels. It is not the case at Pig Row that everything runs downhill. At Pig Row there are troughs, hillocks and mounds, running left, right, up, down and sometimes in different time zones. The only way we could get a level foundation was to dig a big hole and then fill that hole with rubble and then fill it again with more rubble and just to be safe, more rubble. We have lived for five months like moles, blind with building rubble dust, hands cracked from the hickory handle of our favourite tool, the sledgehammer. The great thing about a sledgehammer is that it is a great leveller, if brought down hard enough. Our least favourite tool was the wheelbarrow, the poor wheelbarrow, friend of the gardener, became synonymous with rubble shifting. It stopped being loved and was instead relegated to arguments over who would do the shovelling of the rubble and who would push the rubble up hill in the wheelbarrow. This is the problem with living on a hill, the ramblers who pass, the “let’s have a day out driving” brigade only see the beauty, they think the buildings just grew from the slopes and never consider that each stone has been brought in, uphill. We are now part of a long line of men, women and children who have sworn their way up hills in Yorkshire clutching stone to their chests. All we have to do now, weather permitting is the final concrete skim and by this time next month we could, with hope, with love, with little or no swearing have built the shed and opened the office.
As I write this final line the heavens have opened and the rain tumbles down...bugger.