It’s about 11 pm and after two well deserved Belgian beers, I am relaxing. I had planned a last pint or two of real English ale, but it was not to be: things closed in.
During the past week I have bought: a motorbike, a trailer to transport it in, a rotavator (biggish one), a cement mixer, a tow bar to pull the trailer, and chains, locks and cables to secure the stuff against thieves.
The trailer is quite low and the motorbike quite high so I couldn’t get the thing into the trailer with the cement mixer, rotavator and so on. I called a friend and he agreed to come around to help at midday. In the morning the fireplace man came to view the blackened, ugly, bricky hole that for some time has been awaiting the stone fireplace that he offered us at a special price. He outlined the problems: the ‘cheeks’ of the fire area project a little too far, also the cheeks are too high and the uprights shouldn’t really sit on a floorboard.
I want to fit the fireplace myself but I sometimes think that the fireplace man really wants to do it. He told me that I would need a ‘throat lintel’, yes a throat lintel, don’t you know what a throat lintel is? I certainly did not, but he told me that most builders’ merchants stock them, though they are often known by another name. Also, I would have to cut off the top of the cheeks with an angle grinder. And I should replace the cracked back plate and I might as well replace the whole fire back while I am at it. I finally announced that I would remove the fire back and then decide what to do next and he nodded – a wise decision, I think. And so the new fireplace becomes a thing of the distant future and our lounge a sooty, no-go area.
I asked the fireplace man if he liked motorcycles, he looked the type. He did and he had sons that did. I asked him if he would help me load my bike onto the trailer. He was more than willing and, while I ponced around deciding how we should do it, he pushed the thing onto the trailer on his own! I felt an idiot, but this man does spend his time lifting fireplaces and dealing with throat lintels, and even his sons ride motorcycles.
I cancelled my friend and continued with the preparations: securing the bike, chaining up the rotavator and mixer, loading in other essential stuff: a curtain rail, a sunbed, flowerpots. By this time the four tyres of the trailer looked quite flat so I had to take it to the garage to pump them up. On the way I noticed that the indicators on the trailer no longer worked. They had done, you get a pleasant beeping from the back which is supposed to reassure that the trailer is still there. However, there was no beeping so I had to spend the rest of the night sorting out the wiring. No beeping, no beer. Hence a late night with an Angel or two – it’s a type of Belgian beer.
Ferry to Spain tomorrow. More adventures, perhaps.