Tuesday, 6 December 2005

dear people who used to own our house

Dear Bob and Carol,

Last night, I spent half an hour trying to change the lampshade in the hall.

All issues of aesthetics aside, had it not occurred to you that for safety reasons, updating the light fitting to one manufactured in the second half of the twentieth century might have been wise the last time you replaced the lampshade yourselves?

I can tell from the shade that you chose that you did so relatively recently and I must therefore thank you for cross-threading the fitting to such an extent that it took me three snapped elastic bands, a sprained wrist and the actual destruction of the old lampshade AND the lightbulb, before I could get the thing apart.

The new lampshade throws out much more light. It therefore illuminates beautifully the badly painted polystyrene cherubs with which you chose to adorn the hallway. Unfortunately however, the placing of the light fitting in no way illuminates the useful storage space under the stairs.

In some ways this is a blessing, as the plastic coated cladding with which you have chosen to line the space is mercifully left in the dark.

I wish I could say the same for the cladding with which you seem to have lined the rest of the house.

Whilst the clashing-shades-of-green colour scheme in the living area is not my personal choice, at least the walls are clean and and the carpets of relatively good quality. I marvel daily at the hardboard with which you have lined both the dining and sitting rooms below the dado rail. It is such a comfort to know that the damp that was discovered in the rest of the house before we moved in is safely confined behind it.

Speaking of damp, the cladding in the bathroom was a stroke of genius. Successfully covering up the leaking roof for such a long time was a wonderful idea. The fact that the old lathe and plaster ceiling actually collapsed, bringing the cladding down before we could ascertain that there was a problem was merely a minor inconvenience.

Bob, the fact that your profession as a Gas Fitter meant that you were able to install your own central heating system must have been a real money-saver to you. I am sure that you take as much care with other people's houses as you did your own. I expect all your customers are thrilled at having enormous gaping holes in the internal walls to let the pipes through. And they probably all enjoy the challenge of daily negotiating the old gas inlet pipe capped six inches above floor level as they get stuff in and out of that space under their stairs.

When we moved in, I was particularly looking forward to designing and creating a courtyard garden. I want to thank you for making some of those designs so simple for us to choose. We have decided that the best way forward is to lay some decking immediately behind the house, in order to make safe the two foot deep trench our builders had to dig at the back to get the damp course to work properly. Anyone could have overlooked the fact that raising the entire yard by two feet and topping it entirely with concrete slabs that slope slightly would mean that any rainwater run-off drained directly through the external wall in to the utility room.

It was particularly cunning of you to use the rubble from the disused wash-house as a hardcore base for the raised patio. A two feet depth of broken stone certainly makes a sturdy foundation. And blocking up the gate from the back lane in to the yard with the (green) cladding with which you have lined all the courtyard walls has made our decision to go for raised beds so much easier. Much as we could do with the exercise, wheel-barrowing four tonnes of hardcore through the house has very little appeal.

So, thank you. And in conclusion, now nearly three years have passed, do you think you could consider getting a mail redirect set up and letting your various creditors have your new telephone number?

Hoping the future brings you all the good things you deserve,

- Ally and B

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