On the eve of the onset of painting, Tigger again tried the new bath. It shifted slightly, breaking the seal around the sides. I found I could make it move simply by pressing down on it with my hand. This is particularly annoying because we had already discovered the instability and reported it. Nothing has been done about it and the carpenters have boxed it in.
I assume that the panel will have to be removed so that whoever attends to the problem can gain access to the supports. The painters obviously have to be warned in case they start painting and their work is interrupted and even spoiled.
It was obvious that I ought to report the problem as soon as possible. After my brush with the out-of-hours emergency service, I decided not to bother with it but to ring the office number they had given me. The office opens at 8:30 when the painters were due to arrive. I called the office and was only put through twice before scoring a direct hit on the local team co-ordinator. He promised to send someone to deal with the bath.
At 8:45, the painters arrived. Having ascertained that they would be working in the bathroom, I explained that there was a problem.
“I bet you’ve got a leak!” said the head painter.
“No, that was yesterday,” I retorted dryly.
Freya and I retired as usual to what should now be called the bedroom since the bed has been moved in and we now sleep here. As the workmen always leave the front door open, it is not always obvious when there are new arrivals but I did manage to catch the plumber when he arrived. By then one of the painters was working away in the bathroom. The plumber went in reluctantly, making it momentarily the most crowded bathroom in London. I explained what the problem was and heard him mutter “I don’t know what to do about that”, then, to me, “We’re going to put silicone round it.”
“Yes,” said I, “but the bath moves. You can’t have a bath that moves.”
The plumber stood there silently.
“You need to take the panel off and adjust the foot so it’s firm against the wooden block it stands on.”
I don’t see it’s my job to tell the plumber what to do but I am not going to be spoofed into being stuck with a wonky bath, silicone or no silicone.
“Well, I can’t do it now,” said the plumber grumpily. “I’ll do it later when the painting’s finished.” And off he went.
I retired to the bedroom-citadel and let them get on with the work. Mid-morning they invited me to come and look at the front room. “Good, isn’t it?” they asked. I was rather shocked. It didn’t look good at all. It looked more like something done by amateurs. Then I decided that these were professionals who knew what they were doing and things would improve. I returned to my lair.
At about 2 pm they knocked off. “Leave the window open for a couple of hours,” they said as a parting shot. “To let it dry properly.”
I emerged and went to look at the results of their work. I was displeased by what I found in the bathroom and hall. They had made no attempt to clean up as other teams did. There was dirt and pieces of plaster and paint scrapings all over the place. Henrietta was going to be busy. But when I entered the front room, I was frankly appalled. They had made little attempt to cover things and there were spots of paint all over the floor and on the counter tops. Ripped off frieze paper lay in curls on the floor. On one wall they had painted over the existing paper that was already peeling. I found a paint tray and bucket, wet and uncovered, the former dripping paint on some unused cardboard boxes. Other paining gear, a vacuum cleaner, and personal property also sat there. One of their ladders had been leaned against the wall, leaving a mark in the paint. I just gawped. We were going to have to put furniture from the bedroom in here in order to make room to put the bed down to sleep on. With this mess, this would be impossible. What sort of “professionals” leave a place in this state, not merely at the end of the day but over the weekend?
I think this was the most depressing moment of the whole process to date. I just stood there thinking “What are we going to do, what are we going to do?”
I decided to call the management team. Two were on leave but the third was nearby and agreed to come over. It was a waste of time. I pointed to the peeling paper: “It’ll be picked up.” I pointed to an unfilled hole in the bathroom wall: “They’ll take care of that on Monday.” The mess evoked no response, nor my statement that I was going to have a job moving things. She kept repeating her mantra: “It’s looking very nice already, isn’t it?” I’ve heard of that Friday feeling that this is ridiculous.
What do you do when you are in despair? You get stuck in. I plied Henrietta with a will. I pushed and shoved. There was painter’s gear stacked in the main hall so the stuff they had left in my place went to join it, all except their personal belongings and the vacuum cleaner. After some hard graft, I had the place looking slightly better and the chaos more manageable.
Tigger arrived home and was as put out as I was but she was seeing the tidied up version. We had a cup of tea and then got stuck in again. We managed to push, shove and kick things into a better configuration and make room for the furniture that had to come out of the bedroom. Nothing could go against the walls, of course, so it was like working in a smaller room. Somehow the miracle was performed and we were able to impose our will on the situation.
I am not looking forward to next week and a resumption of the painting. This looks like being the worst part of the whole project.