Tea? Check. Coffee? Check. Milk and sugar? Check. Chocolate biscuits? Check. This can only mean one thing – O’Neill Towers, despite the harsh lessons of previous years, is steeling itself to open its doors to builders. Having sacked my last one for all those traits so well documented in that wonderful episode of Fawlty Towers, I have taken the plunge and engaged somebody new for this latest bout of crashing, banging, demolishing and (hopefully) redoing. At least said builder is from the composers’ county, as Howells referred to it, so that is a good start.
Thankfully this time most of the work will be outdoors. Coming up to the end of my first decade in this house, I have finally scrimped and saved enough to turn my garden into something I might enjoy. For reasons I have never truly understood the previous owner saw fit to concrete over any semblance of grass (to give his children somewhere to learn to rollerblade, I was told by a neighbour), which can make that whole area rather post-apocalyptic on a bad day, certainly not somewhere one might like to sit and pass the time.
For a while, though, I have imagined that garden as a place where, potentially, I might sit in the morning, close to the kitchen, with my coffee and emails, and then adjourn to the far end, under the bamboo, to catch the last of the afternoon sun, G&T (probably) in hand. Well, now it is about to become a reality – deposit is paid, details and plans exchanged, and hopefully the doorbell with ring in less than an hour and David and helper will arrive. Unlike my previous builder, David seems to have a pretty good idea of when this all might end as well, so my confidence, while not high, is not quite dead yet.
Confidence in my writing is also doing well at the moment. In an idle five minutes the other day I sketched out what I thought was a pretty average passage for a piece of music I have been jotting down for a while now. I transferred it to Sibelius, added some detail and had a listen (I always listen to what I write last of all) and it sounded rather handy, almost impressive. This piece has been a project for a couple of years now, but, with the current lull in commissions, I thought it might be fun to do some serious work on it, and it will be large, not quite a symphony, but certainly a decent sized multi-movement work, a kind of next step from against the pull of silence.
We played a few rounds of cards last night as well, including an epic round of the wonderful 2-player game Jaipur. I found this under the Christmas tree, as I had clearly not behaved too badly during 2013, and it is my light filler of choice at the moment. With scant regard for tradition I managed to win last night’s encounter, but only after losing the first hand on a tie-break of a tie-break, Jaipur being played over a best of three format. If you enjoy card games with a significant other then this is well worth consideration – very competitively priced but with quality components and a simple set of rules, yet deep enough to maintain its interest. We have also been playing hand after hand of Race For The Galaxy, one of the finest card games out there, but Race one is – how shall we put it – rather more forbidding to the newcomer.
So onwards over the next couple of weeks to a new garden. I am aware through pain and experience that the whole thing will most likely be more drawn out and expensive than imagined, but I hope that things will go better this time around than the last. It will also represent another step towards getting this house the way I want it (further work on the distant horizon) and placing things in order for a possible move slightly further away from Boris’s influence by the end of the decade.