Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Dear Bloggy friends, I am more than excited to introduce my clever new Australian friend Pamela of Pimp My Bricks. She is a story teller like nobody else, with a lyrical, humorous and highly literary voice. I hope you will enjoy following her odyssey as she renovates her Regency Wreck overlooking Sidney Harbor as much as I do!
Tap tap ... testing, testing...1,2,3...
Hello, hello and greetings from wintry Sydney. Liz invited me to write a guest post and so here I am, pencil in hand, to introduce myself. My name is Pimp and I am a recovering psychoanalyst. I live with a recovering financier, a recovering teenager (she is now 20) and two huge hounds (the Herberts) one of whom is recovering from a knee reconstruction.
This is the story. We were somewhat bored. Life had become a tad stale, a little same-same. And so we did what we always do when life gets boring. We shook up the pieces, we threw them into the air and we watched how they landed. And they landed, as they always seem to, in the shape of a house.
Now it just so happened that there is a place I have been mildly obsessed with for years, a small inner city village in the middle of Sydney, right at the foot of the Harbour Bridge and a few hops, skips and jumps from the Opera House.
TBH, I had been stalking the area for years, strolling down its streets in large hats and false moustaches, nonchalantly whistling and peering into windows. But it was an unrequited love for going on a decade because the houses were owned by the government and used as cheap rental accommodation. It was all very down at heel, neglected, and utterly, utterly beguiling. But then, when I had quite given up hope, there seemed to be some shift in the upper firmament, some re-alignment of the bureaucratic planets, and the houses began to be sold off in dribs and drabs.
One in particular kept me awake at night in a frenzy of wishing it onto the market. And then when it arrived I was in a further frenzy of impatience to get inside and stake my claim. Crossing over the threshold that first time, there was a definite moment. You know those moments - when something inside lurches and you are filled from the bottom up with that thick, syrupy sickness that characterises Love At First Sight. I was dunfer, I tell you. Utterly unfooted. And even as my whole body was in a swoon, feeling as though its organs were being stroked in downward motion by a feather, my head was busy clearing the decks for What Was About To Happen.
All I registered that first time was the peacefulness that comes with Georgian proportions, the quiet elegance that shone through the filth. I took in the full height windows, the shutters, the sandstone basement and I was, I will confess to you, in a state of abject and hopeless desire. I wanted the other viewers, interlopers and trespassers every last one of them, to be banished immediately. Avaunt thee knaves!
What I utterly failed to see, of course, was the dereliction - the years of emptiness, the rising damp, falling damp, subsidence and extensive termite damage (there have been some good quality termites through there). In fact, had I looked, I could have seen in that poor old house every Tom, Dick and Harry symptom in the handbook for houses on the verge of collapse. But my blindness was, of course, exactly as it should have been, because really, who on the point of falling in love notices that their beloved slurps their tea, picks their ears and has a wart appearing on the tip of their nose? No-one! Because without those blinkers, without that blindness, think how many passions might fail to be ignited, how many dynasties sputter out before they set sail. And, just as importantly, how many houses would collapse, exhausted, into the gutter. And then where would we all be? Alone and homeless, that’s where!
So we bought our house and sealed our fate. Held our noses, closed our eyes and jumped. That was sixteen months ago. Since then we have been through the Heritage planning process, a year long trudge through documentation, restrictions and regulations, and have come out the other side.
And now? Now we are in the dismantling process, aka the Dark Night of the Soul (or at least of the renovation). The bit before the good bits happen, where the house looks not so much like a house but a pile of dirty rubble. The bit where you start to doubt your resolve, yourself, your partner, your sanity, your emotional and financial survival.
Do you by any chance remember Edward Heath? You know, the English Prime Minister who, for a PM, made a fine sailor? He once said (of sailing) that it was like standing under a cold shower tearing up money. And I would say that renovating a listed and derelict house is like standing in a leaky boat, in the middle of a raging typhoon, tearing up money. You see no exit, you see no sense; you can only hope the sodden paper will eventually plug a hole somewhere and the chaos will stop.
But actually it does stop. It stops when you walk into the house and find it empty, the builder gone, the street outside muffled. It stops when you move around its rooms slowly, listening. When you find it waiting for you, patiently, waiting to enfold you in its embrace, lulling you there, and then you remember.
I know that you will now agree with me
that Pimp My Bricks is one of the
exciting new blogs!
stop over and say hello
to a new friend today: