Tuesday, 20 March 2012

the gravel walks

And cement mixers began to come to life
And men in dungarees, like captive shades,
Mixed concrete, loaded, wheeled, turned, wheeled as if
The Pharoah's brickyards burned inside their heads.

An update, of sorts, then. The kitchen floors - all three of them different - are now as one. All ready for the next stage. In a few days time, now that the cement mixer and wheelbarrow have gone, the workers will start again.  Another few layers to go yet.  First some "underfloor heating" and then large tiles.  Only then can we, finally, have the kitchen returned and usable. As it has been under tarpaulin for the last few weeks (and another week or so to go) I hope that it has survived the recent heavy rainfalls.

Yes, the gravel has all gone and the builder assures me that the floor is perfectly level now and we're ready to go.  Once the electrician returns, that is. Now we have to have lots of meaningful discussions about what colour we're going to paint the kitchen - it's time for a change as far as green goes, methinks.

The sun has come out in force and I was thinking of Edward Thomas but even his happier, sunnier poems are tinged with regret and the foreshadowing of death. I found this, though:

While the North blows, and starling flocks
By chattering on and on
Keep their spirits up in the mist,
And Spring's here. Winter's not gone.

I'm not convinced the sun is going to stay and we've had a lot of mist around here recently, so it seems apt. Thomas, of course was a good friend of Robert Frost and they often went walking together whilst Frost lived in England. I think it's Thomas that he was talking about in The Road Not Taken.  Choices made obviously have a huge impact on us.  Frost wanted him to move to New Hampshire but Thomas decided to go and fight for his country in the Great War and was killed by a stray bullet at his observation post on 9th April 1917.  He had managed to survive on the Western Front for sixty nine days.  At the time it wasn't the road less travelled - many had taken the same one.  Most hadn't left a legacy of beautiful poetry, but who knows what some of them could have become? The comments yesterday in the staff room about where we're going and, presumably jokingly (albeit cynically), how we need a plague or a war seemed shocking now I think of it.  It wasn't me that made the comment. It's about a lack of hope for the future. With the government obviously having it in for teachers at the moment with their impossible-to-satisfy inspection criteria (alongside attacking the whole of the Public Sector), feelings seem to be rather low in the profession at the moment.  Lower than usual, that is.

My foot is still sore and after three months of useless service from the quacks, I'm going to have to take things into my own hands - well, feet, I suppose.  I'm going to go see a physiotherapist to see if they can help.  I'll probably find that it should have been sorted months ago and I'll have done some permanent damage.  So, back over to Edward Thomas:

This is the best and worst of it -
Never to know,
Yet to imagine gloriously, pure health.

On to happier things, if you missed Songwriter's Circle on BBC4 on Sunday, I implore you to watch it.  Martin Simpson, Michael Chapman and Steve Tilston sitting around just singing and playing together in front of a small audience, not Earth-shattering, just an hour of sheer entertainment.  These guys get paid to do this.

Ah well, back to doing something useful, I guess.  I'm not sure what.  Perhaps I'll play guitar for a while.  The Fylde sounds wonderful at the moment with the Elixir strings so I've definitely changed my mind about them: well-worth the money. Perhaps I'll write a tune . . .

So, I'll leave you in the capable hands of Seamus Heaney*:

So walk on air against your better judgement
Establishing yourself somewhere in between
Those solid batches mixed with grey cement
And a tune called 'The Gravel Walks' that conjures green.

See, it all sort of comes together.

*From The Spirit Level - aha!


Kent Wiley said...

Floors and ceilings lookin' good. Can't comment on the poetry.

Dave Leeke said...

Yes, Kent, things are looking up - we may be able to start using the kitchen by next weekend. Don't hold your breath, these are British workmen we're dealing with. I'm not sure what American ones are like - they may be really efficient, after all.

It's not that British workman AREN'T efficient, just that they can take their time.

You can, and should, comment on the poetry - it keeps me grounded to know how pretentious I'm being! I'm always telling kids that they can say what they want about poetry, as long as they can back up their points!

Only a week to go before we can use the kitchen properly. I can start living normally again. . .

Kent Wiley said...

U.S. workers efficient? Our motto used to be "We may be slow, but we sure are expensive!" Trying to cover our asses, I suppose. But seriously, the guys I used to work with were superb craftsmen, so the boss & the clients were usually pretty happy no matter how long it took. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But that was back in the olden days, pre 2009. The usual limit on the time allotted for work was a party of one sort or another. You need to tell the contractor that you've got house guests coming to stay and there's a party that the kitchen needs to be done for. Naturally the workers will be looking for an invite.

Martyn Cornell said...

The Gravel Walk

Martyn Cornell said...

Sod, let's try that link again:
The Gravel Walk

Dave Leeke said...

Excellent, thanks for that Martyn. I thought you were being pedantic - my Faber & Faber published it in the singular - but now I see you were going all interactive on us.

I must admit, I can never seem to get links to work in the comment boxes (or, for that matter, italics).

Kent, I guess it's always going to be a case of no pain no gain - when you're paying an arm and a leg for something you want it to look fantastic. Mind you, our current artisan managed to use all four bags of tile adhesive for half the amount of tiles. I guess that's a floor that won't be coming back up this Century.