Some friends of ours have a house that they are renovating. It is in a small faded village close to the sea. It is a work in progress.
They have decided to do as much of the work that they can themselves, both in a bid to keep costs down but, more importantly, to put their own stamp upon the project and to have a bit of fun along the way. Define fun!
They are going for a post-industrial look with exposed brickwork and visible utilities. A bit Vera perhaps, that might appeal to anyone searching for a slice of gritty northern realism.
In a moment of possible madness I said that I would be happy to lend a hand as there is still a way to go. In truth I meant it. It is a long time since I worked on a building site, a summer job during college in fact yet the skills had not left me. I was happy to do the labouring while my friend did the more skilled work. I mixed mortar, cleaned off old bricks and generally lifted and hauled. He laid the brickwork.
I am happy with the line of work I have been involved yet there is something more honest about physical work. The pain in your muscles is somehow much more rewarding than the pain in your temples. It is much more tangible. You can see what you have achieved. At most what I have to show is a few lines of text on a white screen.
With physical work you can let your mind wander. You can rediscover muscles you had forgotten you had.
My puritan work ethic eventually kicked in and I ended up tidying up between jobs. I stacked all the different shaped bricks into piles, sorted out the spare bits of wood and folded all the empty plastic bags into one. No doubt they will come in useful. I just can’t work in a guddle.
I was tired when I got home. I slept the sleep of the righteous.