Her builder is a cheery bird and he and I have had some cheery conversations. He wasn't so cheery yesterday when I crossed paths with him leaving her house. "Builders!" says Ailz, mouthing it like an expletive. And while I'm sure there are some master craftsmen out there, experience suggests that rather too many of them, while not exactly cowboys, are jacks-of-all-trades who muddle along on the principle that it can't be that difficult, surely- and in the hope that they won't be found out.
When I moved into this house in 1986 I got a grant from the Council to hack away the dry rot, replace the windows and rehang the roof. It was a good start. Since then I've patched things up as and when the need arose. Patching is all we can afford. Yesterday the bulb in the bathroom went and I don't know what to do. It's contained in a fixture I'm afraid to unscrew because I'm not sure the ceiling- which is held in place by faith, hope and charity- will take the strain. Life is a constant struggle against entropy- and entropy is always going to win. What I'm gambling on is that this house- basically good, solid, Edwardian brickwork- will stay upright just a little longer than Ailz and I do. Fingers crossed.