Monday, 26 October 2009

Concrete thinking

I finally finished the concrete and it looks awful. I knew it would. Stopping half way through because of teaching and Lois having the flu, means that the joins between the first bit and the last bit are very obvious. Add on the inescapable fact that nothing in this house was level to begin with, and it’s obvious that this bit of floor would have to be sort of bent, wiggly, and sloping, just in order to connect up with the library and the cellar and the corridor that leads into it. Even that sentence is bent and wiggly.

Fortunately I know what to do, so this is a sort of tip for any would be DIY floor repairer. You can buy some magic stuff called self-levelling flooring compound, various people make it but I always found the Evo-Stik version was best. It comes as dry powder that you mix with water so it feels a bit like custard. You pour it on and spread it around, and it levels itself, I suspect custard would do the same but this stuff wears better once it has set. I have to admit that last statement is a bit of a guess - I haven’t tried custard; it might go quite leathery I guess, but I suspect that the mice would eat it.

Having said that I’m not sure about our mice, they are very fastidious. A few Christmases ago we went away for a few days, leaving some presents under the tree; when we came home the mice had eaten some of the biscuits, but here’s the neat bit – they only ate the expensive ones.

So that just leaves, re-fit the skirting boards, remaking the first step into the cellar, hanging the door, putting the bookshelves back up, putting the books back. At the moment all those books are stacked in very tall piles on the window ledge in the library, which completely fills the window so the library is dark all the time. Putting them back will be difficult because it will raise yet again the thorny question of which books go where, and what these books have done to deserve being banished from the library. In some cases this can only be answered by reading them again. Is it any wonder that DIY takes forever to get done?

The one good thing about doing the concrete – apart from removing the damp patch at the bottom of the stairs - is that I feel pretty exhausted afterwards and so sit in a chair with the laptop, too tired to do anything except edit. So far this concrete has helped revise 19 chapters of Rag Doll Falling, 50,449 words. This is a major edit to work in a different beginning, which has knock on effects right through the book. After that, of course it will all have to be done again, and again…

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