I am living in the midst of building chaos. On Friday I rinsed with Coca-Cola after brushing my teeth in the garden. And I have discovered the joys of solitary drinking.
The initial project was going to be simple: paint the ceilings of three rooms, and re-do the kitchen. Three weeks, I thought in my childlike state of innocence.
I enlisted the services of Pat the all-rounder handyman and Sindiso, who had worked on my property before, and whom I have known for seven years. We surveyed the task ahead with glib optimism, probably similar to that of the German troops off to invade Russia in the summer of 1941. We all know how that ended.
Just as Hitler had not thought quite enough about the coming winter, I had made certain assumptions about the sturdiness of my house, plumbing and electrics included. After all, it has been standing since 1897 and we've never had fires or floods. How bad can things be?
I found out from the neighbours that one of the previous owners was a DIY enthusiast – hence a few sloping floors, el cheapo shortcuts in a million places, a bit of a damp problem in four places, and outlet plumbing that slopes upwards. And the outside lights are not earthed. I have no idea what happened to the previous owner, but a good guess would be that he was electrocuted.