CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Walls Come Tumbling Down

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Well, some of the tiles did, anyway. They were finally fixed last week, but what a bloody fiasco it took to get it done. Not to mention the fact that I came from that super-mega plumbing hell in Tenerife to ... Well, more of the same crap, basically.

This is something I really wasn't expecting. I had no clue or any reason not to believe my friend Andy's consolatory statement, when I'd had to come back to the UK, when she said, at least I would have the chance "to live in a house where everything works" for a while. How wrong we both were to assume that!

Exhibit A: the bathroom, as you see, is a "nice" 1970s style "avocado green" and, even on that, mother had to call me a liar publicly - I was explaining the general nature of the job to the tiler on the phone - when she insisted (excessively defensively) the house was built in 1980!

The whole thing is a convoluted and surrealistic tale of denial and fantasy, but if one wanted to be really pedantic, one could argue that there's only a day (or mere fleeting moment) between December 31st, 1979 and January 1st, 1980, but when I casually and lightly said, "So call me a liar for a year", I got a shouted diatribe of arrogant assertion back that it was 10 years.

Anyway, when I'd arrived in June, I'd noticed immediately that half a dozen tiles (two columns of 3) had blown and were standing proud from the wall.

When a friend came to visit he also immediately noticed it and asked my mother when she was going to fix it. She was kinda dismissive about it with him, but when I'd mentioned it, she'd displayed forceful denial: adamant that there was nothing wrong and that she couldn't do anything about it, in that (illogical and totally contradictory order), followed by the now classic ...

She hadn't seen this before, until I got here.

Oh, like I arrived, waved my evil magic wand and the tiles came loose?

Her words, if measured precisely (and I'm sure she does), could actually be true. What she fails to grasp is that by insisting that she had not seen the problem, she categorically PROVES she hasn't had a bath or shower for however long it is that those tiles were unhinged. And, if you need a clue, they certainly didn't become detached overnight!

Well, clearly, the tiles are not the only things unhinged in this house and, I gladly include myself in that category after all the many frustrations.

Meanwhile, the tiles urgently needed fixing before they fell and broke the plastic bath or smashed (not a good idea, since they're a size that can't be replaced now). The alternative, or consequence of ignoring the problem, could have been to have had to re-tile the entire bathroom. She should be thanking me for avoiding this, but no, as usual, she didn't want me touching them.

Despite her protestations, I was going to take down the loose tiles for safety and for the bloody obvious reason that I quite like to get clean once in a while, so I asked for some old towels or blankets to put in the bath to protect it and the tiles from damage. To ensure that I could proceed no further with that idea, mother told me, curtly, that she had nothing at all suitable. Full stop.

She also proclaimed that she didn't want me to remove the loose tiles, because, she said "it wouldn't look nice." Hardly the issue, I think!

As Michaela said, going to hospital with a broken tile sticking out of my bleeding foot wouldn't look very nice either. And I'd said pretty much the same thing when I was trying to get my mother to see that it was urgent, but the prospect of such danger just did not provoke any reaction whatsoever. No, simply because, to her, the solution is to not have showers.

Unfortunately, I tend to stink if I don't. Maybe it's just me, eh?

Fortunately, the tiles stayed up by a wish and prayer until my boxes and a thick double duvet arrived from Tenerife. By then one of the tiles was almost flapping in the breeze, so one morning when mother was out, I used the duvet to line the bath and set to "work." Well, all I did was place my finger lightly on the loosest tile and all six fell straight into my safety-net. Another three were in imminent danger, so I took those down too, then I fixed the bin bag over the space to keep the water out until it was fixed properly.

Which it was, finally, last week, but only because I made several phone calls to get it arranged, because she still wasn't about to do anything about it. 

And, believe it or not, this is not even half the story yet!

To a normal, sane person, it wouldn't be a surprise that some maintenance is required in a house almost 30 years old, alright 28, but we're not dealing with normal, sane reasonable folk, we're talking about my mother.

Wherever I look, I'm finding things 30 years old (and often much older), that haven't been maintained or are simply at the end of their useful lives.

And having wilfully ignored them for so long, the situation has escalated, but reality not even being a casual visitor to this house, mother has convinced herself meanwhile that the considerable inconveniences to put up with it all are how it always was and is what's normal.

It does explain why she could come to the house I was renting in Tenerife once a year and, seemingly (cruelly), not even notice the absolute shit hole I had to put up with.

It never occurred to me that "willfully not seeing" was what she'd trained herself to do for this reason tho' and it doesn't get anything fixed. And it does depreciate the value further.

Walls Come Tumbling Down, by Style Council. "You don't have to take this crap ..."

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