I’m living in a permanent dust storm of my own making. Expect almost anything that can be damaged by dust to be ruined. It wasn’t possible to pack everything up prior to getting my house completely rewired. Am hoping dust generation will soon come to an end and I can stop living like this:
It may not look like much but this little gem has gone a long way to preserving my sanity. With it, I have recovered my heating & hot water. Right now it’s rigged up to a temporary power supply. The thermostat on the water cylinder wasn’t attached properly previously, with the result that it cold only have measured the water temperature in a somewhat sketchy fashion. Now it is properly strapped on and I’ve raised the cylinder’s maximum temperature, which means a shower will last longer or two people can have a showers in quick succession.
This is an extra warning. Underneath it is some warning tape, as per the wiring regulations. Underneath that is rubble. Underneath that is the electrical cable, which itself is buried in steel wire armour.
Once upon a time I was digging up a garden in Pontypridd. My spade hit a cable. Since there had been no warning tape, I assumed that it was just a dead fragment. It turned out to be the main supply to the house. Luckily there were no accidents that day.
I’m amazed that when you sell a house, there’s no obligation on you to provide plans for the electrical circuitry. Clearly, lots of people are living in houses without a clue where the live cables run. The technology exists to detect live cables – infra red cameras. Although these are prohibitively expensive, regular electricians can afford them. It should be a condition of sale that the potentially life threatening part of a house is disclosed properly. Estate agents are well aware of the risks. That’s why they always insist that they haven’t checked anything. Consequently, after I moved into my present house, I discovered the lots of the wiring was dangerous. I’d have bought it away but it might have had an impact on price. Clearly, houses with decades old wiring or shonky arrangements would be worth less than similar houses with modern properly designed circuits. Crucially, it would prevent home owners from engaging in illegal electrical DIY.
I’m very grateful to all the people who got in touch following my last two posts. There’s been various offers of help, physical and moral. Thank-you everyone!
They say at times like this you find out who your real friends are. I don’t want to be that restrictive. In today’s busy world, you find out which of your real friends have got your interests at heart and time to read your blog. I’ve really appreciated all the support I’ve received. I’m especially grateful to my Mum & Dad, who listened and calmed me. A special mention also goes to my pals Ian (in Cardiff), Charles (in Brighton) and the #LewesTweetup people. There have been others. I’ll not list them all here.
Over the last few days I lost all sense of perspective. I’ve piled pressure on my wife and unfairly blamed her when she couldn’t respond in a way that was helpful to me. We’ve been talking again this morning and I hope to see her this evening…
In the meantime, I’ve pressed on with the soul destroying work of rewiring my house. It has proved to be a gigantic task, no part of which was familiar to me. Today I decided I’d rebuild the garden path, having laid a steel wire armoured cable underneath it. In fact, relaying the steps was the first task my wife asked me to do when we first moved in, a little over a year ago. All sorts of other activities got in the way. As with everything else in this project, this was something I’ve never done before. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t very good at it but it’s a step in the right direction.
That’s where I am right now. Been rewiring my own home for two and a half weeks. It’s been cold, filthy and difficult. Along the way I’ve had to struggle constantly with my own wife, to persuade her to take up various offers of accommodation so that she didn’t make my working life harder. She had been insisting that she would move back in even though the house is effectively decommissioned. There’s no hot water, no heating, no electricity except a builder’s supply, no insulation and filth and rubble everywhere. I find it difficult living in these conditions. She would not be able to maintain an even keel at all, with the pressure of having to go to work.
Over the last three days I’ve sunk into despair. Yesterday I begged her to come and see me but she “didn’t have time” because she’d made an arrangement to go and see some ex-friends of mine instead.
I cut them off six months ago because they refused to tackle their drug addictions. I did that after much discussion and asked them to get in touch again when they had cleaned up their act. Perhaps unsurprisingly they cleaned up when pregnancy came along but they didn’t get in touch with me. Instead they contacted my wife, who did not tell me the good news either.
In the last half year my wife has seen them twice and a third time last night. It seems that I am bottom of her list of priorities. To be fair, she did telephone three times yesterday but on each occasion she had neither the physical space nor time to speak to me. She’s offered to come and see me this evening. I fear my emotional decline is too rapid for that to be of much use.
I’m sure she loves me, in much the same way that people love their pets. If she doesn’t get emotional stability from me, she doesn’t want to know me. Of course, my problems are not her fault. I understand that perfectly well but I can’t understand why she cannot give me a little extra, especially now when I’m saving her thousands pounds and have been driven half mad by the exercise. She is my wife after all.
A handful of friends have been great. They’ve got in touch when they realised the wheels were coming off my existence. There have been offers of help. My parents too. Trouble is, I can’t see a long term solution to the problem of my wife only being able to engage with me emotionally when she has nothing else better to do. It has been ever thus. My options include running away for a short while, quitting this marriage altogether and suicide. Thanks to my Dad, that last option has shifted from the top of the list to the bottom. He urges me to see if I can have a rapprochement with my wife but let’s face it she’s a psychiatrist so she well understands the impact of refusing to engage with the suicidal. I intend to graft some more today. I hope my wife does come to see me this evening but only if she can demonstrate some patience and love beyond the superficial servings she’s dished out recently. I’ve had a belly full of them but am starving for meaningful emotional support.
The way I feel right now, I might as well wrap this cable around my fucking head. I’ve been grafting away now for two weeks. I’ve overcome numerous small challenges, some larger ones and coped with freezing temperatures, excessive heat, various cuts on my hands, the itchiness of fibre glass loft insulation, the filth of decades of debris in the cavity underneath my house, the lack of hot water and hardly any hot food. Although I’ve become used to living like this, I’m keen to get the job finished as soon as possible. Definitely not in a good place mentally, right now. Am weighing up various options, some more drastic than others.
Spent most of yesterday in my attic, clambering across joists which had not been boarded. Knee pads were essential. The joists are close together which made it easier. Unfortunately the rafters are also close together. I had to turn sideways to squeeze through the rafters in this photograph, to get to the unboarded area.
The old skills learnt in my university rock climbing club suddenly became useful. I remembered to be gentle in my grip and strong in my expletives!
It’s an earthing conductor, of course. A CPC in the modern parlance. This sort of crazy wiring is why I’m rewiring my house. Why would anyone pull these wires out of the junction box and leave them exposed? Why didn’t they want the light at the end of the circuit protected?
When we moved into this house, a little over a year ago, my wife redecorated as soon as she could. Apparently the existing decor reminded her of the previous owner. We did not know the previous owner. I wondered about the psychology and the merits of her decision but accepted it, as any good husband would. These days when I look at the decor I am trashing whilst rewiring the place, I am reminded of her.
Most of yesterday saw me squeezing into ever smaller cavities underneath my house, retrieving old cables and old lead piping. It wasn’t pleasant. I hope to recover some money for the old cable.
I also found an old French coin, which has the date 1854 on it but doesn’t appear to be worth very much. Not quite the buried treasure I was hoping for!