Before I start I would just like to qualify the title of this post and clearly state for the record that I have not been anywhere near BT/Openreach, any BT/Openreach employee or property with a sledgehammer and while it may be tempting and ultimately quite cathartic to do so, I will not be following such a course of action.
No, the first part of today’s blog title relates entirely to other DIY linked activities that I will come onto in a few minutes.
But before that, apologies for another break in posting blog updates – yeap once again I was at the mercy of BT/Openreach and when I did find myself in WIFI coverage unfortunately general admin, replying to urgent emails and managing my life and that of the gruesome twosome took priority.
However, I am now back in the land of sand and ironically in full WIFI coverage. My admin backlog is being dealt with, which means that I now have a few windows of opportunity whereby I can resume EIOT postings.
So, what has been happening?
Well, you will be amazed if not astounded that BT/Openreach have played another blinder, (yes, that was sarcasm by the way).
They have actually contacted me directly again and no longer appear to be communicating via our MP – not sure if that is because I have been forgiven for being rude to them or that they have forgotten that they are not actually speaking to me.
Yes, they have now found the 50 pair cable and have actually delivered it to the right place – well done BT that only took two weeks.
Apparently they even appeared on site this week, complete with moles on ploughs to bury the cable, but alas they could not complete the work. So, they turned around and took the cable back to the depot and put the kettle on.
Now the reason they could not complete the work is somewhat puzzling.
I am sure that everybody reading my ramblings will have heard of the old Network Rail excuses of ‘leaves on the track’ and ‘the wrong kind of snow’, well BT have announced that it is too muddy to do the work.
Yes, you read that right, it is too muddy. The poor little cherubs may just get their boots dirty and get mud on the equipment.
No self-respecting mole would flinch at that let me tell you.
Now, let’s look at this analytically.
- BT/Openreach have consistently messed up with this whole process and quite frankly if they had not messed up then the work would have been done weeks ago – when it wasn’t muddy.
- We are talking about Cumbria – it is muddy all year round
- Normal activity continues throughout Cumbria regardless of the conditions and the farmers continue to use all their heavy plant machinery day in day out – no shirking of responsibilities for them
So, work was suspended last week.
Now, any reasonable person would expect that BT/Openreach would reassess the situation again in a few days in the hope that there would be a window of opportunity at some point in the near future.
No, don’t forget that this is BT/Openreach.
They have rescheduled the work – for April 27th.
Yes, you did read that right – April 27th, two months from now.
Yes, BT/Openreach have once again played a blinder and added another two months onto the length of this whole debacle.
Now, I was thinking last night that by the end of April when, if the sun is shining, the God’s are in favour and the world has not imploded – (which at the moment appears to be reasonably likely), the moles have done their work and buried the cable, then this fiasco will be 8 months old.
Now, in that time I could have conceived child number three, safely given birth and be at EIOT Towers with not the gruesome twosome but a terrifying threesome. Such is the scale of this fiasco.
But in that time BT have been singularly inadequate and have failed to provide us with communication with the outside world.
I would just like to point out for the record that conceiving baby number three is not in anyway on my to do list and the mere thought of it is sending shivers down my spine. It remains to be seen what reaction this suggestion brings out in himself but it won’t be pretty.
A gruesome twosome is more than enough to cope with thank you.
No, the analogy of conceiving and giving birth is purely designed to demonstrate how long this entire mess has been festering like Baldrick’s underpants in the World War 1 trenches of Blackadder Goes Forth.
So, little more can be said about BT/Openreach other than to tell them to man up, toughen up, get their boots dirty, bury the damned cable and stop moaning. It is Cumbria, it is tough, life does not stop just because of a bit of mud and rain – if it did then quite frankly absolutely diddly squat would happen 95% of the time up there.
Let’s just remember that a buried cable does not an active telephone line make – it is purely the next stage in a long and gory story……
So, let’s put BT/Openreach to oneside and give them the good stiff ignoring that they more than deserve…..
So, sledgehammers as well as crowbars, hammers, bonfires and generally ripping things apart.
Yeap, the small testosterone filled one and I had a ball in half-term when we decided to rip the cellar at EIOT Towers to pieces.
Well, actually I ought to say that I decided to rip the cellar to pieces and the opportunity for parent sanctioned, large scale destruction was far too much for the small man to resist.
The cellar at EIOT Towers is made up of three reasonably large rooms in a row and in my humble opinion is one of the highlights of EIOT Towers. However, when we bought the residence 6 months ago, (yes 6 months ago BT – did you get that?????), we had inherited three cellar rooms filled with everybody else’s junk and general mess.
Yes, the cellar had not been cleaned out for many, many years.
Not all was junk and there were some absolute nuggets of antique heaven which have been or will be restored to their former glory and the third room of the cellar was immediately earmarked by the two men in my life as it is packed with all sorts of tools and equipment which I am assured makes it a fantastic workshop and boy’s retreat.
In fact there have already been several occasions when I have lost them only to hear the gentle murmurings of some sort of DIY activity deep underground.
Anyway, it is more than my life’s worth to interfere in the ‘workshop’ but as far as I am concerned the other two rooms are fair game and as far as I am concerned ripe for sorting out.
Especially as one of the rooms houses the washing machine and being slightly OCD about the washing I am never completely comfortable with pulling clean clothes out of the contraption in a less than clean and sanitary environment.
Well I have to say that himself did start to sort out the rooms during one of his visits and made several trips to the recycling centre in his bid to get rid of some of the rubbish that we had inherited.
But there was still work to be done.
So, three main areas needed, in my opinion, a considerable amount of attention and sledgehammer type treatment.
These three areas were, in no particular order:
- One large double doored cupboard still filled with 30 years worth of paint and various DIY type gubbins
- One large wooden partitioned area again filled with lots of odds and sods
- A wooden staircase leading down from the corner of the lounge that quite frankly we never use – even I had to duck when using it as the headroom was somewhat poor.
Now, I am not daft and I have done more than enough DIY in the past to know that you have to be sure about what you are knocking down and anything supporting should stay in place until being assessed by your local friendly builder.
No supporting walls were on my demolition list and quite frankly given the width of the walls at EIOT Towers even if I had been a contestant for The Darwin Awards 2017 and had decided to knock them down, then even me and a sledgehammer would have not met the grade.
The house has been standing for around 300 years and a slightly eccentric pre-middle aged woman is not going to bring it down – hopefully!
So, the cupboard and the partition wall were first on my list.
Well the first thing to do was empty them and that was interesting in itself.
Among the general mishmash of ‘stuff’ were some more gems – a 1941 army wartime oil tank, (looks more exciting than it sounds, trust me) and numerous old tools – but on the whole it was all destined for the recycling centre.
Then the fun started and out come my buddies – the sledgehammer, a crowbar and a soft headed hammer ‘just in case’.
This cupboard had been built to last – no doubt about it and it put up one heck of a fight. The uprights had been built into the lath and plaster ceiling and as there was already a chunk of ceiling that had clearly caved in some time over the last 30 years I was slightly concerned that the whole ceiling may just land on me at any moment.
So, for those fixed bits I just had to severe them high up and wait on a more technical type head to advise me on how to get them out.
But there was no escape for all the rest. No way. It resisted, it fought, it dug its heels in, but resistance was futile, it was coming out.
The big heavy doors were hardest. They had been in situ for many, many years and those screws were not going surrender in a hurry. Well, they did not have to as it was clear they were not going to succumb so l cut out the middle man, grabbed the crowbar and prized the doors off.
Ah ha – take that, as I said resistance is futile. But blimey, those doors were damned heavy….
So, next to the partitioned area. It was about now that curiosity obviously overcame the small man. The cellar is directly underneath the lounge, reception area and kitchen and clearly the sound of frenetic demolition in the cellar had alerted the small testosterone filled one to the fact he was missing out on something and he appeared.
With wide eyes and flexing his biceps, the small man was given full authority to destroy the partitioning and with that he threw himself into the task with all due enthusiasm.
Now, the small man is only small in age, he is a bruiser and is a big strong lad so the sledgehammer was thrust forwards with vigour and quite frankly that partitioning did not stand a chance – don’t forget I was there as well complete with crowbar.
It was at about this point that the village’s resident carpenter and son arrived to do final measurements for the first instalment of new doors and windows for EIOT Towers.
After making the obligatory cup of builder’s tea, (well carpenter’s tea in this case), the carpenter was asked to descend to the cellar to impart his expert knowledge about demolishing the redundant staircase.
After some considerable chin scratching I was told that absolutely nothing was dependent on it and to get my sledgehammer on it as soon as I liked. He then departed the cellar, stepping over the debris of the partitioned wall and assuming a defensive pose as he passed the small testosterone filled one swinging the sledgehammer completely unaware of the passing craftsman to his left.
I did hear a muffled bout of laughing and a look of mild entertainment at the DIY enterprise that he had just witnessed.
Anyway, once the local village icon had done the measuring and had left, the small testosterone one and I set to.
By this point the partitioning was just about gone and much of the removal of the debris was complete and had headed out to the barn, (yes that barn), ready for the bonfire and so when I told the small man that the staircase was next………well all his christmases had come together.
Deciding on the crowbar rather than the sledgehammer, he set off on a personal mission to destroy the stairs and he damn well did it.
Yes, the stairs did not last long, they were soon ex stairs. In fact they weren’t just ex-stairs they were outside on the bonfire crackling away like a box of Rice Krispies in a dairy farm.
This rapid destruction of the stairs left me with a problem. I had a small man with destruction on his mind and nothing else to destruct. Problem.
It was at this point that he actually asked if were going to take the wooden fence down outside in the garden and the manner in which he asked while brandishing the crowbar led me to believe he had just one thing on his mind……
A quick decision on my part led to him spending the next half-hour crowbarring the tiles off the floor in one of the rooms.
After that, he was done and replete and while I am sure he would have happily gone outside and knocked seven bells out of the fence he was happy with his day of destruction.
So, we continued our tidying, continued to add wood to the bonfire and he then entertained himself, (and aged me), by exploring the physics of bonfires.
Now, it is at this stage that I ought to admit to a level of bewilderment.
As already mentioned the three rooms of the cellar are directly below the lounge, reception room and kitchen and during all this demolition work there would have been no avoiding the noise as the sledgehammer hurtled towards long since installed wooden features. The small man had come running at the sound and to be honest I think that the sheep 5 fields away may well have looked up from their grazing to question what the heck was going on.
But one person did not batter an eyelid, flinch, move a muscle or ask what the heck was going on.
Yes, the strawberry blond hand grenade had installed herself on the settee directly above the demolition zone and had not moved or even shown any acknowledgement of any activity.
Now, I am still puzzled as to whether she actually had not noticed the frenetic activity happening below her, if she had chosen to ignore it or if she had actually just decided that it was cool not to ask what was going on – but which ever way it was there was no recognition at all.
Not even when her brother and I emerged covered in dust, sweat, general grot and smelling of bonfire smoke did we even get a flicker of curiosity.
Anyway, with clearing up done and bonfire dying down day one was complete.
Day two saw the small man and I head off on the expedition that is driving from EIOT Towers to the recycling centre. Now, please do not forget that nothing is close to EIOT Towers and so the nearest recycling centre is about 20 miles and 30 minutes away. The car was loaded up with all the non burnable rubbish from 30-40 years that we had extracted from the cellar and so yes – it was an expedition.
In addition to the cellar rubbish I had also squeezed in an old rotary dryer that seemed to have been in the barn since rotary dryers were first invented and quite frankly was overdue a trip to the tip.
Now, as the car was so packed to the gunnels and considering the fact that the strawberry blond one appears to be going through a phase of enjoying isolation, the small testosterone filled one and I left her at EIOT Towers, (I don’t actually think she even noticed we had gone out), and ventured off out to the recycling centre.
The rotary dryer was quite long and as I had loaded it into the car bottom first, the bottom half was protruding at shoulder level between the two front seats.
Now, this was too much for a small man with a very active imagination to cope with and all the way to the recycling centre the metal tube that made up the bottom of the clothes dryer was in fact the gun on the front of a tank and we were actually in a Challenger Tank, heading into battle, (well the recycling centre – same thing really), destroying anybody and anything that got in our way, (in reality several stray sheep, one farmer on a quad bike and the real highlight of the trip – a BT/Openreach engineers van!).
Yeap, the gun turret had a turning range of about 45 degrees before it hit the other seat but that, in a small man’s mind, was enough to save the world.
Needless to say on the way back the absence of the gun turret caused some desolation that not even a packet of M&S crisps could put right.
Anyway, I am pleased to report that the cellar now has an open plan feel about it, is on the way to be a more sanitary abode for the washing machine and has been earmarked but great things.
The strawberry blond one did eventually raise her body off the sofa but with no acknowledgement of ambient activity but with moaning about lack of catering service.
The small testosterone filled one did eventually get in the shower, begrudgingly and removed all the grot.
Anyway, the dust is now settling in the cellar, literally, ready for the next stage.
I am back in the land of sand plotting the next development and the gruesome twosome are installed at school, where I suspect the small man is offering his crowbar and sledgehammer wielding services to the maintenance department.