As I write I am hoping a large, gaping hole has appeared in our floorboards. While we’re in England our builder is hard at work ripping out the termite ridden floor in the hallway and replacing it with fresh new wood so that the floor will no longer bounce and creak when we walk across it. The back bedroom has just been finished. I had an Alice in Wonderland moment when I was able to peer right through the floor into what will be the kitchen below. We have waited all winter for this.
Quite often life revolves around the poem that goes something like ‘for want of a nail a horse was lost, for want of a horse a battle was lost’. Well for want of half an hour up on a roof an entire winter was lost, spent in a leaky house with the wind whistling through the ceiling.
The leak in the roof meant that the room was soaked through every time it rained. The garden behind is owned by someone else so we couldn’t get into it to fix the roof. The neighbours knew the owner, Luis, but would have nothing to do with him nor tell me where he lived, other than that he owned a derelict house up the road. I figured if I put a note through the door he would find it. It worked. Luis, a softly spoken man, knocked on our door. I had used google translate so our note was in Portuguese, because he could speak no English. I opened the door to Luis, who smiled benignly at me, wearing a small brimmed, leather hat.
‘Ola, bom dia’, I said, and that was about me done for Portuguese. He smiled, acknowledged the note and agreed we could have the key. Not sure how I knew this, but grasping at the few words I understood in Portuguese, it seemed to point to this conclusion. Unfortunately the neighbours had described him as a drunk, a vagabond, from a criminal family, but surely that did not describe the mild mannered, friendly man in front of me?
A few weeks later I still hadn’t received the key so we went through the whole process again. Yes I could have the key. He would drop it round tomorrow.
Another week or two passed by. Still no key.
One day I had a brilliant idea. The painter from the village popped up to the roof from the front of the house with his scaffold and fixed the tile. It took about half an hour. So now the back bedroom is finished. Hurrah! We no longer have to sleep in the living room. We can buy a sofa and put down rugs. The bedroom will at last have a bed in it. The battle has been won.