Thursday 16 December 2010

Do you smell something?

If you've been reading for a while you'll know that we've devoted a LOT of time and energy to sorting out the flat in Brighton. It's been a labour of love. And hate.

I bought the place nigh on twenty years ago...a two bedroom flat on the top floor of a regency building in one of the squares in Brighton, with an 'oblique' view of the is at the bottom of the road. The square is beautiful, and I've always loved being there. I decorated it to the nines. Most of my friends thought I must be gay, because his was in the days before it was OK to like 'designer' stuff if you weren't.

When I married The Boy's mother, she came as a package with a little girl, and the flat was suddenly too small. By good fortune and a helpful mortgage adviser, when the flat beneath became available I was able to buy it. The lower flat hadn't been touched for thirty years, had no central heating and was in poor condition. I did the basics of knocking them together, but then the enormity of the task sank in and not a lot happened...until a couple of years ago.

At that point, I decided things had to change, so the ENORMOUS task began. It was like rebuilding the walls of Jericho. Fortunately, The Cat's Mother got the bit between her teeth and together the pace has been transformed. The Cat and The Boy joined in with enthusiasm initially...although it did begin to fade, and latterly they've not come down with us. That's a shame.

With new carpets going down last month, the place is awesome. Really beautiful and absolutely delightful.

To celebrate, we decided that his year's New Year's gathering would be held there. It's also a chance to re-enthuse the teenagers who no longer needed to fear yet another tedious task on arrival at the flat. Approximately 20 people are coming...we will gather to see Cinderella, fireworks on the beach and then singing and dancing. It will be the first time that our friends had visited the place. A chance to show off...and for them to see 'our' project which we have talked much about.

At the beginning of the week, the woman who lives in the basement smelled gas. The gas men arrived just in time. It was a big leak and could have gone bang. They switched it off by digging up the road and disconnecting the pipe. And then they decided that the pipes were all old and need to be replaced. Not just the pipes that connect the gas main to the building, but all the gas pipes in the building. At best this is six weeks work. At best.

Until then there is no gas. That means no heating. In mid-winter. Worse still, there is no hot water. And no way of making hot water as we have a condenser boiler with no hot water tank.

It's a disaster, and we're heartbroken.

We can plug heaters in to make the place warm, but no hot water is the real problem. We think we're going to book a hotel room, just so we can use the washing facilities.

Instead of a triumphant evening of fun and frivolity we're going to have to cobble things together. Our bubble is well and truly burst.

But at least this is not our main home...I could almost weep for the other people in the building...they are going to have a cold, miserable time over Christmas. For them this is truly a disaster...what a terrible way to spend the bleak mid-winter.