There is a tale to tell in everything. I think that’s where my love of antique jewellry comes from. My engagement ring is a heavenly 1930′s ring, white gold and diamonds, that DH chose for me. (I know how lucky I am, in case you were wondering.) I do think it’s a shame, however, that it didn’t come with a book that told it’s story. I used to love the tales that came with items on Antique’s Roadshow when I was growing up: how a piece of furniture was handed down through the family; that it was a wedding present from the craftsman to an employee; that it was played with by generations. Shouldn’t all antiques have a ‘story book’?
I also wish that houses came with something similar, not least when it was discovered on Friday that there were numerous issues with the gas appliances in our house. What began as a smell of gas, ended with most of the floorboards up. The girls and I, and Granny M, spent the best part of the day in the sitting room swaddled in blankets whilst a very helpful man worked jolly hard to try and find the source of a gas leak. It’s never good when a professional tells you that, despite the gas being sealed of at the point of entry to the house, there still appears to be a leak for which he cannot find the origin. In the course of his investigations, he found that there were pipes that weren’t connected, wires that were taped off and left exposed under the floorboards, circuits piggybacked on other circuits. I began to feel that I was living in a house of horrors.
A similar thing happened when we began what we thought would be a simple bathroom renovation: Bathroom Guy discovered several layers of tiles, one on top of the other. Then he found that the windows were held in with skirting board, then he found that the electrics needed re-jigging. Stripped back, you could see the story of the bathroom: there were holes in the brick work, bits of pipe, holes in the boards that helped you see a former bathroom layout. I get the feeling that the whole house needs stripping back so that we can start afresh with electrics that are safe, gas that is safe. A home that is safe for us and our children.
We’ve been without a functioning bath for four weeks now, but tonight I bathed my girls in our new pink bathroom (which Dimples duly christened in the way that only 9-month-olds can). We have three gas appliances in the house, all of which have a warning notice on them: a registered gas engineer will be coming later in the week to sort the problems so that, should the worst happen, we will at least be able to claim on our household insurance. The gas leak was, after five hours, tracked down to a mains pipe coming into the house. I can’t help feeling though that there should be a requirement for houses that are being sold to meet Gas and Electric Safety standards in the same way that Landlords have to have annual Gas Safety checks on their properties. It would put the onus on those selling to make sure that, when work is done, it is up to standard. It would also mean that, when you buy a house, there is a full safety history. It would be so much more useful than knowing how efficient your house is as the HIP does. It would also mean that your house had a story, romantic or otherwise. And preferably wasp-free.