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The things we lost in the dust

In early March, the builders finally returned our door keys at the end of a "four week job" that started in November ...

We'd got them in to fit us a new bathroom, before the old one rotted or important bits snapped off or water, water everywhere or some other hypnogogic horror realised itself before our eyes. And also to stop it raining in our kitchen because, well, that particular original feature was starting to seem rather worn. And they did an admirable job and charmingly to boot, and there are many very sound (but miserable and boring) reasons why it took so exhaustingly much longer than estimated, so we would confidently pass their contact details on to anybody looking for a builder.

But ... it was a long "four weeks" ... to have people around all the time when I'm so greedy for solitude; to have plastic sheeting three-quarters through the house; to have a functionless cave where the amenities used to be (downstairs toilet + gym membership = muchly grateful). And, well, somewhere along the line (partly thanks to Mr. W's blasé reassurances) they decided that it was OK to use the spare bedroom as a dumping ground. I mean, fair enough, that's what we've been using it for for years ... but all our things ... buried without warning -- without chance of a priori defensive measures -- under bags of rubble, buckets of sludge, skirting board, doors, rotting bits of floorboard, fittings old-and-new, plaster in liquid and dust form, pipes temporarily removed from I-don’t-really-want-to-think-about-it parts of the ablutionary whole ...

My main tactic for dealing with this initially was complete disengagement. My Kindle and I, rather than go home after work, started spending most of our evenings in our new favourite quirkily run-down drinking establishment on Glos Rd. (With the occasional large Rioja in the mix, but plenty of slimline tonics, before anyone starts to worry about certain associated habits. OK, so sweeteners are also bad for you ... aargh, so many things to worry about ...)

Anyways, work-to-pub-to-bed is all very well Monday-to-Friday, but weekends usher in the obligation and opportunity to face domestic reality in all its gory tangibility. So, one Saturday afternoon I finally did it: I ventured into the spare bedroom, thinking to rescue from collateral builderly damage such treasured possessions as were still within rescuing, and to face up to the forfeiture of the rest.

What I discovered rather shocked me. The horror of seeing so many things I care about crushed under parts of once-and-future-toilets, encrusted in mysterious cocktails of filth? Well, no. More the horror of seeing so many things I don't care about so crushed and encrusted. Why do we even have all this stuff? I wonder, as I half-heartedly prod some buried belongings with my foot and decide that they’re as well where they are as anywhere else.

A handful of items did make it on to my rescue mission inventory, most notably: an 'oooh'-emitting Toy Story alien, a purple hand-luggage sized suitcase and (I almost feel obliged to give pre-emptive reassurance, at this point, of 'nothing untoward') a meter-and-a-half or so of fairly thick manila rope.

My affection for the alien is rooted in the circumstances under which I acquired it. Mr. W and I were 17 years old, and in the process of discovering that our shy and awkward feelings for one another were mutual. Turned out (definitely a first for me; what little romantic attention I had attracted previously had been of a decidedly frugal nature) that his mode of showing affection strongly featured enthusiastic present-giving, financed by his hard-earned evening-shift-at-Tesco paychecks. In fact, I think the alien actually came from Tesco ... And the ebullience with which he presented it to me more than doubled the delight of receiving an cool, noise-making physical rendition of arguably the cutest animated mass-character critter ever computer generated. (Minions?! Really?! Sorry ... so, so no. Peoples need to be paying more attention to their cinematic history...)

My affection for the purple suitcase ... well, I have no affection whatsoever for the suitcase. Just a sense of bad stewardship at leaving a fairly pricey (and useful) recent purchase to the mercies of the builderly process.

As for the rope -- well, it's actually two lengths of rope, skilfully meticulously spliced together in the middle, by my dad. He'd learned how, especially, to illustrate his father-of-the-bride speech at our wedding. And it was a corker of a speech; one of the most memorable parts of an unquestionably 'good' but rather surreal and not entirely easy day. [1] I asked him for the script, and for permission to reproduce some of it here ...
Many people refer to getting married as tying the knot or getting hitched – getting knotted. It seems quite a straightforward way of joining two ropes, especially if a quick repair is required to get you back to port. Rope manufacturers, however, publish test specifications for their products that show that joining a rope with a knot means you loose over half of its original strength – in fact you can end up with something that is about 30% of the original strength. The knot is a weak point and will snap the rope under stress.  
The preferred method is to join two pieces of rope by splicing. This is not a quick fix and requires time to learn the procedure and prepare the join.  
…. start demonstrating the process … 
The ends must be unravelled and properly prepared before inter-weaving to form a neat join. Whipping twine is used to secure sections to ensure they do not come undone. When this type of join is put under strain it actually gets better as the fibres lock together more closely. A good splice can retain up to 95% of the original strength of a single rope and looks pleasing too as it has an ordered pattern.  
Ben and Carolyn have taken time to learn how to be joined together. They have the support of friends and family and the couple who have welcomed them into their home for marriage preparation classes. Their lives have been unravelled and they have been real together. 
Note there are 3 strands in a common rope (other more complicated patterns exist but the most easy splice involves just three). 
Ecclesiastes 4 (NIV)
: "Two are better than one, 
because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, 
his friend can help him up. 
But pity the man who falls 
and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. 
But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, 
two can defend themselves. 
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
This is often taken to mean that a marriage relationship between two people is far stronger where the third person is Jesus running through their lives. Such a marriage is truly made in heaven.   
…. present the gifts of the splice cups and rope demonstration …. 
…. toast to the bride and groom …. 
As a souvenir of the delightfully characteristic way my dad deftly invested a tutorial on engineering mechanics with deep spiritual significance -- and, moreover, as a symbol of our marriage, of the support and care of our families, of the continued grace of God in our lives over the years ... I was none too happy seeing glue guns hanging off our splicing where I'd draped it decoratively across the shelves. So we rescued it, the alien and I -- abandoning a multitude of books and games and unplayed instruments and out-of-season clothes and toiletries and standby kitchenalia and "where'd that even come from?" ornaments to an uncertain fate amidst the dust ...


[1] The pressure to experience some sort of "happiest day of one's life" whilst managing depression and anxiety is not massively eased by the hyperventilation-syndrome-unsympathetic design of traditional wedding attire, the presence of so many people!, the scrutinised display of it all, etc etc. Fortunately, all that "happiest day" nonsense really is nonsense; give me a day being married to Mr. W over a day getting married to him any day.

Comments

Pigwotflies said…
The main things I remember about your wedding were it being blisteringly hot so that most people spent the dancing part of the reception outside and having a red sun burnt arm because I'd spent the morning driving my Beetle around to run in the new engine. Oh and your fabulous green shoes. :)

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