Thanks for the Swastika

On Wednesday morning, my carpenter alerted me (at 8am!) to the fact that someone had put ”mayonnaise or something” on my car.  He is young and was upset, so details weren’t sought.  Suffice it to say, aside from the ketchup, barbecue sauce and mayonnaise dumped on the bonnet, a swastika – etched in mayonnaise – was graffiti-ed on a passenger window.  (It was discovered by my children; a particularly nice touch.)

As utterly disgusting and appalling as the whole episode was, it was a blessing.  Firsthand, we have witnessed the amazing generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness of the folk who live in our community.

As soon as they were made aware, the police began house-to-house investigations, builders hopped into vans and began touring the area for evidence and culprits, neighbours have been popping in with gifts, encouragement and support ever since AND our heating engineers presented us with a gorgeous handcrafted candlestick.

So, instead of writing about the glorious restored stained glass windows – watch this space – the news is that incredible kindness and blessing can come from possible discouragements.  Thank you to you who proved that.

Living The Dream Episode II

Tears play an enormous role in the first stages of “living the dream”, obviously, those television programmes skip that small detail – or I was away from the screen, at that graphic point!  Having drawn a chart of days when I haven’t cried, I can reliably state that tears are normal and actually guaranteed “in the small print!”  Moving from a loved and finished home into a wreck (or semi-wreck, depending upon your budget and courage), and knuckling down to life with its customary trials and tribulations PLUS antiquated plumbing, inadequate heating, questionable DIY etc… by previous owners, unfamiliarity with the region, friends with strait jackets and psychologists on call, would leave anyone in a state of turbulence.  This then is our new life – and could be yours, lucky lucky you!

A glimmer of light in the midst of the angst though, is the knowledge that a new home has a history.  Set aside the English Heritage history – if you’re so blessed – and think local personal history of previous inhabitants.  If walls could speak, these houses would have verbal diarrhoea!

Our walls may not be able to chatter, but the style choices and “Bodge It and Scarper” electrical and building works have a voice all of their own.  Then, there are the neighbours…!  Here, we are blessed with a wealth of lovely people, gently and discreetly filling in the interesting gaps in our property’s story.  One neighbour’s brief reference to a long term illness is another neighbour’s more lurid account of alcoholism – both confirmed by the mammoth quantities of beautiful glassware and decanters still left, semi-packed, in a reception room. 

A vanity unit, complete with tiling and inset shaving point in another reception room, tells the story of single storey living.  Radiators only fitted on one floor and surface mounted electrics with huge holes left in ceilings and walls; lights, ceiling roses, original brass light switches and sockets, which have all been “removed”, left us slightly baffled.  A helpful neighbour mentioned grants, condemned lighting, exploitative electricians and all became as clear as the abounding glassware.

The last, but perhaps, most intriguing element that was solved last week, was our curiosity regarding the probate sale and emptiness of the property.  To our knowledge, the owners had been a couple – only one of whom had died.  Yet, the sale was transacted by executors of the estate.  Our discreet neighbours remained very discreet, but the message is, younger second wives be very careful; revenge is a dish best served cold!

A hurricane of history then does much to dry the tears – that combined with kindred spirits, faith, humour and time.  Oh yes, and white paint and more unpacked boxes and the kindness of strangers and a great breakfast and sunny weather and … the craftsmen all getting to work!