The point is that, for the last 3 days, I've done something involving a house. I think that in all cases, the work has been carried out with enthusiasm and according to the best emergent plan. I'm pleased with the work. I'm also slightly chuffed that my shower-installing-type-man complimented me on my skirting boards, even though we both know they're a DIY job (especially in the corner where they go up by an inch in only 20 inches or so).
Anyway, compliments aside, I'd like to catalogue what's been achieved in the last few days. I'll work backwards. I think that a facet of the work done recently has been the development of a suitable ad hoc plan and then the completion of tasks within that plan. In other words, you review where things really are, you determine a discrete task that will get you a step forward in the right direction, choosing something at the top of the priority list (as well as the most possible thing) and then you bloody get on with it.
Last night I planned to spend about two hours sanding some woodwork in the living room. I did neither two hours' work, nor did I do any sanding. That's the beauty of adaptive planning. When I returned home, I realised that the room I was going to turn into a vault of dust, contained a bunch of my builder's stuff, that he probably wouldn't want to be so dusty, and which I didn't want to either move or crawl around. I decided to jack it in for the night.
Then I decided not to jack it in. I want to get stuff done. Start some inertia and the inertia will build. So, I looked at tasks I could do. Two stood out. There was an electrical cable, which had been surface mounted, which my electrician had submerged into a cavity in the wall. I believe the term is chasing. It has been chased into the wall. However, the cavity hadn't been replastered. So I had a section of plaster patching I could do in order to get this wire fully out of site and wall-paper-over-able. The other major task was the fully sanded room. The woodwork in that room, including skirting board and wooden window-surround (not window-frame - the windows are metal double-glazing units), all needs painting.
So, not two hours of sanding. Four hours of painting instead (with a side order of some plaster-patching. I had to wire in a replacement light-switch too, and work by the light of a plug-in lamp, when I was plastering, so as to avoid using wet plaster around live wires. Just a precaution - everything was insulated.
"Everything was insulated"
That's possibly the best description of the weekend's work in Leeds. The sheer enormity of the Leeds project is such that, if you view it incorrectly, you may as well conclude that you could do nothing and achieve the same as doing something. The house needs so much work doing to it, that even a day's work is a mere drop in the ocean. From afar, the result of a day's work is so small that you could easily say that the distant view is identical, whether you do the work or not. Alternatively, you could stand in the place, with so many possible jobs to do, that just to review the to-do list will exhaust you and crush your spirit, thus making it impossible to start any one thing.
The point of going along to join in the work was two-fold. Firstly, working in a pair with a good friend is always good fun. It has the benefit of providing a worthwhile activity, while simultaneously making room for conversation and general amusement. Plus, working as a team is always a rewarding activity and can cause both parties to spur each other on to work harder and get the job done. Though I seem to find reserves of motivation sometimes when working alone, it's the hardest thing to do, when there's nobody to notice if you slack off. Working with someone else, who can spot if you're not pulling your weight, and who will be impressed if you give a good push and get the job done well/rapidly/beautifully... well, it's instant joy and motivation.
Second-fold, there was the aim to get the Leeds project back underway. Inertia builds. Breaking through the inertia and building some momentum was intended to be a gift to my Leeds friend. I think we achieved that. Well.
On the first morning, we had about an hour, once we'd got to the house after breakfast. Very poor planning. We had a two hour lunchbreak planned (so we were like professional builders). What can you do in an hour? Well, we found a job that could be done in an hour. So we do it. It involved a lintel. The roof was propped up with props, rather than a lintel. When we were finished, the props came down, but the roof didn't. Mentalismio.
Then that long lunch-break.
Then we returned and did various things relating to insulation. There was some plaster boarding first, then it was time to put up roof insulation. We started, devised techniques for doing it well and started to get some momentum up. We called it a night at about the point in time when we ran out of materials and still had time to buy some from the DIY shop when it closed.
The DIY shop was staffed by a nasty chav girl, who yattered into her phone while walking down the aisle with me to find a price for some drywall screws. Yuck.
An evening meal out, in which I renamed the waiting staff, and then there was sleeping, ready for a morning start.
We retrospectively earned the greasy-spoon-style sandwiches we bought at a different DIY shop, along with some other materials, by completing the roof insulation challenge. We devised special techniques for fitting the insulation into gaps and between roof joists. It was fun. We ended up with a job that took slightly longer than planned, but which we could be proud of.
And that's what it's all about.
Apart from the overrunning (though I'd technically used planned slack-time to make the overrunning ok).
It has been an enjoyable few days with the labouring. There's something relaxing about doing physical labour. That's good because there's a lot of it needs doing in the next few months, and I'm probably going to be stressed and tired for a lot of it... so hopefully it will make me relaxed and non-tired.
The key to it is the bit where you earn the chance to step back and look at what you just made and go "yeah - that's good and I made it".