Today I have an excerpt for you for the book tour of Accidental Damage by Alice May.
Twenty minutes later, Beloved Husband and I were both standing on the drive looking at the damage to our home in total silence. Words cannot begin to describe how dumbfounded we were. I do remember thinking irrelevantly that at least it was rather a nice day. Blue sky, sunshine, tweeting birds, you know the kind I mean. Always looking for a silver lining, that’s me, or at least it was. It probably would have been worse if it
had been raining, but let’s face it, things were pretty bad already.
Friendly Local Builder came over to us dusting o# his hands and said, “OK, it’s stable for now, but it’s going to need a bit of work.” A well-meant understatement, I think. Just like when the nurse says, “You won’t feel a thing.”
“I take it there’s no-one inside?” he continued.
Oh damn! Was there? (No you’re right I said something much worse than that but
I am not admitting to it in print.)
The Barbarian Horde! Frantic mental mechanics ensued.
Phew panic over.
“It’s OK,” I stammered after a moment of carefully cataloguing the probable whereabouts of our offspring. “The kids are all at school, and the cat is asleep in the back garden.
“There’s lucky then, could have been worse,” he said cheerfully. Beloved Husband and I looked at him in complete astonishment. Could there
Beloved Husband and I looked at him in complete astonishment. Could there possibly be something lucky about this? Maybe he was right, after all no one was actually dead, except possibly the cottage. It all rather depended on your perspective I supposed.
“Best ring your house insurance then,” he prompted helpfully.
We nodded, that did seem like the only thing to do under the circumstances.
A surprisingly short while later Beloved Husband had achieved a degree of
communication with the house insurance company.
With my hands wrapped around a warm cup of tea, (we’re British, what else were
we going to do in a crisis?) I listened as he calmly agreed with the sweet young
thing on the end of the line that it really was highly inconsiderate of us to allow
the house to fall down on a Friday afternoon.
However, after he had politely insisted that yes the situation was fairly critical and no it really couldn’t wait until Monday, arrangements were eventually made for a structural engineer to visit the property to assess the situation later that evening.
Fingers crossed there was something of the house left standing for him to assess
when he got here.
There had been rather a lot of haphazard development at the property over the course of its 350 year existence. The most useful addition at this present time was a fairly large, relatively modern, single-storey extension at the rear of the original two storey cob section.
This was a very useful family room designed around a kitchen with a lounge-style seating area by an open area to one side. The room then morphed into a conservatory / dining area towards the garden. There was also a door that led to a tiny ground ;or bathroom with a minuscule utility area. Fortunately, this part of the house could all safely be accessed via the conservatory doors by the back patio without risking our necks going near the worryingly, wobbly walls at the front.
As a result we were able to corral the Barbarian Horde, on their return from various educational establishments, at the back of the house with sufficient edible supplies, a selection of electronic entertainment equipment and a stern lecture about venturing no further than the bathroom and back on pain of death.
We bravely decided to survey the internal damage. On reaction this was probably a rather foolish idea, but I never have claimed to be terribly intelligent.
It was a very surreal experience. The cracks had widened considerably in a very short space of time, allowing loads more daylight to penetrate the small cottage rooms than we usually got from the tiny old windows. Unfortunately this additional lighting allowed us to see quite clearly the substantial internal damage that had resulted.
Friendly Local Builder had stuck around, not only for the entertainment value that we were
we were offering, but also from a genuine desire to help out. He muttered something about needing some more support and disappeared back outside to his truck. He returned shortly with a couple of metal props and a stack of three yellow hard hats. Beloved Husband and I accepted the hats in wordless disbelief and rammed them on our heads obediently before turning towards the stairs.
It was at this point that we began to get an inkling of quite how big a problem we now had. The previously charming, yet slightly rickety staircase was no longer charming and was significantly more rickety. In fact we would be hard put to describe it as a staircase at all. It had been built into the corner of the cob cottage where the slightly smaller of the two massive cracks now ran right up the stairwell towards the roof. (Not an interior design feature I would recommend.)
As Friendly Local Builder did something useful with his props downstairs, we ventured cautiously and no doubt imprudently up what remained of the staircase. I challenge anyone to make sound decisions under similar circumstances.
The damage to the upstairs was comparable to that downstairs, if not significantly worse. Plaster was still falling from the walls in huge chunks leaving thick dust swirling. Early evening sunlight poured in through a significant gap between the wall and the roof at one end, highlighting a scene of utter devastation.
Bedtime was obviously going to be a bit of an issue.
If Accidental Damage sounds like a book you would like to read then you can purchase it here on Amazon UK.
Thanks for reading.
The Stationery Geekette x