From the kitchen window. Beyond the sea - Albania
“The place looks especially islandy today”
“What do you mean ‘islandy’?”
”I don’t know. It just does.”
Sun and gentle haze, not the summer fog, have made foreground, middle ground and background separate, according depth to the landscape; the firmest blue and green along the island shore; brindled blue-grey flecked flaxen by sunlight between fluffy clouds on the receding ridges of Albania. We’re repairing a washstand that must have been well but simply made in the 1950s, perhaps earlier, with good mortises and precise angles. Discarded it had begun to fall apart weakened by woodworm, though not too much; one leg-end rotting, with clues as to its use – burns where cigarettes may have been left during washing; fine repeated shallow cuts where shaving foam was smeared off a cut-throat razor; scratched initials barely readable; dark patches from standing water on winter days rather than later rain in an abandoned house; an attempt at makeshift maintenance hammering in over twenty two-inch nails – rusted, rotting the joints they were meant to tighten; cracking and blemishing the pine.
It was simple pleasure. Like getting a potential survivor into A & E. Woodworm killer was allowed time to work. Nails were extracted or driven on through, the piece disassembled, and put together again with glue, joints realigned, a drawer made where one was missing, mortise and tenon joints cut for the wood surround; the whole sanded with a new piece of wood replacing the rotten leg-end; the frame that had got out of square pulled straight and the table top mended and re-attached with countersunk screws.
Now all that’s needed is to fill the old nail holes and do enough extra sanding to tidy but not remove the history and decide what to do with the hole for the wash basin.
This morning I asked Leftheris about the election in UK, he having TV and me with errands before going on the internet at Mark and Sally's. “Brown two” he said holding up two fingers. I understood 'second'. But he was unsure who was first because, as I was suspecting, it was not clear who was first. We seemed to be looking to a hung parliament and the unaccustomed negotiation that follows when no party has an overall majority. Meantime I shall be interested to see what’s been happening in the local government elections (invariably obscured by the national news), given the higher turnout that goes with having these on the same day as a General Election.
Alan arrived to continue work and told me more details adding news of the problems experienced by many casting their vote because of overcrowded, possibly ill-managed polling stations. From the the ladder “We’re a laughing stock. We’re not a banana republic. We’ve not even got bananas! What’s happening to us. We were the ones who monitored other people’s elections. Now the EU’s sent people over to monitor us.”
The builders, over the way, have been having a joyous time rubbishing all politicians, expressing their views on civil servants’ wages, especially now that pensions are being cut across the Republic. Alan joined in the general scorn, stirring disapprobation of our two governments, as they worked.
“One problem” he observed to us “is that now we’ve made this deal to get help with mixing and pouring cement is they’re now part of your balcony project, so I’m going to be getting lots of advice”
Mark drove by around then and shouted down to Alan “You don’t want to do it like that!” Around noon the building material truck arrived. With impressive dexterity the driver, having manoeuvred his truck to a point in the middle of Democracy Street above us, stabilised it with a hydraulic strut extended from the chassis, and proceeded, with remote control slung at his waist, to guide the truck crane to pick up up several tons of sand and cement and lower them gently down to the bottom of our steps – the operation done in 10 minutes - speed that's valued on Democracy Street, as it's blocked during deliveries, although drivers seem to take such delays in their stride. There’s no altercations; no honking.