Total Pageviews

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A glimpse of the new porch

Ο Άλαν Μπάρατ το έκανε
As well as replacing the balcony and stairs on the outside of the house on Democracy Street, Alan has designed and is now putting final touches to a new porch, which we saw as a sketch at the beginning of May. Honey has emailed us latest photos:
Hi, Simlin. Here's an early look at the porch as it's coming along. Still a lot of finishing work to be done. It's all the details that need doing now. We'll send another shot in a few days to let you see the progression. The neighbors are coming there every day and seem delighted and surprised at each new additional detail. We hope you are equally pleased. Love, Alan and Honey
Lin replies:
Hi Honey. The porch looks fabulous! We love it. I particularly like the curve down to the bottom of the steps - it has a very art deco feel to it. Only 6 weeks till we see it 'in the flesh' (so to speak). Can't wait to sit on the little bench with a cuppa - it's like getting a new house. lol. Please pass on our admiration to Alan. He's very lucky to be so talented and makes me very jealous! My cousin Val from New Zealand is coming in September, followed by friends from Australia, so I'll be taking some time off from roofing, plaka-ing, painting, etc. Hope to see a bit more of the island this time - we hardly went out last time. Simon has work in Australia again at the end of October and I've taken the plunge and booked to go with him...Simon's been digging our new allotment and I've ordered seed potatoes, which I hope will arrive tomorrow. We're not planting anything else this year, as we won't be here. We reckon that potatoes can look after themselves. lol Must go - lots to do before I go to bed. Love to you both, and give our thanks to Alan for his beautiful porch. Linsim xxx
The cubby's just right for my Brompton, and a cat or two
** ** ** We are hearing that at last Greek forest maps could be in the public domain during September.
Kathimerini 22 July '10: An ambitious draft bill that aims to curb illegal construction on forestland by drawing up comprehensive maps delineating the boundaries of the country’s forests is to be submitted in Parliament next week and the first few maps are to be put on public display in September, Environment Minister Tina Birbili said yesterday.
...and although, it's not a story for the redtops I'm impressed that after years of politically massaged statistics on the state of the Greek economy there is an independent statistical office responsible for producing national information - especially financial.
* * * *
Two good sessions with elected members - one near London, another in the Midlands - on overview and scrutiny.
Tailored to address the needs of new and more experienced councillors this evening focuses on driving the work of scrutiny, aiming:
to familiarise councillors with the unique dynamics of chairing scrutiny as this relates to roles, activities and processes that contribute to successful scrutiny
to help members assess their own learning, and practice the skills required,
to explore the organisational role of scrutiny and its contribution to good governance
Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
Part of the pleasure of in-house work with particular councils is travelling there and back with the opportunity to rehearse on the train, mark papers, read, gaze from the window and cycle to and from my station. I travel with others, part of the teeming diversity of the public domain - in trains, on platform and concourse, on the street - interesting people, noisy, silly people, puzzling, distracted, eccentric, beautiful, zombie-like people, reading, sleeping, chatting, phoning, working on laptops, watching films, playing computer games, earphone absorbed. I'm so acclimatised to this motley, accustomed to being the anonymous author of an involuntary internal commentary, mostly curbed by public civility - emitting cartoon bubbles of vexation, amusement, frustration and curiosity amid a stream of impressions I'd feel slightly trapped on my own behind the wheel of a car compared to the openness in all weathers accorded by cycling, walking and the company I share on public transport.
I’ve been untruthful about some public exchanges lest the extra detail shadow the good light I hope to shine on myself or to avoid the whimsy of self-depreciation. An encounter at the end of May on New Street Station concourse, when I called out to someone “Your shoelace is undone” and he replied, “Piss off”. It didn’t end there.
I got out my taser, the one I use for repelling aggressive dogs, and brought him to his knees pleading for mercy…no, no of course not, but I did cry out
“What a horrid thing to say!”
and when he ignored or failed to hear me, I repeated
“Hey! that was a vile thing to say…” He turned to stare at me “...really vile. Don’t you know small incivilities lead to big ones?”
“What do you mean?”
I had his attention
“What you just did when I tried to do you a favour. That way leads to Auschwitz, Birkenau and Belsen.”
“O fercrisake”
“You share the same moral deficiency”
By now we had an audience; amid the early commuters, one witness - a man from Network Rail stood observing our exchange.
“It’s you who’ve got the serious moral deficiency, if you think me saying 'piss off' makes me a concentration camp guard”
Now we were communicating I felt embarrassed.
“OK I’m sorry of course the comparison’s disproportionate. I promise you’re not a concentration camp guard. Of course you’re not, but I was really vexed”
“OK. Yes...well...I apologise. I’ve had a lousy night”
I put out my hand; he his, and we smiled ruefully at one another as we shook hands. He went his way his lace still undone. I turn towards my platform and the Network Rail man said, “You were dead right. One thing leads to another”
I agreed with him privately but didn’t press the point, thinking Norbert Elias’ ghost backs me. Small incivilities do lead to larger.
The other day I went to the Public Convenience on the edge of the chapter grounds of Winchester cathedral. I wheeled my bike into the foyer; left it there to go to the men’s WC. It was clean without a trace of malodour or horrid perfumed camouflage. Going out I saw the attendant in his office.
“Your toilets are excellent.“
He realised I was talking to him and came out to the yorkstone street
“A civilisation is measured by the state of its public conveniences. Yours is an example.”
He was wearing a Serco badge on spotless blue overalls. A bulky man in his 50s.
“Have you been to the Abbey Gardens ones?” he asked
“They’re even better. Classical music. Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
“Right. If I get caught short in that vicinity I’ll call in, but meantime thanks for these.”
“They could be cleaner but it’s raining. People bring in…”
He unlocked the disabled WC door to show its pristine floor.
“A tiny difference.” I said
“Well thanks" and we waved goodbye. Now I thought of one 'who sweeps a room…’ which reminds me of something that happened on Sunday afternoon as I worked on the dry earth of our stony allotment with so much more to do. I was thinking what a long way I have to go before I can begin to plant anything when I saw, below my upraised mattock, an oak sapling hardly six inches high, that must have been missed by the developer’s weed killer. It had planted itself amid the scrub. I levered it gently from the ground and took it, still with a tiny root ball of dried earth, to the foot of the plot and replanted it, watering it in from the plastic bottle I’d brought to slake my thirst - the first thing planted on Plot 14.


  1. The porch/balcony looks terrific. Congratulations. Unbelievable that this can be accomplished without 24 hour supervision.

  2. Alan's not simply building here - though that requires skills enough. He's making us a piece of public art.


Back numbers

Simon Baddeley