Sunday, 15 July 2007
Why Can't We Stop Building?
Today we’ve had three men working on the new wooden house in the garden and somehow I feel that we’ll never ever stop building. I thought the house was finished but what Cat says is quite correct. At the near end the roof stops directly above the verandah and as the rain blows in from that direction, the steps and a yard or two of flooring gets soaked. And as Cat says, the railings and the stairs are of ‘mai pradoo’, a top quality wood which nonetheless doesn’t take the weather particularly well. It’ll all rot out in a year or two.
‘Teerak ja, we need some sort of a mook.’ she says, smilingly. ‘Then no problem with the rain!’
I know exactly what a mook is because we had this same debacle when we were building the concrete house. We totally forgot about a porch for the front and so something had to be cobbled together as an afterthought, causing all sorts of horrific complications.
So we’re now busy building an afterthought mook for the new wooden house as well. Cat’s first idea was to extend the whole of the existing roof by a few metres to cover the steps, but then foolishly I came up with an idea to do something a bit more interesting. Why not have a smaller gable that covers just the steps and verandah but not the old rice barn? It’ll look much prettier. I did a sketch plan and all was quickly agreed by Cat’s brother, Saniam, who was leading the work.
Saniam then worked out what wood we’d need and ordered it from a nearby village. The wood arrived in the dead of night and was noisily stowed away behind the house. Though we were at risk of jail for handling bootleg timber and would only be safe when it was safely nailed to the realty, the next day he failed to turn up for work. As usual we were left waiting and wondering.
Eventually after a day or two, we at last had a team of Saniam and two others on the job and things got started in earnest. The only trouble was that suddenly they announced that they couldn’t do it as per my drawing. It just wouldn’t work for some reason. So we spent a few hours chewing the fat, drawing and redrawing and getting nowhere. As the resident farang and banker, all I could do was stand in the sun in thirty six degrees and listen uncomprehendingly to the debate, occasionally trying to get Cat’s attention to make an anguished point or two.
Finally a plan was agreed upon and holes were immediately dug for the two supporting posts. Things proceeded apace and it was looking good, a sort of Roman portico across much of the front of our dear little shanty. But then Saniam again said we couldn’t do it that way because the left slope of the roof would block the doorway into the old rice barn, and especially with the gutter in place, you’d have to duck down to walk along the walkway in front of the barn.
They were all most solicitous that the tall farang might hit his head, though I didn’t care a damn. I just wanted it all finished and for me and my fragile bank account to be left in peace.
Round and round in circles we went, getting nowhere fast. Eventually I was losing interest and about to give up in disgust when Saniam said he had an idea. I was too hot to follow what he said but when I came back after an hour or two, he’d already done the timber work for an extra slope of roof coming off the rice barn allowing the farang to enter the barn without having to bow his head at all. It was a bit fiddly and complicated and not particularly beautiful but that’s just a consequence of a committee of rice farmers, obstructed by me, cobbling it together on the hoof.
Next thing, I had the silly idea of hanging some decorative woodwork on the bargeboards of the porch’s gable end. Cat liked the idea so we got in the pickup and went off and bought a load of materials, including the blue corrugated iron we needed for the roof. It was a good morning’s work except that as the two sides of the roof turned out to be of different lengths, we had to go back and buy some more corrugated sheets for the longer side.
On getting back to the house, I discovered that Cat and I were at cross purposes as to where we were going to hang the decorative woodwork. She wanted it across the horizontal gable beam and not on the bargeboard. This debate then took an hour or two, which ultimately she won.
Then we had to decide whether they should be hung on the back or the front of the beam. Sitting on the grass, now in the shade as the sun had gone round to the west, we contemplated the samples the men had hung for us, while Bpirt’s electric plane screamed blue murder. That took at least another half hour.
The next debate was as to the colour of the fascia boards to be hung under the eaves… maroon to match the house was decided upon, or so I thought. The next day when we got back from the builders’ merchants, I discovered we’d got cream in the back of the pickup!
‘Tell them not to put those up, Cat. They’ll look awful,’ I insisted and she fully agreed. When I came down again a few hours later, sure enough the cream boards were nailed in place under the eaves.
Now I’m knacked and if I have the choice, I’ll never ever build anything again in my life. But probably I won’t… have the choice I mean!
Tomorrow we’re having a day off and we’ve told the workers not to come in. We’re going to our friends’ divorce party.
It’s a farang and his Thai wife who’ve quite recently finished building a great big house, with another one in the garden for Mama. He’s had enough of this world and he’s decided it’d be better to stop home making and to go off and become a monk instead. I must get him to give me the address of the monastery!