That’s what it feels like – overwriting memories – and that’s what so saddens me.
Since last September I have been preparing to rent out my flat in Edinburgh. That coincided with my cancer diagnosis so undertaking the project at the same time as undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, was not the brightest of ideas I’ve come up with, but such is life.
At first it was really daunting, nay utterly overwhelming, to attempt to sort through the treasures and detritus of memories of my life there since 1986 but, with the help and encouragement of my partner, hard decisions were made for stuff to be moved to my new home with him, put into storage, donated to charity or chucked.
It was still looking like my flat, my home, albeit with many fewer items in it, but then we came to the bit where it had to be redecorated and it ceased to look like or feel like my place any longer.
That process turned out to be one of the worst things to happen to me in many years. I have no intention of “washing dirty linen in public” but my goodness, what a hard lesson it has been. The job was done by someone who I had known very well since she was a young teenager and had done other work for me extremely satisfactorily, so there was no official contract or estimated cost of job or guarantee of standard of work; then, because of my hospital admissions and treatment, I was not able to oversee matters closely enough. The job was to be paid at an hourly rate – but I had not calculated for 1) a slow rate of work, 2) a refusal to provide any note of arrival and departure for an informal record hours worked. (That apparently was totally unreasonable of me to expect) and 3) work of such poor standard as to need redoing. I have been charged, and paid for, 100 hours work, despite our having to repaint two full walls and three doors and do all the clearing up and finishing off ourselves.
Here I need to digress slightly: My upstairs neighbours had been doing some work recently as well, and my decorating friend had brought into my flat a tall piece of coated plywood which she thought might come in handy for me. I was aware of this but was not sure where it had been stored. Anyway, last week I noticed a damaged part of a wall near the main bedroom window and, a few moments later, in the corner of the other bedroom I was delighted to come across what I took to be the ‘to-be-handy’ plywood, so I had it cut and used to patch the damaged wall, which worked well.
What has this to do with overwriting memories? Well you see, all my time this last week has been taken up with spotting yet more examples of substandard work so that my happy memories of the place are being replaced by those filled with frustration and disappointment. For instance, matt emulsion paint was used to touch up areas and in some cases, complete the painting of walls which had been started with silk paint, with the result that the patches and stretches of differently painted sections showed up clearly. There were many other irritating aspects of poor work, such as gaps left around light fittings and paint marks on wooden furniture, but today I had the final straw. We were preparing a detailed inventory of the flat contents and opened up one of the double wardrobes in my spare bedroom only to find a panel missing from the back of it. The remaining panel was coated plywood – identical to the piece “found again” the other day !
The (now ex) friend doing the redecorating had broken the back of the wardrobe when moving it to paint the wall behind it, and just moved the piece to one side without bothering to tell me. I am heartily sick! I had already cut all contact with the person concerned after she and her partner became abusive and threatening last week, so I don’t intend to complain or otherwise do anything about this, despite my fury about it. I am putting it down to experience and lessons learned the hard way, because in my present state I cannot take the additional stress of it, but it and the other calamities have almost destroyed the love and pleasant memories of my home of 30odd years. These are pics of some of the things that have caused such intense dischuffment. No doubt I will mellow as the trauma of the friendship’s souring gradually subsides, but for now my heart is sore.