O judge from the sound of building work reverberating along our street at present, we are not alone in undertaking repairs to the house over the summer. We should—we now realise—have gone off on holiday for the duration. As it is, we’re trying to sweat it out, palming off the children onto generous grandparents in the meantime. There are some advantages to being in the house alone, notably peaceful mornings and evenings, not to mention quiet meals out and a complete—and compelled—holiday from washing-up. Nevertheless, the chaos at home and the intermittent breaks in the water supply are trying to live with. Even more so are the horrors being revealed by the workmen. To date, the list includes rot, woodworm and the astonishing fact that whoever installed the kitchen appliances many years ago failed to earth them.
Presently, I’m trying to take consolation in what the work is also revealing about the changing face of the house. As floors come up, we’ve exposed fragments of old wall paper, lino flooring, a hearth and even a blocked window. It’s a powerful reminder of how much change even a modest London terraced house like ours has witnessed.