18th May 2013
A heavy deluge and a distant thunderstorm beset us yesterday afternoon and throughout the night. Intermittent rain and strong, cold, winds persisted today, so it is just as well that I continued cleaning, tidying, and hanging pictures.
After this I amused myself writing out a bilingual snagging list. I suppose the need for one was inevitable. Thierry is yet to return to finish off and the unlit back corridor, completed after 9 p.m., is less than brilliant.
What needs to be done here is nothing compared to that required by Beauchamp Lodge Settlement in the early 1990s. As Chairman I had a real problem on my hands. The charity had been forced to sell the beautiful early nineteenth century building in Little Venice it had occupied until then because we did not have, and could not raise the £500,000 required to bring it back to a safe standard.
The Greater London Council had owned the building and let it to us for a peppercorn rent. Through the intervention of Councillor Anne Mallinson, later to become mayor, we had been able to buy the building at less than market rate; sell it for a greater sum; and buy a far less salubrious terraced building on the north side of Regents Canal further west along Harrow Road.
Much work was required to make this address fit for our purposes and ready for occupation. A firm was engaged to carry out the work, and a deadline set. Nothing was done for weeks. Promises were made and excuses given. Progress was minimal. Six weeks before we were due to move in I sacked the building company.
What to do next? No-one wants to complete major works which have been fiddled about with by a predecessor. Least of all Michael, whose policy is never to touch another builder’s snagging, and who didn’t relish the two hour drive to North London, before and after each day’s work. Nevertheless he, Matthew, and the rest of the Able Assignments team came to the rescue and did me proud. We were able to move in on time and they continued the refurbishment with little inconvenience to the activities of the charity.
We must have had a removal firm to transport our furniture, files, and other equipment, but for some reason I only remember the moving of one desk. The Settlement’s original and subsequent homes were about a mile apart. In drizzling rain, Roderick Graham, a debt counsellor, and I carried this piece from one to the other. The next day I had a cataract operation in Nottingham.
This afternoon I began reading Susan Hill’s ‘The Service of Clouds’ before Maggie and Mike collected me and drove me to their home in Eymet where we tried a new Indian takeaway restaurant. Poppy’s produced quite the best curry I have tasted in France. The proprietors are an English couple, the woman of which cooks the food before your very eyes. A limited menu is rapidly and superbly produced. The phal was very much to my liking. With it I drank an excellent Chateau Laville Bertou reserve minervois 2010. I chose it because it bore the tag Reflets de France, and I have found that whatever the product this is always a very reliable label. Not only that. I couldn’t find any Kingfisher.
Dana, Sandrine’s husband who has joined the family concern drove me back to Sigoules where I was entertained for an hour or so by Jamie and the Crazy Hearts; the drummer barely discernible in a corner behind three guitarists, one being the energetic lead singer who announced the numbers in French and sang in his native English; performing a Country Rock concert in Le Code Bar. Having eaten with the Kindreds, I declined the barbecue that was on offer.