Skills, high level practical skills, something I possess in smallish quantities. Medium level practical skills, however, are something I’ve accumulated all my life. So I’ve been thinking how do I know some of the stuff I know; and the answer is, I dunno!
It’s like vocabulary or pronunciation it’s something you accumulate. I suppose it’s a kind of exposure and osmosis.
It's Tuesday night and I’m crafting this part of this update. It’s the beginning of my worst few days. Activity slows to a snail’s pace. I feel weak, my hands don't seem to be able to function too well and I feel shit. This'll probably last until Friday morning. I’ll have some good moments when I feel good quickly followed by a crash. I have two speed settings for the next 2 or 3 days. Go slow and stop. I always do too much and I always regret it.
While I’m on a go slow I have my kitchen project to carry on. Earlier today I fitted the sink and tap. Tomorrow I’ll probably manage to plumb them in. See, slow! Of all the trades, I really don’t like plumbing. That’s actually not, strictly speaking, correct. What I really don’t like is leaks, something I’m pretty predictable at. I also don’t like having to rush to finish a plumbing job to the point that the water can be turned back on. Sometimes you just can’t walk away from a plumbing job. I have actually done loads of plumbing. My house at Carthew, when I moved in, had no plumbing whatsoever just an outside tap and thunderbox. (Outside toilet). By the time I left it had central heating, a Rayburn with a back boiler connected to the central heating, a kitchen and of course a bathroom. I also rewired the whole house, plastered the inner walls....... in fact its easier to say I didn’t re-slate the roof but just about everything else was my efforts.
Changing the subject a little. I’m a Bugle boy. Now, what’s Bugle well known for? The West of England Bandsmen's Festival. A.K.A. Bugle Band Contest. This is the only outdoor festival of its type in the country. Anyway there’s no indoor venue big enough in Cornwall. The festival is an all day affair. At the end of the contest the bands march up through the village, the reverse of the route that they followed in the morning. The final “winning" band stops in the village square to give a short concert of 3 pieces. My dad, for more than 50 years, lived in the house with the perfect vantage point. Over the years, on the 3rd Saturday in June it became a kind of pilgrimage, we went home to see the bands march up. For a number of years a small gang consisting of me, some of my family and friends looked after the carpark first thing in the morning. I only stopped 3 or 4 years ago. Why am I telling you this? Well it’s because brass and silver band music is in me, it’s a part of me, some of my earliest memories are of the Band Contest. For the aficionado, I even have a vague, early 1960s memory of the contest at Peniel. I can’t play, and I don’t really like the music but it’s well embedded in my being. I suppose it’s exposure and osmosis.
I think my practical skills are the same, embedded through exposure and osmosis. Take this ongoing, slow speed, kitchen project. Apart from some plastering and plumbing the rest has been done by yours truly. From building a stud wall to re-routing the electrical ring main, bringing more electrical juice from the fuse box and running hot water, cold water and drainage to and from the new multifunction utility room. And that’s all before I got started on the kitchen proper. I relocated the existing kitchen in the utility room, lifted the old kitchen floor to install further services for the proposed wet-room, re-laid the floor, ordered the kitchen units etc.
If it’s needed, my job is to find a way. However some skills are, to me anyway, like black arts. I’d rather try stapling jelly to the ceiling than trying to plaster. Leave some things to those that know.
It's now earlyish Wednesday morning. 5.30am. Tricia is still asleep. I’ll get up in a few minutes, make a cup of tea and embrace the slow day. Today I’ll try to fasten the last bit of worktop down, get the sink plumbed in and relocate the dishwasher. Later on, at 4pm, I’m due at RCH Treliske for my mid treatment scan. I’ll be driving myself. I know Tricia’s eyesight is as good as it’s been for years but she still can’t drive in the dark. Anyway it’s roast dinner tonight, how can she possibly leave the multifunction utility room?
I wonder how she cooks so well? I suppose it’s exposure and osmosis.