They’re building a house on the land next to mine.
It used to be fields. Now it’s a construction site. Never believe you own the last house on the street!
The construction chaps arrive at 7:15 am, to a cheery chorus of revving engines, slamming car doors, and hearty hails across the open space outside my home. Then they get serious, drowning the birdsong with their machineries and reversing trucks…beep-beep-beep! How DO they reverse their trucks for 20 minutes without hitting anything? In circles?
(Actually, I don’t know if the birds continue to sing. Obviously, I cannot hear it, so I cannot tell for sure and would hate to mislead you. Anyway, their song is either “drowned” or “silenced” – take your choice.)
Oh, and a recent refinement – presumably encouraged by the fine weather – is a medley of jolly work-songs ringing across the open spaces. I prefer the drilling…
It’s a big house, the new one. Much bigger than mine. It’s taking a long time to build. (For my non-European readers, it takes about 12-18 months to build a house here, concrete and noise.)
Yes, it’s a big, slow-to-construct house. Sure, I have double-glazing, but sometimes the air rumbles and the floor trembles; sometimes they seem to be mixing concrete for days – I have no idea why they need quite so much concrete; sometimes they leave mixer trucks parked blocking my drive, with the engines running and the big drums churning while the drivers go for lunch or disappear on some other incomprehensibly lengthy, builder-person task.
And then, at around 4:30 pm, just about now, I suddenly feel a stillness in the air. My computer monitor stops wobbling; the trembling underfoot has faded; I can hear the birds singing again (they really are infinitely better than the builders’ choir). Sometimes, however, they leave a rearguard: I can hear him now. Some lowly apprentice, perhaps, whose task is to bash a bucket for a half-hour after the others have left. Please, do not ask me why.
Now, I know they have to work – I would not take the bread from their mouths… but I, too, am trying to work, mainly by dreaming up credible, exciting and meaningful scenarios and setting them to a string of scintillating sentences. I had moved to a quiet place, so I could work in peace, perhaps with the windows open to enjoy the spring or summer air, perhaps sipping a coffee on my patio while I proofread or tap away at my laptop, to a background of birdsong and the gentle rustling of trees…
Good news! The house will be completed in a few months.
Bad news! Another one will be built next to it. And the only access to that site will be – you guessed it – the road outside my own house.
So, it’s sound-absorbing earphones for my birthday, and vibration-cushioning pads to stop my monitor from wobbling when the heavy engines run.
Life in the country? Huh! Meanwhile, publication date stretches away into the distance…