Nonsense of Snow

Gazing from my front window a dark ceiling covers the skies, pressing my eyes down through pale flakes falling on wet ground. Flashing in tatters of light, settling on beige, then swept by wind and man into corner drifts of muddy brown. Chill gusts force the scent of cleanliness through frames shrunken by exposure.

Bristol has not fallen victim to a blizzard. Rather the management company have sent a whirlwind of tradesmen to scrape and scrub the face of our building. Unexpected scaffolding has enclosed our portico, and a cloud of wood and paint settles over our steps.

Although there are ageing window sills, decaying bricks, and peeling paint I would have preferred some warning. The feeling of living in a snow-globe is more amusing than distressing, and the wooden box fencing the front door has a sally port sufficient for my wife’s bicycle. However, one of the (un)scheduled works is the repainting of the front door itself: a door that opens inward. They have conceived a plan that not only requires one of us to be home to open a north facing door and leave it open while it is stripped, painted,and given time to dry, but requires us to do it with temperatures predictably dropping sharply. It is my hope that, when they do attempt to arrange this, they have the sense to plan the work for the morning so we are spared the Hobson’s choice of closing it while the paint is wet or leaving it standing fully open overnight.

My greatest consolation is that the work to date appears professional and the painter intends to contact us a few days before repainting starts.

Shortly after moving into my previous flat, the entire block was repainted by a firm considerably less ept. It was summer and we were above ground level, so wet paint dried quicker and open windows were less of an issue. In theory it would have little impact. However they chose to paint two coats of gloss over each frame without stripping the frames or waiting for the first to dry fully before applying the second, and most importantly without arranging proper access to the windows. Windows that were open were left too large to close without someone leaning on the outside; windows that were closed could not be opened without a chisel.

Do you have any amusing stories of building maintenance?

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