Thursday, 28 June 2012

Another step done

View of east side of ballrooms-sized
spare bedroom (before)
Once we'd divided the ballroom-sized spare bedroom roughly in half, there was still enough space over for a spare room that would take a kingsize bed, a wardrobe and a dresser. It needed a window, though, not to so closely resemble the Black Hole of Calcutta*.

As everyone knows, the God of Renovations requires that every step is fraught with unexpected and usually costly hurdles, and in this case it was discovering that the outer wall was thick enough to withstand, well, over a hundred years of Cape winter storms. So knocking through it took hours longer than we thought it would, and the window ended up framing a very deep recess - which actually wasn't a bad thing, as I've got a local ironmonger to fashion a sturdy set of burglar bars that we can now sink into the outer wall itself with plenty of space left over for the windows to open.

The window is placed
* I had a smallish bedroom in the house I grew up in in Johannesburg, and my mother often used to liken it, on a Saturday morning with the curtains closed and strewn with the bodies of my sleepover friends and their belongings, to the Black Hole of Calcutta. I didn't find out what the Black Hole was until years later, but it sounded gloomy and dank enough to be a fitting metaphor. The Black Hole was a 25-square-metre guardroom at Fort William in Calcutta, India, which was used to house British prisoners in the mid-1700s of which many infamously died of suffocation.

My mother, who was born near Glasgow in Scotland and spoke with a thick Scots accent until she died, in spite of having spent her entire adult life in South Africa, also often likened our house at the weekend - with its multitudes of hangers-on - to 'Sucky-Hall Street'. It wasn't until I visited Glasgow when I was in my teens that I realised she was referring to Sauchiehall Street, which is the main shopping street in Glasgow's city centre. My mom used lots of other Scots expressions that we, her kids, took as completely natural, but which confused and entertained our friends - 'piece' for sandwich, 'messages' for errands, 'smirry rain' for light soaking rain, 'gloaming' for dusk...

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