Monday, 21 July 2008

Albert's Enormous Purple Organ!

On Friday night, there being no gardening programmes to watch, we were about to watch some stuff we'd recorded earlier in the week, when we found ourselves watching the first night of the Proms. Some guy was playing a most beautiful Mozart oboe concerto, I think, and from then on, we were completely mesmerised.

So the title of this post relates to almost the first thing I noticed, which was the organ. For those not in the know, the whole Proms event, from July to September, takes place in the Albert Hall in London, and I was astonished to see the organ was purple. I didn't realise, until later, that it was just the illumination that made it so, but it was quite fantastic to see. Hence the title of this post.

After that, we had Strauss's Four Last Songs, which we've got on CD, and which we absolutely adore. I hated this music, until, about 10 years ago, Jenny learned them at singing lessons. We both did the lessons, for an hour between us on a Tuesday evening, so heard what the other was doing, every week. Quite quickly, I fell in love with these pieces, and I still listen to them often, at work.

The programmed soprano was ill, so we had Catherine Brewer, instead. I'd never heard of her before, and was unimpressed by the large lady that came on stage. However, when she opened her mouth, I was transfixed. She reduced me to tears in nothing flat, and the audience was similarly blown away. Fan-bloody-tastic. I 'fess I closed my eyes, because I didn't want to read the translation, being entirely uninterested in what's being sung *about*. I'm completely besotted with the music, as with the sacred music we sing in our own choir - I'd much prefer it all to be in Latin, so I don't actually understand the words. Frinstance, many friends rave about Elgar's Dream of Gerontius. Jenny and I can't bear it, but I suspect that's partly because it's in English, and the religion just makes us want to throw up.

On Sunday, the saga of the Conservatory and the Drains got itself going, and I think this one will run for weeks and weeks. I decided at work that there was no way I was prepared to wait until Friday week to at least get the drains sorted out, so eventually phoned DynoRod, who responded almost magically quickly. The fixed price callout seemed a bit pricey, at £110, but for that, they do the whole job. And I don't have to pay Anglian Home Improvements anything, which makes it worth it, just for the pleasure of that!

I'd resigned myself to taking yet more time off, even though I already have a holiday debt, so I'll have to work back the 3 hours I skived off this afternoon. Within minutes of my initial phone call, DynoRod had not only arranged an engineer to call around after his next job, but the man himself had phoned to say he was on his way and would wait outside the house until I arrived. If only Anglian were even half as good.

He had to use a giant crowbar and a big hammer to lever the manhole cover up, then shoved a hose up the necessary orofice and turned it on. The end seems to squirt water at high pressure slightly backwards, so it drags itself along the pipe by jet propulsion. After quite a while, the water had started to flow clear, so he turned it off and tried to drag it out. And tried and tried and tried. It was properly stuck.

We decided to try to locate the small drain which I referred to in the last post, so took a bolster to the chipboard. Since the latter was already soaked with sewage and needed to be replaced, this was fine. Only there was no sign of the drain. I checked with a photo we took when the conservatory was being built, and we knew exactly where it should be, but all we could see was concrete.

While he struggled with his hose, I smashed at the concrete with a lump hammer and bolster, eventually breaking through. Still no drain. Finally, he extended the hole I'd started and found the drain.

Far from having been capped and sealed, as the drawings specify, it had just had a piece of slate laid across the top. Inside it was clogged with numerous bits of concrete, roof tile and what looks suspiciously like tiling grout. He managed to free his hose, which had been his biggest worry all along, of course, then did his best to clear the pipe. Sadly, there's a big lump of something still down there, which he couldn't get out, but he reckons the pipe is clear enough that it'll be OK, as long as we dump a sinkful of really hot water down it from time to time, and presumably give it the Mr Muscle treatment as well.

Then he made his one mistake. He shoved the hose back up the hole and turned it on, to make sure it was all as clean as possible. Of course, the end appeared up the drain, squirting disgusting grey water up the wall, onto the (live) electric sockets, up the window, etc. Lovely. He did a moderate job of cleaning that up.

I figured he'd earned his money, and gave him a tenner tip. He'd worked really hard on an unpleasant job, and always with a cheerful demeanour. Good lad.

Now all I have to do is persuade Anglian that it was all their fault. I'm confident it was, but that doesn't mean they'll sort it out for me. Their worst offences, as far as I'm concerned, were to not seal the drain properly, and to then concrete over it. The concrete was poured onto a polythene membrane, itself resting on a couple of inches of shingle. At least on the kitchen side, that is now best described as shingle mixed with shall we say a grey, clay-like substance.

The drain needs to be built up to level with the concrete, then sealed with a screw-down cap. Then the chipboard, some of which must be renewed, needs to have a removable section and I'll sort out the laminated flooring so I can get to that.

So I leave you with a picture of the conservatory as it now is.


Jane.Dudman said...

I think you're right about the words.

I first heard the Dream of Gerontius in Welsh, at an Eisteddfod, so didn't understand a single syllable - and found it utterly entrancing.

Sparx said...

eurgh - a post that starts off with beauty and ends up in the... drains!! Having been there with drain issues in the past I can only sympathise.

Rob Clack said...

I'm quite looking forward to talking to The Man tomorrow. Hope I'm not disappointed. Keep you posted.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Wonderful music - and I'm with you, when I was singing with Queen's Choir, I much preferred the Latin. Then you could be immersed in the music and not worry about the words. Euch.. drains are not my favourite subject. M xx