Today was another good day. But I've had quite a few good days lately. That
is not to say other people would be as easily satisfied as me. Actually, its
been a good week or so. I seem to be sailing along with steady winds at the
moment. The beauty is that the things which have made me so contented are so
trivial. It doesn't take a fortnight in an expensive luxury hotel in
Barbados or a new BMW SUV to put a smile on my face.
My greatest satisfaction, last week, came in sorting out a problem with the
central heating. For a year or two my central heating has been erratic. In
winter the problem is hardly noticeable because the heating is on all of the time.
This summer my heating has been off and on like a whore's drawers, ignoring
the controller settings which have the heating off completely. Last year I
replaced the controller when this happened, my bad diagnosis was covered up
by the winter heating settings. This time, rather than calling in a plumber
or rushing off to buy a controller, I stopped and thought about it. Once I
was into engineer mode it took about two minutes to solve the problem, even
tho' I know nothing about domestic heating systems and had to think from first
principles. In the system there was a valve, with electrical connections to
the controller which I reckoned must be mis-directing the water from the hot
water tank to the central heating system. It was as simple as that. I opened
up the electrical side saw that the motor which turned the valve was
probably knackered. I went to the place which supplied the local plumbing
trade, bought a new motor, replaced it, and it was fixed :-)
That is what made me feel good. A fortnight in Barbados or a BMW SUV would
do nothing for me, if I wanted I could have both tomorrow, but having solved
a challenging problem made me feel great. It's just like climbing mountains,
or painting balconies ;-)
Anyhow that was a few days ago, but the cheer it gave me lasted long. Oh,
yes, I fitted the new tap that I mentioned in my last email. That was a
bugger of a job. Fitting a new tap should be a doddle, but it was a hassle.
Normally when I do plumbing jobs about the house I wouldn't dream of using
compression joints or plastic piping and fittings, for me it has to be fully
soldered. That's not to say there is anything wrong with these amateur
technologies. It's a bit like climbing mountains, to get full satisfaction
you have to do it the hard way. Come to think of it, that's probably why I
play the fiddle instead of any other instrument. Back to the tap. There
were more pipes under my kitchen sink than in a battleship boiler
room. There was no room for anything. If I was half the man I like to think
I am, I'd have cut the whole lot out and re-plumbed it from scratch. But now
that I'm an old enfeebled cancer sufferer ;-) I fitted the tap using
compression joints and flexible pipes. While at it, I fitted a pair of
isolation valves. It was an adequate job, it sorted out a mess. I wonder how
a good plumber would have tackled it, and what he would have charged.
All of that was last week and I meant to be telling you about today. Not
that today was all that exciting. Oh, before I get to today, last weekend I
bought a Table Saw. A circular saw in a frame with a table on the top, through
which the blade protrudes. A friend rang me to tell me about the saw,
it was on special offer in ALDI. A couple of weeks ago he had paid
three times as much for a similar bit of kit which was only slightly better.
Terry is an architect who spends his free time re-modelling houses, he has a
basement workshop full of wood-working tools, and he knows how to use them.
His advice was not to be dismissed. So I bought the saw. Yesterday I
couldn't resist playing with it. I spent the morning on the drawing board,
well, actually on AutoCAD on the computer, and redesigned my garage-workshop
workbench. I then spent the afternoon cutting up loads of wood to make the
new bench. I felt like a kid with a new toy. I was a kid with a new toy.
Today, well there's not much to tell. I was up in the garage before 9
o'clock. That might not seem much to guys who spent their life chasing the
pennies, (or $), and love spending their life in rush hour traffic, but for
me that is an uncivilised way to live. But I was down there, rubbing down
and varnishing my latest fiddle then staining the wood components that I
made up the day before.
That was all done before 10 o'clock which left me plenty of time for a practice on my fiddle,
a coffee, then a practice on my concertina. They have both been badly neglected recently.
My design and building of a concertina is still held up by the lack of reeds.
I don't know what the reed making company is doing, but I'm missing 4 reeds and without their dimensions
I can't complete the design and can't start cutting out the wooden components.
This afternoon I was able to return to the computer and print out a few
tunebooks. I have produced a new edition of my book of fiddle tunes and need a
stock of them. As luck would have :-( my printer mis-fed the paper and jammed a few times, I
don't know why :-( You can not believe the hassle that this causes. In the
end, after much re-printing, I sorted it out and have printed a few copies. Tomorrow I need to bind
them, that takes ages too.
This coming weekend there is a sort of festival in Northumberland. In one or two
places it is described as a Sea Shanty Festival, but it seems like a very
minor village festival. It is in Seahouses where I did my
photography 30+ years ago. I must go to this festival. Last time I went,
a couple of years ago, people who recognised me were surprised to see me
with a fiddle, to them I was the hippy photographer who took pictures of their
father, their grandfather, their family fishing boat. It was rather sad.
Many of the guys I photographed were dead. The bar in which we were playing
music was the bar in which I'd photographed many of the old fishermen 30 or
more years before. Around the walls still hung the photographs I'd taken so
long before. I was introduced to one of the old guys in the bar, whom I'd
photographed many years earlier. I could see his time was near. It was quite
emotional. That day I played my fiddle better than ever before.
Strangely enough a week ago I received an email from the daughter of an old
fisherman who I photographed many times when I lived there. She was wanting
a photograph of her father.
Aghhh, Jack was a fascinating old guy. I would regularly see him coming in from the sea in his coble "Remembrance".
When he hauled up his crabs and lobsters from his boat he would often give me a crab.
In the bar of "The Ship" he would sit down with a beer and tell a good yarn.
My favourite memory of him was one lunchtime, when freshly back from the sea,
he was befriended by a couple of tourists in the bar. Jack spent the next couple of
hours telling the most implausible stories, while being plied with drink
after drink by the tourist couple. When the tourists left the bar, all of
the locals turned to him, about to say, "What was that load of rubbish you
were telling those people". Before they could, Jack, with a slight slur to
his speech, said with a wink, "A very generous man was that".