Monday, 22 June 2015

Good Bones

Good Bones

“Fuck, I hate working on old houses…..I really hate it mate…..But, I’ll do it, just for you….There’s not many people I would do it for...but I’ll do it for you". “What’s the problem with old houses?”  I cautiously asked.  As if not listening, quietly contemplating, running his hand and eye along a weather board, he slowly shuffled, his eye never leaving the board  “They can look good….really good….like this one...and I bet she must have been a beauty in her day...but.” He spoke quietly as if more to himself more than me.  “You see,  under those layers of paint and those 80’s weather boards, that new tin roof and that shitty Gib job  inside...It’s probably a bloody mine field, a fucken nightmare and probably not worth spending the money to be honest, But hey….it’s your cash.”  He stopped and took his eye off the board, momentarily, and  turned his head over his, still focussed, shoulder.  “It is cash….isn’t it?”  I nodded while pretending to be overly interested in the primed pine plank he seemed to be molestering.

He was right.  People would spend time and money on these old villas, not really doing anything more than giving it a face lift.  Pouring all of their effort into decisions such as  Kokako Green or Pencarrow Blue, Quilla or Pine or some other aesthetic element.  According to him, they should have spent their money on a new house, “preferably one with good bones” he would say.
He worked hard over the next two weeks and  I helped, shadowing him like a new puppy,  following him around ready to jump and eager to please.  Some of his suspicions were correct. As we unveiled rotten joists or framing, he would ruthlessly begin removing it all.  I thought he was a bit ‘O,T,T’ at times, but he would keep taking it back, tapping bits with his hammer, checking it with the square and a level until he found something good, something straight and true, something with some  structural integrity and then he would begin to re-build, cutting the new pink four by twos and nailing them back, firmly in place.

He finished the job in a little over two weeks, and after helping him stack away his tools we sat and had a beer.  “Hey….I really appreciate all the work that you have put in.  I reckon it’s come up really well, and you should be pleased….eh?”  He cracked the top on his second ‘Steiny’ “ Yeah….I reckon it’s come up OK.  I was probably a bit harsh at times but it is worth putting in the effort….especially when you find one like this.”  “Like this?” I asked.  “Yeah….one with good bones….this house has good bones”.

That was our last drink, together, ever. He had good bones as well, even I could see that.  

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