There is always something.
Monday 3rd July
Just as I thought it was all starting to settle down a bit and we could begin to relax, this happened. And without wanting to seem pessimistic, there is always something isn’t there? Something else always happens.
Tidying up at Nick’s and cleaning his bathroom on a Sunday afternoon, I notice water on the floor around the toilet pedestal. Mop it up, replace the loo roll unraveled from its holder, disinfect everything, put the dirty cloths and towels in the laundry basket, on to the next task. But later on I notice that there is still water on the bathroom floor and discover that there seems to be a leak coming from the cistern. Make a mental note to call the landlord first thing in the morning, thank my lucky stars that we have tenants’ liability insurance, forget about it and carry on.
In the morning it’s worse. The towels I put around the cistern and loo are sodden, so I call the landlord. No-one answering so I leave a message. Nick and I need to go out on some errands and we have a pleasant time in town, me pushing his wheelchair through the pedestrian precinct in the sunshine to get his glasses fixed. All seems well. When we get back to the flat, though, I can’t park as there are cars and a big pick up taking up the whole forecourt area. I let Nick out and see him talking to the landlord who is looking grave.
He’s with the builder and plumber who maintain all his properties; we’ve already met him a couple of times because in the first two weeks Nick pulled the sink pedestal away from the wall which caused the first leak. (He’d pulled the towel rail off in the first twenty four hours.) Then he did the same thing again so this time the sink had to be boxed in to the wall.
The leak is much worse than we first suspected and water is pouring in to the basement below. It's inches deep. Unfortunately the floor between is concrete and they can’t find the source of the leak without taking up part of that, and probably getting in a specialist plumber with a thermal imaging camera. They’ve called their man but he’s working away and won’t be available until the day after tomorrow. In the meantime the water has had to be turned off - and the power.
“Is there anywhere else your brother could go for a few days?”
Already the worst-case scenario is being raised that if water has got significantly under the concrete flooring and the whole thing has to be taken up, then it will mean quite extensive repairs. Possibly involving the flat being shut down for months. They tell me this because they think we need to know it’s a real possibility. However, let's be optimistic, they say, and hope that the damage is not too bad.
In the meantime Nick will need to come and live at ours. Where else could he go? We haven't even got a spare room but of course he'll come to us for the night. Maybe two nights says the landlord, just to make sure things are properly dried out, and I cling to that optimistic timescale. Nevertheless, the very thought of Nick becoming suddenly homeless is a frightening prospect.
And I suddenly see that this dream location of a flat just two minutes away, with easy access to everything and a nice garden for the cats, has been just a tiny hiatus in what is probably going to be a headlong decline. For all its stresses, it’s been such a perfect place but I can’t pretend it’s going to last.