Friday 30 December 2016

Extreme door stripping

"Do you want the bad news?" asked the antique restoration fella as we arrived to collect 10 doors which had been dropped off for stripping a couple of weeks earlier. Two of ours and eight belonging to some friends.

Now the thing with questions like that is:
a) You would normally expect a punchline;
b) You would also expect some good news to counter whatever was coming first;
c) 'Bad' news, when delivered in such a way, would be something like "I haven't done it yet"

So imagine our amusement to see that the restorer's workshop now looked like this...

Bad news indeed

Unsurprisingly there was no good news on offer as we stood among the smouldering ruins, although on the positive side he had actually finished the job and apparently all 10 doors - every single one of which was circa 150-years-old - looked "beautiful" in the moments before a hot coal unexpectedly hurled itself from an open pot-bellied stove, landing on a workbench in the highly-combustible building which for many years had been absorbing flammable fumes and was lined with shelves featuring many containers of what amounted to pure napalm.

Apparently the three fire crews in attendance had had a whale of a time for many hours as they battled not only to stop the raging inferno spreading to nearby properties but also to stop the huge bath of caustic stripping fluid disintegrating and the gas bottles used to heat it from entering orbit. It sounded like a right laugh.

At least the bath of face-melting caustic (centre) survived
But all was not lost because there was a punchline:

"I'm not insured," chuckled the jovial-but-slightly-bonkers chap. "It lapsed four years ago."

In the few minutes it took to learn all of this, Dawn, Andy and I said very little other than the occasional high-pitched four-letter word, preferring to spend most of that time standing slack-jawed as the blood left our faces and gathered around our vital organs.

The drive home in Andy's Land Rover, accompanied by a trailer which was just as empty as it had been on the way there, was one of the most surreal experiences of my life as we struggled to process what was going on in our heads.
Because not only had Dawn and I lost two original features of The Lodge, including what we think was the original back door (plus original fittings), but our friends had lost every single internal door in their cottage, meaning Christmas and New Year would be celebrated in a house draped with blankets to stop the drafts whistling around.


As I write we're waiting for the holidays to get themselves out of the way when hopefully the restorer will be in touch to give us the cash compensation he promised - a four-figure sum - so we can all get new doors sorted out and put the whole bizarre episode behind us.

After all, as he told us immediately after breaking the news about the insurance: "I'm loaded."

He'd better be.

UPDATE - January 17, 2017

Roughly three quarters of what we asked for has been paid and the cheque cleared today... which was a little bit of a welcome surprise.
The final payment should be made in a few weeks once the restorer's overdraft comes through, so maybe he's not made of money after all.
Nevertheless, I've got written - and signed - confirmation that the final amount will be paid so it seems as though all's well that ends well, albeit not for our poor doors.

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