Friday, 4 June 2010
The False Economy
What a wonderful thing, advice. Especially those maxims and catch phrases that roll so easily off the tongue. One of my favouites is 'stick to what you're good at' but I can never follow it myself because I am naturally curious and 'a student of life'. In particular, my aversion to DIY (an acronym for Don't Involve Yourself) is tempered by the satisfaction derived from completing a project. And I learn new skills, even if lack of further practice means I don't retain them.
Last November the work on my new studio took another step towards completion. I had ordered some aircrete blocks called 'Toplite' which weigh in at about eight kilos and can be cut up with a panel saw. I had discussed, at length, the relative merits of various blocks with the supplier and there must have been some confusion as to the final choice. What arrived were the same size of block but called 'Topcrete'. These are more dense and so better for sound isolation. But they are harder to work with. Each block weighs 27 kilos and requires an angle grinder to cut to size. I don't have an angle grinder but, as luck would have it, Simon had a solution.
Simon had come to build the wall and, to save time and money, I would cut blocks as required and operate the cement mixer. And Simon it was who taught me the knack of chopping up dense concrete blocks with a lump hammer and a bolster chisel. Six months later and I still have tennis elbow - not the kind of condition clarinet players dream of but at least I'm still playing. And this student of life has learned he is neither indestructible nor in possession of a builder's forearm. Next time I want to make myself useful to a bricklayer I'll just make the tea.