Back in early September I had a meeting with our builder, Antonio or Tonio as he will now be called. His father, Giovanni, our current landlord, also attends. They are worried about our optimism of moving in, in November. “If it is an issue about money and not being able to pay the rent”, says Giovanni, through their friend who has come along to act as translator, “then you don’t have to pay for the final months.”
“It’s very generous of you” I said, “but it is because I want to move my parents to Italy as soon as possible so I can look after them here.” As soon as the translator has said what I say both Giovanni and his son have their head in their hands, “Ohhh the Mama e Papa!” They are both talking quickly to each other. Giovanni met my parents when they were over last year and treated them with care and attention like he would his own. He brought my mum little gifts and always asks after them. ‘Bring them to live in the other apartment beside you, no additional rent.”
“Again that is very generous of you but my mam can’t walk up stairs. There are no steps downstairs in our new house so it would be perfect for them. I need to get the ground floor finished. ”
“If only we had known this we could have waited to do the roof until next year.” says Tonio. Now he tells me, I’m gutted. “We could have waited?”
In hindsight I am glad we are doing the roof now and didn’t wait, the dirt and disruption after settling in to the house would have been a nightmare.
“I will put an extra two men on the job to speed it up,” announced Tonio.
And that’s exactly what he did. All the scary stories I had previously heard about builders disappearing for weeks and work being delayed has been the complete opposite of what I have experienced so far – long may it last. There are a gang of workers on site every week day.
However, I think the last six weeks must have been the wettest start to autumn in Italian weather history. Or maybe I am just more conscious of every drop that falls from the sky because we have lacked a roof during the whole time. The bad weather does not seem to have affected the work on the roof that much but it has soaked the inside walls.
We brought Lucia up to have a peak at the destruction progress this week. It’s looking awful. It’s like watching someone you love have open heart surgery. Black plastic pipes are sticking out from every orifice like unattended aortas, the walls look like they have been slashed open by a fake surgeon who forgot his glasses and possibly doesn’t know anything about anatomy so just keeps cutting deep until he hits the right spot. “The house feels so sad,” I say to Ronan and Lucia, “I can feel the house groaning and asking ‘What have you done to me? I thought you were here to help?’ But she’s saying it in Italian so I don’t quite know if I am getting the translation right.”
“The house has been sedated for the surgery, she’s sleeping through it,” says Ronan, trying to ease my gutted feeling of the house being gutted.
Lucia isn’t thinking of life saving surgery instead she is thinking it as cosmetic, and exclaims in an animated way, “She is going to wake up and go ‘wow look at my new boobs, look at my new waistline, ohh I have cheekbones again and my wrinkles are gone, I look so young,’ she will be so happy, don’t worry.”
Thinking of it this way does make me feel better, until Lucia says, “But you have moles in your walls.”
‘Moles in my walls? What the hell, is that a thing in Italy?”
“Yes they come because of the rain, look I show you.” She leads me up the stairs and points at the damp stain on the wall that has strangely formed into the shape of Ireland.
“They are there?” I’m thinking that’s an ironic place for them to take up residence as we don’t have moles in Ireland.
“I think when the heat is working the moles on the wall will go,” says Lucia matter of factly.
“Ohhh you mean mould.”
I’m not letting mould or moles stop our plans we still intend to be in the house for Christmas. Watch this space!
La Talpa – Mole
La Muffa – Mould
il miei genitori – My parents (who are not moles or mouldy)