The unexpected can be good or bad…

This week has seen the completion of a spot of interior decorating that had it’s genesis in some friends buying a new house a couple of years ago.  We went over to celebrate when they moved in, and immediately on entering the building one was greeted by a very unusual light fitting.

“Look at that!” I exclaimed delightedly.

The reply was swift and determined, “Hate it, taking it to the tip.”

“Noooo,” I cried, “I will buy it from you.”

“NO NO NO!” said the Quality Controller, “it’s awful.”

Discussion ensued, and when the fitting was taken down it was carefully packed into a box and delivered to me;  I safely stowed it in the wardrobe out of harms way.  There it sat for two years or so, until a chance conversation pointed me in the right direction to have it rewired (Chelsea Lighting, on the North Shore of Auckland – for anyone with a chandelier fetish that is the place to go..).  Having been checked and certified, it was put back into boxes and eventually returned, waiting for the next big step.

This involved firstly sanding and oiling the window sills – a job for the Quality Controller – completed late last summer.  Leaving the daunting task of painting the walls of a full-height stairwell, some 5.5m high at the peak.  I have spent the two years since the light came into my possession pondering on how to do this.  The scaffold man said it would cost $600 and would need to go up and down in one day.  In the end, I bought a cheap extension ladder for $110.  Armed with a speed brush taped to the end of a plastic pipe which had, luckily, just the right bend in it (formerly part of a boat cover system), my job was to get up the ladder and paint.  The Quality controller’s job was to refill the brush and mop up the drips.

It was not without some tension, and harking back to health and safety matters, possibly a bit daft but I have had plenty of experience painting from ladders.  My neck is still a bit sore, but job done.  Just the one coat of paint;  same colour, speed brush makes it thick.  Enough is enough.

Last weekend, talking to a friend, she volunteered her electrician husband to assist with installation.  “I think the ladder will be long enough,” I texted when she confirmed he was on the way.  There is a joy in watching someone with the necessary expertise doing what they do.  From the ladder (suitably reinforced at the top to eliminate any chance of the ladder punching through the wall) screws in his mouth at the ready, having already worked out where the actual timber was, the light fitting in unassembled mode was put in place.  The decorative bits added carefully; bulbs in; bingo.

The Quality Controller is in for a big surprise – he doesn’t know it is there.

This relates to gardens in several ways:

  • firstly, think things through a bit before you start – know what the end game is, and think about all the steps you need to take to get there;
  • sometimes experts are best.  Could have got a painter in, but I deemed myself suitably experienced, despite the tricky access issue.  Definitely needed an electrician.  You might need a designer, or a builder, or a block layer.  Or you might want to do it yourself, but know what you really can do and what you really shouldn’t do;
  • allow friends to help if they offer – he turned down a bottle of wine and said “What is the world coming to if you can’t do a favour for your friends?”  Fair point, I think;
  • lighting is quite an important consideration in a garden;
  • the unexpected has value.  This light doesn’t “go” with the house.  To be honest I’m not sure exactly what sort of house it would go with, but there was something similar at the Grand Hotel in Torquay, England, on a slightly larger scale.  What it does, for me anyway, is turn a boring stairwell into a wonderland.  “Oh My God” is probably the only reaction I will get, but in a good way I hope, particularly at night.  If you have a favourite plant, ideally tell your designer at the start, but if you forget to say, or you see something you just must have in the garden, but it is not on the plan, so what?  Find a place – it will continue to delight you every time you see it;
  • “things” are meaningless.   While it is true that “a thing of beauty is a joy forever” (Keats), a thing that links you to your friends and family is a true treasure.  This light will always belong to our friends with whom we have shared many happy times.  That plant someone gave you, or you asked for, is so much more important than what is currently “on trend” as it were.   Follow your heart.  Life is short.

I have been threatened with defamation action this week.  Wow.  That is a first.

This is what he said

“If you make another statement to anyone … which brings my honesty and/or integrity into question again I will not hesitate to sue you.  Also while I am in the topic and while I accept that you are probably incapable of change, the tone of some of your emails are unnecessarily condescending and sarcastic …. I do not expect to receive an apology from Ngaire because that would be to reasonable and decent..”

In typical bully fashion, the matters that I raised “for clarification” have not been answered…. but then he is a lawyer.

So it seems I can be called incapable of change, condescending, sarcastic, unreasonable, indecent… but I am not allowed to ask questions.  Somehow it feels like I am the one that has been defamed, but there you go.  Enough to make me take to cleaning the ceiling and kitchen cupboards, and weed the garden, so some good has come of it.

Unexpected, and not in a good way.

Delicate frosted glass leaves, even more fragile light shades, carefully assembled in situ, just in time for Christmas.  LED bulbs of course.

Reflection in the window doubles the impact at night. Also means you can’t see the not-quite-perfect paint job, but I’m not pushing my luck going back up the ladder.


About Ngaire Wallen

Landscape designer, thinker, partner, mother, reader, wanna-be writer keen to inflict my thoughts on the world.
This entry was posted in In my garden, The human condition and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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