Tony Edwards

Putting on a Jumper

- 2 mins

During the 500 days of lockdown, one of the many DIY tasks undertaken was to repair a section of crumbling granite wall. For bonus points, a few modifications were mooted.

It was a throw away comment from my Girlfriend the evening prior that started things off. “It would be so much easier to do x and y if we could move more elegantly around the perimeter without going through the house”.

This was like a red rag to a bull.

Engineers at heart want to optimise everything in any which way possible. I certainly enjoy recouping minutes incrementally. Doing so via a Herculean physical task such as this supports my belief that a good stint in the garden counts as exercise. This was set to be a full body garden workout

Starting early in the day, the resources needed from around the property were gathered together. Shovels. Wheelbarrow. Wire brush. A few bags of cement. A Pointing trowel. When he was up, I knocked my neighbor’s door to blag a few additional items he wanted to be rid off. After all, the most eco purchase is the one which is never made.

The morning saw the existing wall torn down to what it’s solid foundations.

The day warmed up to become one of the hottest ever in the British Isles.

The reclaimed hunks of granite were dry scrubbed to remove the last of the baked mud which had been holding the wall together for more than 60 years. The five metre run was ready. The next phase was prepped. With lunchtime fast approaching, I caught myself moaning about the days heat.

Sitting in the shade with a corned beef and lettuce sandwich, I started thinking about how the temperature was affecting the job at hand. “Sure, I’m hot. . . but there are other people in the world doing performing similar labour in hotter conditions. Why am I grumbling?”

Pondering the heat some more, the obvious conclusion was drawn. Putting on a jumper was the logical move.

Now. Hear me out.

At first glance you might think this was a stupid idea.

The heat stroke I gave myself would tend to support that conclusion. Unfortunately, I didn’t really know what heat stoke was or how serious it can be for another 18 months. Instead of pure stupidity, it was intended to be an act of voluntary discomfort.

We will train both soul and body when we accustom ourselves to cold, heat, thirst, hunger, scarcity of food, hardness of bed, abstaining from pleasures, and enduring pains. - Musonius Rufus

It was very uncomfortable. Certainly unwise.

Come the end of the day, the wall had been rebuilt to a better standard than at the outset, but still in keeping with our rustic crumbling aesthetic. A spot of pointing and a cleanup of overflow muck from the chunky granite faces for a few afternoons saw the project completed.

The small set of stairs now allows us to nip between the front and back gardens with ease. No more breaking a handful of health and safety suggestions on a regular basis.

Very wise.

It’s likely (but unknowingly) saved my life on this timeline.


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