Workmen in the house

It’s a first for me.  How have I managed to get to this age and avoid having work done to the house that interrupts the sanctuary of my bathroom and bedroom?

Swan flapping below the surface
Swan flapping below the surface

The window installers are doing a great job, and being totally obliging, but they can’t possibly know how stressful it is for me.  Like a serene swan, I am trying to give off the air of calmness without making ripples in the water (or making their work processes awkward), but underneath the surface I am getting as exhausted as the swan’s webbed feet, thrashing around to keep moving forward – in my case my leg is doing a nervous twitch/dance, my hand-washing is excessive (even for me), and I’m continually clock-watching to count down to their home time.

My bedroom and bathroom looks like a forensic crime scene – covered in plastic sheeting and bin liners in an attempt to hermitically seal my precious belongings from human (strangers) contact.  I have a shocking amount of “floof” as I like to call it in my bedroom – all the knick-knacks from birthdays, Valentines, Mothering Sunday and Christmas presents.  They make every surface look pretty and home for me whilst I relax in my bedroom, and stop the living areas from getting clogged up with girly dust-catchers.  The trouble is I’ve had to collate them all into the smallest space I can make in my room, to give the workmen the maximum amount of room to walk and work in without getting anywhere near my stuff – I don’t know if it’s damage limitation for them, or me?

I did this “new plastic dust sheet wrapping” yesterday prior to them working on a window downstairs in a room that family and friends use, but was horrified to see that they had then attempted to be even more efficient by throwing over fabric dust sheets themselves.  Now that might sound efficient, but consider the fact that these sheets are so incredibly manky, with mud (or dog poo), and stains of unknown substances, from goodness knows which other properties they’ve worked in.  I’d actually prefer to take my chances on what might get walked in on their shoes than see my carpets/floors covered in these contaminated fabric sheets, but I don’t want to “be a pain” and have to explain myself to them.  This is the unfortunate part of OCD – you have to put up and shut up as much as possible, or sound weird.

The same grotty dustsheets have been placed all the way through the hall and stairs leading to my bedroom and bathroom, and I entered my bedroom just in the nick of time to prevent them draping these horrors over my newly purchased plastic, colour-coded (50p extra cost to the clear white ones, but they look prettier), dust sheets.  Obviously they think they are doing what is wanted, so they look quite offended when I politely said “Would you mind leaving my dust sheets as they are, and only use your sheets on the floor please”.  That is bad enough, because I’ll have to bleach the original Victorian floorboards once they leave – the vacuum cleaner won’t be sufficient for this job.

They must be getting a clue that I have issues though.  The sink and toilet has been embedded in black bin liners and secured in place with heavy duty white duck tape.  I worry they might be tempted to use my facilities instead of the toilet/sink used for the rest of the household.   Sealing my toilet and sink adds to my anxiety because asking for a quick toilet break whilst they are working in the bathroom isn’t really viable as I’ll still need to bleach-clean the area before being able to use it, and then I’ll have to envelop it all again in plastic before they’re able to resume work.

No toilet breaks from 8.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. means no liquid intake, but just the right amount of food to absorb the fluid (urine) in my body, but not so much I will need a number two.  I expect you think food won’t absorb urine but it’s a theory I use to comfort myself when my toilet isn’t freely available, e.g. when I have visitors or leave the house.  Today I’m hoping the sponge part of Jaffa Cakes will absorb unwanted body fluid?  Another precaution I’ve taken to wanting a ‘number two’ whilst my bathroom is out of bounds, is taking a double-dose of Imodium, but that may leave me with an issue in the morning as I prepare for an 8.00 start to day three of the window installation saga.   I resisted the Imodium yesterday, but succumbed to it today, during a mini-panic.

I think I’ll be sleeping on the sofa tonight because the window installers are bound to want to finish off the windows tomorrow, and I dread the rigmarole of removing the numerous dust sheets in a way that they don’t touch the floor or anything other than the item I’m covering.  How do you fold a 12x12ft plastic sheet on your own without it falling on the floor?  If that happens, I’d have to go out to a DIY shop to buy more sheets to recover everything tomorrow morning before 8 a.m.

One thing that keeps freaking me out is seeing the house toilet being used by the workmen, hearing the flush, and then there’s not enough time elapsing for hands to be washed before the toilet door is being shut.  Not-washing-your-hands-after-the-toilet syndrome is horrid enough in any other situation, but I know that those dirty hands are going on to touch my door handles and stair handrail on the way up to my bedroom and bathroom.  I left them a kettle with tea and coffee making facilities (and biscuits) so that they can help themselves to a brew, but anything left will clearly not be going back into my kitchen!

I bought in two bottles of bleach in readiness for the big clean-up after the windows are installed and although my hands are already dry, cracked and sore (like numerous little paper-cuts), I think rubber gloves are going to be needed to prevent the cracks becoming crevices.  Cracked skin on my hands puts a stop to food preparation for my family and opens up another “can of worms of worry”.

I’m sure having windows that actually close, and don’t let the wind and cold whistle in will be worth it, and I will not take my bathroom and bedroom for granted ever again, but right now I can’t wait for those longed for immortal words “Right love, that’s us finished, your windows are in, and we’re going to get off now”.