segunda-feira, 21 de abril de 2008

Art of Divorce

There are more than 60 complete kitchens, countless staircases, possibly six conservatories, impossible to remember the number of windows and doors, several roofs for houses and a few for garages, lots of wooden floors, furniture of all shapes/designs, light fittings for the shop in Hexham, restoration of a lot of furniture, constructions in stone as well as my own barn conversion and helping friends conserve their houses, all done in Northhumberland and some in Scotland over the period of 1980 to 1989.
I remember arriving back very late at night whilst at Hillhead Farm, Westerhope, Tyne and Wear, having been working on my barn at Shotleyfield, near Shotleybridge, only to find that the delivery of tiles for the barn had been left piled against the outside wall. I was very tired and hungry, Friday Saturday and the Sunday I would spend the whole time on the barn conversion, very often forgetting to eat or drink anything (although the water of the stream was always there if needed) so when arriving in the house I would be in need of some nutrition. Jacky would have been ready for bed or about to go to bed , so I decided to leave the tiles until the morning. The night brought pouring rain and high winds. On the morning this Saturday I found that the boxs of tiles had become saturated and collapsed, breaking a lot of the tiles and giving me several hours of work tryin to sort them out. I was late for my start on the barn and having finished sorting the tiles I jumped into the Landrover but discovered that someone had tried bashing nails and screws into the ignition in order to start it. The Landrover was diesel and in the cold weather normaly was a problem to start, when I turned my head and looked behind me I saw that the inside had been ransacked. Screws and bolts everywhere and then it dawned on me that my tools had gone, they had taken all that they could hold and to slow me down or in annoyance at not getting the Landrover, had thrown everything else into a pile of bits and pieces which made the job of sorting out broken tiles seem easy by comparison. My neighbour in the gate cottage was not awake when I first battered on his door but when I returned he was up and I recalled my problem. I asked him if he had heard anything during the night but with the high winds he too heard nothing, we chatted and during the conversation I noticed that his car side window was broken and the stearing wheel and column of his car was sitting on the drivers seat, I presume that the thieves used my tools for this operation.
Another time when I arrived at the barn , some 20 miles away from Hillhead, on a Sunday,having worked there the day before, finding that thieves had chiselled away an asp that secured a large padlock, opened the only secure place I had there ( for after my Landrover was broken into and also being tired after a days work on the barn, I started leaving tools at the barn) and stole the cement mixer, stone cutter and hand tools.
I suppose that Jacky had some reason, with me being tied to the job of furniture making and renovating at Hillhead the Monday to the Friday, with the conversion work on the barn Friday to Sunday night and she being in the shop Monday to Saturday afternoon, for her to feel that I was not giving her attention time and love, although in reality I felt nackered every day.
Liz Alston, Jacky's partner in the shop, had just got divorced and was constantly in an emotional state, she started to become more involved with the new shop and therefore irritate Jacky ( I suppose the Problems we had with Barbara must have been something of a constant reminder and alarm for Jacky) for it was fine for Jacky to have Liz on the otherside of the road but not in the same shop, female rivalry seems to have countless types of expression and I have over the years encountered the full range with my friends. Liz had an architect friend called Bruce who also was seperated and had a teenage son, he worked for the council in Newcastle and consequently did very little work as far as I could see and floated around aimlessly. Bruce would call in and see Lizzy and I suppose that this attention then went to Jacky, I have to assume the process of assimilation and ingratiation but reckon he flattered jacky and over time created an impression of one that cares and that he had time for her.
The truth, which Jacky was long in detecting, was that Bruce had a timetable full of similar married woman, however Jacky felt neglected sufficiently to fall for the con and the added prospect of moving to France with Bruce ( he never had intention or courage to move to France or to live with a woman, he only to wished to have sex and the subsequent day see a different lady, always giving him an escape route, the married lady did not need money and would be discreet so she would not be aware of others )
The attentions of Bruce left Jacky in a state of permanent annoyance with me and with me not knowing the reasons for this state of affairs, I so felt the need to finish the barn as fast as possible, the problem was that it was a one man build and finance, as well as finance for the shop which after two years had not made any money, so I decided to do the whole thing in two stages. I finished the first stage within 18 months of getting planning permission and we moved into the barn during 1986. I spent the next year trying to earn money to help with the second stage but lost my thumb and index finger that year in an accident whilst moulding wood for a client job, which I did not get paid for.
The three weeks after the accident left me in an emotional termoil, the problems in my marriage, the stopping temporarily of work on the barn and therefore giving time to reflect, losing two fingers of my right hand and the lack of friendship (Jacky and I lived in the same house but had now started to sleep seperately, her life had very much moved to Hexham) or some one to talk to about my life and its direction. I restarted work on the barn and completed in the following year a lot of the work needed for us to use the second stage, this also gave us more distance and less friction, now meeting in the kitchen and able to use different stairs, with Jacky now having her own work room also meant that she was occupied with work as many hours as I was.
I decided that for me the whole experience needed to be some how erased and for us to start again, I wanted to reduce the work load and also reduce the out goings on the barn conversion and the non profitable shop. The day that I mentioned this to Jacky said no to the idea and that she would prefer to divorce me rather than for her to have the indignaty of us selling the barn and buying somewhere smaller, or two smaller houses for us to live seperately and re start our relationship. It was another year later that I found out that the reason for her wish to divorce was that she had found support and affection with my friend John Arthur. John had seperated from Jenny, an old friend of ours from Exeter days he must have been a good listening post for Jacky and one way and another they found love between them. I during this period started to help Susie with a house that she had bought in Duns, Scotland, she had been living with her ex in Edinburgh, William Gammie( who now is Miss Gammie having had the full opertion for sex change) in some grotty little basement appartment and they had a child there called Joseph. Susie wanted to get distance and decided to move to Duns but had not got enough money to pay for the house and then pay a builder to do the necessary restoration and modernisation, I promised to help sort out the roof, damp course, electrics and put in central heating as long as she paid for the materials.
I completed the barn in the full knowledge that I was doing it only to sell and during this time I moved to Michael Stanley's flat in Newcastle, he too was a friend from Exeter were we worked together at the Northcott Teatre, I continued with theatre work in my move to London but Michael returned to his native Newcastle, with his wife Vicky( Vicky worked in the wardrobe department at the Northcott theatre)and worked in a news agents which his father had bought as an investment. Michael had a small flat in Jesmond and at this time was in a new relationship with Jacky's friend Penny so most of the time the flat was empty. My friend and ex solicitor, John Halliday also had split up with his wife and now lived in Jesmond with the ex wife of his ex partner, they had a friend, Helen Joseph, who lived just a few streets away and from John's perspective was an ideal lady to take away my blues and give me back a sense of identity and self value. Thus began a friendship that did have great value and warmth, it helped me recover form the divorce that came and went, gave me back a lot of self esteem and Helen was also involved in art, she was the curator of jewelry at Shipley Art Gallery, it only lacked my desire to create a relationship and this I was foolishly about to give to Susie.

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