Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Back to the Wall

I see the first signs of spring are encouraging my fellow-hibernators and dormice to shake legs, make marmalade, take baths in the open air, roll the 2CV sun-roof back, drive from New Mexico to Wisconsin, celebrate Green Beer Day, find human hairs in the apricot crumble, digest the Leicester Mercury, frolic in the woods, etc, etc, so it's high time I too poked my nose out from under the covers and got out and about bit more.

So yesterday I dusted off my masonry tools after their long winter break in the garage and set to on the 2010 edition of The Great Wall. I capitalise it unashamedly, knowing that in no sense can it possibly rival The Other Great Wall, the one that Dave is helping to build for Z. Theirs is a true wall, standing independent and proud, with cunning see-though panels to re-orientate yourself if you get lost navigating the length of it. Mine is merely a single-faced terrace wall, designed to hold back the hillside behind our house.

It will see me out, this wall. I started it 6 years ago. At the present rate of progress it will take 30 years to finish. I shouldn't be doing it at all, really. There's a wall there already, but so derelict that it's crumbling away here and there. Rampaging wild boar make further breaches in it, sending jagged boulders crashing down on to Lydian Acres. I'm only repairing it, admittedly by totally rebuilding it. It doesn't belong to us: in France uphill walls are the responsibility of the uphill proprietor. In our case the land behind the house belongs to the commune, the most local unit of local government. Our commune hasn't got two sous to rub together, so I'm doing them a big favour.

It's slow work. The photo above shows the total of one day's work, digging out, measuring, heaving vast stones, planting foundations. The square stone is the first of a flight of steps. Last year's progress included three primitive peg steps, in the local fashion, in another section of The Great Wall. There's a photo below. Not a very good one: I should have got Dave to take it. I 'm proud of those steps. I use them every day to get to the bird feeders. Each 'peg' is actually a stone at least a metre long, but most of the length is hidden, inserted into the wall to provide stability. They will bear virtually any weight. The principle is the inverse of Pythagoras' theory of levers.

In respectful view of the multitude of gifted Classical scholars who come here every day, I'm happy to quote Pythagoras' idea in the original:

Δος μοι που στω και γιγνω την γην

(Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth, but I'm sorry, I've forgotten how to do accents. Detention's the only thing for it, I'm afraid. )
Justify Full


Dave said...

Someone has worked out that the place to stand would be several million light years away, I believe. I suspect the lever would bend anyway.

Very nice wall. I'd be proud of it.

Sarah said...

Incidentally It's a


Nice wall......if you want a working party out there to finish it off in August, I'm sure I can organise that for you...

Sarah said...

Bugger I don't think that link comes up with an MX5 ! jinxt by Dave I expect.... anyway it was supposed to be a wery wery stylish Pluriel.....mine is a little dirty though...Hmmm... witter witter

Christopher said...

Thank you, Dave. I expect you noticed the fabric and the gravel you were posting about the other day.

Sarah, I'm sorry. Somehow your stylish individuality and agreeably wayward image suggested a 2CV, not to mention your bruised right elbow. Before you tell you've only got one arm (L)let me say I've looked up the Pluriel and it is indeed stylish and very much dans le vent for those of an artistic bent with either one or two arms and I'm sorry to have made a mistaken attribution.

Vicus Scurra said...

The "Leicester Mercury" is indigestible. It is almost as right wing today as it was when I were a lad.
I skip the bit about you building a wall, I hope you don't mind too much. I find it very stressful.

Christopher said...

Not at all, Vicus. I've learnt to be very wary about how I present this wall, because shortly after I started it a correspondent got into the habit of sending me thick wadges of immensely long speeches by the Rt. Hon. A.C.L. Blair, as reported in the Canadian press. When I suggested - in print, I'm afraid - that their length, density and lack of other purpose merited immediate inclusion in this wall, he took offence and never spoke to me again. I wouldn't like to be the cause of stress or umbrage in NE Hampshire.

Sarah said...'s quite alright!! LOL.
There were times when I wouldn't been seen dead in a tin can 2CV. But as I get older I find myself more and more Bohemian and rather less conformist. In fact I lust (is that the right word? probably not) after one of those corrugated sided citroen vans, probably in powder don't have one do you?
Good God I'll be wearing purple next...

Rog said...

Give me the place to stand, and I shall move the earth! Not in a 2CV obviously.

Lever Brothers did the same stuff with Soap.

Z said...

Accents are really easy with a Mac. No fiddling about with three numbers.

I love your wall. Congratulations on your perseverance. I constructed a dry-brick wall once, to turn a slope into two beds. It lasted ten years anyway, but I don't know if it's there now.

zIggI said...

no good without a fulcrum though is it eh? Can stand where you like with your leaver but it won't work without one. (I believe)

I had a 2CV in 1985 - I loved it. It was a blue grenouille.

Christopher said...

I know the type, Sarah. There are still one or two about. There's a TV series here called Louis la Brocante (the antiques) featuring one, which he drives about the country lanes collecting furniture remains.

Rog: I'm not quite certain what you're referring to, but a 2CV wasn't the last word in comfort or convenience for that sort of thing. No infant to my knowledge was ever christened 'Citroën' or '2CV' after the place of conception.

Z: Thank you. It isn't finding the accents on the keyboard - I use them all the time when writing in French - it's just that I've forgotten where to put them, and why, in Classical Greek.

Zigs: Yes, well don't think you can use my wall as a fulcrum. It's only built to a certain tolerance, like the 2CV I too had once in about 93/94. It was blue too, with the Hérault département logo on it because it had previously belonged to the regional fire service. (Makes sense, huh? Blue = water = put out fires.) It couldn't have been yours before that, could it? I did find some alkaline ear drops in it that might have belonged to the previous owner but one.

Spadoman said...

I'm starting a bathroom remodeling project today. Hope it doesn't take me 8 or 30 years! Just putting in a new tub, (maybe I can attract a gal like the one that sits in I, LTV's tub)


Wall looks good. I like the rustic tone it portrays.

Christopher said...

Does Home Depot deal in bathtub nymphs? (Or hamadryads, if you've got some prior demolition to do?) In any case I should get the girl before you start the bathroom, if you think it might take you that long. Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away...

Glad you like the wall. You couldn't get much more rustic than it is round here. Deep France, this is.

Pax vobiscum