Don’t I cover the most thrilling subjects?
In the week that Pont Briwet reopens after being closed for 20 months and almost crippling the local economy, I’m going to write about gutters.
For years I have been hankering after cast-iron gutters hand-made by J & J W Longbottom of Huddersfield. I bought my air bricks from them, and they cost a fortune. But I can see they will last my lifetime plus a century more.
Longbottom’s gutters do, however, cost ten to twenty times as much as their nasty plastic alternative. And they need to be painted with red oxide primer, then Hammerite, then undercoat, then whatever gloss colour I choose — twice. Then that has to be repeated every two to three years.
I had the soffits round the kitchen replaced with wooden soffits. I undercoated the boards twice, then gloss painted with three coats. I then left them to dry for a year, not because I wanted to but because the bloke I’d employed to put them up never showed. I chased and chased. He wouldn’t answer his phone, his email, letters, anything.
Finally, 14 months later, he confessed he’d gone to work full time for Lord Harlech, the bloke who used to fix my Aga. He delegated the job to his mate Charley.
Charley was a right Charley. He reckoned the job would take three days. I paid him in advance. It took him six days, and I think even I would have done a better job. He used ordinary steel nails to hammer the fascias home. We’re on top of a cliff overlooking the sea, ff sake. You breathe salt here.
By the time I saw the finished job, a week later, all the nails had rusted. I don’t know what I can do. I won’t let that man near my house again.
Of course he’d broken all the gutters in taking them down. I simply do not have the cash for the superb Longbottom guttering, so I bought some cheap white uPVC gutters from Huws Gray down the road in Dyffryn Ardudwy.
I put them up myself. May I repeat that? I PUT THEM UP MYSELF. Me! He who splinters wood by glancing at it. He who thinks nothing of emptying a priceless box of brass screws down an immovable drain cover. He who is frightened of heights on the second rung of a ladder. I did it!
It was surprisingly easy, aided by the fact that the gutter round the kitchen is so low I could fit it standing on the good solid ground. Also aided by the fact that plastic guttering is incredibly easy to work. It took me just over an hour, and can I tell you? — it looks great. You couldn’t tell it from cast iron.
Until you touch it, of course.