The other afternoon I had an appointment with my dentist. These have been completely unavailable during the lockdown so it was a relief to be able to have my first check-up in a year. The tools with which I chew, bite and grind up whatever I put in my mouth have taken their fair share of damage over the years, probably starting in my childhood with rampant disregard to health warnings about too much sugar. Actually that’s not true; there were no warnings about sugar! Many years on, engineering works abound, but fortunately no dentures – sorry, this may be too much information?
The advice about brushing at least twice a day, about using floss or dental brushes or airbrushes, Fluoride toothpaste or not, gush around like mouthwash. My aim, sitting in the chair, is to ignore what is going on and focus on something on the ceiling. So I am looking up and notice that the neon strip lights are in a different fitting; maybe new lights? Not in themselves remarkable, except that the previous fittings had had a wide cover and the new ones are a great deal narrower.
When the original fittings were up, a decorator had removed the embossed paper that covered the whole ceiling. Now around each strip light was a surviving oblong of cream paper. The electrician who had changed the lights obviously was not qualified to remove the paper. Got me thinking about good and not-so-good designers and tradespeople. Anyone with even the slightest nod to ‘good standards’ would have taken a Stanley knife and cut away the paper.
If you regularly read these scribbles you may remember from July 2018 a photograph of some urinals in a motorway service station in Portugal? I think these must be the greatest, most thoughtful design of men’s urinals on the planet, catering as they do for variations in us chaps’ height. They are of course a nod to the foreign tourists, as no Portuguese national would be able to use the highest one, unless …..
You may wonder how I managed to take the photograph without someone looking at me askance and …..
I have made bits and pieces throughout my life and, being slightly OCD, know the importance of things being exactly vertical or exactly horizontal. (Note 1) Our apartment here in Amber House was brand new in 2012, the result of the conversion of an old people’s home, the original building dating from 1890. Five months after we moved in the company responsible for the work came for a ‘snagging’ inspection. I handed out an Excel spreadsheet where I had noted ‘snags’, to assist them, you understand! I showed them this light switch.
Why couldn’t the electrician simply apply a spirit level? Probably because the same individual positioned other light switches behind open doors?
For nine months we suffered a slight whiff of drains around our kitchen sinks, despite our obsessive attempts to get rid of it. Eventually we engaged a professional plumber who took one look under the right-hand sink and said: “Well! That’s easy! The dickhead who put this in put the U-Bend on the wrong side!” (Note 2)
The red outlines where the U Bend was!!
It took him five minutes to change it around. I wrote to the company that was responsible for the conversion but didn’t get a reply!!
Good design comes in all shapes and sizes. I love this sink in a hotel’s ‘washroom’ – no plug to collect the gunge, just free-flowing water onto a ceramic surface and a chute at the back.
We have three extractor fans in the apartment, one in the hall loo for obvious reasons and downstairs in both bathrooms to assist with steam removal. The isolator switch for each fan has been placed centrally outside, above the door. I am 187cms tall; if I stretch my arm up my fingertips reach to about 217. Celina is considerably shorter and has to jump high to operate the switch.
When I asked the snagging team why the switch was almost unreachable they said it needed to be out of the reach of children. Wow! I know the population is gradually getting taller but zero common sense was applied to where the switch was located; this must have been an architect, positioning ‘fixtures & fittings’. Probably the same one who positioned the towel rail in the en-suite, although this time, in a nod to those vertically challenged amongst us, placed the bottom rung 15 cms off the floor; very useful huh?
In case you think I can be far too critical, I do admire good design and good workmanship! The local owner of a number of expensive cars, and I mean worth-a-huge-amount-of-money type cars, bought and renovated a row of three run-down garages on Albany Villas some 18 months ago; the three-car garage behind his substantial house was full. His obsession with great design recognised in the choice of his automobiles translates into the quality he demanded of the builders. Brick pillars affront the pavement and are joined by electronic gates. The brickwork is simply beautiful.
But good or not-so-good, it’s better to have things the right way up as opposed to being upside down!
A couple of photographs of Brighton’s Upside Down House
Richard 9th July 2021
PS This Upside Down House is located on Brighton’s promenade. (www.upsidedownhouse.co.uk) Photographs courtesy of Holly Monnery
Note 1 My daughter has a ‘photographs wall’, covered in some thirty or forty (?) framed photographs. When I see her I can’t stop myself making sure they are all level!!
Note 2 The U Bend in pipework is designed to hold water, so that unpleasant smells can’t come up from the drain. It was fitted so an open pipe was attached to the drain.