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Breaking And Clambering

After two weeks of parental leave, it was time to return to work on Monday. So armed with my lunch-box and a magazine, I got onto the train to Brussels. But I'd barely installed myself when Mrs.B called me with a bit of panic in her voice: she'd left the house to bring Wolf to school and had closed the door behind her... leaving the keys on the inside.


So while I quickly got off the train and took a bus home, I considered the options. We bought our house from an old couple with a very negative view of the outside world and of their fellow men. As a consequence, our house is built like a fortress. And with both the back and the front door closed with the keys in the locks, there weren't many options. My only chance would be to climb through the open bedroom window on the first floor.

When I say 'open' I mean that the window was wide open, but the blinds were almost completely lowered. We still have good old fashioned wooden blinds, that weigh about 500 tonnes. Another minor inconvenience was that the floors of our house are quite high, higher than my sorry old ladder. The neighbours on the left have a long ladder, but they were already at work. The neighbours on the other side took even more drastic measures, and moved out a couple of weeks ago. Luckily, I had more luck at the next house because they were at home and they had a ladder. A very very long ladder, suitable to replace aircraft warning lights on big antennas installed on skyscrapers.

The ladder was in their garage further down the street, and although it was made out of aluminium, it weighed as much as one made from wood. We were barely able to get it up with two grown men, but at least it got all the way up to the window sill. Then I had to lift the blinds and prop a wooden stake underneath, hoping that it wouldn't slip away. Otherwise those blinds would chop me in two like a blunt guillotine.

As I clambered through the narrow slit that had opened into our bedroom, I reminisced about my lost youth and how much easier these adventures were  fifteen years ago. It wasn't exactly a stealthy ninja that made his way into the house. But once I wriggled my big butt through the window, the rest was a piece of sachertorte. Moments later, I triumphantly opened the door. Sadly, there was no cheering mob (Mrs.B and Tyl) to greet me, as they were invited in by the neighbours.

So without further ado, I marched back to the bus stop to go to work.


I took the day off on Monday so I would have a long weekend to work on our bedroom. I had to adapt the building-plans recently for budgetary reasons. I calculated how much the new false ceiling would cost, and it was a pretty penny. I also wanted to sound-proof the two walls between our room and the neighbours houses, but the additional cost is too high. So no false walls then, but it meant that I couldn’t hide the electrical wiring behind them and that I had to cut about 10 meters of new trenches into one wall. The prospect really annoyed me, I was so glad when I was finally done with the stone-grinding. It makes a hell of a noise and creates tonnes of very fine dust that keeps infesting your whole house up to two months after you’re done. Also, the machine tries to kill me, which is a minor annoyance. Every now and then the grinding disk will get stuck and because action equals reaction the machine will jerk up and try to burry itself deep in my skull. Luckily, I don’t store anything important up there.

But before I could storm the walls, I had to finish the door. I had taken it out of its hinges to burn off the paint, but it still needed some sanding before I could put it back on. I had to sand off a bit from the edges because it won’t close anymore ever since I re-plastered the wall around it. In fact, the drying cement exerted so much pressure that it cracked the wood in a couple of places. I was very lucky that I got it open again in the first place.

So: sand door – re-install door – grind trenches in wall – remove dust – install sockets – install wiring – fill up trenches again. Piece of cake.

After sanding half the door with my Bosch PBS-7A 600 Watt Belt Sander with 75 x 457 mm sanding belt, micro filter dust collector and nail-polish protector, I noticed that my hearing was suffering a bit. The loud high-pitch wining sound of the power sander was strong enough to create a permanent echo in my ear. When I cut off the machine, I would still here this continuous eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-sound in my head.

Better late than never, I started looking for my ear-plugs. I was sure I had some lying around somewhere in the house, but you try finding anything in this complex system of interconnected caves that we call our home these days. It was Sunday, so the DIY-shops weren’t open. In the end, I decided to use a make-shift solution and stuff some cotton wool in my ears. But that night, I went to bed with that annoying sound teasing my eardrums.

Monday was angle-grinder-day, but before I started hacking my way through solid brick, I hopped on my bike to get me some ear-plugs. Because I was alone in the toy shop DIY store with no guidance from my responsible adult wife, I bought myself another couple of absolute necessities to get the last paint out of the nooks and crannies of the door.

I must say the ear-plugs did a great job, helping me to keep the headache that I woke up with under control. The combination of the belt-sander and a soirée with some friends and red whine was just too much for my poor head. So I ground away the whole day, cutting two parallel lines into the plaster-and-brickwork and then chiselling out the brick in between. By the end of the evening, everything was ready to install the electrical wiring.

To end that day in style, I had to drill three holes through a wall that was more than half a meter thick. Quickly before diner. No ear-plugs, until I understood that it would take longer than expected and that my hearing might get permanently damaged if I kept pushing my long, hard, throbbing shaft into that hole at ferocious speeds.


Two days later, and I still hear that beep in my ears. It’s getting better, it’s not so loud anymore. But maybe next time I should be a little more careful with these power tools.

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