Yesterday morning (well, OK, lunchtime), I was sitting at my desk trying to convince myself that, yes, if I could translate four pages of a novel satisfactorily I could translate another 279 just as well, and, yes, I would stop having nightmares about it soon, when suddenly the building shook: a loud thud was reverberating through the floor and the walls of my flat.
Another mini earthquake followed, then another and another, and so it went on, practically without interruption, until 5pm. At some point, I went out on a recce and discovered piles were being driven into the soil next to our block of flats.
We knew it was going to happen: we had circulars warning that the owner of a small block adjacent to ours had asked planning permission for an extension. Everyone here was against it. We wrote letters to the council; we tried to have it stopped. Since the guy is French, I volunteered to go and swear at him in my mother tongue, but, for some unfathomable reason, my offer was turned down. As was his first proposal. But, of course, he modified the specifications again and again, and eventually he was allowed to build.
Apart from the initial shock, the first BOOM scared me, and I’ve been trying to understand why. I think it comes from an atavistic fear: although the piles are being driven vertically, it feels like the building is under attack and being rammed into. I have the impression that my home – my refuge, my sanctuary – is at risk.
I may be right too: a structural engineer has given the OK to the work next door, but who knows what this constant shaking will do to our building. We are already aware that some of us will be deprived of daylight; what else is in the offing?
I learned tonight that the shaking of my walls (my windows rattled too today) might go on for months. Why did the council ever say ‘yes’ to that greedy landlord? Why don’t reasonable petitions ever work? Slap!