Regular friends of the decanter will be aware of the on-going saga of the damaged chimney at the port swiller residence.  (No word yet as to whether the insurance people will pony up for the cost of the repairs.)

This weekend found the chimney people playing a return date after their initial inspection a few weeks ago.  The very first thing they said to me when they arrived was……that they couldn’t fix the chimney.  Yet.  You see (so they explained), now that the weather has got cold and there’s a nightly danger of frost, trying to set new mortar is not a really good idea.

This made sense to me, but I couldn’t help wondering why they didn’t say something like that a few weeks ago when it was still comparatively mild?


On the other hand, they were more than prepared to take down the top section of the chimney, lest Mother Nature step in and finish the job herself.  Duly inviting them to have at it, I went back inside and resumed my reading.  I happened to be sitting next to the fireplace, and after some initial bangs and thumps as they clamored up to the roof, I heard the guys set to their task.  Soon, a veritable shower of bricks, tiles and chunks of mortar came raining down into the side yard, accompanied by a pair of ghostly voices echoing down the chimney.  The fellahs were having an absolute ball, hurling the pieces overboard with humorous commentary and taking especial delight when a given piece burst on impact.  It was like listening to a couple of little boys and, indeed, I could feel the distinct urge within myself to go up and throw things off the roof, too.

Of course, then they had to pick up all the bits.  That part didn’t look nearly so enjoyable.

Anyhoo, the upshot is that we will be without a working fireplace this winter.  Here’s (probably foolishly) hoping that the weather will be relatively calm and that power outages will be few, far between and of minimal duration.

The whole thing reminds me a good bit of one of the Irish R.M. stories of Somerville and Ross, the one entitled “Major Apollo” I think, in which one of the chimneys at Shreelane House is brought down and “repaired” at the behest of an interfering R.E. cousin, forcing Major Yates and family to endure a very cold and uncomfortable winter.  The episode ends in predictable farcical tragedy when the new chimney, finally completed, chooses an inopportune moment to tumble over itself.  Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen to us.