Mine is not a cosy loft. Many of my neighbours have gone in for attic conversions, extending their property’s saleable square-footage; adding fancy dormer windows; taming the wild space beneath the eaves. I have resisted this trend. For me, the loft remains a slightly forbidding place; to be visited infrequently, like an unloved spinster aunt; accessible only through an awkwardly aligned trapdoor in the ceiling of the spare room, and by means of a stepladder, which I have to retrieve from the shed at the bottom of the garden.
Because my visits are few and far between, I am always filled with a sense of dread and trepidation thinking about what I will find up there. Will the posturing squirrels from the garden fence have made it their winter retreat; will the chimney be showing signs of imminent collapse; will the cold-water tank be overflowing? When it came to it, what I actually beheld was far worse than anything I had been imagining.
It was with the intention of retrieving my Christmas decorations from where they are year-long stored, which found me halfway up the stepladder, hands easing the trapdoor skywards, on my annual pilgrimage to the room at the top of the house. My suspicions were already raised that all was not well in the great beyond, mainly because of the slight, unaccountable sounds that I could hear emanating from above. Rats? Squirrels? Most likely the bloody squirrels. Emboldened to tackle whatever foe awaited me, I pushed the trapdoor fully back into the void, climbed to the top of the ladder, clambered into the loft space itself, and switched on the light.
A fearsome spectacle confronted me. It appeared to be raining indoors.
In every direction, to the furthermost, darkest corners, to the beams directly above my head, water was liberally dripping. The roof-felt was sodden, water was pooling on the floorboards, damping the insulation. It appeared like some kind of Biblical catastrophe. I pictured there must be an enormous hole in the roof somewhere to cause such widespread flooding. Was my Christmas destined to be spent in a chilly house underneath flapping black tarpaulin? My only Christmas present an enormous bill for roof repairs?
Better know the worst straight away; no good putting off the inevitable. I scurried back downstairs, glad to leave the scene of my interior meteorological event. I was on the phone to a friendly, local roofer in a trice, explaining my problem in anxious-homeowner tones.
The reply was balmy in its matter-of-factness:
“Nothing to worry about, mate. It’s not a leak; it’s just condensation due to this cold spell. It’ll pass soon. Nothing much you can do about it, except improve your insulation.”
My relief was unbounded. It little mattered that it was still raining in the attic; what was more important was there was nothing I could do about it; no need to shell out thousands on a new roof. That in itself felt like I had just been given a huge early Christmas present.
It also made me think that perhaps I had been a little bit harsh in some of my previous comments about Insulate Britain.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree likes to have nothing to do.