Thursday, 14 February 2008

Failed diversionary tactics

My Valentine’s gift this year was going to be a house. Perhaps only a coincidence, but it was a nice thought that it would arrive today. However, there’s a long complicated story involving the existence of only one truck, broken-down barges and bad timing. I’m not entirely sure what to believe. What I know is that the house isn’t here and there is as-yet no projected date of arrival.

I was so stressed yesterday by the whole business that I even folded some laundry to distract myself. Those who know me, know that I must have been feeling bad to think laundry would have any therapeutic benefit. I often do things that I don’t like when I am feeling down on the principle that there’s no point in doing things I don’t enjoy when I’m feeling cheerful. The only destination there is down. When you’re feeling bad, you might as well just pack on the misery and get it over with.

In another attempt at distraction I’ve been browsing through a pile of coffee table books on Marburg, Germany that I picked up at the Historical Society. I’m gradually getting a feel for the buildings and streets. There’s a wonderful picture in one book of the main square and the town hall. In a scene I have Michael Jaeckel going into the town hall to talk with the mayor while Carl waits outside with the bread delivery cart. After seeing the hills and cobbles of old Marburg, I’m wondering if they really would have used a cart.

It’s good to see the pictures of the houses. A section of one of the books is dedicated to the restoration of historical building in the town that started in the 1970s. Many of the half-timbered facades of buildings built in the 1700s had been plastered or rendered over. In the restoration plaster was removed, timbers replaced, old windows fixed and shingles renewed. It is amazing to compare the before and after photographs. My only query is about when the facades were plastered. Was it in the twentieth century or earlier? Would the Jaeckels have seen the timber and plaster facades or the mortared fronts? From the photographs, admittedly in grainy black and white, the unrestored facades look to be cement mortar or render. In this case, I think I can assume that the Marburg houses of the Jaeckels time would have been of timber, plaster, stone and shingles.

I would say that architecture is a good diversion except that it takes me right back to where I started.

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