Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Long Have I Got?

I was in my roof recently. It's not something I do for pleasure, in fact it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was laying insulation batts and let me say this: it's very bad for your health.

Firstly there's the dust. The dust that had been lying there since the house was built in 1935. The dust that was laced with mercury, ammonia and other popular carcinogens of a bygone era. Who could forget the famous Windsor paraquat scare of '39? It wormed its way deep into my lungs despite the mask and laid itself down quietly in the dark recesses of my retinas. It was black and foul and surely deadly. It had me coughing, spluttering and spitting before the first batt was in place.

During a particularly crippling attack of gasping, I spotted a misshapen lump in the feeble light of my 25 watt bulb. I picked it up, held it close to my face, shook it and finally, still unsure, tasted it. Of course! It was lead! A roof isn't a roof without a generous smattering of lead. Moving further into the darkness I found several broken pieces of our old friend asbestos. Lovely. This project was really going well.

Upon entering the roof I'd been more worried about the fibreglass particles from the batts which I knew would enter my bloodstream via the numerous scratches and splinters I'd surely receive from the ageing joists, and which would undoubtedly lodge themselves into my bronchioles and alveoli via my heavy, panicky breathing. It was all this and more. After 20 minutes my forearms were covered in angry welts of allergic reaction. My scratching, although somewhat satisfying at the time, appears to have left me severely scarred. And the large, painful red spot on the back of my neck could only be caused by the bite of a redback.

So I've enjoyed my time here at TSFKA, almost as much as my time on this earth. Nice knowing you all. I'm going for a whisky now and then a little lie down from which I probably won't wake up. The lesson: avoid manual labour at all costs. It'll kill you.

And yes, Perseus, you can have my matchbox cars.


Melba said...

Fuck Bob. What were you thinking? That's what you pay people for.

Seriously, you shouldn't have.

If it's any comfort, if something bad does happen to you - at the ceullular level - it's not likely to happen overnight. Takes years.

Is the Mrs worried?

patchouligirl said...

I blame better homes and gardens for this national pastime of amateur home handymanning. Spare a thought for the pestie who has to crawl around, suited up in rooves in the heat of Summer and has to deal not only with the toxins you mentioned but a whole universe of nasty pest killing chemicals as well.

Dr. Golf said...

On a brighter side,


Thats how much my dying aunt just received for asbestos compo. (She didn't work for James Hardie and has no idea how or where she contracted it).

She celebrated with a meal out at the RSL and is already planning a holiday to Lakes Entrance.

catlick said...

Watcha readin' in bed there Bob?

Old insulation is the new asbestos. Get a positive pressure face mask, battery operated, lasts 6 hours. Srsly dude.

Patchouligirl is so right. In houses I have worked on nothing is scarier that no insect/arachnid life. Is it deildren or DDT?

Dr G, sorry 'bout your aunt.

Perseus said...

Lakes Entrance? That's almost worse than asbestos. Tell her to keep driving and go to Mallacoota.

Bob - Do I get the matchbox car tracks as well?

Lewd Bob said...

Fuck Bob. What were you thinking?

That I could a) be a man, b) save money and c) do a bang up job - which I did if it's any consolation - which it isn't.

Watcha readin' in bed there Bob?

"Every Car You'll Ever Need"

Now there's a good read.

Bob - Do I get the matchbox car tracks as well?

You know they didn't fit in the truck last time I moved. Go and knock on the door of my old house. They're probably still in the shed.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

We had ceiling wallahs lay our insulation, while we sat in the back yard drinking champagne and laughing merrily.

Hope you feel better soon, Bob.

Lewd Bob said...

An advertisement for Marxism, Ramon?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I believe in levelling up, not levelling down Comrade Bob.

Everybody should have the opportunity to drink champagne and laugh merrily.

Lewd Bob said...

Then I hope your guy in the roof joined you in the merriment upon completion.

squib said...

Lewd, I'm still waiting for my school camp to Wittenoom to kick in

Just so long as it wasn't a white tail spider. When a white tail bite festers and bursts, it starts eating away at the flesh

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

We offered him a drink Bob, but he was in a hurry.

Squib, I don't know if that information is going to set his mind at ease.

Lewd Bob said...

I do believe it's a bit of a myth about those white tails. Nevertheless, Ramon is right, my mind is not at ease.

Melba said...

How long were you up there Bob? I know this isn't helpful either, but did you think it might be a good idea to get out of there once you realised it was bad, around the time you were wrangling the first batt?

Or is that like "not asking for directions" to a man? Push on at all costs?

squib said...

I thought so too, Lewd. But now the middle of my leg is missing, I've changed my mind

Lewd Bob said...

That sounds nasty squib. Sorry to hear it.

It's tally ho in a man's world, Melba. Of course, real men don't say tally ho.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Sorry to hear that Squib.

The beastie in question is called Mycobacterium ulcerans.

Natural infections identical to those in humans have been observed in Australia in koalas, ringtail possums and in a captive alpaca.

Alex said...

I do believe it's a bit of a myth about those white tails. Nevertheless, Ramon is right, my mind is not at ease. 

As far as I know, there hasn't been enough scientific research to conclude one way or the other. I've seen some white tail bites that got very ugly and some that didn't do bugger all. Maybe some people have an allergic reaction, maybe some white tails have different venom to others, I don't know.

You'll be right, Bob. There's nothing wrong with doing things for yourself. I remember when I was young my parents decided to build a house themselves (licensing laws must have been a bit slack in those days). Anyway, we started of living on a vacant block of land and literally built the house around ourselves. Loads of fun. In any case, my old man has been getting cancers cut out every month for longer than I've been alive and it hasn't slowed him down any (granted, they haven't been out of his lungs).

squib said...

I'm not seriously missing the middle of my leg guys. That would be impossible

But I do like a bit of sympathy so I'll just wallow in it for a while

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Oh Squib, you captive alpaca, you.

Mr E Discharge said...

How many more lives will be cut sort or ruined before laws are enacted which would force the producers of shows like Our House, Burke's Backyard, Money, Backyard Blitz and Changing Rooms and other "Lifestyle" programs, to stop portraying home renovation as fun,rewarding and worthwhile.
Anyone who has ever actualy done it knows better.Why can't they be honest about it? wouldn't make a refreshing change to hear Jamie Dury say "Look, it's a cunt of a job, you may die, but at least it'll get the fuckin' missus of your back".

kitten said...

Did I miss something, but isnt the Rudd government providing free insulation for everyone as part of the economic stimulus thingy? So why do it yourself when you can get it installed for nothing?

And I had a dog that lost a big chunk of its back leg due to being bitten by something in the back yard (vet assumed whitetail spider). Left an enormous hole where it abcessed and ate away the flesh. So I dont think that whitetail story is a myth at all.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Kitten, there's a rebate on the cost of insulation, but you still have to pay for somebody to install it for you.

kitten said...

I thought the whole thing was free, otherwise why would people bother getting it? I mean, if you have lived without insulation for 20 years you can keep living without it, right?

So the only people who would get the free insulation are the people who would have paid for it anyway. The people who dont need it wont get it, so where is the economic stimulus benefit?

Stupid labor govt. We're all going to economic hell!

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Because it saves you a shit-load of money in heating and cooling bills, Kitten, and you'd be a mug if you didn't have it installed.

Pepsi said...

Are you dead yet Bob, I'll miss you, but serves you right for doing manual labour.

Can I get first dibs on your music collection?

eat my shorts said...

Of course, real men don't say tally ho.

I think they should.

Boogeyman said...

I'll bet Ramon and Perseus say tally ho all the time, as in, "loan me a Tally Ho to roll up me White Ox, mate".

And just when Desci was warming to Lewd Bob, he goes and does manual labour and turns into a tradie.

Lewd Bob said...

I didn't suddenly turn into a tradie, Boogey. I have a history. I was a builder's labourer back in 2003 when all else failed.

Lewd Bob said...

And Pepsi, Perseus and I have an unwritten agreement involving dibs on music collections. However that's pretty dated and something tells me I'm no longer hot enough to be at the head of the list. In which case, you have dibs.

Perseus said...

Bob: I buzzed years ago. Surely my buzz over-rules her dibs.

Lewd Bob said...

Yes, as long as the agreement is mutual and exclusive.