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Where I Live(d)

Posted by
grouser (Ludlow, United Kingdom) on 13 December 2008 in Architecture and Portfolio.

Slight cheat on my part here as it's past rather than present.

Chill out time

So here I am on a mild summers evening, taking a break from the family, in my studio. Young garlic and freshly picked courgettes sizzle away in a frying pan on the stove and I'm looking forward to relaxing with a choice bottle of wine and a good book. I wander across the small living room to the bedroom and as I do the floor creaks in a way I've never heard before. I do a little experimental jump to see if the joists are flexing a bit and there is a horrendous crack and I'm falling. My brain goes into overdrive and time slows down. The whole corner of the room is going downward and as bookshelves, tables and chairs slide towards me, the wall turns into a blur. Then with a loud bang everything stops and I find myself lying on top of a workmate in the downstairs workshop. Moments later my oak desk lands face down next to me. I look around and find the entire living room around me. I am surrounded and partly covered by a great smashed pile of it. Above, the kitchen is still where it should be, as is the bedroom, though its chipboard floor now describes an alarming arc as the joists have come down with the floor carrier. Only the tongue and groove joints are holding it together. In the quiet aftermath I hear the food frying away. I turn my attention to myself. I don't seem to have broken anything and I try to haul myself up, only to find my left foot is trapped under some bookshelves. I push a small table and a beam to one side, but I'm still stuck. Despite the fact that my arms and right leg are free I can get very little leverage on the pile of debris surrounding me. I begin to worry a little now, as if I'm unable to get out and turn the cooker off, the food will eventually catch fire and possibly burn the place down and me with it. I give another wriggle and the mobile phone in my shorts makes a complaining beep. Some hope there then, though with the doors locked, help will have to smash its way in. I push ineffectually at the shelves, then twist and wriggle again. Suddenly, miraculously I'm free. I rush upstairs and turn the cooker off. Then sweaty and trembling, I strip off and examine my dusty battered body. Just bruises, cuts and grazes thank God, though some of them are going to be bloody painful when the adrenalin wears off. With shaking fingers I find the phone and key in J's number for rescue.
As a point of interest I landed on my back on the workbench with the blue frame. You can just about make out the chisel handles sticking up out of the bench. My worst injury was from a handle that caught me on the side just above my hip. A few inches further over and it would have been a direct hit on my spine. I was so lucky.

PENTAX EI-200 (V1.10) 1/60 second F/2.4 ISO 100 6 mm

Paco Díaz from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

wow, it's an amazing image and a hard experience.
All is well that ends well!!

13 Dec 2008 12:27pm

Judy from Brooksville-Florida,, United States

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, no ... what a terrible experience! So many questions come to mind, like, did you ever figure out what caused the collapse? How long ago did this happen? Are you okay? Is this your own place? Has it been repaired ... or did you move? ........... I think I'm glad we live in a single story home. ;D

13 Dec 2008 12:31pm

@Judy: Yes it was a slip tenon joint. A small leak had rotted the wood. About seven years ago. Yes. Yes it was then. Yes I repaired it with the help of a friend. It was quite nerve-racking getting the floor carrier back in place. I have no-one to blame but myself as it was an old building I took down, renovated and re-erected.

dobbino from Cape Town, South Africa

Wonderful story - pleased and relieved that you weren't too badly damaged. Now let's get to the important stuff - how did the courgettes turn out (they sound delicious - I can smell the wonderful aroma of the young garlic!), and did the wine survive the exercise?

13 Dec 2008 12:54pm

@dobbino: I dumped the food. Too shaky to eat it. The wine was fine though.

Michael Skorulski from Cigel, Slovakia

Love the clutter. Don't change a thing. A fine shocking image. Great story too.

13 Dec 2008 1:46pm

k@ from Paris, France

Geez, what a pic, and a mood, and a mess ! I "love" it (really great effect !)........... and now I read your story ! Poor you, that's traumatic ! I do hope you're ok, but wow... At least, the awful situation gave birth to a BIG pic ! ;-) Take care**

13 Dec 2008 2:06pm

Bookfool from Vicksburg, United States

Oh, my gosh!!! I had no idea you were the survivor of a tragic floor collapse, Grousie. What a horror that must have been. You were very, very fortunate not to break any bones or get yourself fried along with your courgettes. That's quite an amazing image.

13 Dec 2008 3:02pm

Marcah from Quincy, United States

What an interesting way to geta story :) Glad you are alright. Hard to believe what can be a life changing moment. Books and wine will have to wait for another day.

13 Dec 2008 3:24pm

Marcah from Quincy, United States

p.s. thank goodness the camera survived.

13 Dec 2008 3:25pm

dobbino from Cape Town, South Africa

Love it when folk get their priorities right! I remember being stung in the morning on the backside by a scorpion once - had a beer immediately afterwards. Developed a really bad headache soon after, and was taken to a doctor who said the ache was caused by the beer not the scorpion. Oh well......

13 Dec 2008 3:32pm

Anthony Lambert from Bielefeld, Germany

Bloody hell !! He mutters with mouth agape...........

13 Dec 2008 3:37pm

don from United States

An amazing photo of the aftermath of the disastrous collapse of the room! I was pleased to learn that you had minor damage to yourself. What a surprise! I enjoyed the picture and the comment very much.

13 Dec 2008 4:22pm

Ted from South Wales, United Kingdom

So is this why you should NOT do DIY?

13 Dec 2008 4:26pm

@Ted: No Ted go for the DIY, it's all part of life's rich tapestry.

Alun Lambert from cheshire, United Kingdom

Oh my god

13 Dec 2008 4:56pm

JJ from Jersey City, United States

WOW you were so lucky, looking at the damage to the building I expected a lot worse, Glad you came through this ok

13 Dec 2008 5:01pm

Ronnie 2¢ from London, United Kingdom

What an amazing escape ! So many 'if only' points in that experience that I imagine life could never be quite the same, Grouser. Strewth.

13 Dec 2008 6:51pm

@Ronnie 2¢: Once I got over the trauma I (like to) think I was the better for it.

Fliss from Melbourne Beach, United States

Holy cow... I think that I would have scared 10 years out of me and moved into a tent... glad to hear you were ok... hope you saved the bottle of wine??? I am sure you would have needed it... :)

13 Dec 2008 8:58pm

Lorna from Regina, Canada

So the lesson here is when you hear a creak to NOT jump, but to run away fast. Glad you were okay.

14 Dec 2008 2:55am

Judy from Brooksville-Florida,, United States

Thanks for your explanation ... what a nightmare. I'm glad you could repair it and get your life back in order ... and that you weren't more badly injured!!!

14 Dec 2008 4:47am

lydia from Paris, France

a strong image and a terrible history;fortunately alive!

14 Dec 2008 5:09am

Jeff from Pembroke Dock, United Kingdom

!!What some people do for a picture!!...Glad your still around though..Who else would we laugh with. ;>))

14 Dec 2008 8:29am

Linerberry from Sumner, Christchurch, New Zealand

OMG!!! Grouser, that must have been terrifying!!!! I was holding my breath as I read this. Incredible you weren't seriously hurt!!! Thank goodness! Wicked shot. Glad you safe and sound!!! Did you move house??

14 Dec 2008 8:50am

@Linerberry: The answer to your question is....
Yes and No.
I used to live there full time but it had become more of a weekend retreat by the time this happened. It is fully repaired and lived in now though.

Observing from West Cheshire, United Kingdom

Wow.. you were very lucky there mate, what a nightmare. How was the dinner :-0

14 Dec 2008 9:25am

@Observing: Abandoned

Roman from Thunder Bay, Canada

Wow, terrible experience but wonderfull story and I hope that wine helped afterwords..


14 Dec 2008 12:27pm

Les from Lincoln, United States

OMG! I'm with Liners and still holding my breath after reading this incredible story. This is one of my worst nightmares, living in an old house with creaky floors. Thanks to your warning, I'll be sure to NEVER jump up to test the floor. And I'm pretty sure I'd skip the wine and go straight for a Maker's Mark, straight up! Thank goodness you're alright.

14 Dec 2008 9:52pm

PENTAX EI-200 (V1.10)
1/60 second
ISO 100
6 mm