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We were warned that today would be the most stressful of the build as the builders came and knocked out an aperture between the hall and what was once the garage and is usually our utility room, currently serving as our temporary kitchen. There would be noise and dust everywhere, Patrick said, and so it was best to choose a day when we’d be out for a couple of hours.

So I had an appointment with a research company based at a local hospital. I’d originally been sent a questionnaire by my GP practice asking whether, as someone with asthma, I’d take part in research. It seems that the original project called for people whose asthma is worse than mine and not properly controlled so they didn’t want me for that but I was called in today in relation to a different project.

Well, they weighed me – with my clothes on, honestly! – and measured me, and I have indeed shrunk a centimeter since my peak height of 5’1″ and took readings of my peak flow and my lung capacity. It turns out that my lungs have more capacity than they’d expected for someone of my age and medical history.

I ascribe this to the diaphragm control I’m trying to perfect in my singing and the fact that the Seretide I take every night and morning means that I can exercise without fear of giving myself an asthma attack. I always had problems with exercise when I was younger so I scarcely did any and ended up unfit until my act of desperation to shift the Parisian pounds had me running around 30Km a week up and down the towpath on the Seine. Although Seretide costs about 40 Euros per inhaler, each of which will last me a month, it means that I can keep myself fit and healthy. I haven’t had asthma properly for years.

As it turned out, then, I was far too healthy to assign to a medical trial and came home well before I’d anticipated. This might have been a chance to get on with the ironing, but the upstairs was sheeted and taped off in an attempt to contain the inevitable dust.

The exercise of creating an access door between our front room, to which we are confined at present, and our temporary kitchen was supposed to take only a couple of hours. In fact it took all day as the builders discovered that the wall was doubled up. It’s still not finished and nor are the temporary steps down to the kitchen so there will be more of the same tomorrow. The Boywonder and I were forced to sit in the front room, now dubbed the morning room because it faces east and gets the sun in the mornings, with the fractious, anxious dogs all afternoon.

I had arranged to meet up with my friend Sue later on the afternoon, and get myself out of the house away from the dust again but as it turned out she was grabbing some time between returning from work and collecting her daughter from school so that didn’t last long. Back home I came, to the hole above and fine dust particles still settling.

I am trying to be cool but we are on edge, let’s face it, and the Boywonder and dogs are becoming really quite stressed by it all, despite their two and a half hour walk in the sunshine this morning. I can’t help thinking that we’re gong to continue finding plaster dust in nooks and crannies for years to come but maybe it’s because the end of this build is still a long way over the horizon.

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