We are being renovated and an army of buiders with their machines moved in two months ago and took over. At the beginning it was “only” the building of the scaffolding. The constructions artists were fitting pieces of steel together with their tools: nothing dramatic, just the echoing clanks of metal against metal, but we could live with it.
Then the professionals moved in and took over. There was no longer the tightening of nuts and bolts, it was the real thing. War had broken out in our corner of a tiny village somewhere in the depths of Switzerland. The outside wall layers were removed and then came the insulation. We were now left with bare brick walls and cement. This was the part where we were bombarded with the ceaseless noise of pneumatic chisels, scraping away the plaster from the brick walls – this was not a detonation or even an explosion, it was a permanent noise of driving instruments into brickwork, only a pause for the morning break and the lunch time.
War had broken out, at least that was the feeling we had. Now there is peace and quiet. All the insulation and its accompanying plaster has been removed after a month of noise and hammering. The detonations have stopped. We can hardly believe our luck. The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go at last, but not quite. Where there was an army, there is now only one or two adding a few final touches.
But wait, what do I hear? The noise of a solitary drill. I had to investigate – was it all beginning again? I found one man attacking one wall all on his own, but this was just a small job, a remainder.
I think I have now got a taste of the noise that a war can cause. I remember some years ago Switzerland had one of those military parades on the road to celebrate something or the other and their centurion tanks were passing by. We lived on the first floor, but if I stretched out my hand I could have shaken hands with the driver, they were so big and powerful: the buidings shook with the vibrations.
My mum and her family were in London during the second world war. They slept in the garden in a so-called Nissan hut, made of metal for protection. They lived in the dock area of London, which was a popular place for detonations. She was once allocated to “fire watching” in the factory where she worked during the night. If a bomb hit the factory, she was to report it to the firemen on duty (if she survived). It was one of the worst nights of the war and the next time is was told to go, she stayed at home. The next day a policeman knoced at the door, ready to arrest her – probably for treason or something like that. However, her brother was already a prisoner of war and my grandmother said no way was her daughter also becoming a victim of war. The policeman left without mum.
Unless you live in a war torn country, and there are enough of them around today, we have no idea of the noise, the devastation and wondering if you wake up the next day, and wake up to your house undamaged, the street, your surviving family.
And I complain about a little bit of building noise. It is now late afternoon, and all I can hear are the birds singing, a distant radio and the breeze in the trees and conversations mainly in Italian between the builders. No detonations, because we are not at war.