poet. writer. imposter.
When I first got here, the staff block was one of the least defensible parts of the building. It was flat roofed single story annexe to the entrance hall. It was built like that and staff and pupils alike couldn’t work out why it was quite so shoddy. When the whole colony was here, it was used as storage but as more and more people left and we shut off more and more parts of the main building, the staff block began to look like a decent prospect for living quarters. Not in the state it was in, but it didn’t take long for us to reinforce it with another couple of layers of brick, a steel skin for the roof, stronger supports and a brick roof on top of the steel skin. UV lights on the roof completed the reinforcements. After that, we boarded up first the top floor; then the first floor, then the main teaching block on the ground floor.
The only problem, the only weak spot, was on the first floor balcony that overlooked the main hall. There were two class rooms leading off the from the back of the balcony. We thought about just blocking off the windows in the classroom but for some inexplicable reason, we all found the rows of empty chairs still visible on the balcony quite unnerving. They looked like they were waiting for something. Schools are always creepy when empty, maybe it was a hangover from that.
We decided boarding up the front of the balcony as well as the windows would make us feel a little easier. Devon and Hiller painted a beautiful mural on the boards before they went up. Sometimes I sit in the greenhouse looking up at it. It features likenesses of the colonists against a stunning, lush background. Full of dazzling birds and animals, it reminds me of Gauguin’s fauvist Tahitian fantasies. Sometimes, I’ll look up at it and mourn. It’s almost a memorial now.
The entrance hall became the main socialising area and we brought down chairs, tables, shelves books, etc. from the domestic science block. That was fine for a while, but we later found a furniture store and comfortable chairs! It became a colossal sitting room. We had to build a barrier between the entrance hall and the main hall to keep the soil and dampness from the greenhouse coming through. It took multiple layers of brick and plastic to sort that out. We even managed to carpet it, thanks to a more or less intact carpet warehouse. Not my choice of design, I’d prefer something plainer, but needs must when the world has ended.
We even managed to get the piano down from the music room. There was already a grand in the entrance hall, but the upright went into the old staff room. The grand always seemed to be a bit of a waste when I was here before. No one was allowed to touch it but every now and then, someone would attempt to play chopsticks before being shouted at by the reception staff.
There are eight rooms including a double sized staff room – that we used for meetings – a toilet and shower room and a store cupboard. The shower was much fought for. There were changing rooms at the other end of the greenhouse though, and various toilets scattered about the building so we managed. None of the luxury of en-suite here!
Sometimes, I need to check my reality. I still think, on low days, that I will wake up and this has all been some sort of paranoid nightmare. Until then, I’ll write everything down. It makes things seem a little more real somehow. No one else will read it if, as I suspect, I’m the last person in England, maybe the world. But I’ll still write.
That reminds me. I haven’t been in the radio room for about a year. Four years of dead air does nothing for one’s demeanour.