We live in an apartment block caught up in controversy, but protests haven’t stopped the developer adding another storey. To the untutored eye the building looks a bit too crumbly to support the load gradually being added above our heads.
For months now, the courtyard has been commandeered by blokes using a small concrete mixer and a pulley system to transport loads of whatever up five stories. It takes us a while to realise that it’s not just a replastering job. Their taptaptapping begins at 7am and sometimes goes on till 7pm. One morning after heavy rain there is loud swooshing at 4am as they sweep water off what looked like totally inadequate tarpaulinage.
We go out on an afternoon photo shoot to record what’s happening. Passersby slow down and crane their necks, wondering what we’re looking at with such intensity. Reticent J clambers on a bench occupied by two lads eating watermelon to get a better view, an invasion of space he’d never consider in Australia. (My window is the one marked by the red bag.)
We really begin to take notice when we get a spatter of soot and small bits of debris through the vent above the stove.
We cover the kitchen vent.
We go away for a week to Grójec Wielki, and return fatigued and ready to crash. When J goes into his bedroom he discovers a litter of debris on the floor, the vent half full of solid bits, and all his bedding soot-impregnated. Instead of an early night he finds himself vacuuming and mopping.
We cover the bedroom vent.
A week later a noise outside the living room window draws us and we find the arm of a rusty and definitely non-state-of-the-art concrete mixer leering at us as it extends upwards. One load is poured, the mixer leaves, and we decide the worst is over.
A loud cascade of fragments tumbles down through the wall cavity.
We have no more vents to cover.