Mr Bond the builder

Here’s a longish extract from my book ‘Earthquake’ – I hope you’re intrigued, and if you are and you don’t already have a copy you will follow the link at the end to find it!

My client lived down a little curling road called Solveig… just that, Solveig. I hadn’t believed it when he told, me, and thought it was another of his slurred utterances, but I looked it up and here it was, a little avenue with maybe a dozen houses and it was called Solveig. Then I had a vague memory of having to drop off some papers here when I worked for the solicitor’s firm. All the roads had strange, Scandinavian names, and I confess I diverted to find out more.
The architect and builder, one and the same, was Ingar Bond, an extraordinary citizen of Strand, and quite famous in a small way. He was a bit of a speculator but he had a dream of establishing a community based on some vaguely Viking ideal… which sort of went out of the window with the spread of Nazism. He was fascinated by Ingar Silverskin, the Viking who raided along this coast and he named his estate after him and the warriors who were supposed to have come with him; I read all this on someone’s blog.
The estate was originally called Ingarhjem, apparently, but then it was changed to Norville, then changed to Ingarville and now Gracelands …
I have to confess I did get properly side-tracked into reading about it; there are fourteen roads Arne Gunnarsson, Håkon Geirsson, Trygve, Yngre, Snorresson, Steinar, Torstein, Valdemar and Vidar named after Ingar’s warriors, and another five named after women associated with the stories, according to Ingar Bond (I wonder if his name was really Ian and he changed it to something more in keeping with his obsession).
Solveig was where my client lived, and the other ‘female’ roads were Brynhild, Ragnhild, Swanhild and Yngvild… Imagine saying you lived at number 33 Yngvild, or 27 Arne Gunnarsson… Good grief!!
Anyway, I turned into the drive of 7 Solveig, and thanks to what I’d read about the area, I could appreciate something about the old house where my client lived. The houses were built between 1909 and 1912 and have really stood the test of time as far as I can tell; they still look solid and elegant, with plenty of grassy verges along the roads, and plenty of trees too.
Mr. Shshsher’s house was surrounded by bushes and trees, in fact he must live in semi-darkness with the amount of shrubbery growing all around him; there was a sort of benign neglect, as if he had a gardener who managed to keep it under control, but only just.
Mr. Bond the builder and architect wanted to make his new development like a real village so he had curving windy roads, like Solveig here, verges and trees and each house was different from the others, sometimes in only small and subtle ways such as having a round window on the landing, or having tiles rather than bricks, or having beams… that sort of thing. Somewhere there’s a village green with an actual pump, not an old one, obviously, well, I mean it’s a hundred years old, but it isn’t ancient; it was made by an iron worker for this particular place. However, there’s no church, no pubs, no shops, no village hall, so it’s basically an estate where people have to go elsewhere to socialise and access other amenities.
The house was quite gloomy with dark red bricks and dark wooden beams; there was a great big chimney on the tiled roof, almost out of proportion with the size of the house and I remembered reading about Tudorbethan when I was looking up about this area. Something to do with the Arts and Crafts Movement… and as I was thinking this I pulled on the bell which was like a metal rod thing and there was a clang inside. The door was large and studded with nails and had black iron hinges.
It was a little bit creepy; the bay windows were heavily netted and there seemed to be no lights on to illuminate the dimness; what was I letting myself in for? I expected the door to open with a creak and a wrinkled retainer to be standing there… well, the old chap was certainly wrinkly but I guess he was Mr. Shshsher, because he said ‘Ah, Mr. Radwinter do come mumblemumblemumble…”

© Lois Elsden 2018

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