Saturday, May 26, 2012

More on that Edward Garnier roof collapse drama

Deborah Orr has a column in today's Guardian that reveals that she too was affected by the roof collapse in Stockwell. So that is a row of half a dozen houses that is home to Edward Garnier (MP for Harborough and Solicitor General), Will Self and Orr herself - a useful reminder of how our national life is dominated by London and the South East.

So far so unsurprising.

Nor should we be surprised that the first Orr "knew of anything unusual was when my teenage son appeared, barefoot, in the local pub where I'd just met some friends".

The fashionable parts of London are full of the barefoot children on Guardian columnists attempting to get their parents to come home.

But the piece gets more useful after that:
Unfortunately, this meant that six sets of residents were banned from entering their homes, even through the back, where there had never been danger of a stray half-brick coming down. Further, police officers were stationed on the street for 36 hours, protecting the houses from being entered by looters, or indeed us, to pick up a few essentials. Our children didn't have shoes. My neighbour's son sat his chemistry A-level the next day in his mother's slippers. 
I tried to explain to the police that the detachment of a single feature with no structural purpose was highly unlikely to have had much impact on the rest of the building's integrity, and that if only they'd let us back into our houses, they could go. But no. If something happened, the police said, they'd get the blame.
And Orr goes on:
The least helpful people of all, even less helpful than the media or the panicky, procedure-bound public services, have been the loss adjusters acting for our buildings insurers. Between us, we have paid 95 years' of premiums to protect against just such an unlikely occurrence as this one. But they have hired a forensic structural engineer, and evidence of blame against any or all of us is being diligently sought. It is clear from the excellent condition of all our homes that we cosset them. None of us noticed damp or cracks presaging this event because there were none to see. 
However, because our insurers wouldn't sign us off (and still haven't), we were unable to get scaffolding up when we would have liked to, so that we could stop the dangerous structure order, start using our homes again and free the police get on with more pressing duties. Further, if it rains before tarpaulin has been put over the open attic spaces, then the inside of the properties, and their contents, will become damaged, all because these men seek to manufacture some piece of sophistry that will let our insurers off the hook.
So the incident painted an informative portrait of Britain in every way then.


Anonymous said...

How amazing that Will Self and Deborah Orr, husband and wife, should live in the same house.

Jonathan Calder said...

So they are all married to each other? That just strengthens my case.