A man of excellence, strength and impeccable taste turned up at my house, and with his bare hands and brawn re-laid my bricks. My regimented, bored bricks.
The first day he tossed away the bluestone steps, and layed a delicately fan-shaped array of finely chiseled bricks.
Then he went to they gym.
The next day my mate Frank the Creative turned up with a lend of all the right tools, and my landlord did something landlords are not usually known for, but that's just because there's a trick to it. After seeing the quality of Robert's stairs volunteered money for the materials.
When Permie Paul Bongiorno visited and saw the action in the garden, he commented "It does my head in seeing a German lay bricks. Bricks are for the Italians, Germans are meant to stick to making Mercedes."
He's a high-tech brickie though, and found a way to video-skype me while adjusting the brick patterns, while I went to teach balcony gardening in Queensland.
Each day photos like this would turn up, asking
"Are my curves okay?"
Robert, your curves are great.
|30's Argentinian wrought iron chair, Christmas lilies, one white brick, all on flowing currents of brick|
|Robert with Rugsy the Norwegian Forest Cat, and politically correct brick layer's beer - V.B.|
Robert is a vegetarian. For him carrots are something like water, I've never seen such capacity for eating carrots before.
He likes to do things perfectly, and happily. When they are less than perfect in his eyes, he just pulls them out, says 'I'll try again', and does it over.
By day 7 he decided 'Cecilia, no more changes', and worked like a he was striking the fear of God into those bricks.
Then he finished, and the beautiful smile, the joyful chuckling returned.
He likes pink, likes flowers, and likes talking about his next girlfriend.
Not his ex girlfriend, his Next Girlfriend - he met her on the internet, arranged for falling in love to happen while he was wwoofing down here in Australia, and will meet her in real in a few weeks.
I hope she adores him as much as we all do.
This old dude, typical eccentric New Zealand style, spend a few decades of his life collecting discarded broken bricks, and layed them in these organic, flowing shapes, block after block till the whole street was awash with wild swirling bricks.
It was the highlight of my visit to Christchurch a few years ago.
By then the fashionable people had moved in, trying to borrow the Eros, the vision that this old fellow had.
It would have energizing him every every day, never fading.
|Here's the 'Before' photo of my back courtyard|
In the above photo, the dinner table had just been brought sensibly back inside, leaving a chess game of extra-guest stools, on the seriously unimaginative, yet very nice bricks.
Why are bricks great? Well, unlike concrete, they let rain soak into the ground for the plants.
But the best reason is that you can haul them home, for free.
When I made the Elwood water catching Garden, I was left with a pile of lovely bricks nobody would buy, or even take for free. I drove around the neighborhood looking for piles of bricks, and asking the rennovation gangs that put them there to if they would take my bricks off my hands. Instead, they tried persuading me to take their own expensive-to-dispose-of bricks off Their hands.
Just go for a cruise, get a big man with a van, and a swirly brick dream can be part of your life too.
Thank-you New Zealand for the inspiration, thank you Robert for the strong mind and spirit, and thank you Lon who's cooking kept Robert going. Thank you Graham the landlord, and Frank for the brick cutter.
Like raising a child, it takes a whole village to get your bricks swirly. But if the desire is strong enough, it happens.