He had a special feeling for bricks. He loved crumbling garden walls encrusted in moss, herringbone panels framed in oak, Ruabon Reds at sunset…
Yet haunted he was too, haunted by a dark memory from his early days on the job, when divining rods were still in use and camera surveys undrempt of.
Down a Victorian brick sewer in the City of Chester, he was searching by torchlight for an unmapped drain. Bent almost double, helmet scraping the barrelled roof, effluent overspilling his gumboots, he waded upstream with turds and rats passing under his nose.
Then the stench hit him, the get-out-quick stench – methane!
He turned, or attempted to, but couldn’t, because his shoulders were held in the rough grip of the brick curvature on either side…
Aye, it was a special feeling for bricks he had, Jane Austen’s house at Chawton a particular delight of his sixty-fourth year.