My paternal great grandfather, Barnett Levy, had been a staircase carpenter back in east end London at the beginning of the 20th century, and during the Week of the Staircase, I sincerely regretted never having met him. However, a friend introduced us to a woodworking company who introduced us to a stair carpenter, and - at least in theory - our staircase replacement project was in progress.
As a cost-saving measure, we'd agreed to remove the original staircase just before the new stairs arrived. On Sunday, when the stair carpenter called to say the new staircase would be installed the next day, I rented a long ladder, got my toolbox, and prepared to wield my crowbar and sledgehammer. Just before the first hammer blow, Ivaan spoke up: "Take care when you're removing those stair treads", he cautioned. "I know people who are paying fifty dollars each for worn stair treads in good condition."
With all the precision of a surgeon, I removed the treads without damaging a single one. It took a really long time. From the second floor landing, Ivaan supervised. By the time I had fourteen of them piled on the floor next to me, Ivaan could contain his laughter no longer. "I can't believe you fell for that one", he howled.
The rest of the staircase was removed in stony silence, punctuated only by the ringing of the telephone. It was the stair carpenter, calling to say the new stairs would not be ready until the following Friday. I learned some valuable new skills that week. They included climbing down a ladder while wearing a motorcycle helmet and carrying both a briefcase and a cat.