My ancestors the Gauls were scared of one thing…

Collapsed ceiling
… and one thing only: that the sky may fall on their heads.
Well, it (almost) happened to me on new year’s eve. The photo shows the ceiling of my study as it now looks; my desk is exactly below the bit that collapsed. Scary, isn’t it?
Fortunately, the study was empty at that time. I am now officially without an office to work in, and probably will be for a while; it’s going to take time to sort it all out. For now, I’ve relocated to the living-room table. It’s going to make my work a bit more complicated, especially as I’ve got huge amounts to do this week, and blogging will probably have to take a back seat.
However, the overwhelming feeling is relief, as those big blocks of Edwardian plaster that fell from a height of 3.20 metres only caused two casualties: my keyboard and my mobile. Nothing short of a miracle, considering how much time I spend in front of the PC…

By | 2016-10-18T15:51:32+00:00 January 3rd, 2005|Freelance Translation|13 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Johanka January 3, 2005 at 2:02 pm

    Looks pretty scary, indeed! Not a desirable way to enter the new year… But, you are okay and that’s what counts.

  2. language hat January 4, 2005 at 2:04 am


  3. ViVi January 4, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    Well, I can’t think of an appropriate exclamation, because my jaw is still hanging open!
    I’m glad you (and the computer, whew!) are ok! 🙂

  4. Jez January 4, 2005 at 2:08 pm

    Par Toutatis!

  5. Chninkel January 5, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    That’s what you can call a close shave!

  6. Auntie M January 5, 2005 at 9:17 pm

    I must have a little Gaul in me too. Last year I took a tour of the Pantheon and they have all these nets up because pieces of the ceiling keep falling down. Every time I enter one of these ancient structures I keep looking up hoping this isn’t the moment..

  7. Margaret January 5, 2005 at 10:12 pm

    That is worrying, particularly because my ceiling is the same height and age.
    About the sky falling down – is there a Gaulish past to the fairy tale about Henny Penny and Ducky Lucky etc. who went to tell the king that the sky was falling down?

  8. céline January 6, 2005 at 8:40 am

    Thanks everyone, particularly for the expressions and interjections of surprise.
    Margaret: I’d never heard of Henny Penny and Ducky Lucky, so I’m not sure. I suggest you go around your house poking your ceilings with a broom to see if they move at all. Best not to wait til they decide they’d rather be on the floor, like mine did, it’s very scary and messy when it happens!

  9. Margaret January 7, 2005 at 9:05 am

    I will try it with the broom.
    The story is called Chicken Licken and it’s not very exciting for adults. I found an American version online, but the names are different there. British: Ducky-Lucky, Foxy-Loxy, Henny Penny.

  10. Celine January 10, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    Je suis traductrice également, je m’appelle Céline, Je suis française vivant en Angleterre, et comme toi, il y a environ 5 ans, il m’est arrivé la même mésaventure quand le plafond de ma salle à manger s’est écroulé. J’étais dans la pièce à ce moment-là mais j’ai réussi à m’échapper à temps, suivie de près par mon chat. Voilà comme quoi il y des coincidences…

  11. céline January 10, 2005 at 2:55 pm

    Wow. You must be fast if you managed to beat a panicked cat out of the room! I’m going to know this afternoon how much it will cost to fix. Fingers crossed everyone…

  12. Andrew January 10, 2005 at 8:18 pm

    It may not be quite as bad as it looks. In the good ol’ days, say 75 years back, goopy plaster mixed with horse hair was pressed onto those skinny wooden boards (lath) and held in place by the bits that squeezed through (known as the keys). Over time the keys dry out, the house shifts a little, and the plaster just falls away from the lath – making for an aesthetic disaster but, structurally speaking, just a flesh wound. You’ll probably have to rip out the lath and affix new sheets of drywall to the ceiling joists. Nothing a handful of friends and a couple cases of beer couldn’t fix.
    If you have any other, smaller, saggy bits of plaster in the house, I recommend using the sort of screws available from Do a search for item # 67Z20.01.
    Aren’t old houses fun?
    Love the blog. Best of luck with the repairs.

  13. céline January 10, 2005 at 9:46 pm

    Hi Andrew, the laths are fine and the plasterer will just have to put plaster boards onto them. Thanks for all the DIY advice, although we will pay someone to do the work, as otherwise we’d probably manage to pull the entire house down.

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