Whilst I know them individually, and they are all lovely people, salt of the earth and so on, collectively I am as fed up to the back teeth with assorted tradesmen as one can be. This one, in particular has had eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenough of them. Enough of enough, a sufficiency.
It might, of course, also be because I am so tired. I can’t remember the last time I had a weekend. They finish on a Friday, early afternoon, with a cheery ‘bye!’, off like a bullet from a gun, dear. Pubs like to be open, stocked and ready by five on a Friday which is traditionally where the working man will repair to get stuck into wasting the week’s wages straight out of his hot dusty hand on some cold wet beer.
I recall Friday at the works when I was a child. If you popped in to the outer office the girls were busy. One or two secretaries, as the business waxed or waned, fully occupied on a Friday with wages. It was their job to go to the bank on the High Street with a withdrawal form. To obtain this form they had tallied up the hours worked by each man and the remuneration, differing by scale from apprentice to master and by trade from labourer to bricklayer to joiner. My father signed off on this and the form was taken to the bank and the wages collected in a blue cloth bag. The secretary doing the collecting always carried a shopping bag, usually one of those over-the-crook-of-the-arm types made of coils of sewn plaited raffia with an embroidered flower on the front. This was to disguise the fact that she was carrying the wages and to deter burglars, who, it is well known, are terrified of raffia. Back at the office the money was all tipped out on one desk, which had been cleared for the purpose, and the wages counted out into piles, checked, sealed in a little brown envelope, ticked off on the list and assembled in lines, next to the electric typewriter, which had been returned to the desk.
After afternoon tea in the office, all trades would be back in the subterranean workshop, one flight down from the half landing and entrance hall. One by one, in order of seniority, they would climb up to the landing, then up again to the office where, cap in hand, they would receive their wages, express gratitude and then, if they were nice people, go home to their wives, hand most of the cash over, be given pocket money and be in the pub by five, spending it. If they were less lovely they would go to the pub first.
Old traditions die hard, despite electronic payment and the rise of wine bars, half past five on a Friday sees the local pubs full of assorted trades, starting the weekend.
Back at the ranch I get an early night so that, come Saturday morning I can rise with the lark and, in the absence of plumbers, builders and assorted others. get started. This weekend we shopped for tiles to go round the counter top in the utility and the OH, declaring it to be his job, stuck them to the wall. I cleared (there is endless clearing of rooms and piles of junk), varnished the doors in the downstairs loo and painted the skirtings and the back of the removable panel. We put up the television holding thingy on the wall, far too high, though it may help to prevent double chins, time will tell. I did several lots of washing. We shopped for and bought a new lock for the door into the garage, which the OH fitted and a lovely new handle. It is screw-on-to-the-thread which will be a massive improvement on every handle we have ever had, which have had weedy little grub screws and falling-off disease as soon as put on. It is so nice I just keep opening the door. Because I can.
Then it’s another early night and up at crack of eight o clock, dressed and thinking and ready to let in the plumber and the painter and here we go on another week, and this has been my life since last September.
It will be lovely in the end, it will be lovely. Despite the fact that I now have a reduced side passage (which may be a symptom of age) and a sewerage pipe down comer in the dining room, currently boxed in with the expanding foam insulation I insisted on, oozing out all over the radiator and floor. Then there’s the new gutter, now efficiently soaking the front garage wall. And still, still, still, everything covered in a layer of gritty brown dust even though I spend many hours each week wet dusting.
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.
And the householder, apparently.