Archive for March 28th, 2006

Rough Trade

Whoever made up that saying about how when you own property it starts to own you could have given special mention to the role of so-called tradesmen.

The standard of work in most homes built in the Republic in recent years is appallingly poor in comparison to that in Northern Ireland. Despite being generally unable to drive a nail through a loaf of bread, I could have done a better job on, among other things, the plasterwork, painting, door hangings and fixtures than the original work done in my own gaff. Most painters in the Republic must have been gagged and handcuffed at the back when the rest of the class was learning to colour in.

This is in spite of the fact that you pay through the nose for the most basic of services here.

There was a special club in the North called The Monday Club. I don’t know if it still exists post-Eastern European influx, but its raison d’etre was this: a gathering of tradesmen for their regular Monday all-day drinking session. They earned so much money working across the border the other four days of the week that they would prefer to spend Monday down the boozer rather than earn any extra money.

French students might be out protesting against precarious working conditions, but tradesmen in Ireland behave safe in the knowledge that their situation is anything but precarious.

Two gas fitters in the last couple of weeks have stood me up. One is at their mercy. All I need is a standard gas fire fitted. The first one postponed on two occasions without explanation nor apology, then just didn’t bother to turn up. (Although on the final no-show, he called an hour beforehand to say he was on his way, an exquisitely gratuitous act of mockery). The second one arrived at two o’clock this afternoon, took one look at the fireplace and said he’d be back in 15 minutes as he had to get a part. It’s twenty to ten. Do you reckon there’s a big queue in the wholesalers?

After the second one beat his retreat, I started wondering if I had left a kipper down the back of a radiator or something. I don’t have any strange mounted animals or voodoo dolls on display. Then I remembered that the first one hadn’t even been in the house. So it must be my voice. Either I sound weird, threatening, or I have undiagnosed Tourettte’s.

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March 2006