Staffing Issues: Wk 8 – Day Two

We seem to be having a few staffing issues. . . but before I elaborate I shall furnish you with a few biogs in order to give you a little more context in which to place todays set of anecdotes.

K is our plumber and has been doing S’s pipework (and I don’t mean for that to sound quite so Old Compton Street) for over ten years. You’ve met him before as he was a principal player in ‘The Waste’ Series (week 2 and ongoing) but to summarise, he is one of the goodies. He is not part of the foreman’s team (and therein lies the problem….) but he was bought in on Day One to move our boiler so that we were not without hot water or heating at any point in the two coldest months of the year….not the most ideal time to be undertaking a project which requires the demolition of both the back and side of your house. It felt foolish at the time to have two sets of tradesmen beginning work on the same site on the same day (three actually as C the carpenter, who you will meet below, was also onsite installing rotten doors….see Week One) but had he not been around to look after our interests we would have ended up washing up in the bath, visiting a laundrette thrice daily and being stuck with our present bathroom layout which is absolutely not the plan. Having said all that he does seem to like not liking the foreman.

C the Carpenter is another tradesman with whom we have a history…a good news story from Rated People. We commissioned him about five years ago to build a storage cupboard in our maisonette flat for our vacuum cleaner and ironing board. Not a glamorous commission, Ill admit, but his suggestion of integrating book shelving on one external side escalated it, in my opinion, up the rankings of storage cupboards. Spurred on by his success we then tasked him with the design and creation of a removable stair banister in anticipation of moving at some point in the future. When that time came we hoped to be able to free the wardrobe which had been up until that point held captive in the bedroom as to get it in, the pre-existing staircase had needed surgical intervention from which it never fully recovered. C’s clever replacement included hidden fixings which could be removed to reveal a mechanism which allowed a number of spindles to be worked free. With a set of instructions saved to our desktop we were ready for Moving Day.

During the quoting visit I announced our secret weapon in a Q-like manner to a Removal Man who was about as impressed as Mr Bond.
“No love, thats a solid banister. But this wardrobe will come apart. Its flatpack”.
When this supposition was relayed to S he took much offence.
“Indeed it does not. It’s from Heals, not Ikea.”
The night before moving day, adamant that they were not to try and take his wardrobe apart, S downloaded the instructions. “Remove the pieces marked with an X” they said.
He looked.
I’d painted.

Screwdrivers were wedged under every piece of wood which might possibly be concealing an elusive bolt. Many of the wood pieces were broken in the exercise and the surrounding air turned blue but finally the bolts were revealed and all that was left was to unscrew them with a spanner. He tried our spanners. A few frantic phonecalls later and he was in possession of not one but two impressive Christmas-present-type sets from friends. Neither contained the spanner he required.

On the morning of The Move he drove to B&Q to buy the spanner he needed. Before he had even pulled up in the carpark the removal men had gotten the wardrobe up and over C’s masterpiece of a collpapsible banister and into the van without breaking a sweat.

C is no longer simply a carpenter and designer of unnecessary removable banisters. Since then he has turned his hand to plastering, painting, building fences, installing a loft hatch, sanding floors, installing doors (remember those? They’ll be back…..) , removing the fireplace (blame him! Blame him!) and building genuine Ikea flatpack furniture. He likes a coffee and a chat. The coffees can turn into many and the chats can turn into soap operas. I have a handy trick up my sleeve which usually curtails both – running out of milk.

So finally to the third actor in our drama…the foreman. You know him, by now, as well as I do so there need not be much introduction. Suffice to say that the day I announced intentionally within his earshot to another tradesman that the foreman had admitted to “being a little confused as to what might be the best way forwards” and I asked the other tradesman if perhaps he could help with some advice it ended in disaster (A Bad Day: Week 4 – Day 4) . The day I introduced him as “the boss” it ended very well (Form or Function: Week 5 – Day One.) He tolerates both K and C though has referred to the pair of them as ‘working the night shift’ which appears, if the sniggers of his team are anything to go by, to be an insult of some magnitude.

Having now introduced the characters I’m afraid I’ll still struggle to explain the drama for two reasons….. The argument being in Buildish and S having batted most of it away without it having landed at my feet. However, I caught the tail end of it today as K rang me in error and the tirade was unstoppable. He had had words with the foreman about him building the patio too high so he can’t get his boiler pipe out. Meanwhile C is busy restricting his access to pipe work by laying the floor. The boiler pipe has now been rerouted with, (S told me afterwards) fairly minimal fuss via the front of the house so the issue is solved but not without a few accusations thrown about and substantial damage to egos. During K’s lengthly rendition of his version of events and against a backdrop of three squealing children, I tried to establish what part of it I was meant to remember, retain, understand, and pass on to another tradesman in order to put whatever was wrong, right. Eventually I gave up. I rang S.
“Call K” I pleaded “and try and work out what we then need to tell C. Why can’t they just bloody talk to each each other?”
S replied very simply.
“They are tradesmen.” before adding “It’ll blow over. I’ll sort it.”

And that’s what he’s done.

More frames bought today from charity shops to add to my growing collection for a mismatched wall of family photos. (I don’t plan to use the pictures here themselves but only the frames….)


Design inspiration for the mismatched frame wall from I can’t quite decide if I like this unified version or the more eclectic version below. S?



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