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DAD’S DAIRY
Crash. Bang. Wallop
by Ian Duncan
A man builds a fine
house; and now he
work and prefers to be
has a master, and a
paid in cash. He is a
task for life; he is to
builder.
furnish, watch, show it,
Like most people, I tend
and keep it in repair, the
to expect that others
rest of his days.
will be honest with me,
Ralph Waldo Emerson,
I want to want believe
Society and Solitude:
what other people say.
Works and Days, 1870
Unfortunately, there
are some people who
The start of something
can't help themselves,
new
who lie well and promise the earth.
You are back on the market but it's been
They are so used to such habitual deceit, that
so long since this last that you no longer
may be, just may be, they actually believe what
understand the rules of the game. You are
they tell you. Or perhaps they just think that you
hesitant, unsure: how do you make sure that
are stupid and gullible –you did employ them
you choose "the one"? Can you trust the ads
after all Q.E.D..
in the newspapers? The internet? Somehow,

they seems so impersonal, so unsafe. So,
DIY
you ask your friends, do they know someone?
No doubt our love of DIY is due, in part at
Someone compatible, someone suited to you?
least, to our loathing and suspicion of builders
Most are a little unsure, hesitant, knowing that
rather than our bricklaying / pointing /decorating
if anything goes wrong that they might lose
skills. Everyone, but everyone, I know has
your friendship. Others are more gung ho,
dealt with a rogue builder at some point. Or if
certain that they know just the person just for
not rogue or dishonest, just not up to the job.
you, Mr Right. They give you his number.
Indeed, Consumer Direct, the government-
funded advice service, received more than
After days trying to summon up the courage
nineteen thousand complaints about builders,
you call. Voicemail. Is this where it starts
plumbers, electricians, decorators and other
to go wrong? You leave a message, hardly
home improvement traders in the first three
hoping that he will call back. He does, almost
months of 2008 - covering almost eighty million
straightaway - as if he'd been waiting for your
pounds of work. (Complaints about building
call. Is this the start of a beautiful friendship?
work totalled forty million pounds).
Don't leave me this way
At first, it goes so well. You meet, he seems to
Is there anybody out there?
anticipate your every need, your hearts' desire,
Is it too much to ask that someone gives you a
you don’t even need to a say a word. It's
realistic cost and timescale and sticks to it? Or
blissful as he goes out of his way to make sure
that they do the work to the agreed standard
that you are happy. But soon, so soon, it starts
so that it doesn't need re-doing in a few years
to go wrong. He stops turning up when he says
time? Or that if they can't turn up for some
he will, often disappearing for days without a
reason that they let you know?
word. He doesn't return your calls. When he
does come over, he never stays for long. Not
In the meantime, pass me a trowel.
to mention the fact that he always leaves your
place a mess, never tiding up after himself.
PS A blow has been struck for parents
everywhere - at a recent birthday party we
So, who is he this callous, calculating
did not give out party bags and the world
individual? Let me give you a few clues. He
did not end.
drinks endless cups of tea; wears low slung
trousers; never turns up when he should, likes
64 to pad the bill, thinks that six hours is a days
65
35 35
34 34
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