The dilemmas of finding a builder

Why is there a conspiracy amongst tradesmen to treat mere mortals as half wits who couldn't possibly know a screwdriver from a paintbrush?

I've always been quite handy on the DIY front and can whip up a flat pack in 20 minutes (provided all the screws and widgets are there – B&Q and IKEA take note, it's not big or clever to provide completely different packets of plastic whatsits to those required). But I do not like ladders and have a complete fear of anything water or electric related. May be they can sense it when they walk in the front door and do that teeth-sucking "it'll cost you" thing. Anyway the need for a new garden wall and a slight radiator blockage have led to two opportunities to encounter members of the building trade.

First to the wall, we have had a variety of quotes some of which have indicated that the builder is under the impression he is recreating the Great Wall of China in our small corner of south west London. One of them commeted: "this wall will last longer than the house" – not that great a selling point as either my house is going to fall down in the next twenty or thirty years or I will have moved to Sunny Meadows retirement home and frankly won't care. So the wall remains on hold and our house continues to be the eyesore of the road with the gate increasingly becoming detached from its hinges and the postman getting fed up with the orange string contraption which is currently serving as a latch – classy we are!

So to the radiator. Now I have to blame the beloved on this one. He has a really annoying habit of turning the heating off in the dining room after every meal – if only his dedication to washing up was so predicatable. Well before the weekend he must have eaten his spinach and then some because he jammed the radiator valve so tight that no amounts of WD40, spanners, pliers and other leveraging implements have freed it. So nothing for it, have to call the trusty plumber. Something of an oxymoron I have to say. It turns out that I can pay a luicrously extortionate call out charge or wait until he's finished "a big job in Wimbledon" – presumably if I paid the extortionate call out charge the poor souls in Wimbledon will just have to live without for half a day whilst he supplements his 2 months in the Carribean fund?

Well I continue my quest to find a decent, honest tradesman who won't take one look at me and see £ signs.

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