THIS LIFE: BY CLAU­DIA CAR­ROLL

Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - EDITOR'S LETTER - By Clau­dia Car­roll

WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG, you think love can break your heart. But when you get older, you re­alise that ac­tu­ally, it’s builders. Now I have both the great luck and great mis­for­tune to live in an old house that re­quires con­stant main­te­nance. It’s the fam­ily home and as my mother of­ten says, it’s a bit like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran­cisco – you start paint­ing one end of it and by the time to get to the other end, you have to go right back to the very be­gin­ning to start all over again.

You’re never re­ally done with any house, but with a Vic­to­rian home, be­lieve you me, there’s al­ways some­thing that needs do­ing or some catas­tro­phe that needs mop­ping up. I’ve had whole ceil­ings fall in. I once came home from my NCT test to dis­cover that a tree had col­lapsed through the liv­ing room win­dow and was now nestling on top of the telly. I’ve had rust­ing wa­ter tanks the age of the house leak down on top of the room be­low, leav­ing me wad­ing about in wellies, scream­ing hys­ter­i­cally for a plumber. On Easter Sun­day, by the way, just for added drama.

Ever tried get­ting a plumber to your house on a bank hol­i­day week­end? Not to be rec­om­mended, trust me.

Over the decades, I’ve been shafted up, down and side­ways by builders so cow­boy-es­que they might as well have ar­rived on horse­back with the theme tune to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly play­ing in the back­ground.

I once had a guy who took one full year to do a three-month job and who only even­tu­ally fin­ished on Christ­mas Eve be­cause he claimed I owed him money. (I didn’t, but would have sold my soul just to get the use­less fecker out of the house once and for all.)

I’ve had work­men call to the house to help out with what­ever emer­gency was I was cop­ing with, take one look at me and re­alise that they were deal­ing with a sit­ting duck., ie, a sin­gle woman who knows shag all about rewiring, plumb­ing, plas­ter­ing or electrics. You know the feel­ing: a work­man does an emer­gency job for you, then when you ask how much you owe, you get the teeth sucked in, the head shake, the folded arms and then the dreaded phrase, ‘Jay­sus love, it won’t be cheap – you might want to sit down for this.’ The sin­gle woman sup­ple­ment, I call it, and I was sick of it and I’d had enough and I thought to hell with this, never again. Let the place fall down around me, was my fu­ri­ous vow, be­fore an­other use­less builder will ever cross the thresh­old of the house again.

But then Christ­mas 2017 hap­pened. And you know what Santa de­liv­ered me? Two burst wa­ter mains and a flood of such Bi­b­li­cal pro­por­tions that I had to aban­don ship and move out.

Which is when my lovely friend Kirk McCor­mack stepped in. He’s an ar­chi­tect and al­though I’d never worked with an ar­chi­tect be­fore, Kirk swooped in like comic su­per­hero from the Marvel Uni­verse. It turns out that aside from the hard work ar­chi­tects do for you – draw­ings, lay­ing out plans and project man­age­ment – they do so, so much more. They mind you and hold your hand and li­aise with the builders on your be­half, so the days of be­ing shafted and hav­ing rings run around you are now a thing of the past.

Any­way Kirk gen­tly ad­vised me on how to get the house fi­nally put to rights once and for all.

Then he put the job out to ten­der and weeks later, the builders from Heaven ar­rived. On time, at 7.30am, punc­tual to the dot ev­ery sin­gle morn­ing. With cheery smiles and a good morn­ing and mor­ti­fied apolo­gies for all the dust. I’ve never known work­men to be so ut­terly de­void of neg­a­tiv­ity – when­ever we ran into road­blocks on the house, they’d say to me, ‘this is not a prob­lem. It’s an is­sue that we’re here to fix. We never use the “p” word.’ Did you ever?

I was work­ing from home through­out the whole build­ing project and from the floor be­low, where the main work was go­ing on, all I could hear was the lovely sound of laugh­ter. Then, when I’d stick my head into the site, the lads would gladly show me what­ever they’d been work­ing on, with such pride in their work, it glad­dened my heart. Hav­ing been shafted so of­ten by builders from the ‘ah sure, it’ll feck­ing well do’ school of works, this was the stuff of heaven.

So now, my builders from Heaven have al­most fin­ished, and not only have they left the place cleaner than they found it, they even brought in con­tract clean­ers, to re­ally make the house sparkle. And now, here are the words I never in my life thought I’d ever say...

I’ll re­ally miss the builders when they’re gone!

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