Well, this house – not city – but I couldn’t have put that in the title or it would have been taking the lyrics change a step too far. Just as actually finishing the work on our house appears to be a step too far for our builder, who has become somewhat slippery (since we paid him most of his outstanding fee, funnily enough).
It wasn’t always like this. There have been many times over the past year when I have salivated at the thought of the far-off day when he and his posse would be gone from our lives. In my mind’s eye I would turn the key in the front door (having changed the locks first) and then retrieve the waiting champagne from its ice bucket. But while the building crew no longer barge in each morning while we’re still in our dressing gowns, beating a desperate path to the kettle and sugar bowl, that joyous day is still as elusive as the day when we have a working towel rail in the bathroom, because it requires some complex concoction involving antifreeze that only our builder has the knowledge to dispense. Instead of the work being methodically finished, with a thanks and a satisfying shake of the builder’s hand (and a muttered “now eff off” from me…my mind’s eye can be an unforgiving one at times), it has tailed off in an unsatisfying slow drip.
I am not completely ungrateful or as harsh as I sound. We get along fine with our builder (when we see him) – he’s a nice enough bloke, and the transformation of our house owes a lot to him and his workmates. It’s just that I know several people in a similar position, and their builders all do the same thing:
Day One of the job - locate the nearest greasy spoon and sample the bacon butties to be sure one is at hand whenever the urge strikes. To complete the cliché, eat in van outside house, accompanied by red top of choice. Enter house and set up a dedicated tea area, preferably in a place where the tea stains will be hardest to remove at a later date (think marble mantelpiece. Our builders did.)
Day two - Enter house at 7am in SWAT team style. After a strong cup of tea containing a week’s recommended allowance of carbohydrates and a conversation about yesterday’s footie, start work in earnest. Get most lowly member of the team to boil kettle at regular intervals throughout the day, ribbing him about being only 16 as often as possible. Bugger off at half two.
Days three-180 – see day two.
Day 181 - repeat Day One, only at a different property, and put the previous property to the back of one’s mind.
To give him some credit, our builder has just phoned me to say he’ll be here on Monday morning. On the other hand, he said that last Friday as well. So despite the hive of industry that our house once was, if our builder ever fits the gasket round our front door and sorts out the cracking plaster in the bathroom, I’ll eat one of those bacon butties.