‘Twas on a Monday Morning…

This latest saga reminds me of the old Flanders And Swan song about the trials and tribulations of employing tradesmen for a simple job which turns out to be much more.

The Gas Man Cometh – Flanders and Swann

  • ‘Twas on a Monday morning the gas man came to call.
  • The gas tap wouldn’t turn – I wasn’t getting gas at all.
  • He tore out all the skirting boards to try and find the main
  • And I had to call a carpenter to put them back again.

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

  • ‘Twas on a Tuesday morning the carpenter came round.
  • He hammered and he chiselled and he said:
  • “Look what I’ve found: your joists are full of dry rot
  • But I’ll put them all to rights”.
  • Then he nailed right through a cable and out went all the lights!

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

  • ‘Twas on a Wednesday morning the electrician came.
  • He called me Mr. Sanderson, which isn’t quite the name.
  • He couldn’t reach the fuse box without standing on the bin
  • And his foot went through a window so I called the glazier in.

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

  • ‘Twas on a Thursday morning the glazier came round
  • With his blow torch and his putty and his merry glazier’s song.
  • He put another pane in – it took no time at all
  • But I had to get a painter in to come and paint the wall.

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

  • ‘Twas on a Friday morning the painter made a start.
  • With undercoats and overcoats he painted every part:
  • Every nook and every cranny – but I found when he was gone
  • He’d painted over the gas tap and I couldn’t turn it on!

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.

  • On Saturday and Sunday they do no work at all;
  • So ’twas on a Monday morning that the gasman came to call…

In our case, we came back from a relaxing break in Northern France to find water running down the living room wall. Apparently a 20 year old fibre washer on the pipe supplying the toilet cistern had given way. The value of washer was around £0.10.

Water had damaged a couple of bookcases and might have lifted the laminate floor in the living room but had also damaged the new floor in the bathroom which was also a laminate and which had lifted along the seams. Cost of materials alone was going to be £400+ with another couple of thousand pounds in labour costs. It was clear we needed to use our house insurance.

The process started quite well, with an assessor from Sainsbury’s Insurance visiting and agreeing the extent of the damage – plumbing repair in the bathroom, new bathroom floor, plastering repair to ceiling in living room, repainting and redecorating the whole of the living room. He even agreed to offset the value of the damaged bookshelves against the excess. He told us he would instruct a local contractor to undertake the work.

Next came a visit from the contractor’s assessor to plan the work. He advised us to buy the materials ourselves to save time and possible confusion. So we trouped off to B&Q to get the same flooring as we had laid and a suitable replacement wallpaper. We had removed the floor in the bathroom and dismantled the units in the living room to save time later on when the work started. This uncovered another problem. The water had worked its way under the wall plaster and sprung it from the wall. This too would need replacing so we called the contractors who made another visit for another assessment.

We had to wait more than a month before the work could be started, partly our fault as we had another short break planned, but on the appointed day the plasterers arrived to re-plaster the ceiling and the wall. We had packed away almost all the furniture and contents into the conservatory, leaving only the couches and a display cabinet in the room. We were impressed at the time and effort taken to cover everything in black plastic. Had I stayed in the room I am sure I would have received a new shiny black suit.

The two plasterers worked quickly and effectively although by the time they had finished everywhere showed signs of plaster. We thanked them, tipped them and sent them on their merry way.

After a week the plaster had dried and it was time for the walls to be re-papered. We chose a mid-range wallpaper from a well known supplier and had matched it to some luxurious curtains so when the decorator arrived we proudly presented it to him and stood back. He sniffed.

We have wall lights on the wall with the ‘good’ paper and I had thoughtfully disconnected them in advance. I explained to our dour artisan that they were now not live but safe. He sniffed.

We decided to leave him alone to his work and bid him adieu as we left to go shopping. He sniffed.

At the end of the day we found him cleaning his tools. The paper was on – just. It wasn’t straight, an eight inch drop from one end of the room to the other. He sniffed and explained that the ceiling wasn’t straight.

Around the fireplace he had taken the direct route and used a craft knife to boldly slice the paper in straight lines leaving gaps around the detailing. He sniffed and said the fireplace had been put in badly.

At one wall end there was a gap of around half an inch at the bottom. He sniffed and said the wall wasn’t ‘true’.

Eventually we complained to the insurance company and he returned offering to do the whole job again. We regretfully declined.

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