Saturday 17 March 2012

Chaos Theory

The Idiot Gardener and The Suburban Bushwacker will know how I feel. I suppose there are a lot of blokes out there who will know how I feel. Most of them of course will say in hushed, incredulous tones, ‘How could you be THAT stupid?’

Bambi Basher would probably just do the decent thing and put me down out of kindness.

Not that any of them would argue with the logic I applied to come to the decision I did. Not at all. The logic was sound. What they will marvel at is that I, a trained soldier with experience on many of the World’s battlefields would use logic as my only defence against the wrath of a woman. A very thin line indeed and about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

You see. I contracted a mate to finish off the restaurant.

To me, he was the obvious choice. I am tired of using local odd job men. It never works out cheaper in the long run and then I am left to live with doors that don’t close properly, door handles that fall off in my hand and drains that remain stubbornly blocked. Unless you are on top of them, they will finish the tiling and then send the plumber in who will smash everything to hell again. They don’t know what on earth an earth circuit is so it is entirely possible to be electrocuted by your own washing machine and since they now use plastic water pipes instead of steel ones, the old trick of earthing the chassis of such appliances to the nearest pipe no longer works.

I have a 200 square metre thatched dining area and no-one would be surprised to learn that I am dead keen the wiring is done properly lest I see a not inconsiderable investment turn to ashes. Besides which, overdone clients are worse for business than overdone steaks.

My mate, therefore, was the ideal man for the job. He has his own construction business, a lumber concession and his own sawmill. Among his staff he boasts trained electricians, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics and brickies. Being a Brit, he understands basic building regulations and promised to have the job done in six weeks.

Marcia agreed with me in the end, but only in the way women do when they say something along the lines of, ‘No Darling, that’s fine. I understand, truly I do!’ and then drive the stiletto home by muttering into their dinner, ‘Have it your own way’.

The six weeks elapsed mid February. There is no point me blaming the delay on the Angolan authorities who have been, even for them, stunningly slow in renewing my mate’s visa leaving him stuck amongst his trees down south rather than beavering away industriously on my land. It would only strengthen Marcia’s argument that we should have contracted thieving, inefficient Angolan jobbing builders who can’t even bang a nail in straight. There would be no value in pointing out I am similarly afflicted, my visa having expired in December meaning I had to be smuggled down here from the old house and am now stuck here lest I fall prey to the transit police between here and the city and to suggest that, by her logic, maybe she would have been better off marrying an Angolan might only serve to give her ideas I would find disconcerting.

My mate is both apologetic and sympathetic but he is safe half way up a mountain with his trees and it is me that has to live in close proximity to Marcia. I want the sand dunes between me and the sea to build up, not erode them with me pacing backwards and forwards along the beach which is about as far as I can get away from her if she is in a mood short of diving in and striking out towards Brazil.

I can cope during the week but at weekends I feel the loss of business as keenly as Marcia. It is just that Marcia is rather more demonstrative. I was a salesman once, and I did look at potential clients as persons walking around with my money in their pockets. Clearly she feels the same way and with every one of them that walks away disappointed having learnt we are still not open, she gives me hell. Financially, we are in that happy equilibrium espoused by Mr Micawber, "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness.” but Marcia feels that while there is no reason expenditure should not remain the same, annual income could be considerably enhanced were it not for a decision I made.

I could not give a damn about some butterfly wasting a lifetime's worth of accumulated nectar by flapping its wings in China thereby provoking a tidal wave in the Americas (although I have had my fair share of one of those recently), all I know is that some lazy git in an Angolan Visa office managed, by doing absolutely effing nothing, to cause me and my mate a perfect shit storm.


  1. And I thought it was difficult to find a decent builder here in Blighty!

    Now I've managed to turn my hand to most stuff ('cause I'm basically a tight bastard, the older I become, the worse it gets), but electrics have me stumped so I always get an electrician in.

    If I wasn't so number blind and thick, I'd have taken a course in being a sparks and saved myself a lot of money (an domestic strife) in the long run.

    Maybe you should have joined up in the engineers Tom? Maybe we both should.

  2. I once thought about testing the oxymoron and applied for the Army Intelligence Corps but they were astute enough to tell me to try for the Catering Corps instead.

  3. Even here in Australia we have a shortage of good trade persons - they are all off making a mint on any of the myriad of mushroom villages posing as housing developments or earning bundles of cash in the mining areas of Queensland and Western Australia. I have one good local tradesman, a steel fabricator, who is worth his weight in gold, but try for an electrician or a plumber and you'll wait forever and forget about a chippie or a cabinet maker (unheard of). Painters - I advertise with the bait of "Prompt payment" for those wanting to dodge the GST but always ask for their most recent jobs that I can go and look at and, perhaps, talk to the owners of the premises where they have done their work.

  4. Don't get me wrong guys, I have the decent builder. It is the bloody Angolans screwing with his visa that is causing the problem. THEY want me to employ an Angolan builder.

  5. everyone wants a piece of you!
    its the 2012 mantra

  6. John Gray wrote everyone wants a piece of you! its the 2012 mantra

    Ahhhhh! the concept of 'normal'!

  7. We are awash in tradesmen, what with our bad housing market. In fact, for the first time in my life, we had an honest plumber in here (apologies to SBW, who just might also be honest). Of course, they don't have to travel around the country with citizenship papers or visas... well, not my part of the country, and hopefully, over my dead body before it happens here.

  8. Tom, you don't have to live in Angola to be made to wait for a Visa. Indeed you may not even NEED a visa: That will not stop "officialdom" fucking up your life. Happened to me about three years ago. It was surreal - Kafka couldn't have painted a better nightmare. After having lived in the UK for 25 years, having worked and procreated in this country I suddenly had to prove my "right" to be here. They were not moved by the fact that as a European national I have every "right". Nope. They wanted The Home Office to confirm this. Great. No problem. That's optimism for you: All it takes is one minute and one stamp. Oh no, it takes The Home Office, on average, about six months to process any such request. Pass me the smelling salts lest I faint. In those six, seven months my life went down the toilet. Eventually, those who had doubted my "right" admitted to an administrative error. Too late. The fallout was spectacular. I come from strong stock so, as you would say, I took it like a man despite one friend offering the helpful "If I were you I'd commit suicide". It's the closest I've ever come to knowing how water feels swirling down a plughole.

    Good luck, and do remember that ghastly saying that good things will come to those who wait.


  9. If you want good customer service - be a good customer. Work out what you want, tell us what you want, and effing stick to it.

    i have one, and only one, really great client - he's a structural engineer - so he knows only Robinson Crusoe had it all done by friday.


  10. Do it yourself. It's only electricity. I won't kill you!!!


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