Today, I raise my hat to a breed I believed extinct: the Great British workman. Efficiency is a rare commodity in these islands nowadays – or at least, that is my jaundiced view. My granddaughter and her husband have begun to discover how things work – or don’t – over here, and after a month’s wait have finally had wifi installed. To my mind that is pretty typical, and what most English people have come to expect. I can’t speak for the Welsh or Scots.
I shouldn’t really be so cynical, though, because actually the workmen who have fixed things for us since the house started to collapse around my mother’s ears last August (her view of events – it isn’t really any more than the usual maintenance of a house this age, but such things assume gigantic proportions for her now) have all been decent, conscientious workers. So where do my prejudices come from? I have searched for valid grounds, in vain, and must acknowledge that they are indeed prejudices, and not the result of bad experiences.
When a polite young man from the local council called on 29 June to assess what my mother needs in the way of hand rails etc. to assist her in getting around the house, he told us we would have a 6 to 8 week wait. But today, less than a month later, a cheery chap called Dave turned up at lunchtime, and within an hour had fixed a customised handrail on the stairs and five grab rails in strategic positions around the house. He worked quickly, cleanly and efficiently, was courteous and pleasant to my mother (who is quick to sense any kind of disrespect) and restored my faith in British workmanship. He even parked his van so as not to inconvenience anyone else.
As long as the Daves of this island are around, I am very happy to recognise that England can continue to expect that this day every man will do his duty – or is that going too far? Maybe I’m not a Grumpy Old Woman after all.