An unexpected bonus of working in other people’s houses as a builder’s mate is not the coffee on tap, the bacon butties or the biscuits.
I’ll let you into a little secret – it’s the sneaky pleasure of having a nose around.
Me and the builder don’t talk about jobs in terms of what work we actually did there, it’s more, ‘oh, you must remember that one, you know, the one with the awful, red, flowery wallpaper and bizarre yellow sofas’ or ‘the one with all those very odd mirrors in the bedroom.’
It’s great fun, passes the time of day and you can tell a lot from people’s houses. Does that make me sound awful? C’mon, we all do it, don’t we?
I particularly like working in houses with lots of books and am vaguely suspicious when they’re conspicuously absent. Many a happy coffee-break has been passed looking through the shelves thinking, ‘ooh, read that’ or, ‘oh, that looks interesting.’ Same for artwork and pictures. And I adore family photographs.
We’ve worked in some creepy houses though. One had a bedroom stuffed full of life-size dolls. The owner was in her 30’s. In another, there was a massive model railway track taking up the biggest room upstairs, the bathroom we were working on was tiny and the owner worked nights, so all we heard were sinister snores from down a very and gloomy dark corridor.
On the upside, I’ve picked up some fabulous home decoration tips. People have the most brilliant ideas. My favourite was the huge hallway, a large square room basically, painted entirely in black. Sounds hideous, but it was stunning. My hall is the size of an outdoor toilet so I don’t think I can steal that idea. And I definitely couldn’t fit in the matching chandelier.
Anyway, we had a very productive day yesterday pulling out an old bathroom suite ready for the new one. Then the builder asked me to pop a few tiles off and handed me a hammer and chisel. Easy. Four tiles in, there was an anguished cry. I popped my head round the corner to where the builder was standing. The entire other side of the wall had cracked.
Change of plan – we’re plastering today…