Philobiblon: Apologies

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


... if this blog is shaking slightly, and making a loud, dentist-drill-style noise. That's the council workmen downstairs making a thorough meal of demolishing a brick wall that is about 6m long and less than 2m high. Five of them, in a whole day yesterday, managed to demolish about a third of it, using a jackhammer with a brick-bolster-style attachment. Or at least one of them used that, one picked up each brick as it came off, and the others stood around and stereotypically leant on their brooms. It is windier today, so they are leaning into the doorways for shelter instead.

Give me a mid-size sledgehammer and crowbar and I'd have done it single-handed in a day. (OK, I'd be sore after, but then I spend most of my day swinging a keyboard.)

Council workmen are easy targets to take a swing at, and generally I try not to do that, but watching it at close hand is painful. (Not to mention in this case hard on the ears.)


Blogger clanger said...

Bloke 1 is the jackhammer specialist.

Bloke 2 is a trained brick conveyor.

Bloke 3 is the guy who fills in the forms on quality control, and customer satisfaction. Such data is gathered, processed, and published so that the public can see that their council tax is being properly spent. Now really Natalie, you don't expect the jackhammer specialist or the brick conveyor to keep stopping to wash their hands, pick up their pencil, and note down each thing they do, so you need bloke 3.

Bloke 4 is a chronographic technician: he checks the time for bloke 3 when bloke 3 notes down what blokes 1 and 2 are doing. You cannot write and turn your wrist to look at your watch at the same time (if you don't believe me, try it) so obviously this requires two blokes.

Bloke 5 is actually mutlitasking. For health and safety reasons it is necessary to have someone to stand away from the wall and keep an eye on it in case it loses structural integrity. Bloke 5 also ensures no passers-by are injured, and should an accident occur, is present to summon assistance.

I am a quite surprised they are not using the traditional '6th man', who makes the tea. This is a great sacrifice for which you (as a council tax payer) should be grateful. So you might want to pop down to them with a few cuppas and some hob nobs. :-)

The private sector is very different. When Clanger moved and had his kitchen done it took 3 days. On day 1, one bloke removed everything in the kitchen back to the bare walls with nothing but a sledgehammer.

Incidentally loads of people are on strike today, so you are lucky your workmen are not at home leaning on their own brooms.

And I trust you are not shamefully staring at their sweat-beaded, glistening muscles, or the top 3" of visible bum crack when they bend over. It is hard enough for a workman working all day in the public arena without having his initimate parts being stared at by every passing woman!

Apparently there's a workman is South Africa who has developed a laser pointer that can be inserted in the rectum, for just such scenarios.

3/28/2006 02:02:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

O Clanger, I'm really glad I wasn't eating when reading that. Luckily it is too cold still for such wardrobes. Very luckily.

But thank you for explaining the important workflow issues that explain the need for five men. Perhaps the sixth man was off making tea whenever I walked past?

And I know all about the private sector, or rather the DIY sector. Being a builder's daughter I'm a dab hand with a sledgehammer... (Demolishing fibro is particularly satisfactory; sadly there doesn't seem to be much in the UK.)

3/28/2006 02:56:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

Hold fast on your urges Natalie. Almost everything in British houses exudes asbestos if sledgehammered, especially artex.

Those wanting to 'do a property ladder' [as its called, in honour of Ms. Beeny ] ought to consult the wise tome that is the Asbestos Hazards Handbook:

A free bedtime read from the London Hazards Centre.

3/28/2006 03:22:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Ah, I'm well up on asbestos, having recently purchased a flat that when I first walked into it with the estate agent was plastered with stickers saying "encased asbestos, do not disturb". (That might have had something to do with it being such a cheap central London flat, and with the agent chosing to hang around outside the front door, rather than show me around... Although he was the nervous sort; he also wouldn't get in the lift, preferring to walk up five flights of stairs.)

But being a builder's daughter I was not deterred (and part of the condition of purchase was that they clean it up).

And I have only demolished one wall since ...

3/28/2006 11:25:00 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Fibro...I remember someone involved in an Australian scandal trying to handwave it off by saying "You know, I'm a fibro girl at heart.."

Not common in the UK, for the simple reason that it rains with wet water here.

3/30/2006 12:31:00 pm  

Post a comment

<< Home