Yes. That’s right. Pure filth. My working week has been full of workmen. With filthy hands.
Now I’ve got nothing against workmen. Indeed, I’m exceedingly grateful to them for the services they provide. Car mechanics? I love them. Especially when the car won’t start. Repairer of roads? I love them too. Particularly when fixing the pothole that gave me a puncture a few weeks ago. This week I tried to nurture the same feelings of love for the workmen who visited my house. Let me start at the beginning.I needed a new driveway. And pronto. For the last twelve months our neighbours have suffered my half-baked efforts to clean the gravel and sand from our driveway. Mr V said he’d help. But somehow golf got in the way. So I abandoned my shovel and wheelbarrow and booked a reputable Kent County Council contractor to finish the job. The company said they’d do it soon. That was months ago. ‘We’re a very busy company Mrs Viggiano. Please be patient,’ was the standard reply whenever I chased up. Patience is a virtue. But not mine. And then a leaflet plopped through my letterbox. WE DO DRIVEWAYS was the heading.
‘We’re NOT using people we don’t know anything about,’ said Mr V. ‘Of course not,’ I replied. I waved Mr V off to work and rang the number. Enter Harry. Nice enough chap. Had a squint which made him look a bit dodgy. His sidekick had a thick tinker accent and no teeth. I told myself that one cross eye and a lack of Simon Cowell smile was unimportant. We got down to the business of numbers. They wanted half the money that KCC’s contractor had quoted. I resisted the urge to rub my hands together and cackle with glee. ‘The job’s yours. When can you start?’ Harry's right eye met mine while his left eye studied the floor. I wasn’t sure whether he was actually looking at me or the ground. Or both. ‘Hmm. I’m not sure when I can get hold of the tar.’ Which possibly translated as we need to wait for the material to accidentally fall off the back of a lorry. ‘I’m a very patient woman,’ I smiled. Which I am – where money is concerned.
The tar made an appearance four days later. Suddenly my driveway had pneumatic drills chugging all over the place. A lorry arrived and dumped a steaming mound of tarmac. The driver jumped out of his cab. He looked like an extra from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He marched up to the front door. I gulped. Was my worst nightmare about to happen? Ding dong. ‘Good morning Mrs Viggiano,’ he smiled. Only two teeth missing. ‘Could I be using your toilet now?’ I stared at him. ‘You’ll have to take those shoes off,’ I croaked. I resisted the urge to ask him to take his hands off too. They were blacker than the tar being spread across the drive. Instead I sent up a silent prayer of thanks to God for creating anti-bacterial wipes for women like me. The lorry driver disappeared into the downstairs toilet. Seconds later there was the sound of a tap running. Hurrah. A man who washed his hands after using the loo. He thanked me and went out. I immediately went into the loo with my Dettox wipes. The hand-towel, clean that morning, was streaked in black. I picked it up and chucked it in the washing machine, before replacing with a clean one from the airing cupboard.Ding dong. I mentally braced myself. Would this be the rest of the tarmac crew wanting a wee-wee? Instead it was a completely different workman. Enter Paul. From British Gas. For the entirety of the working week, our boiler had been playing up. One minute we had no heating. Then no hot water. Then we had heating but still no hot water. Then hot water but defunct heating again. And then finally we had both heating and hot water but the thermostat packed up. And then the control box jammed. When the house had reached 40 degrees, I took to the fuse box in desperation. ‘I’ve come to fix your boiler,’ said Paul. I’d been hearing these words all week. But it wasn’t really Paul’s fault. He was an inexperienced and very young engineer. Indeed, I don't know what British Gas are thinking of employing 14 year olds. Paul had a habit of looking at the boiler, tapping his teeth with a pencil and then ringing up a colleague to say, ‘I haven’t a chuffing clue what’s wrong with this customer’s boiler.’ Thankfully, on his last visit Paul managed to fix everything. And then came the magic words. ‘Can I use your loo?’ Paul’s hands looked as though they’d been coated in diesel. I made a mental note to chuck the second hand-towel in the washing machine. As soon as Paul had departed, out came the anti-bacs again. I’m never entirely sure if drips all over the floor are from water or...well quite.
Anyway. It is now Sunday. And peaceful. Not a workmen in sight. I have a brand new very black driveway. And there is heating and hot water. And clean hand-towels. Which reminds me. Why did the germs cross the microscope? To get to the other slide....