Like the worst tales you'd find in the "Year in Provence" tales by Peter Mayle, we are getting increasingly frustrated by the number of local tradesmen who talk a good game and promise that the job you're asking them to do is no problem, and they'll get back to you, but then vanish into silence. We are starting to form a club of the various workers and tradesmen who we are waiting to get back to us. These are currently as follows.
1) 804 Pete - Yes! Former total hero of the building project who we put firmly up there on his pedestal. He delivered the 804 sub-base gravel, he lent us a whacker plate, he offered no-bolt scaffolding, he did a good honest day's work with the mini-digger, clearing the yard, scraping the rubbish from around buildings, taking away the railway line sections and he put us in touch with the Midnight Joker (Maurice) who laid our concrete floors downstairs. However, now he has descended from the exalted ranks of "Project Hero" to the lower echelons of "the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel". His phone gives only voice mail and he never returns your call. We know not why. Last heard of driving off down the drive having looked at the mini-digger job in our yard, saying "Yeah... I'll give you a call back".
2) FBD insurance, who insure our house and now Mum's Fiat. They are meant to be calling Dad back after he clicked on "call about this quote" on their website, but we think that because Mum and Dad ended up with both cars on one quotation reference, the lady who phoned Mum has now set the reference to "sorted". Dad will have to phone back and wake them up.
3) Local jeweler who is meant to be re-sizing a wedding ring and re-stringing some pearls. I'll call you in a couple of days. Tumble weed blows by. Trees come into leaf. Birds sing.....
4) Gutter man. Flies out here like a scalded cat to measure up. I'll give you a call "one of the days". This local expression we have not yet been able to fathom. Does it mean 'One of the days this week'?
5) Local carpenter and door wrangler. We need a split "stable-door" for the Utility room. Called by his workshop 3 weeks ago and he wrote my number down. Called by again last week and he apologized that he'd written it on a random page of his diary and lost it. Wrote it down again and was going to call us Thursday (last night) evening. More tumble weed.
6) Local VW Golf afficionado who may have finally taken the old Sligo reg car from our brambles but turned out to be a carpenter willing to come and have a look at doing the doors on all our out buildings. Yes, I'm a bit busy at the moment but I'll call you one of the days (!) this week. Did he call? That'll be a 'no' then.
7) Car registration office who whizzed Mum's Fiat through in no time at all but stalled the 2CV because "it's a classic". We will phone you in a couple of days. We have to do a couple more checks.............
That's all I can think of for the moment but there are probably more. We pay these guys on time, in cash and we are always nice and appreciative of their work. We don't upset them in any way. Dad is paranoid that it's because he's British, but Sparks defends them all saying it's because they are busy.
Thank God then for Dushty-Sean who we called in to do the yard job in the absence of 804 Pete. He came at lunchtime when he said he would and sized up the job. He told us we didn't want the big coarse '804' we have been using on the drive because we'd not be able to walk comfortably on it in bare feet, and the pea-gravel we'd suggested would move around too much under foot. It'd be like trying to walk on a beach. No no, says he. You want the fine 804 - it's like fine "dusht". We need 10 tonnes of "dusht". He put us in touch with a guy we'll call Dave-the-Dusht. He can't deliver till Monday and will be up with his tractor and trailer during the morning while Sean prepares the ground. We'll wait and see.