Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Fungus takes his revenge: will this bathroom ever be?

Hair-raising stories of builders gone bad are about as common as those about banks – yet every time I enter into a home-improvement project, I do it with bright-eyed optimism, determined that this time will be different.


My barathrum, which I stripped of all accessories last Monday (that’s 10 days ago) in preparation for a projected four-day renovation, is nowhere near finished. And I mean nowhere near.

My Handyman, whom I suspect hides a set of angel wings under his overalls (and who is also, by a happy coincidence, very easy on the eye), has therapised me through what has been a really rough patch. When he arrived yesterday morning to find me in a stand-up knock-down screaming fight with the tiler (the second one; I’d already fired the first one for the simple reason that he never turned up), he actually patted me on the shoulder and said, ‘Toe nou,’ which is a dear Afrikaans expression most often used by concerned grandmothers to calm their weeping grandchildren when they’ve woken up out of a terrible nightmare.

It wasn’t just that the tiler was Utterly Fucking Useless. It was that he also (astonishingly – even now I’m having trouble believing it) apparently used my house as a communications base during the five days he was ‘here’ (but only in theory) for a multitude of friends, acquaintances and business contacts, who dropped by in a steady stream, knocking on the door, disturbing me at work, and asking if they could ‘just leave a message for Steven’.

The last two backed away, genuine fear in their eyes, when I screamed, ‘Are you completely mad??? Do I look like a secretary to you??? You give Steven a message from me: tell him he’s fired!!!

There was more amazement yet to come, however, when Steven turned up at my door at dawn’s crack yesterday morning (the first time he’s set foot in my house before 10am) and (please try to imagine this) demanded payment.

I took a deep breath. ‘Steven,’ I said. ‘In five days of so-called work you’ve laid a total of 18 tiles; a dozen of those have since come unstuck. You’ve held up everyone – nobody’s been able to come in and do their jobs because you haven’t finished the tiling yet. Grouting is but a distant dream. You’ve ground muck into and ruined my carpet. And you’ve left a huge pile of junk out on my front verandah. And now you want to get paid?’

Steven is clearly either brain-damaged or an irretrievable moron, because he gave me a big shiny smile and said, ‘Yes, and please make the cheque out to cash, I need the money today.’

Which is when I lost my marbles and had to be toe-nou’d by the Handyman.


Since we gave Steven the bum’s rush, we’ve run into countless more problems, mainly bizarre plumbing that defies rationality and, in some cases, actual scientific laws (old taps that appear to have grown organically into their surrounds, pipes that come from nowhere and go to the same place); and also a toilet that tilts alarmingly (because the floor is skew) and a sink that does similar (because so are the walls). Angle-grinders have been pressed into service, the skills of an additional plumber have had to be secured, copious quantities of cement have been bought and mixed, washers have been lost then found (then, often, lost again), holes have been knocked into walls, filled in, opened again, filled in again, opened again…

You know, it might just be stress-induced hallucination, but I could swear earlier today that I heard a phlegmy snigger echoing around the bombsite that was once my barathrum. Yes, I suspect that Fungus the Bogeyman is well pleased with the way things have turned out.

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1 comment:

meggie said...

Holy Cow. I feel your pain! What could be worse than fecking Steven... & the minute I say that, something might be!
I hope the cursed bathroom is soon all remodelled.