Wednesday 7 March 2012

Let's talk about plumbers.

Last week I rang my plumber - the boiler needs a service, and the Rayburn, so please would he visit while I'm away? It's easy to sort a key for him, and I won't have to potter about wondering what to do and getting in his way.

But, he said, I'd like to see you. I want to talk about your book.

I have misjudged him - I knew he loved reading, as we've talked books before. I just hadn't expected him to have bought my book. He's coming next week.

And so I thought a bit. Realised how I fail to appreciate him - and all the other traders who support me in my little house. (You already know how useless I am in the DIY, even the little-bit-of-mending, department.)

I live in a market town - and know things may be different in the cities. We have a number of sole traders, who have set up independent businesses, to call on. Want someone to fix a sash window? Chop down a dead tree? Clean your carpet? Just ask around, chat in the market, and a name will crop up. And - because we all know who they are - word of mouth soon weeds out those whose work is shoddy, or who don't turn up.

Who needs the big companies? British Gas insurance? Dino-rod? Independent traders are working their socks off, earning a living, keeping the incompetent among us (me) safe and warm. Too often I hear complaints about waiting in for that technician, that engineer, the washing-machine delivery. And when they do turn up they don't have the right part.

Just a minute - how often does that actually happen? We moan (rightly) when it goes wrong, but do not stop the notice the countless times when such things are sorted without a hitch. Never do we raise a glass to unsung heroes and heoines who keep the show on the road.

Andy, it will be good to see you. I'll make you coffee; we can talk about my book; and you will ensure my boiler keeps me warm for another year. I'd be up a creek without you.


  1. As one of those who have to rely on the big corporations to get stuff done, I'm envious of your set up - and how awesome that he wants to chat about your book too :-)

  2. Sarah - I do know how lucky I am, living in a market town. But there must be hundreds of small traders, setting themselves us in business in these hard times - but maybe it's harder to find them, and know who's reliable, in the cities.

  3. I really loved your title because I am gonna get my repair my one and would like to have some moments as you did.