So there I was at the end of my normal working week (Monday to Friday) on Friday morning and thinking the week would be devoid of any requests for the work that I do. However, around ten o’clock an old customer rang me asking if I was busy and wanting to know if I could do a little job for him. Busy I was not as you know my readers but any work I might take on board would have to be kind to my back which is still healing. I asked what the work entailed and found it wouldn’t affect my back if I did it so off I went to do it. (I am writing this on Friday after lunch and after returning from the job by the way). His shower unit wasn’t working though as he pointed out the neon light indicator was lit. Yes it was lit but it was very dim. Usually they are quite bright. I checked the supply to the shower and discovered a missing neutral. The live side of the circuit was intact. I unscrewed the ceiling pull-switch and found that the neutral side of the switch was at fault, not allowing the neutral circuit to be connected to the shower. I needed a replacement switch. Now I usually keep at least one pull-switch of the type needed in my van but for some reason I found I hadn’t one. I drove to the nearest electrical supplier and bought two, one for the job and the other for van stock. I returned to the house and fitted one of them and all was back to normal except that the new switch could not be switched off! Fortunately I had bought a spare which when fitted worked perfectly. These switches cost me £15 each, a bit on the high side to what I could pay at the supplier I usually use. Had I fitted the good switch first I would not have known the other was faulty. They came sealed in a plastic bag and could not have been checked without opening the bag. My usual supplier supplies them unwrapped so at least the action of the switch can be checked. Naturally I returned the faulty switch but chose not to have it replaced, I took the cash refund instead. The guy behind the counter who had sold me the switches had been singing the praises of the quality goods they sold but on my return he had made himself scarce. I wonder why? He had also asked me if I would like to open an account with them and get all sorts of discounts in the process but I declined the offer. For one thing their goods were more expensive so any savings would only be offsetting that fact. For another thing, I told him I didn’t like the idea of getting a monthly bill (invoice), preferring as I do to pay up-front. I find it is easier to work that way and in any case I am working more or less part-time and don’t buy large quantities of materials. After fitting the replacement pull switch I was asked to change a faulty ceiling light lamp holder which took little time at all. So unless I get more work before the day is out that will be the limit of my involvement at work this week.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I was available for work as long as it didn’t involve some heavy moving. Unfortunately up until this moment on Thursday evening I haven’t been offered anything I wanted to take on. Oh I got plenty of calls from time wasters who didn’t know what they wanted when they called me and others who wanted me to do work that I don’t normally take on like repairing washing machines, fridges, cookers and such. Long ago I did do that sort of work but since becoming self-employed some eighteen years ago and even longer ago than that I ceased being involved in it. When people call me they don’t read the advert properly first so I often have to direct them to electricians who specialise in that work. I wouldn’t mind so much but these specialists do have adverts that specify what they do and their adverts are always printed close to the rest of us electricians so there isn’t really an excuse to call the wrong person. It may be a blessing in disguise that I am not getting the work at the moment for it is giving me more time for my back problem to improve, which it is doing by the way. It has been a lovely day today, very sunny but spoiled a little by the strong breeze. Apart from pottering about in the garden from time to time I have remained indoors. I mentioned yesterday that I intended to dine out but gave up on the idea thinking that I might have gone today instead. When I had the opportunity again today I decided I couldn’t be bothered and stayed at home instead. There is always tomorrow! That pretty much says it all, I just cannot be bothered sometimes. For readers who have been with me for a couple of years they will know that I get these moments from time to time whereby I just cannot be bothered to do things, even if I like doing them! Part of the reason for that attitude is a result of my present relationship with E and part of it is simply just down to me. My dreams and aspirations have changed so much over the last few years and I no longer find interest in many of the things I once did. It may be down to my age of course but it is also the realisation that everything in the material world has little interest for me and I think to myself ‘What is the point of it all’? Everyone around me is rushing here and there, buying this and that, moving house and working their socks off to pay for it all. It is a chasing after the wind and totally pointless. Yes, in a way I am glad to be able to rest and take the time to reflect on life.
It is mid-morning on Wednesday as I write down my thoughts. The pain in my back is slowly getting better, sometimes there is no pain at all then suddenly it lets me know I haven’t yet been completely healed. I continue with the exercises though I am beginning to think exercise of any kind at this moment will only serve to slow the healing process. It is a sobering thought to know that we can be incapacitated so easily if we are not careful. Being in a physically active occupation or simply being so active at home should make us more cautious and aware but sometimes we forget and we end up unable to perform even the simplest of tasks whilst healing. Often we don’t realise we have injured ourselves at the time and only realise something is wrong a day or two later. In that space of time between the injury and the realisation of it anything can happen to make things worse. I have just received a call from the guy in whose house I had been working on Thursday last week, the one with the heavy wooden ladder, he was bringing me up to date regarding his ordering of a replacement floodlight. I told him I was for the moment not available, explaining to him about my injury. He was very sympathetic and wished me a speedy recovery. He told me about the specific floodlight he has ordered, a remotely controlled unit and asked if I was able to check it out online. As it happened I had been sitting with my laptop and online when he called so I was able to search the site from which he had placed his order. It isn’t usual for people to ask me to check something online but this guy is practically online and on the telephone all the time in connection with his work. Ever wonder how car manufacturers source their vehicle lighting equipment? He works for a company who designs the lighting requirements and specifically the pricing of components down to the smallest parts for vehicles manufactured by the likes of Nissan and Toyota. Whilst I was there last week I noticed the pressure he was under from his boss to meet scheduled deadlines. I couldn’t work under that kind of pressure though I do work better when I am under pressure in line with my own work.
I am available for work even now, should anyone ask, as long as it doesn’t require any form of lifting or moving of heavy objects. As for this guy’s floodlight, it will take a few days to arrive in response to his order and because he himself will be in Belgium until the middle of next week there is no immediate urgency. Hopefully I will be well recovered by the end of this week let alone the end of next week when he hopes I shall be able to accommodate. Such is life. I am planning to dine out today if I get no requests before lunchtime or two o’clock.
Although I was still a little out of the game on Monday I was restless, well you know me, I can’t sit still for a minute! I had done some of the exercises that my son had told me to do and indeed I felt much better having done them. I need to keep doing those exercises until I am completely healed and indeed I will continue with them afterwards too. They are basically stretching exercises, nothing complicated. I had risen from my sleep around five o’clock having gone to bed around nine, though I did watch some television for a short while. I went downstairs to use the wet room shower as it is easier to clean afterward. We always clean the showers after use, that is the walls and such and it keeps them looking at their best. It only takes a minute or so using the small squeegee so it isn’t any trouble at all. Once I’d had my shower I had some breakfast and finished well before six o’clock. I returned upstairs to dress. I didn’t do much until after lunch, except those exercises and in the afternoon E went to see her mom whilst our son went out for the day. I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. How many of you still own video tapes and players? I’ll wager most will have ceased using them long ago. We stopped using them once DVDs became popular and we started buying DVDs, that is E started buying them for I have little interest in them. Now she doesn’t bother with them either. We don’t have many discs, maybe about 80 and they don’t take up much space. We bought a cabinet, actually a bookcase if you like, and we stored the video tapes in it, some tapes had E’s television programs and films recorded on them and some were commercially produced films (or movies). They numbered well over a hundred though you could say the actual numbers of films recorded were probably more than five hundred. We kept them in that cabinet for years collecting dust. On Sunday evening I set about storing those tapes in two large cardboard boxes and placed them in one of the rooms in the cellar. Now all the recordings that remain in the cabinet are the DVDs and they all fit on the one shelf! There are five shelves. Now on Monday afternoon I decided to move that cabinet to another wall and re-arranged some other furniture and things at the same time. Nothing strenuous I might add and no heavy lifting either! One thing I hate is clutter, I like everything tucked away nicely if it has to remain. E is the complete opposite to me, she seems to revel in untidiness. What do they say about like poles repelling?
Following on from yesterday’s post, it is now Wednesday and my back pain is still with me. I fear I have pulled my back muscles and have been trying to understand how it happened. If you remember that on Friday I was out in the garden when I first began to suffer and the following day I realised I had a trapped nerve, possibly in my neck. Exercising seemed to alleviate the pain but later I found myself with an even more severe pain in my lower back. This has been caused by putting too much strain on my back muscles and that is something I have been wondering about. On Thursday I was at work and the only time I could have conceivably done myself a mischief was the moment I moved a large wooden ladder that the man I was working for had supplied so I could access his faulty floodlight. Now I do have a much lighter aluminium ladder which I could have used but he had gotten his ladder out before I actually came to work on the light. He had simply placed it on the wrong side of the floodlight but my being right-handed it would be easier for me that the ladder was on the left-hand side of the ladder. I moved it to the left-hand side but there was no lifting of the ladder as such. Still, it must have been that which caused me the delayed pain. Just to complicate things, the lady in whose house I had worked on Saturday morning had already provided a heavy wooden step ladder for my use. Again, I would normally use one of my aluminium ladders but the wooden ladder was in position beneath the ceiling light I was replacing. I did move that ladder but didn’t lift it until later when I took it outside, a matter of a couple of metres. I have no doubt that moving that ladder resulted in my present condition. This experience has taught me not to move heavy wooden ladders again if they are provided. I will leave that to the owner though I will probably insist that I use my own lightweight ladders instead. My weekend has been spoiled by the constant pain I have had to endure, it was so bad on Sunday I spent most of the day on my feet because sitting down was impossibly painful. I will most probably not be working this week! To add insult to injury I woke up in the early hours of Monday wanting to visit the little girl’s room and whilst trying to get out of bed suffered severe cramp in my right calf muscles and later in my toes! Now I am aware that thirty per cent of people my age can and do suffer with leg cramp on a regular basis. I am happy to report that my experiences of cramp are very few and I hope it stays that way. I have since read up on the subject to see what, if anything, can be done to alleviate such things. To have to suffer with a cramp on top of the muscular back pain is a lot to put up with. Our youngest son paid us a visit for a couple of days and he is into yoga exercises, not the meditation, just the exercise aspect, and he has shown me a couple of very useful exercises suitable for my condition. Hopefully these may speed my recovery. In any case I will be taking things easy for a while…….and probably forever!
The weekend just passed was yet another long one. For some reason here in the United Kingdom we had the second Bank Holiday of the month which meant Monday off work as well as Saturday and Sunday. Of course not everyone can take those days off work because of the nature of their work but no doubt those that cannot will have extra days off in lieu sometime later. As I am self-employed I can take whichever days I like but it all depends upon the available work of course. This Saturday I was asked to do two jobs in separate locations and because I would still have two days off thereafter I decided to do them both. At most I would be away from home perhaps three hours and I would still get the afternoon to myself. It was a very sunny on Saturday after about ten o’clock and in the afternoon I was able to spend some time out on the patio with my guitar. One thing had threatened to spoil my plans to do those two small jobs for on Friday afternoon I had been out in the garden pottering about and doing a spot of sweeping when suddenly I found myself with an excruciating pain in my lumbar and sacral regions, mostly the latter, and unable to stand erect after bending down to shovel away some soil. From that point on and throughout the evening up to and including bedtime I was in great pain. At first I wondered what it might be but didn’t realise what it was until the early hours of the morning after spending a very restless night. I had gone to bed before nine o’clock in an effort to relax and ease the pain by lying down but then found it extremely difficult to get up from the bed to visit the toilet. I managed to do so however but was in pain throughout. I don’t think I actually had much sleep but by four o’clock I’d had enough of lying on the bed and got up for the day. That was when I realised I must have had a trapped nerve for when I did some neck exercises the pain eased. I coupled those exercises with others and by seven o’clock I found I was able to move about with very little pain. I have endured a similar problem with a trapped nerve on a couple of occasions in the recent past and found these exercises to be the only way to release the nerve and hence the pain. By the time I was to drive to the first job I felt much better. However, by the time I had returned home at 11.30 I found myself in pain once more. This time the neck exercises didn’t help for the pain seemed entirely muscular but perhaps the two were linked, I am not sure. I made sure I took things easy for the rest of the weekend in the hope that everything would be back to normal by Tuesday. Things haven’t been going too well for me lately in everything except work. At least the weather has improved.
I was expecting to have a second day all to myself again on Thursday for I had spent Wednesday entirely at home and it looked like Thursday was going to be the same. At 9.45 I got a call on my mobile phone from a guy who wanted me to do some electrical jobs for him on the other side of town. I was there just after 10 o’clock and was invited in. He was expecting me to give him an estimate for the work that at this time he was asking to be done for he told me there was plenty more to do at a later date. The work I was to do however would be difficult to assess until work began so he suggested paying me for a half-day’s work instead. I explained that if I could do the work in less time I wouldn’t charge for the half day. It often happens that unforeseen problems occur and can therefore lengthen the time it takes to do the work. I agreed though that I wouldn’t charge more than a half-day’s pay should that happen. I began the work of removing five surface-mounted dimmer switches and replacing them with new ones flush-mounted, which meant digging out the wall to accommodate new recessed boxes. I discovered that two of the lights (circuits) had been incorrectly wired in that the earthing conductor was being used to carry current, something it is not designed to do. In a standard cable the earthing conductor isn’t insulated as the current carrying conductors are. Its only protection is a mechanical one provided by the overall PVC covering around all the conductors. That PVC isn’t the insulation. When earthing conductors are exposed where they are being connected they are provided with a green and yellow PVC sleeve by the electrician and that is all that is required. In this incidence those earthing conductors had a coloured sleeve and were being used to carry the current. This is totally against all regulations. I now had the problem of maintaining the supply to the lights affected. One had to be abandoned and fortunately that particular light (on the ceiling) wasn’t generally being used anyway. The second light (on a wall) could be maintained by re-feeding its live conductor from a switch nearby which was actually one of the two switches controlling it (two-way control). For that to happen though meant that it’s accompanying switch across the room would have to be the one to which the live supply was connected or the light would have to be disconnected. I was in luck and therefore I channelled out the wall to install the cable. I could have rewired both lights but the customer didn’t want the upheaval it would cause or the price it would cost for it would have taken a few hours to do. They opted for the simpler version instead. The second part of the job was to explore the reason a large outdoor floodlight wasn’t working and why, when the switch was set it tripped-out the main supply. That took a little time but I finally located the fault inside the floodlight itself where one of the lamp connections had burned beyond repair. The lamp itself showed the effects of excess heat, the lamp being as it was 750 watts! Most of that power would be in the form of heat and not light, something like in the ratio of 90% heat to 10% light. This is why it is better to use LED lighting if possible for the ratio is better and something in the order of 90-95% light and 5-10% heat and means a much lower rating can be used whist maintaining the same light level. Anyway the floodlight will have to be replaced and I left that with the customer who said he would ‘shop around’. I gave him advice on that one. I had been there for five hours and was about to leave when he asked me to look upstairs to view his loft conversion proposal which will need the services of an electrician if and when it happens.
The loft had already been converted by the previous owner but it will have to be redone for the floor joists (timbers) are too small for their intended use and could be dangerous if the loft continues in use as it stands. Unfortunately as I explained to the guy, I doubt I will be taking on the work for it amounts to the same as doing a complete rewire. I would be at the beck and call of other trades persons too and I have had enough of that in the past. It didn’t matter so much then but now I am in my seventieth year and only working part-time I respectfully declined the work. He insists though that he would like me to do all the other small jobs he had showed me downstairs in the weeks to come. That work is mostly replacing old for new switches, power outlets and light fittings and something I will gladly do for him. I think sometimes that people try to take liberties when they ask me to do work for them, I go to do some small job and they begin to add ‘extras’ and in this guy’s case and knowing my age and the fact that I only do small jobs on a part-time basis, he then asks me to rewire the top half of his house! Behave yourself!
I remember years ago being challenged by my (then) friends regarding my lack of faith and belief in God. As it happens these friends were Catholics and regularly attended their local church like most Catholics do. They often urged me to think about the possibility of God’s existence but in those days I was still very much an atheist. Never once did they preach to me though. When one day in 1988 I casually picked up an old Bible belonging to E from the days when she went through the Church of England communion process. She was made to go to church by her mom and I guess that is why she is strongly against the faith now. She has always been a stubborn person and takes after her late father in that respect. Getting back to the good book, I read it through from beginning to end though at the time I didn’t know what drove me to do it. Long before then I remember seeing a card somewhere with the following verse printed on it, a tract, the type given out by Christians as an outreach. The verse was this: Matthew 16:24…. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, andtakeup his cross, andfollow me. I didn’t exactly know what the verse meant but it stuck in my mind. Having read the Bible through completely it sparked an urge to learn more and I pursued that desire for I had to know one way or the other if this God was true. Although I had been an atheist for many years I found myself reaching out to God through my poetry and later I found that rather strange. However I didn’t even think about it being strange at the time for my thoughts were focused on the one thing, getting to know God, His gift of life through Jesus and the power of The Holy Spirit. So often I read comments from unbelievers who think all religion is false and unnecessary and in fact I actually believe the same! I believe however that we can have a relationship with our Creator God and that we can have salvation through Jesus Christ but these things don’t come automatically, we have to reach out and take the gift and we have to believe both in God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. We also have to repent and take up our cross and follow him, just as the verse says. Our whole life changes in that we look upon things differently and our attitudes change, we steer clear of evil things and seek always God’s ways. We don’t always succeed but we persevere asking forgiveness when we get it wrong. God looks at our hearts, what makes us tick and whether we place our trust in Him or not. Our reward is in Heaven and for those who still don’t believe in anything beyond the grave I think I prefer an eternity in Heaven to a short life in the flesh, no matter how great we might think our present lives are. There isn’t any reason why we cannot have a great life now as well as a greater one in eternity but we must desire and seek after God’s will or neither will be ours.
…..or probably more! I find I am left alone at home quite often these days, unless I am out working. When I have things to do that isn’t a problem for I usually work best when by myself. I just get more done! Today, Wednesday, E went out around 8.30, presumably either paying her occasional visit to the NEC (Birmingham) with her group’s friends or going to another town within the county as she sometimes does also. I wasn’t told and so I am guessing. Anyway I had no scheduled work for the day as it happened so I spent the day at home. I kept busy doing routine things like the washing and such and spent some time on my treadmill trying to keep fit. I am surprised how I can, after a brief warm-up, still run when I don’t spend that much time doing that. I can’t just sit down and do nothing though, it hurts my bum! Seriously I spend more time on my feet, restless if you like, wanting to do something, anything to relieve the boredom. Usually when I have the free time at home I might do some baking, cakes, scones and things but over the past couple of months I haven’t bothered doing that, as with all the other things I could be doing they are being left undone.
My next-door neighbour phoned me on the house phone and asked how I was. She does that from time to time rather than call at the door. If I am making the same inquiry I usually go to her house. She conveyed her sympathies regarding my relationship problem with E. She knows about similar problems I have had along the same line with E over the last few years too, like the time I wasn’t invited to my son’s wedding, which I discovered later was due to E’s attitude. Yet I don’t bear a grudge, I never have but still it hurts to be mistreated. Anyhow my neighbour was telling me about the new bathroom she has planned to be fitted at the end of next month. I think she was encouraged to refurbish her bathroom, which needs doing by the way, after seeing what we had done with ours. She has spent a considerable amount of money getting things done outside the house since the death of her husband eighteen months ago and I guess she now wants to spend some cash refurbishing the inside too. Over the last six years we have done exactly the same. Had I enough energy and time I would willingly have lent a hand with her bathroom but she is having everything done by a professional bathroom fitter. Even if I had been asked I would certainly have left the plumbing and tiling to others! Plumbing at home is one thing but I wouldn’t do it for anyone else partly in case there are problems later and partly because a plumber would be faster! I think tiling should be done by a professional too as they would make a better job of it and would also be faster. I didn’t do the tiling in our bathroom for the same reasons, though I did the tiling in the wet room.
In my home life I am between a rock and a hard place and my face is up against the wall. Sometimes I feel like bashing my head on that wall too out of sheer frustration. It is all to do with my ex who is completely indifferent to what is going on between us. I shall say no more on the subject save to say that I am fed up with it all. Speaking about having my face up against the wall, that has been exactly the case these last three days (I write this on Tuesday). All the electrical work I have had at each of the three separate locations I have worked in all involved wall lights, either re-fixing them to the wall or in some cases repairing them beforehand too. I am not complaining. I was paid well for my efforts. The first house I visited on Monday morning was in response to a call from an old lady of 83 who didn’t know where to begin in explaining the problems she wanted me to help solve for her. After a few minutes I managed to get her to tell me her address so that I could pay her a visit. Her house is located about 8 miles away in the township where I once lived. She was actually waiting at her front door for my arrival and when I approached the door she was overjoyed. She reached out her hand to take mine and gently squeezed it like I was a long-lost friend. She was so excited that I was there and she took some time to settle down. She insisted I sit down and have a coffee, which I did, and she began to tell me about her problems. Nothing was said about the electrical work. She explained the problem she was having trying to clear away and remove what must have been tons of paper in the form of magazines, newspapers, files and other things from her house. Coupled with that she had other things to remove too. All this material had been collected by her husband who had hoarded it in their home. Now that was only part of the story. She and her husband had been married for 60 years but it seems that he had recently decided to become a recluse in his own home, locking himself in the front lounge with its curtains drawn closed, a gas fire and lights left on during the day. All he did each day was to sit in the room reading or watching television. He refused to help his wife and wanted no part or showed no interest in her at all or what she was going through. She really needs professional help, they need professional help for something had gone drastically wrong between them. She however was the one suffering. He was completely disinterested. I met him not long after I had completed the work I had done there and he came across as a completely normal and level-headed person. He had only left the room in order to visit the toilet and after speaking with me he returned to the room and closed the door behind him. The work I was doing involved re-fixing walls lights and making the connections safe. One set of lights had to be disconnected for the old rubber insulation on the wiring had perished. It was wired in metal tubing and could not be accessed. I disconnected the wiring behind the control switches and cut it out so that it could never be used again. Other wiring behind those switches was PVC coated so it appears the rubber wiring was not replaced when last the wiring had been replaced. It took me some time to get away from the house once the work had been done for the lady was reluctant for me to leave. The second job was on Monday afternoon and that too involved wall lights, old wall lights that needed repairing and re-fixing to the walls. The lady in that house was a widow for whom I had worked on previous occasions and who for some reason has taken to me. On Tuesday morning I had yet another job involving faulty and loose wall lights in an apartment on the other side of town. That too was a lady who simply wanted a female electrician rather than have a man do it for in her words, they just don’t turn up! So I don’t mind working on wall lights, the work pays just as well and I am used to being up against the wall.