Not according to plan

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English: Photo of a step ladder

Small step-ladder

I was to go and do a job in a house one mile from home then follow on to do a very small job about five miles away. Once these jobs were done I planned to dine out at my local pub and have a lazy afternoon to follow but like many things in life it didn’t exactly go to plan. I had received a request to replace five ceiling light fittings and to check the supply to a tumble drier at the first location and when I arrived there I knew I would have to use the large step-ladder I keep locked on the van’s roof-rack as well as the smaller one which is stored inside the van and is which is used much more frequently. The young woman had a ten month-old baby who was teething and he was making everyone know but whilst she showed me what needed doing his curiosity at my presence somehow made him forget his pain. I have that effect on children! After offering me a cup of coffee I made a start on the work. There were actually six lights to fix and a couple of switches to change too. Four of the lights were on high ceilings and one in particular hung partly over the stairwell. I had problems with all but one of them in one way or another. That however is fairly normal and I almost expect it but the one over the stairwell in particular was very difficult to fit. The main reason for that was in its design. It comprised a large circular metal rose similar in shape to a lid you might find on a metal box but much greater in diameter, at about 400mm. From the centre of this metal rose a long flex hung down about a metre to the lamp holder. All simple and straightforward but there was more. About twenty thin steel wires also hung from the rose and fixed to these at different lengths ranging from half a metre to over a metre where long triangular pieces of glass which could not be removed during the fitting of the rose to the ceiling. Altogether I reckon the whole fitting must have weighed over six kilograms. A bracket is first screwed to the ceiling, simply a metal bar with turned-down ends into which the rose was secured with small screws, and I mean small screws. Why they cannot be just that bit longer I have no idea for even holding them to the fixing holes is difficult in itself. The problem wasn’t so much the weight of the light but the awkwardness of all that wire and glass. I wrapped them in a towel and taped around the bundle just in order to handle it all! I had to rig up a temporary fixing using a length of wire to take the weight whilst I made the electrical connections. Once I had that done and the two fixing screws securing the rose to the bracket I began to unravel the wires suspending the glass pendants. What a task! The noise was driving me mad as the glass bounced about in the process and it took some considerable time to get everything unravelled and hang just right. It was at this point I discovered that the wall switch was faulty and had to be replaced. Finally the light was finished and it looked magnificent hanging there. The lady of the house wondered how I managed to do it all by myself. That is down to experience but even so it was very difficult. People may think that because I am en electrician it somehow makes the job easier to do, it doesn’t, all being an experienced electrician does is allow me to know the pitfalls and the best methods to apply. The light would still be a heavy and awkward thing. The designers of such things should be forced to install what they design at least once so that they can see how difficult some of them are. I somehow can’t see that happening though. That was the first of the six I had to install and with each one, except one, I was faced with a different problem. Finally they were all fitted and working but before I could leave the house I had a couple of extra electrical things to sort out. During my time there the young woman’s mother arrived and on being told who I was and my name she asked if I was going to Haskayne (the name of the village where my next port of call was). By coincidence she was a care worker who regularly visited the house I would be going to and must have been in discussion with the old lady there regarding my services! Word gets around doesn’t it? One good thing about my morning’s work is that the young woman has more work lined-up for me to do if and when I want it. It was 2.30 when I finally drove on to the second job, well past lunchtime. I had been there for five and a half hours and was feeling a little tired. The drive to the next job took some time considering it was only six miles away but that was due to the traffic. I had that job done in five minutes, literally. I sat and enjoyed a welcomed cup of coffee and a chat with the old lady of the house before finally driving home to cook myself a belated lunch or early evening meal. As Monday would be a national holiday (we have two in the month of May) I could look forward to a three-day break at least. Maybe?………………………

Shirley Anne

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