Category Archives: Ability

Incompetence? Laziness?

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I don’t profess to be perfect in anything I undertake but I make a determined effort in that direction. I take pride in my work and I believe I have every right to do so, the results speak for themselves. Yes I make mistakes and have botched up one or two things in the past but I have never left them that way, I make another attempt until I get it right. I always say if a job is worth doing it is worth doing right first time, it is just as easy to do things correctly as it is to do them incorrectly. The added advantage is not having to return to put things right. I have found lately that not everyone I have employed takes the same pride in their work and I suspect have not been competent in the first place.

The Bungled & the Botched

The Bungled & the Botched (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few months ago now I had purchased new curtains (drapes) for a room I was refurbishing and redecorating and waited eagerly for them to be fitted once my work had finished. On the appointed day the fitter arrived and began the work. I felt a little apprehensive as I didn’t think he was that competent. My feelings proved to be right for I had to intervene in what he was doing else end up with a shoddy job. It was all to do with the way the curtain rail was affixed to the wooden window surround. With a little help from myself he got the job done to my satisfaction. I should have arranged to fit them myself on reflection. More recently E’s nephew botched up the job I had employed him to do, raising part of the garage roof. It leaked because he hadn’t done it the way I had asked. I expect a builder to know what he is doing and not have to take instruction from me. I am not a builder. He had to return and do it again. When the fitters came to install the new garage door they went at it like a bull at a gate. I noticed the mistakes they were making along the way. It should have been a case of more haste less speed but it wasn’t. Their workmanship left a lot to be desired I have to say and I cringed at some of the work they had done, not enough screws where there should really have been, cables left dangling, no bushing of holes where cables passed through and so on. They weren’t electricians or engineers and it showed. They drilled access holes in the plastic body of the control unit using a drill bit only suitable for drilling wood! The bit ‘tore’ at the plastic which began to split. I wouldn’t mind but they had the proper drill bits for the job! I did some remedial work once they had departed. They were supposed to return to fit an alarm and to finish filling gaps with silicone but after a couple of weeks we had to get in touch with the company to remind them. The company sent another ‘engineer’ who fitted the alarm and filled in with silicone all where it was necessary. When he left I looked more closely at his work. I wasn’t impressed. I had installed a large wooden board to accommodate the fixing of the control equipment but this guy chose to screw the alarm unit to the brick wall above it without using wall plugs! Furthermore he had wired the unit into the main control panel passing the wires beneath the top cover housing the light. In the process he had severed the wires! I moved the alarm down to the board and fixed it there. I had to effect a repair to the wiring and cut a slot in the light cover so the wire would not be severed again. I have no idea why he had chosen to install the alarm as he did nor why he passed the wire beneath the light cover especially as there was plenty of space on the board and easier access to the wiring terminals from beneath the unit. He spoiled what was otherwise a good installation on his behalf.

Shirley Anne

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Poor electricians?

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I am glad I entered into the electrical trade/business all those years ago. For someone who has an inquisitive mind it is the ideal occupation. People often ask why I took up electrical work and the answer I give is that I wanted to know how things work. It is still the reason even now and it doesn’t stop at electrical things, I am interested in many things and how they work, how they are made and the history behind them too. It is a passion I guess but it helped when I first embarked in my career that I enjoy working with my hands and to be truthful it was essential. There are no such things as poor electricians providing they are prepared to work.

Power to the people!

Power to the people!

I am not super rich and never could be unless I had a large business employing many people but that was never an option for me, I simply wasn’t that way inclined. Being self-employed is in itself a driving force though less so for myself these days because I am fortunate to have a two-pension income. My self employment allows me to enjoy that little bit extra without the worry that I would have to struggle on my pensions alone. I could manage on just my pensions and I could even still save something at the end of the month. It isn’t that extra cash that motivates me though, it is the fact that I am still capable of working and I enjoy the work and in meeting people. Of course I no longer work full-time, I have no wish to and probably couldn’t maintain full-time working for very long, even one day doing that is tiring at my age. On Monday morning I changed the bedclothes and washed the soiled sheets in the washing machine before breakfast then an hour later hung them in the boiler room to dry. It is such an advantage having cellars in a house. As I had nothing else planned I was wondering what I could do for the rest of the morning in the garden whilst the weather was dry. I didn’t wish to continue with digging out bluebells in the remaining section of flowerbed that as yet I haven’t touched. I thought there might be one or two popping up in places where I had been clearing them out so I went into the garden to check. I didn’t need to look far and soon found some beginning to show themselves in a couple of places. I spent an hour digging them out before returning indoors. It was now approaching lunchtime so I thought I would prepare a vegetable stew. Using onions, bell peppers, garlic cloves, carrots, sweetcorn, lentils, barley, green beans, pre-cooked diced chicken and seasoning I made enough for three meals.

Washing peppers

Washing peppers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By now it was 12.15 so I decided to have some for lunch but my phone rang and it was a job offer in the next town. I drove there and did the work which has now led to more work in the weeks ahead. It pays being an electrician if you are prepared to work………

Shirley Anne

Easier than I’d thought

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A couple of days ago I went to a house where they had an electrical fault in the main distribution panel and I made a temporary repair allowing a continuity of the supply until the panel could be replaced. Well I went along on Thursday to replace the panel with a metal-clad one incorporating RCD units which the old panel had lacked. The switch-gear, panels and metering where all contained in a neat little cupboard in the hallway and very easy to get into. The replacement panel was slightly wider than the one I was replacing and I thought there may have been a problem installing it. It fitted perfectly in the space as if it had been designed specifically for it. I had to remove the left-hand door before commencing the work but that was simple to do. The most difficult aspect of the job was actually in the removing of the old panel. The new panel took minutes to fit and within an hour or so the whole work was practically finished. The work could not have been easier to do and far easier than I had thought initially. I tend not to take on this sort of work nowadays because they can be fraught with problems, not least of all access. I don’t need the hassle. I have enjoyed my life working as an electrician. my-teacup-1I am not sure just how many replacement panels I have installed during my working life  but they are many. It makes such a pleasant change to have one so easy to fit. I returned home three hours after leaving it and had the rest of the day to myself though I could have arranged to do another job a mere half-mile from the first. That work I scheduled for Friday morning instead. I am determined to spread out my workload as I had promised myself last year but occasionally failed to do so on occasion. I used to wonder what it would be like to reach this stage in life whereby I can take things easy, now I know.

Shirley Anne

Little by little

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A Safeway advertisement from the 1950s.

A Safeway advertisement from the 1950s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I dislike advertisements in any shape or form that are pushed under our noses it is almost impossible to avoid them altogether. That does not mean I am persuaded in any way to buy into services or goods that are offered through any of them because I am not. There are one or two advertisements which mention the word ‘little’ and sometimes I am thinking I wish the advertisements themselves would follow suit! UK readers will know the phrase ‘every little helps‘ from a well-know supermarket chain‘s advertisement and by the way I don’t shop there, but the phrase itself and the meaning behind it do make sense. I was in the kitchen making myself a coffee and reflecting on all that I have personally done in the house in the almost twenty-eight years we have lived here. When I recall all the hard work and the various projects I had set myself to do over those years I am frankly amazed. I then think to myself what would the house look like now had I not done all that work? It is the sort of thing we would never think of doing all at once unless we had the money but even then we would most probably have given the work to others to do. Doing small jobs here and there, mini-projects and minor alterations and little by little much gets done. We look back and see that it was all worthwhile. Of course many tasks have been performed by others but usually because I hadn’t the time or maybe the expertise or the work was too much for one person to undertake. However where it has been possible and where I have not felt intimidated by the work I have taken it on board. Again little by little I have learnt to do all sorts of things I haven’t been specifically trained to do but practice makes perfect. It starts with a task or a project, the willingness to have a go, an ability that can be built upon. Every journey begins with the first step as the saying goes. In this house my journey has taken twenty-eight years, a long road with many steps but one that has been achieved little by little and costing much less than if I’d paid someone else to do everything.

Shirley Anne

Expectations

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Great Expectations (1998 film)

Great Expectations (1998 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Try as I may to cut down on work I am finding it difficult sometimes especially when some people have great expectations of me. This past week I worked at the same address twice and all the work was in the kitchen either changing existing switches or power outlets or moving them in the process and replacing light units beneath cupboards and on the ceiling. No new circuitry was involved just simply rearranging one or two things. The first visit was on Tuesday followed by the second on Thursday after the customer had decided they wanted more work doing. No sooner as I had finished the extra work on Thursday when I was asked to install a new cooker hood where none existed once they had purchased it. Sadly I could have done part of the work which would be required whilst I was there on Thursday thereby making the installation of the hood easier when that time arrived. I agreed I would do the work which will probably take place this coming week. I don’t mind the frequent visits as each time I am there it is only for two or three hours and besides, the pay is good! However as soon as I had agreed to do the work I was asked if I would carry out some wiring installations at another house which means lifting floorboards and coverings and channelling out walls and such. I had to draw the line by refusing that work having found out what that work really entailed. It would be far too much to take on board when I am trying to do less rather than more. Too much is expected of me at times and although I know I can do the work offered I have to be sensible and say no sometimes. One guy phoned me a few nights ago asking if I could basically rewire his kitchen power outlets whilst at the same time install a few more. Now this work can take days rather than a few hours and is something I am not prepared to do at my age but the guy insisted that he would install the wiring and all I would have to do is make the connections. However it isn’t that simple for I would have to oversee his work and ensure he was doing it correctly and using the correct methods too. I might as well do it myself than educate someone else to do it especially if they are not qualified in any way. When I politely asked him to employ another electrician as I no longer take on such involved work he tried to persuade me otherwise. Maybe he just wanted a female electrician around the house. I wouldn’t mind so much but my advertisement does indicate that I only do small jobs these days. Great are the expectations of those asking of my services.

Shirley Anne

How does she do it?

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Three light switches with exposed wiring

Three light switches with exposed wiring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I must be a machine. It sure feels like that sometimes but although machines never tire this one does! This machine needs rest and sleep, fuel and lubrication just like the mechanical version for even mechanical versions will break down without proper maintenance. As my readers will already know, I am a workhorse, work interests me and I seem to thrive on it. I have been getting plenty of opportunities to prove that recently as we approach Christmas for I never seem to stop. Again I had a couple of jobs to do on Friday. The first one was to check the work done by a lady who had replaced several of her lighting switches and a few power outlets by herself. She hadn’t the confidence in her work but although what she had done wasn’t at fault in itself she had omitted to fit earthing leads to the metal replacements and one or two of the electrical connections were found to be loose. That in itself might have caused the wiring to burn. For a little bit more than the price I levied for putting things right I could have fitted the replacements myself. I admire women and men for that matter, but especially women who will ‘have a go’ as long as they are confident and have the capability. However it is always prudent to have the work checked by a professional just to be on the safe side. Once I finished the work, which took me to noon, I was to visit another house about two miles away to check a suspected fault with a lighting transformer, a device which reduces the voltage at the light to 12 volts for safety reasons where mains voltages (230 volts) would be a hazard for instance in a bathroom. In fact the light was in a bathroom and I knew that because I had replaced the transformer a few months ago. It appeared that the transformer had been making a buzzing sound. Of course I would have replaced the faulty unit at no charge except for a small fee to cover my expenses but the lady called me to say that the fault no longer existed. I find that hard to believe and think perhaps she had been mistaken. It meant I could return home for a relaxing afternoon as was my intention. I prepared and ate lunch and soon after I received a call from a regular customer asking if I could fit a replacement light unit for her. On previous occasions when asked I had been readily available and that had taken her by surprise as she didn’t expect to have the work done immediately. On this occasion in answer to her request I told her I would be there within the hour and she exclaimed ‘Each time I ask you are ready, willing and available’. Well what can I say? Perhaps she just calls me at the appropriate time. After a little ‘jiggery-pokery’ with the house wiring and indeed the wiring in the light itself, I had it up on the ceiling and working but we then noticed, or rather she did, that the wall switch was making a buzzing sound. I removed the switch and discovered it intermittently broke the supply to the light when moved. I replaced it with a new one. She was happy, I was happy and I returned home, this time for the last time in the day. I hadn’t been home very long when, you guessed it, I got another call. This was from another regular customer who was having problems with a fluorescent light unit in her utility room and with one or two air extract fans but agreed that I should call early in the following week. It is Friday as I write this. I will be there on Monday (today). At this point I am wondering how far into the week I will be called upon to do work. In past years I have worked up to and including Christmas Eve. Once I answered a call on Christmas Day to reinstate power to an electric cooker! Well how else would they have cooked the turkey! I didn’t charge for my visit.

Shirley Anne

Annoying incompetence

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Electrical switches. Top, left to right: circu...

Electrical switches. Top, left to right: circuit breaker, mercury switch, wafer switch, DIP switch, surface mount switch, reed switch. Bottom, left to right: wall switch (U.S. style), miniature toggle switch, in-line switch, push-button switch, rocker switch, microswitch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Friday morning I did something I hadn’t done for a long time, I arose at eight o’clock. Now to many that doesn’t sound remarkable in the least but for me and during the working week, it is. I had gone to bed the night before feeling very tired and it wasn’t long before I nodded off to sleep sometime around midnight. However, I had to arise a couple of hours later to pay a visit to the toilet. It was now two in the morning and I once again fell asleep. That meant I had a further six hours solid sleep until I awoke at eight. Although I had no work for the day I wanted to get up early in case any came in but also in order to take out the waste for collection. So after I had done that and had my breakfast I sat down at my computer for a time but it wasn’t long before someone called me. I had been to a house in our village late in January in order to replace a faulty lighting switch, actually two dimmer switches on the same plate. I remember at the time I had to purchase an extension ring for the new switches to make more room behind it as it was too deep for the recessed box. Everything was pretty much straightforward and without event. The call on Friday was from the lady of the house who explained that one of the switches had become faulty and would not switch on one of the two chandeliers that was connected to it. I went there immediately to assess the problem and discovered that indeed one of the switches was faulty. It would be replaced free of charge except for my labour costs. I wouldn’t be charging my normal fee in such circumstances however as it was under guarantee. I had to return home in order to get the receipt from my files and then I went to the supplier to have the switch replaced. I hadn’t purchased it from my regular supplier for some reason but from another not too far away. As luck (?) would have it I was served by the same person who originally sold me the switch but I remembered that at that time his service wasn’t up to scratch. He had tried to sell me something completely different and had charged me for the same but I hadn’t noticed. In fact he had undercharged me by a few pounds. That didn’t matter so much to me anyway. I explained what had happened and he returned with a replacement switch and I returned to the house to fit it but guess what? It didn’t work. He had given me back the faulty one! I couldn’t believe it. At this stage I offered the lady a replacement switch I knew I had in the van but was a metal switch and not the plastic variety which had been fitted. I simply wanted to check that there was nothing wrong with the lighting units and that they could be dimmed as before. When she saw the metal switch she was happy for me to leave it connected. It was a new switch that I had removed from someone’s house as they had wanted normal on-off switches. It had only been in use for a week so it was as good as new. The lady paid me for my time and I returned again to the supplier with the faulty switch but this time I was served by another guy. I explained what had happened and I was reimbursed for original money I had paid. Now I know we all make mistakes and I am no exception but it seems that some people do it on a regular basis. It wasn’t the first time I had problems with this supplier and now I will try to avoid ever going back there.

Shirley Anne

A great day

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Never a Dull Moment (Tommy Lee album)

NEVER A DULL MOMENT (Tommy Lee album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was rather busy on Tuesday. The day started off a little dull and the sun was trying its best to show itself from behind a sky full of clouds. That was seven o’clock in the morning but by eight or eight-thirty it was a different story, blue sky from horizon to horizon and it stayed that way pretty much all day long. I was however out working but all the jobs were inside. The first was in an apartment on the other side of the town centre replacing three ceiling lights. I had a lovely time chatting with the lady who lived there and would have liked to stay and chat longer but my next job beckoned. The second job was a further three or four miles away and involved changing a ceiling light unit, a switch and moving a central-heating controller. This lady too was chatty and we got along like a house on fire as they say. By now it was after twelve and I had to drive another twelve miles further afield into the countryside to the third and final job but this time far simpler, just the one ceiling light to change. Again the lady chatted away with me as I did the work. All three women were single, one a widow and the others divorced. They all had their stories to tell and that was pretty much what we chatted about. I was now around fifteen miles or more away from home and it was almost one-thirty. I drove homeward but didn’t wish to start cooking so I went to my local pub for a late lunch instead. Many people sat outside and I expected there to be fewer indoors but in fact there were plenty inside too. Fortunately there were a few tables empty in the bar area where I like to sit anyway. I was back home around three o’clock but when I got into the van in the pub car park I noticed that my dashboard camera was dangling on its cord. The mounting bracket is a simple affair and attached to the windshield using a rubber sucker. In the heat of the day it becomes loose and falls off the screen. It has happened a few times since I fitted it last year and I had it in mind to design and construct a more suitable bracket that I could attach to the bodywork instead but never got around to doing it. So when I got home I tackled the problem and made an aluminium bracket which sits beneath one of the sun visor fixings and disposes of the need for the sucker so it will now never fall away. It looks a far more professional set-up now that it did beforehand. My next-door neighbour came and chatted with me whilst I was in the van and she sat in the passenger seat admiring what I had done. She tells me that I am very talented but really it is only down to experience. After a lifetime of working in the electrical business and having a background in mechanical and other services too is bound to make these little jobs easy to do. I finally stopped working at five o’clock. It had been a very pleasant day in many ways. There is never a dull moment once I get going.

Shirley Anne

There if I want it

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I've Got That Old Feeling

I’ve Got That Old Feeling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been feeling so much better today, Saturday, than I have felt all week. It looks like I’ve shaken off whatever it was that ailed me. Now I usually do not work in my capacity as an electrician over the weekend but it hasn’t stopped people calling me to do jobs for them. One call I got was from a middle-aged man who explained that he couldn’t do work that entailed working with his hands, DIY projects and such things as in his own words he was useless. He asked tentatively if I could fit a wall bracket together with the television on his kitchen wall. A straightforward job that only required a drill and some hand tools and would probably take a half-hour or so. I said I would do it for him as he lives less than two miles away from me and I could be back home within the hour. I was back home an hour and ten minutes later with some extra cash in my purse! I wanted to replace some more pipe lagging at home so after lunch I set about doing that. E had gone out for the afternoon and our youngest son who had come over for the weekend had also gone out. I like it when I am left alone to get on with things because I work faster that way. The pipes I wanted to recover I succeeded in doing but what a mess to clean up afterwards! The old insulation was so fragile it crumbled as soon as it was touched and it got everywhere. Whilst it was on the pipes it wasn’t a problem and it did provide a decent level of insulation but it really did want replacing. There is still much left to do but gradually the pipes are beginning to look much better. I may decide to splash out and redo all the pipes, not because all the insulation needs replacing, though much of it does, but it will be better all round if I do it anyway. Whilst I was in the cellar working I received several requests for my services, some even asking if I could work for them that day. Like I said, I don’t work weekends! I have taken on some of the work for the week ahead. The work is there if I want it. Must be approaching Christmas! I am now finished for this week both working for others or for myself at home. Tomorrow is Sunday and I shall be doing nothing whatsoever unless it can be done sitting down on the settee.

Shirley Anne

Perfection

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English: ambidextrous

Ambidextrous (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been around the block a few times, a resident of familiarity, ambidextrous to a degree, expert at many things but hopeless at more. Well I can’t be perfect at everything can I? I have worked with my hands for 52 years and some might say about three with my brain but having worked so long it becomes impossible not to be good at certain tasks. It is called experience. Now I will attempt most things and treat new things as a challenge. What is the point in learning all that I have over the years if I don’t put it to use? However I am not perfect by any means in the things I do but my standards are high. Occasionally I get things wrong, most of those times will be due to my working too fast or not concentrating on the task in hand. Usually though it is because I am sometimes over-confident. I am a good electrician only because of the years I have experienced in the business, which is 52. I am good at plumbing but by no means am I a plumber. I try my best and don’t like being defeated so I plod on regardless. Currently I am working at home carrying out alterations to our drains and although the work is very simple on paper when it comes to doing the work it isn’t quite the same. I had replaced the last remaining cast-iron soil pipe on Thursday which served the wet room toilet and the following day after calling at the plumbers merchant for one or two extra items I diverted the two waste water pipes to connect into it. I had to drill two holes in the new plastic soil pipe in order to make the connections. To one hole I fitted a clamp-on arrangement to accommodate one of the pipes as the type of pipe dictated that it be connected that way. To the other hole I fitted and welded a connection and fitted and welded the pipe to it. I had made a mistake with the welded components, not in the method I’d used but I discovered after the weld had set that it wasn’t fully seated. When I ran the water through the connection it leaked slightly from beneath. I was rather annoyed that I’d made such an elementary mistake but in reality it was an easy mistake to make. When fitting parts that are welded one has to work quickly before the weld cures . In order to repair the leak I first had to wait until the pipe stopped leaking water and that took several hours. I had to revert to repairing the leak using silicone rubber. I have to say that although I didn’t like using this method it was preferable to dismantling all my work and starting again. Yes, I make mistakes just like anyone else. No-one is perfect.

Shirley Anne

A portfolio

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Portfolio: An Intercontinental Quarterly

Portfolio

When I look back upon my life I really am surprised at the things I have been involved with and the skills I have acquired. I was out with E one day some years ago and she went into a post office to conduct some business. I was left standing alone to browse some of the things that were on sale there and came across some name key-fobs, the ones that have a description and meaning of the name printed on them. Curiosity got the better of me and I selected the two with my names on them just to see what they said. This is what I found

‘Shirley’……..From the Old English meaning ‘From the bright meadow. Usually easy-going, she will dig her heels in when she feels she is right….she knows her own mind’.
‘Anne’…….From the Hebrew meaning ‘Graceful. She is industrious and practical and can turn her hand to anything. A Lady of many talents’.

Now I am not one to believe in such things but the descriptions of my names are actually very accurate and do describe very much my character and abilities even if I do say myself. I bought the fobs! Here are some of the things I have been involved with over the years

 

Apprenticed with a former electricity supply authority for just over four years
City and Guilds Certificates in electrical technology, special techniques, power and equipment and regulations
Basic training and experience with qualified contracting electricians
Experienced in domestic, commercial and industrial fields
Trained in underground mains distribution and overhead mains distribution systems up to 11Kvolts
Experienced and trained in the installation and testing of equipment in distribution sub-stations up to 11Kvolts
Experienced in working with large motors and machinery including overhead gantry cranes
Trained in the testing and installation of all types of metering equipment
Trained and experienced in the periodical testing and maintenance of the old air raid sirens and equipment
Trained in portable appliance testing
Trained in the repairs of most domestic appliances
Fault finding in all types of installation.
Familiar with and experienced in the installation of most electrical cable types
Contracting electrician for the electrical supply authority for 14 years wiring houses, factories and commercial premises of all types. Building site works.
Spent the next 21 years working as a maintenance engineer entering at Technician Grade 2 until I departed as a maintenance manager.
Worked on following, large air conditioning plants, refrigeration plant, chilled water and hot water supplies for plant-room equipment, humidity generators and associated controls, air conditioning electronic and computer controls, computer environments and special needs, general plant and building electrical and mechanical maintenance, specialist computer air conditioning units and isolated refrigeration equipment, large refrigeration equipment up to 350 tons, heating and ventilation equipment, elevators, vending machines, catering equipment, fire and smoke alarm equipment, emergency lighting supplies, uninterrupted power supplies and associated batteries, power factor correction systems, building and faulting, testing and installing electronic circuits and control boards and a host of other miscellaneous things.
I left that work to become self-employed returning solely to domestic installations some 17 years ago and for the first 8 years also took upon the maintenance contract for a number of retail outlets of a large confectionery and pastry manufacturer. Along the way in my working life I have become proficient in other fields, bricklaying and general building work, laying concrete, joinery, plastering and plumbing to name a few. I work more or less part-time these days.
I write poetry and songs and taught myself to play the guitar some 24 years ago.

So it appears my names suit me!

Shirley Anne x

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Success and easier than we thought

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The Roman Baths (Thermae) of Bath Spa, England...

The Roman Baths (Thermae) of Bath Spa, England. This is a 6 segment panorama taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know why I hesitated in getting the new radiator pipes connected in our bathroom, it was far easier than we had envisaged. On Wednesday we set about finally doing just that. As it turned out the drain-cock that is fitted to the boiler was adequately sized and we drained the system down to the point we needed in a very short time. As soon as we had done that I connected the pipes as planned and the whole system was back up and running within a half-hour. Why I had any doubts about my capability is unusual for me for the work was nothing worse than anything I had previously encountered. I was happy that we went ahead and got it out-of-the-way. This meant that we could continue with some of the other work that needs to be done. I have had a rethink about raising the bath onto a platform and have decided against that idea for a few reasons, time, money and now I think it is unnecessary and would only create more problems like not being able to fit lighting directly above the bath. The main problem we thought we had with the bath was gaining access to its drainpipe at some later date should a leak develop. The base of the bath sits directly to the floor but there is a hollow space beneath it which allows that access by lifting the bath from the floor. Of course in normal use we don’t want the bath to move at all so I had to think of a way of doing that and I came up with an idea whereby the adjustable feet sit inside a wooden frame. This would only allow vertical movement whilst preventing lateral movement at the same time, just what is required. As long as the frame allows the feet to sit deeply inside there will be no problem and none of it will be visible once the bath is seated in place for the bath will cover it completely. Once these ‘awkward’ jobs are done the rest is plain-sailing. All we need now is the available time at our disposal.

Shirley Anne

Ah! That’s better…

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A. Nenartovich Asphalt laying woman. 1961

A. Nenartovich Asphalt laying woman. 1961 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During our recent hot and stuffy weather I never felt much like doing anything but I disciplined myself so I could complete the much-needed work I had to do with the able assistance of E who makes a good builder’s mate! Two women laying foundations that were not part of our make-up regime but for the laying of concrete and the building of walls which we also did would have raised some eyebrows in earlier times. Even in today’s world to see a woman doing the work normally attributed to the off-times dubious capabilities of the average male is still considered the exception and a novelty. There are many women capable of doing such things but I think the reason they don’t is often down to inclination. Anyway I think E and I have done remarkably well, though we have had previous experience. It helped a lot that we purchased a concrete mixer for if we hadn’t we probably would still be doing the work even now and it would be a long way off being completed. I had a spell of rest after most of that work was completed but I can say the electrical work  is building up again now and keeping me gainfully employed. The weather has cooled down too which for me is a plus and my van once more is getting wet in the rain. I did three jobs in different towns on Monday morning. None of them were previous clients but all were very pleased with my work. I was again complimented on my ‘youthful looks’ as one girl remarked. She thought I was about fifty years of age but after I told her the truth she was having difficulty believing me, nice to receive such compliments though I have to say. I laughingly told her that I plug myself into the power socket every night! Many people think I have only been an electrician for maybe ten years and when I tell them I have been in the business for fifty-one they are truly amazed. This is because here in the UK in the past it was never heard of that a female would train to be an electrician, though some actually did. I personally know of a couple, one of them older than I am! Would I train to be an electrician today if I was fresh out of school? Probably not…. it is often or has been hard going at times. I am not sure what I would like to do if I were young again.

Shirley Anne

Happy in my work

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Satisfaction Guaranteed (manga)

Satisfaction Guaranteed (manga) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I have placed my advert on hold for two weeks I am still receiving requests and I seem to be more busy now in my electrical work than I have been recently. The compliments keep coming too so I must be doing something right. A lady called me on Tuesday and she seemed a little under pressure so much so she had difficulty in expressing her need over the phone. She only wanted a couple of little jobs doing but seemed worried about how to get things back to normal. One of those jobs was to replace a bathroom light. She lived ten minutes away through town traffic, about three miles at most. I told her that I would take her to the retail park and help her select a suitable fitting and ten minutes later I was parked outside her house. We went to purchase the fitting and were soon back at the house. She was more relaxed with me in person and I could tell she had problems at home. Her partner had recently suffered a stroke and from what I could tell was giving her a bit of a hard time. Anyway I had the light up in minutes and set about the other task which I soon had remedied. When I presented her with the bill she was overcome with delight and she felt the need to give me a big hug. She wore a big smile as she went to get some money. She couldn’t thank me enough but I was pleased to be of assistance. I got more pleasure in knowing that my services were appreciated and that I had provided complete satisfaction. I enjoy making people happy and fixing their electrical problems more than the remuneration I receive, I feel good inside. This is why I love my work, it is something I am good at and I get satisfaction in serving others. Added to that, it is different every day. I have done many things in my working life as I mentioned a few posts ago and I enjoy the challenges each new task brings, even in my private projects. I don’t think there is much I haven’t tackled throughout my life but as they say if you don’t try you will never know your limitations. I feel sorry for those who endure their work rather than enjoy it. Nothing is impossible except the impossible!

Shirley Anne

Nothing to do……yeah sure!

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Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Monday morning saw me with nothing to do other than continue working at home, even though the weather is so hot. I’d had a long soak in the bath on Sunday evening to help me to relax, not that I needed to relax, I knew I would fall straight into a deep sleep anyway because I was feeling very tired. Lying there quietly I could hear the water tank refilling as they do of course when running off a lot of water. It seemed to be taking longer than usual to stop but the thought soon passed from my thoughts. I could still hear what seemed like water flowing through the pipes when I had finished bathing but couldn’t pinpoint the source and in any case it was late, 11.45 and I was tired. I arose around 6 o’clock and had my breakfast so I could start making preparations for continuing the work in the garden. When I approached the rear of the garage I could hear water splashing and discovered the overflow pipe from the storage tank supplying the bathroom was gushing out water and it looked as if it had been doing so right through the night. This must have been the sound I heard the night before. A change of plan then, out with some tools and a ladder to investigate the problem. It was of course the sealing disc in the supply pipe valve. I managed to turn off the water supply to the tank to stop the overflow but as I was doing that I received a call from a lady I’ve done work for before on numerous occasions who wanted me to do two small jobs for her. The flow seemed to have stopped from the overflow for the time being but I knew that wouldn’t last and I’d have to strip out the valve disc and replace it at some point. The access to this tank is through a very small opening measuring something like 300 x 450 mm and was constructed by the previous owner of the house when the bathroom was at that time undergoing a make-over (it needs another one) and I found it extremely difficult gaining access but managed. The ceiling ‘trap’ (access hole) is alongside the wall and the water pipes make it even more difficult as they restrict movement. I closed the trap and went off to tackle the lady’s jobs stopping on the way to collect my medications from the chemist (drug store) which I should have collected on Friday but simply forgot. The jobs took longer than expected and I didn’t return home until after 12.30. I took the lady to buy an electric wall heater to replace another she had so that she could decide on the model she liked but on the way back to her house we stopped at my house so she could see something of it as she had been asking me about it. As it wasn’t far off route I obliged and showed her around the rear garden and the work we’d been doing there. She was very impressed and complimented us on what we’d achieved. We stayed but a short time and then returned to her house to do the remaining work. Her house belongs to her daughter but she lives with her and as her daughter was at work she organised everything for her. That meant I would have to wait until the evening to receive payment when her daughter would drop by our house with the money. It was around 2.30 in the afternoon when I suggested to E that we should do something in the garden making use of the fine weather and she was eager to do so. We managed to move a mound of soil and level the ground a little ready to lay some paving slabs there later and I moved the four remaining slabs from where I’d stored them up onto the plot of ground before we could lay that last slab which now completes the set of steps we’d been constructing. Out came the cement mixer and we mixed some mortar and laid down the final step. The remaining three slabs will be laid on a membrane directly over the compacted soil. The ground is contained within brick walls and is therefore naturally compacted. It isn’t necessary to lay a foundation for these slabs as long as we make sure the ground is fully compacted and is level. By now it was after 4 o’clock and E pointed out that the overflow pipe was again pushing out water. I thought it might somehow! Tools and ladder out again and upstairs to do the job. Fortunately I carry plumbing materials in my van with the electrical materials so I didn’t have to purchase anything. This time I made the effort to climb completely into the ceiling space which was quite difficult but had to be done in order to gain proper access to the valve. Soon I had the valve stripped down and the replacement washer/valve seating disc was fitted and then  we returned to the garden to tidy up but before I went downstairs I got washed and I changed my clothes which by now were covered in dust. I hadn’t bothered with overalls this time as the clothes were already somewhat soiled from my earlier work. It was now just after 6 o’clock and we received a visit from the lady and her daughter with the payment for my work. The lady is 80 years old, though you wouldn’t know it and her daughter a little over 50. I invited them into the garden so the daughter could see it too. I was handed a sealed envelope containing a card and cash but I didn’t open it until later when back indoors for our evening meal. I had been given twenty pounds more than I’d asked! What a nice gesture and especially so after the day’s problems. The daughter has always been generous when paying me for the work I do because as she says ‘You are prompt and efficient’………..She forgot to add ‘and wacked too’! And then I wrote this.

Shirley Anne