Too excitable

Many folk who call upon my services often do so at very awkward times, especially when I am actually out working. They know they want the work doing and most of the time they have been thinking about whether to get the work done or not. That being the case there is no reason to call me during working hours for surely they will know that they are interrupting my work. In fact that is what happens most of the time, I am busy doing something when they call. After struggling with a problem a few days ago I had finally reached the point where I was about to fit something that had been awkward and difficult. My phone rang. I should perhaps ignore the phone but I would lose more work that way. I had to stop what I was doing whilst I answered the call. Why did they not call out of working hours? I am a ‘sole trader‘, not an organisation which has office staff to take my calls and people know this from my advertisement so they should also know I am out at work when they call. Now then, in an emergency situation I can understand people calling me during the day and often I have been able to accommodate them so I don’t mind the calls in those cases. People just do not think. I had a call from a woman one afternoon and she was asking if I could do some work for her. She had moved into a house recently and wanted all kinds of work done, however she was so excitable she spent too long describing her move, the reasons for it and anything else she could think of rather than explaining in simple terms what she wanted me to do. I had to intervene and was then able to make sense of her request. One of the things she wanted doing was to replace a few ceiling lighting fittings but she hadn’t purchased them. I suggested she purchased them first and then call me to fit them so that whilst I was there I could assess the remainder of the work she wanted doing, re-fixing switches, fitting an air extract fan in her bathroom and a couple of other things. She had been trying to tell me all the details over the phone which was totally unnecessary. Once the arrangement was made for me to call later she then told me that her ex-husband was an electrician! She explained that she never had to query anything electrical in the past but was now thinking perhaps she should have.

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More women should take up the sciences and work in the electrical industry I feel. Most women are like her, they don’t want to know until the time comes when they need to. Other women I have met are only too keen to get involved with what I am doing. I could write a book about the people I meet in my working day.

Shirley Anne


A bit like last week

Loft (2005 film)
Loft (2005 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This past week has been very similar to the week before in that the work I have done has been concentrated at the latter end of the week leaving me nothing to do for the first few days. It isn’t often you will see me crawling about in someone’s loft but on Wednesday I did exactly that. Naturally I put on a pair of overalls (coveralls) before doing so in order to keep my clothes clean and to protect them from damage. Some lofts are surprisingly reasonably clean but whilst that is so most are not. Most loft areas now are fitted with layers of insulation material which hides the timber construct of the ceilings below and so there is always the danger of accidentally stepping on the fragile ceiling and putting a foot through it. In all my years as an electrician I have never had that misfortune. Other hazards in loft spaces include the roof beams and rafters and the many cardboard boxes or other stored items people have put up there. Having peeled back the insulation I was able to gain access to the lighting cables on this occasion for my task was to reposition and at the same time replace a ceiling light and remove another together with the pull-cord switch controlling it. Having done what was necessary in the loft I was soon able to close the hatch and continue the work in the bedroom below. Another problem I was faced with was the huge bed beneath where the new light (a chandelier) would be fitted and which couldn’t be moved. Have you ever tried balancing on a wobbly bed whilst trying to fit a heavy light above it? With a little help from the lady of the house who supported the light whilst I connected and fitted it I soon had it done. Of course the bed had been covered with a sheet to collect any dust and always there is! The lady asked me all sorts of questions regarding why I decided to become an electrician and how long I have been working as such. She was very much impressed when I gave her a brief description of the things I have done over the (almost) 53 years I have been in the business. She then asked if I enjoyed my work! I could only reply with a ‘yes’ for how could anyone stick at a job so long and not enjoy it unless they were completely bonkers? Maybe I am a little bonkers but I do enjoy my work.

Shirley Anne

When is a lie not a lie?

The Ask and the Answer
The Ask and the Answer

When is a lie not a lie? Telling the truth I always thought was the best route to take but telling the truth in certain circumstances can do more harm than good and telling a lie is not always a bad thing to do. However, being truthful when asked for an explanation is the only way to go. There must be many reasons we can be forgiven for not telling the truth or even for telling a lie. As an example, whenever someone asks an awkward question or a personal question that would be better not answered truthfully, is that wrong? I am often asked questions about my husband though it is never myself who brings up the subject. Now I have never had a husband but to tell the truth would expose my history, something I have no wish to do with people I meet in person. Some people already know about my history and my transition and that is fine but I don’t reveal that to everyone I meet. People will say something like this, ‘What does your husband think about you being an electrician‘? I reply with, ‘I am divorced’, which isn’t a lie, I am divorced. The other person then assumes that I had a husband beforehand and I haven’t told a lie but I also didn’t tell the truth by omission of the facts. Not telling the truth in these circumstances isn’t the same as telling lies. Perhaps some will think that deceitful but deceitfulness is only used for gain or to hide an offensive act or crime. No person has the right to know anything about another person’s past other than to know they can be trusted and that they have no ulterior motives or hidden agendas. They are safe people to associate with in other words. Most of the time, when working for people, I get statements or questions like, ‘It must have been unusual for a woman to go into the electrical business when you were young’ …I answer yes I suppose it was. ‘Have you been an electrician long’? ….I answer yes. ‘Have you always been an electrician’?…… Again I answer yes and it is just assumed that I started my electrical career as a woman. So I am not telling lies but neither am I telling the truth when I don’t answer directly to what is being said.   It is all about living my life in peace without the hassle of feeling the need to explain myself to everyone who asks awkward questions when there is no need to do so. These days many women are taking up electrical work as a career and some I know are just approaching 40 years of age. There was a girl living close-by who was studying to be an electrical engineer two years before I started work. The times are changing and that’s no lie!

Shirley Anne

More and more

Two young men are surprised
Two young men are surprised (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got called to a small job in another town on Thursday and whilst there the lady of the house chatted to me. Her first remark was that she was fascinated that a woman should be doing the work of an electrician. Many of my customers are similarly surprised at that. She was all for it she told me and why shouldn’t women be able to do electrical work? She said that in her day, that is when she was much younger, it wasn’t the norm but over the years since then she said she had witnessed many women entering the traditional male-oriented occupations. I casually asked how old she was and she told me that she was sixty. ‘A bit before your time’ she said. ‘Oh yes’ ? I replied. ‘How old do you think I am’? I continued. She guessed wrong at around my mid-forties. I said ‘Would you be surprised to know that I will be 67 years old next month’? ‘Never’, was her reply, ‘You don’t look anything like that age, your skin is amazing’. What could I say? Even I am surprised by my youthful looks but I do endeavour to look after myself nevertheless. I was reading an article about a well-known beautician to models and to the celebrities of the film industry where he was promoting a product which moisturizes the skin. He maintained that it was just as important to look after the skin through diet suggesting various fruits, vegetables, nuts and pulses together with plenty of fish oil were particularly beneficial. Well I knew this as I am sure many other people do but it is surprising just how many people I meet do not follow such a regime. I guess I am a little fortunate in that I have always looked much younger than I am but added to that I do eat the right food, I don’t smoke, I exercise and I do take hormones. I also wear make-up. Is it any wonder that I don’t look my age? I like the comments I get from those I meet who think I am younger than my age and it happens more and more. There is no reason for anyone of my age not to look their best or perhaps not ‘look their age’ as they say, it is all down to self-discipline and having a good lifestyle. The sad fact is, many women my age have given up on themselves and grow old before their time. Quality of life is affected when we don’t look after our bodies and suddenly we find that we have slipped down that slippery slope to ill-health and have only ourselves to blame. I want to remain as fit and active as I can for as long as I can and I want to remain looking good doing it! Hopefully I will.

Shirley Anne

Old habits

Bathroom 1
Bathroom 1 (Photo credit: A30_Tsitika)

Before my transition many years ago I gave no thought to what my life would be like afterward. My thoughts were mainly concentrated on my immediate needs in transitioning and very little else. As an electrician and someone who by next month will have been in the electrical business for 50 years, it never occurred to me that I should cease to continue doing what I had always done in my working life. However, once I did transition I began to think of a career change to one, I thought, to be more suited to a female. I made tentative steps to search for employment but was encouraged to continue doing what I was good at doing instead. At first I was a little apprehensive but I finally decided not to give up my profession. To do so would have been a grave error for as a female electrician I became greatly in demand. I liked my work, I always had and to change to doing something else would have been difficult for me. You know what they say, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. Well actually you can but the inclination to learn something new is often not there. Not that I was ever reluctant to learn new things, in my job there are countless things to know and to learn. Over the years I have worked on all kinds of electrical equipment from that using the smallest power supply up to equipment using 11 kilo-volt supplies! Above that voltage I have no experience but the principle is no different. There is very little I haven’t worked on really. The list is too long to recount here, it would take pages upon pages, suffice to say there is probably far less that I haven’t been involved with than that which I have! Along the way I was educated in other fields aside from the electrical  too, refrigeration, air-conditioning, heating and ventilation, plumbing  to name but a few. I am one of those people who likes to do things with my hands and I will turn my hand to any task if I am able. In fact throughout my life I have involved myself in doing strange tasks either for myself or others. At home I am the maintenance person, probably because I am the only one capable! I arose at around five o’clock on Monday morning and paid a visit to the toilet. We had been experiencing a bit of a foul smell in the bathroom over the last week or so and thought it was simply the drains to the hand basin and the bath. We occasionally pour disinfectant or bleach down the plug holes just to stop any unwanted odours but lately it had no effect. I moved the waste bin for some reason and found that it was wet beneath. This bathroom has carpet tiles on the floor (I want to refurbish the room completely some time in the future but that is another story) and so I removed one only to find that the floor beneath was wet. I had to removed another six tiles to expose the extent of the wetness. I discovered a small leak of water on a joint in the water pipe supplying the toilet cistern which had evidently been weeping unnoticed for days! Admittedly this joint was almost completely out of normal eyesight so difficult to spot the leak. Water had slowly trickled down the pipe and under the carpet tiles so that no evidence of wetness could be seen on the surface of the tiles at all. No wonder it wasn’t spotted sooner! The problem was a loose joint which I secured later in the day on returning home from a job. I think I shall need to replace a part as soon as I can find the time, probably in a day or so, maybe the weekend. In the meantime the floor is now dry and the leak in check. It is amazing what females can do if the put their minds to it but old habits die-hard!

Shirley Anne

A very short fuse

Short Fuse Blues
Short Fuse Blues (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of days ago I received a call for help from a lady and her sister who live less than a half-mile from me. They had lost power to part of the lighting circuits in the apartment in which they live. Thinking that they lived much farther afield because I miss-heard what I had been told I talked them through a simple check they could do for themselves before my services were absolutely needed. I thought they may have had a modern distribution board containing circuit breakers and an RCD unit. Had that been the case they may have been able to re-instate the supply themselves and save me the 12 mile journey. As it turned out they had an older board incorporating rewireable fuses. Now they could have rewired the fuse themselves but it is surprising just how many people won’t or can’t even do that! I was there within ten minutes and having quickly checked everything I replaced the fuse and was paid for my services. I talked them through the possibilities of replacing the fuseboard with a modern version or simply replacing the fuses with circuit breakers for less than half the price. Even so, the replacement circuit breakers would cost almost £20 each and there were five of them. I left them to decide if they wished me to replace the board or just the fuses for circuit breakers and to call me if they did. The following day I received that call. They had opted for the cheaper version, that is to just change the fuses to circuit breakers. I went to the supplier, bought the circuit breakers and was at the apartment fitting them within a half-hour. How’s that for service? When I was there previously there were just the two of them in the apartment but on this visit there was a guy with them. He was reclined on a bed across the hallway where the fuseboard is situated. He didn’t have much to say until after the job was done. When I went there on the previous occasion I got chatting with one of the sisters who had a guitar that needed tuning and she asked me to do it for her. Unfortunately a couple of the strings were broken and had lost their elasticity. I told her of a place locally where she could have the instrument re-strung and tuned but when I went back the second time she had done it herself! It was still out of tune though! The guitar was in the bedroom where this guy was lying down and whilst I was in the room with the two of them he jumped off the bed and stood by the door preventing the other woman from coming into the room. I thought he was just messing about and having a bit of fun with her but as I approached the door to leave he began shouting at the other woman telling her that she had no right to enter the room. Talk about a short fuse! When I was out of the room he slammed the door shut very hard. The other woman was visibly shaken and when I asked her what the problem was she whispered that he was married to her sister and lived there with them both. She also confided in me by telling me that he was a convicted sex-offender, something that his wife knew nothing about until more recently. You just never know what situations you may find yourself in doing my line of work and a certain amount of discretion and diplomacy is necessary when dealing with customers. I feel sorry for those two women having to live with somebody who could turn on them at a moment’s notice but I suppose they are well aware of that.

Shirley Anne

Bridget Jones Syndrome

Cover of "Bridget Jones - The Edge of Rea...
Cover via Amazon

Another repeat on television of the Bridget Jones Diaries was aired on television on Friday last. This one was The Edge of Reason. I simply had to watch it because Bridget is a heroine of mine. I like the actress too, Renée Zelweger. She epitomizes what I think is a real woman, down to earth, nothing false, maybe a little zany but absolutely adorable. Too many women in my mind are not real in the sense that they act naturally. Bridget shows us that being just ones’ self is always enough. It may sound like I have lesbian tendencies here but if that was a fact then I could do no better than to fall in love with Bridget but I fear it would be in vain as she rejected such advances in the film! Wonderful! Throughout the film I found myself laughing and crying with her and feeling all the things that she was experiencing in her struggle to create an impression. The very fact that she was undergoing many embarrassing situations made her all the more attractive. I particularly enjoy the scenes where she is imprisoned and walks in with a stiff upper lip declaring that she is a British journalist but no-one is taking any notice of her. Eventually she wins them over and becomes the most popular inmate in the prison! Throughout the film she is battling with two aspects of her morality, enjoying the advances of on the one hand a deeply loving and romantic lover (Colin Firth) and struggling with the advances of another a guy who seemingly just wants to bed her (Hugh Grant). She is attracted to them both but it is more because she wants the attention than anything else. It made no difference that I had seen the film a few times previously, I was still thrilled with it. In many ways I am like Bridget, a little zany, a little quirky but still lovable in my own way, or at least that’s what I am told. Take my local pub for instance, whenever I am absent for a long time people ask where I have been and I have been told that I am loved by some of the regulars there, which is so nice to hear. I too struggle in my life just as Bridget does but maybe for different reasons, or maybe not. All I ever wanted in life was to be loved and accepted and I guess that was the thrust in Bridget’s story. I will call it The Bridget Jones Syndrome and I believe many of us have it.

Shirley Anne

My date with the scanner

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Image by Marc-John Photographic via Flickr

Yesterday as you will have gathered from my previous post was the day I went to have my breasts scanned, X-rayed to be precise. The third time I have been for such a scan only this time it was much nearer home. I drove into town but not wanting to search for a parking place or feed a parking meter for such a short time I parked a quarter-mile from the centre and walked back. I discovered to my dismay that there had been plenty of free parking places within the grounds of the facility! Typical! Under normal circumstances I would wager that parking area full most of the day. I went up some steps and into the large trailer to the small reception desk inside and gave the receptionist my details. One other woman was waiting but there was seating for at least a half-dozen. There are two machines in separate rooms at either end of the trailer so at any one time two women can be scanned. I waited for five minutes before it was my turn and the nurse went through the official course of explaining the procedure and asking me to sign a declaration absolving the NHS of any liability subsequent to damage to my implants. A routine question but I suppose necessary. The reason the question is asked is because the machine has to apply some pressure on the breasts in order to get a good photograph. It is slightly uncomfortable but it takes only a few seconds. Getting each breast in the right position together with my arms, head and feet took up most of the time! On my previous visits I had one photograph taken for each breast but this time they took two for each breast, one from the top and the other to the side. This is because they now have a machine which can be swiveled instead of one that is static. For anyone undergoing this experience for the first time it can feel a little embarrassing but the whole procedure is done in a professional way and always with female operatives. I have found no such problems in exposing my body for medical or any other reason (LOL). I was back with my vehicle within a half hour. I now must wait for about two weeks to learn of the results through my own doctor.
On the evening news there was a report about an older gentleman who had developed breast cancer. He had a mastectomy and is in good health. I hadn’t realised until a few years ago when I had my first scan that men can be prone to breast cancer too but it is impossible for men to have a breast scan in the same way as women do. I wonder then if it is possible at all for men to be screened.

Shirley Anne

It’s scan time again

Today, Friday, I shall be having a breast scan once again. This will be the third one since my operation but my first was when I reached 60 years of age. I am sent an invitation to attend the hospital every three years but this time I don’t need to attend a hospital as there is a mobile scanning unit in my town. I say mobile but it is actually parked in a car park outside a public building and has been there for some years. For my first two visits I had to travel into Liverpool city centre to the Liverpool Womens Hospital and it is a rather awkward place to get to. So I shall be visiting the mobile unit this afternoon for the first time. The whole procedure takes but a few minutes and it probably takes longer to undress and dress again. I am not sure whether I will be invited again at my 69th birthday but most probably I will. They cease inviting those who are 70 years old or more I think.

Shirley Anne