Firstly, my fine friends, a grovel – for the shameful dearth of posts in recent weeks. It’s not that one has run out of things to say (heaven forfend), but the fact is that the interminable winter really did start to get me down. I began to despair of that wretched arctic blast ever abating – plus the fact that I have been seriously busy in my new-found pursuit and therefore feeling somewhat knackered, what with yet another filthy cold and a host of aches, pains and injuries that go hand-in-hand with hard labour in Siberian conditions.
And what have you been up to, I hear you ask? It’s not as if anything much has been growing of late, apart from the moss and the lichen. Well, it’s been mostly one-off infrastructure projects – sheds (demolishing and erecting), greenhouses, compost bins, raised beds, trellis, pagodas, fruit cages, fencing, etc, all of which has got me well and truly tangled up with the vexed business of trying to come up with a sensible assessment of what a job is going to take and what to charge the customer without ripping anyone off or doing myself a disservice.
This malarkey has, of course, necessitated a fair few trips to builders “merchants”, which have involved one or two instructive lessons in their own right. What is it with these geezers? They can spot me from 100 paces. “Ponce”, they reckon. It’s written all over their faces, oozing out of every orifice. Forget the mud, the stubble, the battered togs and the filthy, broken fingernails. They take one look at the specs and the rain-hat, get one earful of the non-gor-blimey accent, and that’s me pigeon-holed.
Basically, these wankers seem to delight in trying to destabilise you – to try and make you look daft/incompetent, to question whether you have the first idea of what you want, to try and sell you something that you don’t want, to make you look like a prat at every turn. “Ere, Reg, we got a right one ’ere.” (yeah yeah sure just shut up, stop rolling your eyeballs and do what I’ve asked you to do)
I had a moan about it to my long-suffering wife after one such foray into the cave that is Lawson’s (opposite Pentonville jail). And her retort? “Oh, but that’s what it’s like to be a woman, dear.”
Hmmm, methunk. Patronising dimwits. Perhaps I should get dressed up in my best party frock, flutter my eyelashes, act dumb, let them have their larf and then rob them blind.
To be fair, I’ve had this sort of thing all my life – a chamaeleon-type existence in many ways. I have never succeeded in passing myself off as a “geezer”. They can tell I’m not one of them, no matter how many “wotevers” and “know-what-I-means” I chuck in to the dialogue. They think I’m some sort of posh git. Thing is, the nobs have never really recognised me as one of them either – “NQOCD”, as they say (not quite our class, dear). Hence the somewhat faltering career in the meejah.
Well, bollocks to the lot of them is what I say. I am now a full-time horny-handed son of the soil, a wurzel, a hayseed, a peasant, a pleb and a prole – and proud of it. All clear? Good. We’re promised 20 degrees this weekend, so I’m going to plant something – and no, it won’t be a boot in some geezer’s groin.