November 25th, 2007


the poles have arrived

Those villagers who have suffered with me through the construction of the Bedroom (and the Utility Room, and the Bathroom) In The Sky will know that for most of this year our home has been the stamping-ground of various groups of builders, plumbers, electricians and so on, but apart from the lad who tiled the bathroom we've seen nothing of the fabled hordes of Polish tradesmen who have recently arrived in Britain, and to be honest I was rather disappointed, considering.
No more. The front steps of our house were a death-trap, particularly in Winter when snow and frost made them very difficult to negotiate. Ever since the scaffolding came down we've been trying to get somebody in to fix them, but either English builders didn't turn out to look at them and give us an estimate, or they looked at them, went away, and we never heard from them again.
I'm not sure how she did it, but Bogna hooked up with a bunch of Polish lads to hang some radiators and fix the holes in the roof left by the previous builders, and she asked them to look at the steps. They looked, they sniffed, they said, "We fix."
And fix they have. They arrived on Tuesday and destroyed the old steps, and ever since they've been building new ones. There is still much work to do, but I have never met people who were so wise in the ways of concrete. Down by the gate, where once were encaustic tiles and one day will be again, there's just a patch of concrete. This, apparently, must cure for at least another four weeks before it can be tiled. We can't use the new steps for another week, otherwise it will destroy their work.
Next door had their steps and tiling done a couple of years ago and it took about a week. I think we're in the hands of proper artisans and I'm properly impressed. They're quick, they're not enormously obtrusive, they don't speak English very well but that's no problem, and they are very very good and they understand what they're doing in a way English tradesmen often seem not to. I have their number, if anyone in North London needs them.
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