-A gable end window, massive anger and a 5 day deadline. (90’s).

So I was asked if I could go back to work in France for a guy I had worked for before. The money was good, all tools were provided plus a vehicle and a spacious workshop. There was always a lot of work to do but given the plans, the materials and the deadlines it was pretty enjoyable. Nice countryside, my own boss etc.

So when I get there I see my first job, a job left hanging due to the last carpenter doing a bunk. A poor innocent retired couple had had some very shoddy work done for them. Apart from some 2nd rate internal carpentry, the said ‘bunkee’ had attempted to make a large gable end window assortment to fit in the loft conversion area. The carpet fitters were coming on Tuesday morning. It was now the Wednesday previous and the boss had come to show me what needed cleaning up with the window. I looked at it in horror. It hadn’t been jointed properly. The double glazing seams showed past the wood beadings. A pair of new windows had been fitted as part of the system which looked hideous. The whole frame was crooked and I was being asked to cleverly patch it up. It just wasn’t possible. It was very badly made, would leak like a sieve and would in any case need replacing should any other competent carpenter or insurance bod look at it.

I gave out a rather large sigh. I was furious that I had ‘allowed’ myself to be dragged into this position. What a nightmare! There was only one way forward. “I’ll have to start over again” I said turning to the boss whose initial reaction was bewilderment, then anger, then panic. “No we can‘t do that. That‘s ridiculous. It’ll cost a fortune. We’ve only got till Tuesday anyway”.

It’s the only way, I said. This work is appalling. The best chance we have is to go down the wood store, buy the wood, use the same double glazing glass, make it, stain it, varnish it and bring it back here before Tuesday morning and fit it ready for the carpets to be laid.

We couldn’t let these people down. At least ‘I’ couldn’t and I was the one with the ability to save the day. “It’s the only way,” I said. “I am not going to try and salvage this one”.

The boss looked at me with unbelieving eyes. ‘OK’ he said, do it.

I took total control. I was absolutely furious! I took the measurements, made sure I could reuse the glass, flew down the wood store, bought the wood and off loaded it back at the workshop.

I had 5 days, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday to make it, stain it varnish it and Monday to fit it. The carpet men ‘would’ be able to lay the carpets on Tuesday morning. The innocent couple ‘would’ be ok!

Normally I would have liked a good two weeks to do the job, and that would include two of us to load it onto the van and two of us to hoike it over the roof and to fit it in place. I didn’t have a helper and I absolutely wasn’t going to ask the boss for his help.

Both hands to the deck. Thursday, Friday, Saturday went well. Early mornings, late nights and by Sunday I had the thing made and needed to get a couple of coats of stain on and then a primary varnish. It got done. I was absolutely knackered but totally focused, called the owners, said I would be there in the morning to fit the window and got an earlyish night.

Up early, and very carefully managed to load the structure onto the roof of the van. I hade to be very careful because it was big and could easily snap in the middle if not handled right. I loaded up all the tools, took several ladders and several coils of rope with me because somehow I had to get this monster up over the roof and into place on my own and then also to fix it.

I hadn’t heard a word form the boss in all these 5 days. He knew how angry I was and just kept away.

With care, skill, ingenuity and some luck I somehow managed to rig up a system that allowed me to relatively easily lift the monster off the van roof, onto the house roof and into position…on my own…I was damned impressed.

I fixed it in place, glazed it, put the window beads in and gave it another coat of varnish. What with the stain, the two new windows that should never have been used it actually looked alright.

The job was done. The clients were happy and I was knackered, absolutely knackered! I drove back to the office, told the boss the job was done and was done well and that I wanted some money right now…please!

I got paid, took the next day off, drove out into the wilderness, and booked into a smart hotel. I went for a lazy swim in the pool, allowed myself some smiling time, had a bite to eat and went up to the large double bed and went straight to sleep. I thought I deserved it!


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