As you will probably know I am useless at DIY and also just pretty lackadaisical about getting anyone out to help me when something goes wrong. Stuff lies crumbling and breaking and redundant for months and then I will get a burst of conscience and energy and finally get it sorted.
The guttering at the top of my house has been broken for at least six months. Every time it rains the water cascades along the guttering and then pours like a waterfall out of the broken joint and down my wall. It's annoying if I am trying to watch TV as it makes a noise. But I've been away a lot and there haven't been that many bad rainstorms when I've been home and my remote control has a volume button, so I've let it go.
The man who lives across the road from me, a very considerate neighbour, pointed the fault out to me in the first place and had reminded me of my failure to do anything about it every time he sees me. And so to avoid his consideration I finally got round to calling someone about it this week. Part of my problem with finding a workman is trying to get one that you know won't rip you off or do a shoddy job or suddenly find a thousand other things that are wrong - which by my experience is pretty much every workman- but with this job I was also concerned that as the guttering is quite high that scaffolding might have to come into play and it might become very expensive to repair a minor fault. And like I say the volume on my TV goes up quite a ways.
But I've discovered a website called Check a Trade
which allows you to read what other people have said about the service of various companies, which could obviously be open to abuse, but overall is a good idea and I thought I'd give it a punt. I've always thought that if I ran a plumbing or building business (and it's lucky I don't because I would be awful at it) that I'd ensure that every job I did was efficient and fairly charged, because surely the word would quickly get round and you'd never be out of work. But then on the other hand I would enjoy stealing money off of mugs like me who are unable to work out how to turn on a thermostat or are too scared of heights to climb a ladder.
The men who came round this morning were courteous enough and they were brave enough to put a big ladder up against my house and go and look at the problem. Once they'd had a look they did of course tell me that they could fix the breakage if I wanted, but that the whole gutter was very old and the joints were all a bit corrupted (they pointed out some water damage at the other end) and that all in all it might be better if they replaced the whole thing...
And who knows? That might have been true. But I admired their ability to go up a ladder so much that I decided it was worth going along with their advice and shelling out a bit more cash, in the hope that that would mean I wouldn't have to get them out again in another six months. Perhaps they drove away sniggering at how stupid I was for giving them more cash than I needed to. But at least my guttering no longer has a gaping hole in it and my neighbour will have to find something else to considerately tell me about. And I earn enough money swearing and being childish to pay the occasional bit of stupidity tax anyway. But if God has any kind of comic sensibility then the next time it rains my whole house will fall down, but the gutter will remain standing erect.
The interview I did with Christopher Brookmyre for BBC Scotland is now up on iPlayer
And my run is just hours away now (though the end of the run may still be days away) = Please sponsor me here