Able Assignments To The Rescue

18th May 2013

Country Rock at Le Code Bar

A heavy deluge and a distant thunderstorm beset us yesterday afternoon and throughout the night.  Intermittent rain and strong, cold, winds persisted today, so it is just as well that I continued cleaning, tidying, and hanging pictures.

After this I amused myself writing out a bilingual snagging list.  I suppose the need for one was inevitable.  Thierry is yet to return to finish off and the unlit back corridor, completed after 9 p.m., is less than brilliant.

What needs to be done here is nothing compared to that required by Beauchamp Lodge Settlement in the early 1990s.  As Chairman I had a real problem on my hands.  The charity had been forced to sell the beautiful early nineteenth century building in Little Venice it had occupied until then because we did not have, and could not raise the £500,000 required to bring it back to a safe standard.Distracted from the music

The Greater London Council had owned the building and let it to us for a peppercorn rent.  Through the intervention of Councillor Anne Mallinson, later to become mayor, we had been able to buy the building at less than market rate; sell it for a greater sum; and buy a far less salubrious terraced building on the north  side of Regents Canal further west along Harrow Road.

Much work was required to make this address fit for our purposes and ready for occupation.  A firm was engaged to carry out the work, and a deadline set.  Nothing was done for weeks.  Promises were made and excuses given.  Progress was minimal.  Six weeks before we were due to move in I sacked the building company.

What to do next?  No-one wants to complete major works which have been fiddled about with by a predecessor.  Least of all Michael, whose policy is never to touch another builder’s snagging, and who didn’t relish the two hour drive to North London, before and after each day’s work.  Nevertheless he, Matthew, and the rest of the Able Assignments team came to the rescue and did me proud.  We were able to move in on time and they continued the refurbishment with little inconvenience to the activities of the charity.

We must have had a removal firm to transport our furniture, files, and other equipment, but for some reason I only remember the moving of one desk.  The Settlement’s original and subsequent homes were about a mile apart.  In drizzling rain, Roderick Graham, a debt counsellor, and I carried this piece from one to the other.  The next day I had a cataract operation in Nottingham.Solo slot

This afternoon I began reading Susan Hill’s ‘The Service of Clouds’ before Maggie and Mike collected me and drove me to their home in Eymet where we tried a new Indian takeaway restaurant.  Poppy’s produced quite the best curry I have tasted in France.  The proprietors are an English couple, the woman of which cooks the food before your very eyes.  A limited menu is rapidly and superbly produced.  The phal was very much to my liking.  With it I drank an excellent Chateau Laville Bertou reserve minervois 2010.  I chose it because it bore the tag Reflets de France, and I have found that whatever the product this is always a very reliable label.  Not only that.  I couldn’t find any Kingfisher.

Dana, Sandrine’s husband who has joined the family concern drove me back to Sigoules where I was entertained for an hour or so by Jamie and the Crazy Hearts; the drummer barely discernible in a corner behind three guitarists, one being the energetic lead singer who announced the numbers in French and sang in his native English; performing a Country Rock concert in Le Code Bar. Country Rock at Le Code Bar (2) Having eaten with the Kindreds, I declined the barbecue that was on offer.

Leaving Home

China garden interim course 9.12

A Scrabble chat with my friend June Brokas, about her daughter and my granddaughter going off to university, reminded me of the times Michael left home.  Ever a resourceful and determined young man, sometime around 1980, my eldest son bought a two up, two down, cottage in South Wimbledon and converted into two flats which he sold on.  With my nephew James, and a carpenter, he carried an RSJ up a spiral staircase they had fitted themselves.  He couldn’t afford a crane.  That is how his extremely successful building and decorating company, Able Assignments, began. If you need any suitable work done in or around South West London, check it out.

That was the commercial.  Now for Mike’s bid for independence.  His intention was to live in his newly acquired property while he and the lads carried out the conversion.  The first night he was back home.  There was no electricity.  Could he stay until it was turned on?  Of course he could.  It was only for a day or two.  When the supply was connected he returned to his adventure.  A few days later, there he was, on the doorstep, asking: ‘can I come back.  I can’t live in that crap’.  Of course he could.  Stay, not live in that crap.  It was only for a few months.

On this gloomy Sunday morning, back in Morden, I walked down Morden Road to Staples to buy some more display files for Mum’s birthday project.  When I arrived they were closed.  It was still only 9.45.  You have to walk all the way round a large area of railing to get to the front door in order to read specific opening hours.  I could see the doors were shuttered and, rather than make this trip, I assumed they’d be open at 10.  I went on across the High Street, along Merton Road and Wimbledon Broadway as far as the railway station.  By this time the rain had set in, and, not having gone equipped, I boarded a 57 bus back to South Wimbledon, from where I walked back to Staples, which was still closed.  This time I read the notice which informed me that the store does not open on Sundays until 11 a.m., which was still 35 minutes away.  Now rather wet, I turned away, deciding there was no point in sheltering on a bus for the rest of the journey, which I made on foot.  A young Asian man, no better protected from the weather, looking at the shuttered doorway and the size of the establishment, asked me if it was a warehouse.  I said it was so big it looked like one, but it was a retail outlet, not open until 11.  He asked if there was anywhere he could wait, as it was important for him to buy whatever he had come for.  I directed him to a cafe, saying I could wait until tomorrow.  I arrived home before Staples would have opened.

Football training was being conducted in Abbey Recreation Ground on Morden Road.

We had a lazy afternoon on computers.  I played on-line Scrabble and Jackie browsed for plants suitable for the variable Firs soils. In the evening we dined at The China Garden.  The meals were, as usual, crisp and tasty.  I drank half a bottle of Chateau du Souzay Beaujolais-Villages 2011 and Jackie enjoyed a bottle of Tsingtao beer.  When we returned to Links Avenue we unloaded the bags we had been too tired last night to deal with.  The rain was hammering down.  Jackie had chosen the best possible three weeks for her holiday.

Graham Road

130A Graham Rd., Initials 6.12

Having spent an hour this morning ‘getting my head round my new camera’, in the process being surrounded by various connecting leads; a CD Rom; a lead with a plug on it; a ‘getting started’ booklet; a charger; oh, and a camera, and not really having got very far except for a couple of out of focus pictures of a sofa and cushions, it was fairly obvious where my feet were going to have to take me.  This was a round trip to Jessops in Wimbledon.  Actually the two pictures featured today were taken en route to Jessops, so it wasn’t all bad.

I fell at the very first hurdle.  The camera is so small that you are enjoined to fix its strap so that you can wrap it around your wrist in order not to drop it.  This initial instruction I was unable to perform.  Anyone who read yesterday’s post will know that my camera was a display model.  This meant that it probably contained an already charged battery.  I felt fairly confident in skipping the battery charging section.  There were other setting up procedures which to my uneducated eye staring at the various icons, numbers, and letters on the screen may or may not have been carried out.  One of these, said to be essential, was the setting of time and date.  I didn’t want these printed on my pictures, so why were they essential?  Pass.  Panic.  Perambulate.

Off I trotted to the experts.  An elderly couple in Mostyn Road were amused to see me photographing all sorts of stuff, like (out of focus) convulvulus.  I explained it was my new toy, and the woman said that after five years she hadn’t really got her head round hers.  ‘I’ve got lots of pictures of my feet, fridge door, mantelpiece… name it, because I keep pressing the wrong bits’.  ‘I’ve just done that,’ said I.  We had a laugh and I moved on just in time to see that I was being approached by swarms of boys from  Rutlish school presumably freed by the bell.

I had hoped by now to have completed the cyclists theme begun on 19th. June.  However, despite the danger of seeming to have a bee in my bonnet about them, I have to report that two of the boys in the leading phalanx were coming straight at me on the pavement doing slow motion wheelies abreast of each other.  The boys alongside them had to make way for me.  By the time the next lad on a bike approached me I had had enough of stepping out into the road and held my ground.  He bruised my knuckle as he swerved across my path.  At least he was trying to avoid me, and did apologise.  I decided to walk into the school and have a word.  I was seen by a gentleman in authority who may or may not have been the headmaster.  He was neither owning up to being the boss nor offering his name.  If I could identify the boys by picking them out after having waited at the school entrance the next afternoon something may possibly be done; otherwise it was all rather difficult because if the boys were told to cycle in the road the school would be in trouble if one of them ‘got whopped’.  I politely stated that of course I couldn’t identify the boys and wasn’t looking for retribution, rather some sort of ruling or guidance from the school.  Perhaps I would like to come back later and speak to the police officers attached to the school.  No, I wouldn’t.  I was thanked for bringing the matter to his attention.  C’est la vie moderne.  I was reminded of a walk along the Ridgway in Wimbledon village just over a year ago.  A 200 bus was being marshalled by two police officers ensuring that the melee of schoolboys from Wimbledon College were keeping some semblance of order.  Some lads were being turfed off the bus.  I told the representatives of law and order that had I behaved as the boys were doing when I was at the school 50 years ago I would have been before the headmaster in the morning.  I was in fact no angel, but when I did anything out of order outside school, like getting my rugby boots stuck in an apple tree which I was trying to scrump, and consequently being unable to play a match, or wittily (I don’t think now) changing a street name with whatever was the then equivalent of a marker pen,  I was inevitably shopped and for the high jump.  Am I showing my age?  Am I being an old git?  I don’t care.  Maybe I was a bit out of sorts because I was struggling with my camera.  I don’t think so.

130A Graham Rd., 6.12

As always when I use the Graham Road route I experienced a glow of pride when I walked past number 130A.  This extremely tasteful new-build was created by my sons Michael and Matthew and Michael’s small and friendly workforce.  Michael’s firm, Able Assignments, had done some structural work for the woman who owned the house next door.  She had wanted for some time to sell part of her garden for development but wanted craftsmen she could trust.  Having been pleased with his work, his manner, and his reliability, she invited my son to buy the plot and build a house.  No. 130A is the result.  I believe this property is an exciting hybrid of old and new ideas.  Many of the features, such as high ceilings; ceiling roses; deep skirting boards; and solid wooden panelled doors, were inspired by the Victorian architecture of Lindum House in Newark.  These are combined with top quality modern kitchen, bathrooms and entry system, with more than adequate storage space.  I wouldn’t mind living in it if I could afford it.

The man at Jessop’s put me right on various issues, sorted the settings, and explained that the out of focus pictures were so because the flash was turned off and therefore not operating when there was insufficient light, resulting in camera shake.  He immediately reassured me by telling me that most people couldn’t attach the strap, and showing me why.  I hadn’t gone ten yards out of the shop when I had forgotten how to zoom in on a picture I had taken.  Back in I went for a repeat lesson.

Whilst cooking this evening’s Methi Gosht I managed to slice the skin off a broken knuckle with the lid of a ghee tin.  The knuckle is one of two I broke playing Rugby many years ago, so it sticks out a bit more than it should.  I am not going to seek sympathy from my friend Judith Munns, because she’d probably think it served me right (the break, not the cut).

My Methi Gosht was accompanied by Cobra beer, Jackie’s with Hoegarten.