Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 7 December 2009

The road not taken. But let's imagine...

A week before I became sixteen, when hangings were still public and packs of wolves roamed the Dales, I started work. Forty-four years later I retired. Two years of freelance followed as I waited for Mrs BB to join me in retirement. End-to-end scribbling except for two years repairing RAF radio equipment and perhaps an accumulated six weeks spent looking for work. But suppose I'd done something different?

Ian Jack, Guardian columnist and former editor of Granta was reflecting on an alternative life as a plumber. A craft with none of the basket-weaving associations the word so frequently attracts: intellectually and manually demanding (think of central heating systems), useful to society, well-paid, independent. I would be a bad plumber but that's because I lack training and experience. With them I might still be a bad plumber. But it's an interesting thought. How about you?

Jack ends his piece with the most English of questions: How would you feel if your daughter decided to become a plumber? Ah, England.

Novel crib as promised. Provisional title "Searching the Daily Telegraph".
Andrew Hatch, fortyish, divorced, tumbles from production engineer to welding consumables salesman. Loses job, exposed to the chill winds of Thatcher Britain.
Clare Lowther, fortyish, from wealthy family, physics at Wadham, stratospheric IT management jobs. Unsatisfactorily married (three-year-old son) following quixotic gesture to present spouse. Unemployed, looking for change. Both meet (not necessarily carnally) under unforeseen circumstances and in unfamiliar environment. CL - Physical details: thin rather than slender, no bust, slightly elongated face, small upwards curving mouth which appears to emphasise two central incisors, large dark-ringed eyes, curly hair cropped close with some grey, competent and confident (sexually and professionally), impatient with idiots, breathy voice.


The Crow said...

What color are her eyes?

(Not to be too nit-picky...)


The Crow said...

PS: I am a plumber - of sorts - having made my own plumbing repairs and installations. Does that count?

Barrett Bonden said...

The woman exists, or did sixteen years ago. My only interest in her is her outer shell. Eyes dark brown although that's testing me to the limit. I'm not good on eyes.

I'm differentiating between DIY plumbing and doing it for a living. The distinction is: would you be prepared to do a job for someone else and be judged not just on the basis that the repair/installation worked but that it looked pretty. My rare excursions into amateur plumbing were definitely craggy.

Plutarch said...

The first four lines which I read before scrolling down seemed to be four lines of a poem in free verse. Could I believe my eyes? A pity, but a post that touches many in retirement - not you and me, though.
Word verification is "lingers"

Julia said...

And here I was in November 2008 contemplating converting all my software developers into plumbers if the world economy crashed!

Spadoman said...

BB... All it takes is a scroll, (stroll?) through my blog to find the post listing the 70 plus jobs I've held. One was as a pipefitter in Chicago. Installed a lot of plumbing as it closely resembles pipefitting.
My youngest daughter went to non traditional college and studied auto body repair. Not your typical "women's" job, and is now district manager for accident services for Avis/Budget Car rental. She oversees a very large fleet of cars and repair technicians, repair shops and lease sales.
I would never have minded if any of my daughters had decided to become a plumber.
I like the descriptions of the characters. Remind me to tell you someday how i arrive at the names I use for my book and story characters.


Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: Your experience deepens my suspicions about free verse. If I can write it accidentally why should I bother to do so intentionally.

Julia: I'm not absolutely sure I made myself clear in the above post. I was asking myself the question: If I hadn't been a journalist what I might have done instead? In fact a disinclination to kneel would have prevented me from being a plumber. No problem for you, given your polymathism. Simply go home, change your coat and emerge as a circus ringmaster, bullpen coach for the Cardinals or a seeing-eye guide dog.

Spado: There was a peculiarly English twist to this post and it hinges on our class consciousness. In the US if a plumber makes enough dough (legally) no one would raise an eyebrow if he lived in a big house on a fancy estate. Here things can differ. As Julia hints (comment above) a couple of years ago the newspapers were full of stories about merchant bankers losing their jobs and training up as plumbers. Had that happened in the US I doubt whether anyone would have remarked on it. And the transition gains greater emphasis (Here only, I stress) at the thought that a woman might do this. Believe me, Spado, you're well out of all this.

Rouchswalwe said...

Would a brew master living in a big swanky house raise eyebrows?

Eleanor said...

I love your description of Julia as polymath, so true! She seems to be able to take each and every road. Oh, and by the way, your road has not ENDED YET Mr. Bonden, who knows what you might still do.

I'm honoured that you asked for my help in choosing films. I can't find your email address so I'll jot down some thoughts in this box.

Recommending films is almost as difficult as recommending books, so I do this with some trepidation. I often visit rottentomatoes.com to see what the critics have said, also imdb.com is wonderful for details about films. I too enjoyed "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," a film which has stayed with me for quite some time. Haven't seen Flash of Genius, and Moulin Rouge was made for the MTV generation (I loved it, hehe) so it would certainly not be your cup of tea. I hope I am not being presumptuous.

I am also aware that Mrs. BB may well enjoy different films from Mr. BB. So, to begin with, here is a list of films which I consider to be "good", a variety of genres is represented and some are more recent than others. If you've seen some of these and hated/loved them then let me know and I'll be able to be more precise with future recommendations.

I am taking this seriously because of the sheer joy I felt upon seeing your name in my commentbox.

List to follow in next commentbox:

Eleanor said...

The Lives of Others
Pan’s Labyrinth
Slumdog Millionaire
Dean Spanley
Gran Torino
Lars and the Real Girl
Little Miss Sunshine
Mostly Martha
Julie and Julia
Quiz Show

Avus said...

There is a business near here that is all female; Decoraters, plumbers, window cleaners. They are doing very well as females alone (and we seem to have a lot of widows around here) feel very secure employing them

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (sZ): Swanky neighbourhoods are now predominantly wine-drinking. So, yes.

Eleanor (Pts 1 & 2): Appreciate the list of films and will get round to them in a sec. However my problem was social/psychological; I am getting an unsatisfactory service from this guy I feel sorry for; should I be brutal and show him the door (for my sake) or keep going with his rubbishy films many of which we do not watch (for his sake). In other words, should I be an absolute swine or should I opt for selfless charity?

Films: Don't go to cinema very often (except when Borderlines Film Festival is on) and so we're way behind. Ones we've seen are: Pan's Labyrinth (Too fey for me; Mrs BB said OK), Gran Torino (Excellent except for contrived mechanistic ending), Little Miss Sunshine (Surprisingly OK since few US directors do children well), Frost/Nixon (First rate). Most of the others we'd be inclined to see when opportunity arises.

Avus: As I explained to Spadoman, it's the snob side of women-as-plumbers that interests me. Getting into the minds of men who wouldn't dream of employing a woman plumber, if you like. More a comment on masculine pond life.