Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Coldmac

There can be no more debilitating combination of words in the English language than “third party subcontractor”.

Its dictionary definition must surely read: “pronoun, common insult, ‘yee-har, move ‘em up, ride ‘em out, raw hide’, about as much use as football boots on a jellyfish”.

To my mind – and I am probably being wildly unfair – despite all the shenanigans with work permits and legal contracts that undoubtedly bind the sub contractor to the contracting agent they are still one step down from tinkers and gypo’s... and only slightly better than those gangs of swarthy, neckerchiefed ruffians who tarmac your drive without your permission and then forcibly present you with an invoice that has been date stamped by the knuckledusters of their accounts clerk who also happens to moonlight as an all-in wrestler down by the docks on a Friday night to earn enough money for his mother’s sex change operation.

When I know work is being carried out by a third party subcontractor I know in my heart of hearts that the work would be more effectively carried out by a team of onanistic chimpanzees.

Clearly the top level contractor tends to agree with me as that is who invariably turns up to perform the work.

The pavements along our street were resurfaced last week. Coldmacked. Some sort of cheapo tarmacadam is thinly applied to the pavement like swirling a teaspoon of soup around the interior of a bain-marie – the object being to acquire a thin but even coating all round that dries in the fraction of the time.

Notice for this kind of work – especially when it stands between you and your own front door – is usually given with enough consideration that you can make alternative arrangements; i.e. either arriving home earlier or later or bunking up with a friend.

Our goodly subcontractor last week gave my street a mean hour’s notice. Most of us – my wife and I included – were at work. The first my wife knew of the resurfacing was when she drove over it to reach our front drive. Meanwhile, when I arrived home two hours later I had to perform the long-jump to get from the grass verge to my own hallowed garden path. The result is that we have two dynamic tyre marks making it look as if my wife constantly skids the car into the front garden and my back heel is forever immortalized to be one day dug up and cooed over by a futuristic Tony Robinson.

The stuff – the “cold mac” – was meant to take a measly hour to dry. Imagine our surprise then when we exited the family domicile the next morning and found the car left further tyre marks in the still soft tarmac when we pulled out of the drive.

The letter of advice slung through our door at the eleventh hour warned us not to step onto the tarmac for an hour after it had been applied lest we disfigure the appearance of the pavement and get tarmac onto our carpets which, the letter writer was at pains to add, would be very difficult to remove.

Plainly we were meant to camp out in the street all night with the kids until sometime the next day. Maybe even stay in a hotel. Or just construct a trebuchet with which we could have launched the kids into their beds through the closed bedroom window.

Cowboys.

Cowboys employed by idiots contracted by pen pushing accounts clerks who spent the 57 pence they saved buying a novelty Tippex-mouse.

I can smell the lucky heather from here.

Can’t you?


23 comments:

the fly in the web said...

I always thought that private finance initiatives had been invented by the 'travelling people'......

Steve said...

The fly in the web: I think you'll find it was the rich who invented daylight robbery.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Well, you've got to economise when the purse strings are tight. I would have attached ropes to the street lamps so you could swing around the place like Tarzan. It would give you the chance to wear your loin cloth without getting arrested.

Jon said...

on the plus side you'll be able to direct visitors more easily to your dwelling based on the disticntive pavement art. Every cloud, etc.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: not sure the world would be ready for me to bring my boudiour behaviour out into the street.

Jon: just follow the tyre tracks... yes. That could work.

The bike shed said...

Boys from the black stuff - how long ago was that - same old, same old; nothing much changes.

Nana Go-Go said...

I can't believe it! The same just happened in our street two weeks' ago and what a bloody mess the pavements are in. First sign of frost, the whole shebang will be splitting every which way but the proverbial. Our lot of cowboys were hired from Lancashire to come up and do the deed....like there are no good tarmaccers in Scotland looking for a job!(that is in no way a slight on the good people of Lancashire, btw!).
What happened to that nice tarmac you used to get with the pretty white polkadots in it? Council shmouncil!

Nana Go-Go said...

ps forgot to say, they left a survey card through my door for me to fill in and send back...eh?!

Steve said...

The Bike Shed: sometimes I think we are the land that progress forgot.

Nana Go-Go: we had red tarmac on the pavement when I was a kid. Remember that? Back in the days when roadworks were done properly and finished professionally.

Steve said...

Nana Go-Go: alas we had no feedback option with our lot. Hence the blog post.

libby said...

I'm worried now....if they are doing Steve and doing Nana will our road be next?

Steve said...

Libby: ask not who the coldmac bell tolls for, it tolls for thee...

Hannah Denski said...

: ) I can just see you standing outside your house, scratching your chin, mentally writing this post : ) go Steve! My thoughts are with you and your family. x

Steve said...

Hannah: I may have to employ a subcontractor to build me a ropebridge over the pavement.

Katriina said...

Last week, The Powers That Be dug up our entire street for resurfacing. One significant side effect was that street parking was suddenly off-limits for the entire duration of the work - a big issue in a long street full of apartment buildings, most of which don't have parking garages. There were some very creative parking solutions to be seen. At 8am on the morning after the resurfacing work had finished, parking inspectors moved in like vultures on the countless illegally-parked vehicles. Am 100% sure they made more than enough to pay for the resurfacing work. Bastards.

Owen said...

And the human race is supposedly evolving ?

Rol said...

The word 'cowboys' sends a shiver down my spine at the moment - we're having a new kitchen fitted next week. The horror, the horror.

Nice new look, BTW.

Nota Bene said...

Don't you work for the council? Can't you go and draw tyre marks all over the desk of whoever decided to ruin your drive....

Steve said...

Katriina: yup, it's all ways to screw money out of us under the guise of giving us a service that somebody else reckons we need.

Owen: ...possibly back into amoebas.

Rol: I've written a sympathy card for you. Please forward me your address at the mental home when you know what it is. (Thanks btw.)

Nota Bene: wrong council, alas. Besides, nearly everyone works from home these days.

Being Me said...

I kind of like the idea of the statement the tyre marks have given the front of your home. Although, granted, it is a statement that falls under a possibly unsavoury banner....

Love what you've done with the place! (the blog, not your driveway)

Keith said...

Ha, they did this round my way last year, and within days, days I tell you, weeds had shouldered aside the thin crust and erupted in a million little volcanoes of green. It which the rain got in, then the cold, and they might as well have not bothered.

As an aside, I had a call from a company doing a survey on behalf of my local council. DId I, being a resident of Hertsmere, ever have cause to use the pavements of Hertsmere ? No, I told them, I hover three inches above them whenever I leave my house.

Marginalia said...

Sorry, this is a very unconvincing way of trying to persuade us that your wife can drive a four wheeled vehicle in a straight line. Comments from your neighbours prove otherwise.

Also, your own fantasy of being a world record long jump champion fell to earth.

Anyway, people pay good money to photograph paw marks in Hollywood. Be creative, make yours a tourist attraction.

From what I hear, that would liven up Lemington Spa (with or without Roayl appendage)

Steve said...

Being Me: I did the blog myself. I didn't subcontract at all.

Keith: I always suspected you were a Darlek.

Marginalia: the only reason I didn't agree to compete in the Olympics is because I didn't like the tracksuits.