Its surprising what you actually come across that’s been discarded, left behind when people relocate.
I worked on a job in the center of Manchester a few years back and actually spent two years on it. Ripping it apart then refurbishing it, modernizing the internal structure. Its always the same during a refurbishment, and time is spent working through it seeing what can be rescued and re-used.
I was working through one floor with John (See Jonny Moonshine, and Dust motes)stripping door furniture, with John weighing up the value of such obviously expensive handles and locks. The sheer weight of each spoke volumes.
And something John appreciates is value for money, and a bargain.
We reached quite an opulent office – come board room. Obviously a room of importance at one time, looking at the quality of the fixture and fittings, with a beautiful hardwood desk still in there.
The first thing your going to do of course is check the drawers. Who knows what you’ll find? As it was John got to it first and came across a pair of dusty Brogues that had obviously been there a while. John took one look, shook his head and just said,
“Some people, have more money than sense. What a bloody waste..”
I must admit I had to agree. The were a quality pair of shoes.
But we carried on working through the floor removing what ever we could salvage.
It wasn’t long before we were due a brew and made our way to the brew room in the basement. This was an odd building to be honest. There were seven floors above ground then four below. So eleven in all, but from the outside you had no idea. The very bottom housed the vaults of the bank that had previously occupied the building.
Someone was missing.
“Where’s Tony?” I asked John.
Tony was the site labourer and would have been working on a different part of the job. And with there being eleven floors all told he could have been anywhere. It being brew time was a point to catch up with each other, and if someone was missing then it needed checking out. As we were standing to find him, Tony came staggering through the brew room door, obviously shaken.
“Jeez Tone! What’s happened??”
He was almost incoherent, nearly sputtering in fact. Getting him to sit down was an effort as he was completely wired and shaking like a leaf.
“Tone! For Christ’s sake whats happened??”
“The lift!”he gasped out. ” The lift! Been in the Lift!!”
“Annnnnd??? Whats the problem? Whats actually happened Tone??”
As it turned out, Toney realizing it was heading towards brew time was making his way down to the canteen, which was on the floor below ground level (-1). Being on the 2nd floor he hopped into the lift to come down the 3 floors. Upon entering the lift though, the doors had failed to close. Toney was then hitting various buttons in an effort to get things moving. Eventually the doors shut by their own accord. What Toney didn’t know was, that the lift engineer was testing the lift. It had been arranged with management, but management had failed to tell anybody else. The test about to take place involved dropping the lift to the basement onto its buffers. This meant the lift would descend (very rapidly) 6 floors.
It must have been like an epiphany for Toney as the lift suddenly dropped away beneath him.
There then followed, (according to the lift engineer), a sudden wailing scream, which began in the distance above him (2nd), swept past him like a formula one car (-2), disappearing into the depths of the lower basement, (-4), where the lift hit the buffers with a satisfying crash.
From this point onwards all he heard was Toney screaming
That was probably when the lift engineer paled slightly and galloped to the basement like a racehorse on steroids to help Toney climb out on rubber legs, covered in debris from the shattered lights. Then hop around him like a demented frog, whilst Toney came to terms with the fact that he was still alive.
By the way, jumping just before impact is very hard to do, when your feet haven’t actually caught up with the descending lift yet. It’d be like trying to jump in the middle of a jump.
I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was to show any sympathy for laughing.
Eventually, Toney was brought up to the brew room (-1), for a sweet cup of tea, a blanket and a cold flannel. Actually just the tea. And after a significant period of time we managed to prise the tea cup from his hands, to put him trembling on a bus and send him home.
I hasten to add shortly after, we were given radios in order to keep track of each other on such a large job. The radios were a godsend and proved essential. I finally fully appreciated their effectiveness, when I walked to a burger bar on Market street with Chris the other site labourer. Upon arriving Chris asked if I was buying anything but I just said no and waited outside. Watching him I waited till he got to the front of the queue and was just about to order, when I shouted down my radio,
“Everyone! Put your hands in the air!! This is a fuckin stick up!! Give me a Big Mac and make it quick!!!!”
I didn’t hang about. I was there long enough to see Chris desperately trying to get his radio out of his coat pocket.
Anyhow the day passed quite quickly, we went back to stripping the door furniture and I left John on the previous floor and carried on the floor above. All the time, entertained through out thinking about Toney’s descent.
I was meeting John later in the evening for a pint with a couple of other friends, so left him in town where he was going clothes shopping. Or, Getting Value For Money.
Now John like a bargain, so without hesitation he headed straight for a large store in town where he could buy lots for little. And never mind the sweat shops in the far east.
If I thought the day couldn’t get any better I was wrong.
I called to Johns house later that night to meet him and walk to the pub about 300 yards from his home. Small talk going, then in and order a pint for ourselves and the group we were meeting. Sit down and start a general conversation. It was then I noticed that John was wearing a new sweater.
“Ah! Got a bargain then?”
“Yep. Dirt cheap. Looks good yes?. Got the shirt and trousers too. Part of the display. Saw it on the Dummy.”
(Your a bloody dummy)
“Hey! …Anyway, couldn’t resist it. Must have cost me 25 quid all in. What a bargain.”
And I had to admit, child labour or not, 9 years olds in battery chicken cages not withstanding, this shop had churned out something that looked quite dapper on john who always liked to look smart. Nice cream V-neck sweater with piping to the sleeves and collar, brown trousers and nice shirt too.
So everybody agreed,
“Yeah, looks great John. Good result for the money,”
“Lovely shirt John.”
“Your Eyebrows look fantastic tonight john. On a Promise?”
Which john would have loved – having achieved a bargain. And he sat there his normal quiet self basking in everybody’s admiration.
Then I notice a guy come into the pub with his wife. He goes to the bar to order a drink and I’m watching him trying to put my finger on whats tugging at my attention.
And I realize he’s wearing a similar sweater to Johns.
Not only is it similar though, but its exactly the same. And not only is the sweater the same, I realize the guy must have had the very same idea of a bargain and bought the whole outfit.
Cream sweater, (with the piping) brown trousers and a very nice matching shirt.
By this point I’m trying not to laugh out loud. But I’m nudging the others and quietly pointing out the the close comparison at the bar. And its become a knuckle chewing moment of sly looks and sniggers, without saying anything to John just waiting, to see if he notices.
Then in what I can only call a perfect moment, in this huge pub, the guy walks over to us and sits opposite John. And as he goes to sit down, see’s John and John see’s him.
The chap has paused partway between sitting, looking at John before finally lowering himself into his seat.
And he’s obviously having one of those moments where he must have been thinking,
“I don’t fucking believe this.”
He sort of looks at his feet shaking his head, murmurs to his wife who looks up sharply at John then just as sharply back down trying to cram her drink in her mouth to avoid laughing. The guys murmurs something else picks his pint up, downs it in one, tell her to “Hurry up” then they both get up and leave. With his wife sniggering behind him, turning to outright laughter as she gets outside.
Johns just been sat there slightly slack jawed, staring, with head tipped slightly back, down his nose, into space. Waiting for the inevitable ribbing that was coming.
John was slightly crestfallen to say the least. But, once this chap had left there was only one person in the pub looking fantastic. And value? For money?
And it was only as we were stood outside the pub saying goodbye later that night, that I noticed John, hands in pockets, (protecting his wallet no doubt) stood rocking to and thro on his heels. And there, on his feet, were a particularly dapper pair of tan Brogues, polished to a brilliant shine.
And I knew, John had found a proper bargain.