A slightly different negotiation tactic!

Actually, I maybe should have entitled this missive "The Madame Fareda Health and Safety Executive, for reasons which will become apparent!

But, for the moment; do you recall the palava (Colloquialism: palava = problematic or drawn out procedure which really should have been more straightforward.) I had with the wrought ironwork on the stairs, a few months back? Well, the dentist downstairs (Dr Ashraf) is a Copt, and therefore he doesn't work on a Sunday. So, Sunday is the most convenient day to do any work on the stairs. It doesn't inconvenience him or his patients, with all the dust and noise, and they don't trouble me with coming and going and generally being in my way.

Today is Sunday, and instead of going back to bed after taking breakfast, I got dressed and was raring to go by about 08:30. Ah! Then appeared Madame Fareda, in full Health and Safety mode! (Of course, she's spot-on bearing in mind the accidents which I seem to not be able to avoid these days.) Number One Son had passed on to me some of the old safety stuff he had been using at work and which had seen better days. Two old dust masks, a type that they no longer use, and ditto a pair of goggles. The ensemble was completed with a shower cap from the Our Luxor Guest Apartment, to keep the bulk of the dust out of my hair. Don't you think I look swell?

I was pleased to be able to make use, again, of my latest acquisition from the fabulous collection of tools occasionally on sale at Aldi; my mini angle grinder, with the diamond tipped cutting blade. It's just marvellous, cutting plaster and brick like a knife going through butter!

Oh, it might be useful to tell you what I was about, yes? Well, I wanted to do away with the protruding bit of the stair wall, where the top of one meets the bottom of the other on the landing. like this:

Voila! Obviously, there was a fair bit of rubble when I'd finished, and there's no way that I was going to try and hump it (Maybe a hundredweight altogether? Oh dear, these new measurements! A hundredweight equals 112 pounds, or roughly 50 kilograms.) down the stairs and find some way of getting rid of it.

There's nearly always the Egyptian equivalent of the British "White Van Man" hanging around beside our local Mosque, with his donkey and cart, waiting for a job. I thought that I'd find the right bloke just there, and for once, I was right! He'd just come out of the Mosque ablutions place (toilet to you and me) and was conversing with (I think) his wife. Without English, we ascertained that it was, indeed, his donkey and cart and that he was for hire immediately. Good, eh? I took him by the hand and led him up the stairs to where the intended load was scattered around.

I'd taken 20le from Freda, thinking that it should be enough for less than an hour's work, and when I asked the man, "Be-cam?" (How much?), he indicated that I should make him an offer. "Ashreen?" (Twenty?) He nearly fell over, and by rabbiting and sign language, explained that he had seven children to feed and needed arboreen (forty)! And this is my problem? I don't think so! I offered to amputate his child producing equipment, but he declined, still pleading for the forty. Of course, I eventually agreed, being the soft touch that I am.

So, there's a new Egyptian bargaining ploy for you; "I cannot keep my todger in my pants and therefore you have to provide for all of my progeny!" (I thought that I'd left that scenario behind when we left England.) My advice would be that when you need a labouring man; you should find a teenager, as he's probably too young to be saving for the gold and the flat for his intended bride, and he is much less likely to have seven children to feed, and therefore might not want to charge you the earth!

Anyway, that's only the start of the task in hand, you'll have to wait for the next instalment; when I probably become a bricklayer and plasterer!


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