And I should add, tradeswomen too.
I have been decorating a small room in our house. It was a relatively easy project, as I did not have to paint the windows, or gloss the door and surrounding wood. Clear the room, fill the cracks and screw-holes, sand down and wash the walls. This was followed by two coats of paint on the ceiling, then two coats of a different colour, on the walls. Some fiddly finishing touches followed. Making good the straight lines, going over tiny bits that were missed, and clearing the dust and spills from the carpet. This was not a mammoth task, and many readers could have probably completed this in a weekend, without giving it a second thought. However, I was hampered by a serious decorating liability.
I am just no good at it. Adding to that, I hate doing it, and can get absolutely no enjoyment from it. I have no genetic code for DIY. I am one of those people that will pay someone else to do it, or put it off until the last possible moment, or until other factors make it absolutely necessary to undertake this odious task. That sense of achievement that inspires others to get on with things like this just does not enter into my thoughts. I chose other paths in life, and put aside decorating in the same way that others decline to write, read, or watch films. Working in this room for a few hours each day, I have only spent around twenty-four hours on this job. To me, it seemed like an eternity. As I was finishing the last of the painting on Tuesday, I suddenly thought about the people who do this for a living. This is my blogging tribute to them.
I have never held with snobbery about jobs and careers. I believe that someone who empties my dustbin is as valuable to society as a surgeon who operates on me. There is far too much made of the social standing of different jobs. This not only applies in this country, but is the same all over the world. Tradesmen make the decision, usually at a very young age, to learn their craft. And in so doing, set out their life ahead. They work an apprenticeship, low paid for some years, and either continue with examinations, or learn on the job as they grow. They become accomplished in their chosen field, and can then offer their services to anyone with the means to pay them a fair rate for the job. There may be the odd exception, but they generally take a pride in their work, and want their customer to be satisfied, and to recommend them to others. We have all had occasion to use tradesmen, or to benefit from their services at some time. But unless we are related to one, or have a close friend who is one, we know little about them.
This got me thinking, and for obvious reasons, about painters and decorators. How does anyone actually get the enthusiasm to do this for a living? A life spent with brushes, rollers, dustsheets and ladders; Gloss paint, Matt paint, eggshell, filler, and sandpaper. Wallpaper and paste, masking tape, white spirit, spreading knives, tins, trays, and pots. The paraphernalia of a chosen trade and career, carted around daily, loaded and unloaded into vans. Overalls and hands covered in paint. Waking up to the smell of paint, and going to bed at night, knowing that the same thing awaits you tomorrow. Rolling, brushing, stirring, sploshing, cutting in, and clearing up again. This is dedication indeed, and something unknown to me.
So I can only praise you. Whether decorator, carpenter, plumber, electrician, or gardener. You do things that I could never do. You do them well, with skill and commitment; and you carry on doing them, day in, day out. This is my salute to you all.