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  I don’t
get out
much
Views from our ever so slightly grumpy, but often unerringly accurate, columnist
Opinion
tradesmen
- just don’t
expect
reliability
Iam a firm believer in supporting the community, be it the village, town or general area. Which is why we use local tradespeople whenever possible. Hedge cutting
– local. Plumber – local. Electrician – local. Painter and decorator – local.
The standard of work has, so far, been good but their customer relations leave a lot to be desired.
Example one. Sent a text in the autumn to the man who has cut our hedges for many years saying we’d like him in soon. No response to the text until a few months later when said man appears by the kitchen window one evening. Quite a shock to have someone banging on your window when it’s dark outside while you are concentrating on your Sudoku. He still can’t give us a date for the work but he “will get round to us” some time. Another month or two passes without any communication until 7.30 one February morning we are woken by the gentle sound of – a petrol hedge cutter.
Example two. We call the plumber we have used for getting on for 20 years to fix a tap for us. No response so leave a message. He turns up, unannounced and with no previous communication, a few weeks later to fix the tap. She Who Must Be Obeyed asks if he could also sort an
. . . do some of these tradespeople just take us for granted? Answers on a postcard please.
issue in the utility room. He nods sagely but says he can’t do it now.
As I show him out he says he’ll be back “Friday evening” to do the job – this was on a Wednesday. Friday comes – no plumber. Whole of the following week. No plumber. Then almost two weeks
after he said he would be round he appears. No apologies. No nothing. Is it just me or do some of these tradespeople just take us for granted? Answers on a postcard please.
Imade my first call to Barbara in May 2015. She was my new, and first, Silverline friend. The charity Silverline had been set up in 2013 by Dame Esther Rantzen as a sort of Childline for wrinklies (my words).
She was prompted to do so after finding herself increasingly lonely following the death of her husband, Desmond Wilcox. The idea was simple – match up volunteers with elderly people who wanted someone to chat with, on the phone, on a regular basis.
She Who Must Be Obeyed spotted a television appeal made by Dame Esther late in 2014 for more volunteers and immediately thought of me.
I applied, went through the online training and was matched with Barbara. Calls were made through a virtual call centre meaning our telephone details were private and we were encouraged to use first names only and never give any personal details away.
After some initial hesitation, as we sounded each other out, Barbara and I settled into a good routine, with me calling her the same time and day every week.
This carried on until late October last year, 2020.
After not being able to get through a couple weeks running I contacted the Age UK Friendship service, which had taken over the Silverline service in the autumn of 2019.
It transpired that Barbara had died but that her daughter, who I spoke with a couple of times when she was visiting Barbara, had asked if she could send me an Order of Service.
I said that would be wonderful. Early in February I realised I had not heard anything, or received anything in the post, so I rang Age UK Friendship again. They said nothing had been received but if it had, it would have been forwarded.
I felt a little deflated. Sure, we had never met but Barbara and I had become firm telephone friends, chatting away happily for more than five years.
As it was her daughter, who had asked about sending the Order of Service to me via Age UK, she must have changed her mind. Or it had been forwarded to Age UK but misplaced? Sadly, I’ll never know.
 In praise of local
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