I am always intimidated by builders’ yards.

The people that run builders’ yards have some sort of infallible ESP about you as soon as you walk in, no matter how you act or dress. This time, I cross the threshold with a bullish air, determined to radiate confidence in my abilities to choose building materials. Unfortunately, loud sirens immediately wail out, and a big neon sign with pointy things starts flashing ‘not a builder! not a builder!’ above my head.

I swat at it, irritably.

“Er – how much is that?” I ask the man, waving at some fencing and attempting to look as if I spend my entire life buying and putting up fencing. I give the fence a sneer.

“That’s… about twenty,” he replies, having sized me up. Damn him. I do not have the courage to ask what factors affect the ‘about’ aspect of the cost. I nod sagely, before remembering to shake my head at the ridiculous price he is asking for his fencing when I could get it for half that from any number of my usual fence suppliers.

“Is that including or excluding VAT?” I ask, cleverly.

“Including,” he replies. This is annoying. He should have quoted me excluding, as I am clearly in the trade.

I give a ‘that is inconvenient as now I am going to have to work it out excluding as actually all this stuff is to do with my successful fencing business’ type shrug. “Fine,” I tell him. “Have you got any – ummm – I need some wire like chicken wire,” I ask.

“What sort?”

“Well – chicken wire,” I clarify, trying not to give him the impression that I am one more idiot who has decided that by keeping half a dozen hens in his back garden he is suddenly an important part of the stewardship of the countryside.

“What size holes are you after?”

I am stumped by this. I haven’t a clue how big the chickens will be.

“One inch, or two inches?”

I’m fairly sure that even Short Tony and I will be able to get the chickens to the sort of size where they won’t be able to get through either of those gauges. He gives me his price, which I write on my important scrap of paper.

“Thanks,” I say, all my price research complete.

“You’re welcome.”

“Yes – I’ll measure up and pop back to order it,” I promise. “With my van.”

41 thoughts on “I go to the builders’ yard.

  1. Kadeeae says:

    Hmmmm….didn’t there used to be an email link? How’s someone supposed to stalk properly without an email link, eh?

    Anyhooooo….just wanted to say congrats on being mentioned in the “Blog On” section of Web User magazine! You’ve hit the big time now – best watch out for the paps documenting your every move in photographic form.

  2. Cliff says:

    When you go back in your “van”, make sure you take a call while loading it up, to talk to Dave. Call him a muppet and say “6.5 with the generator. Beech effect. Well, cash if possible. Friday, yeah?” Then ask for a discount.

  3. JonnyB says:

    Hummmmmm – there is an email address under the Contacting Me page (https://www.privatesecretdiary.com/contacting-me/) – but the menu navigation gets obscured if you are logged into WordPress. Does anybody else have this problem? If so I will do something to fix it.

    I am in a magazine?!? This is exciting. The last time this happened the magazine went bust shortly afterwards. It is my curse.

  4. Gumpher says:

    To be ‘in the trade’ you should have had a two inch long pencil jammed over the top of your ear. Obvious really.

  5. bob the bolder says:

    Do your trousers sag enough at the back?

    You know what I mean.

    I’m only a couple of letters away from expert on this.

  6. Mr Wibble says:

    A De Walt utility belt and wrap around shades should impress sufficiently. Y Just make sure you scuff them up a bit. You wont look silly at all. Why, as well as a discount – you’ll be off-roading with him in no time.

  7. NAGA - Potty Training Services says:

    Builders do not wear anoraks, or crisp new overalls JB. But I think the main problem might have been, your lilly white callous free handage.

    You need roughing up a bit with sandpaper and such like.

  8. Sheppitsgal says:

    Also, builders often wear hard hats.

    It may be worth wearing one when you go back (if you can get one in your size).

  9. Van? Van??? No wonder they rumbled you, you big pansy. Real builders don’t talk about vans – they talk about “equipment”.

    “What equipment you on?”
    “The white one with ‘WASH ME DAVE’ written in the grime on the back door.”

    See? Now that’s builder talk.

    Anyway, reviving the chicken shed saga are we? Good thing someone is keeping track of this rot for you…

  10. spazmo says:

    I can’t fault Jonny for assuming chicken wire comes in just the one standard chicken-sized variety.

    Unless Norfolk is renouned for breeding hummingbirds, one size should do it, right?

    I mean, they don’t sell barbed wire in varying degrees of barbiness.

  11. Damian says:

    You know, go for the stuff that’s one level of strength up from chicken wire. I’m not sure what it’s called, but it has a square pattern and the wire is heavier.

    Foxes can bite through chicken wire.

    Or make sure you lock the chickens up at night.

  12. Caro says:

    You wrote down the price without asking him what would he do you for cash? No wonder he saw right through you…

  13. JonnyB says:

    Hullo Caro and Sheppitsgal and welcome.

    It will be no problem with the hard hat, as ‘medium’ ones are the most popular.

  14. Lisa says:

    Spazmo, actually, they do sell barbed wires in many varieties–different patterns of barbs and sizes. God knows why I know this, as I have never had occasion to need any barbed wire, or chicken wire for that matter. They sell rabbit wire in my rural neighbourhood, but that is for strangling bunnies rather than keeping them safe, so we don’t talk about it.

  15. Z says:

    I went into a builders’ yard and enthused about bricks to the chap there and he really liked me. He gave me a couple of bricks to try, and phoned me up afterwards to talk about them. It was really a bit embarrassing so I haven’t been back since. I sent my husband instead.

    I think the correct use of the apostrophe marks one out as an amateur. Or is that just greengrocer’s?

  16. Sophie says:

    Yes, hurrah for the correct apostrophe, and sod ’em. You could be one of those City Types who has Downsized into a Rural Way of Life for all the builders’ yard staff know …! (Although that may impress them even less, now I think about it.)

  17. ell says:

    Yum. Tools.

  18. mr wibble – JUST an utility belt?

    *looks hopeful*

  19. JonnyB says:

    Hullo ell and welcome!!!

    I do not have a utility belt, I’m afraid. I also made the mistake of talking in feet and inches, whereas apparently even builders use metric these days.

  20. JoAnne says:

    I have prompted a blog entry!!

    by asking about the chickens and all.

  21. sablonneuse says:

    Well that’s the fencing but just remember to leave a big enough gap – or gate even – to get the materials through when you build the shed.

  22. Richard says:

    You must avail yourself of a thickly padded plaid shirt and wear it open over a grubby t shirt. You must write “Washed by Stevie Wonder” and “I wish my wife was this dirty” on the back of your van and there has to be several nondescript pieces of grubby paper on the dash. Bluetooth headset so at least they won’t see your pink phone. Say “mate” a great deal and don’t turn up on a Saturday because no builder works on a Saturday. Ever.

  23. Lozzy says:

    rite m8 pop over ta tha counter n I’ll git yer wire for yer, Yard Lad then slaps two boxes down on the counter, theres yer wire and theres yer oles, Jonny picks up one very heavy box containing roll of wire and one very light seemingly empty box of holes…

  24. Steve Millar says:

    You should have taken an egg to the builders yard, safe in the knowledge that your chickens will only get bigger in the weeks to come.

  25. NAGA - Potty Training Services says:

    Save yourself the cost of wire etc.

    Eat chickens earlier than anticipated.

    Straight from box.

  26. 26!

    OK, I’ve clearly nothing to add.

  27. Jayne says:

    I’m also intimidated by builders’ yards. And garages (not the petrol type but the “there’s a strange noise coming from under the back seat and flames are roaring out of the exhaust, please help” type. Mainly because I’m female and the blokes who work here always seem to think that entitles them to call me luv and charge me 3 times the going rate. If I’m lucky.

    Perhaps you need to show a little more cleavage?

  28. Pat says:

    Why didn’t you ask for 4 candles to establish your credibiity?

  29. daz says:

    Jayne Says:
    February 2, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Perhaps you need to show a little more cleavage?

    Jayne obviously means bum cleavage.

  30. sawvify says:

    tgud,d,jjvui fyyd ggjh!

  31. rashbre says:

    i hope the van is a white hightop

  32. Imaginary Friend says:

    JoAnne @20, and so you should be proud! Twice now I have more than hinted about how the not drinking so much in the New Year is going and not a dicky bird…one is starting to wonder whether Mr B is avoiding the subject.

  33. JonnyB says:

    Well it is sort of… early days…

  34. Duncan says:

    i do the same thing when dealing with mechanics, and invariably ask if the carpetator is okay. thus proving i am not a man, i pop next door to fabric warehouse

    chin chin

  35. Heather says:

    I think you might want to worry about what could get in, stoat, mink etc. etc. and go for the 1 inch. You can see how seriously I take this.

  36. JoAnne says:

    Imaginary Friend – perhaps we will end up with an entry about drunken chickens making off with his whiskey mash.

  37. Duck says:

    If you put the chickens through the Sausage Machine, they’d fit through the one inch holes. That will save you having to build a gate to let them out.

  38. sandwichfilling says:

    I heard that you need rabbit netting to keep chickens in and chicken fencing to sort out your sheep troubles.

  39. Hugo says:

    In 1997 I had a job putting up 5′ 4′ corex posters all round Aberdeen in people’s gardens.

    I had to go to the builders yard to buy timber.

    To get round the embarassment of being a non-builder in a builder’s yard my mate stole a tool belt and hard hat from the office we were using and insisted on taking his top off everytime we approached the yard in our van. He was sit there in the van, half naked, and make hand signals to all the real builders.

    It didn’t work.

  40. JonnyB says:

    Haha! This wasn’t one of those times where you had picked up that Red Indian and that Leather Biker hitch hiker as well?

Comments are closed.