Dont buy the Sun.

Dont buy the Sun.
Hillsborough Justice campaign - Remember the 96.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

The Canadian Job - Putting the team together

As with most hit-em-hard, play fast and loose with the law, devil may care gang of roughnecks assembled for bank jobs and other blags, our team is gradually taking shape. After weeks of planning, the job is set up, ready to go and all we were really lacking was a sexy, wisecracking elite cadre of task specific experts to fly at this thing and, (in the immortal words of David Jones, ex-marketing manager of Atlantex Creative Works), 'fabricate the Hell out of this sucker'.

Alky Mike is first up to the plate. I note his advert in the local store window "30 YEARS EXPERIENCE. HANDMAN. PLUMIN. PANTING AND DECARROTING. JONERY." I call Mike and ask when he can attend. My strategy is to give him a smallish task, pay him, assess how well he's done what I asked, wait a week to see if Large Villas gets burgled and stripped of copper, then if he has performed well, ask him back. The precautions named above are not exagerrated, but are derived from the advice of the local police, who by now we know quite well.

"If you dont know these guys and they know the property is empty, they might decide they can make more money from your copper than from working for you".

I listen carefully, but am finding it difficult to frame my reply, mostly because I'm trying to avoid using the word 'copper' when talking to a member of the British Police. Inevitably, though, I reply

"So, Copper Officer. I mean they'll take my copper, Constable? Well that's something I didnt know. And it's worth that much, copper? I mean is that common plumbing material really valuable? Copper?"

I go on at some length until the copper receives a call on her radio. Apparently some pigs have been stolen from a nearby farm.

Mike agrees to see me, after 2.30, on a hot afternoon. He smells like he's been sleeping in a brewery, refuses a cup of tea and promptly falls into one of the holes I've made in the floorboards. I show him the task I have in mind, which is to remove the bathroom suite from the smaller of the bathrooms. Mike asks me several times what I want doing and promises to return two days later.

To my surprise, Mike turns up, offers me a Polo mint from a copious supply I discover later he always carries, and sets to work. The task I have set him is easy to perform, and easy to assess, but my initial fears, at least about his workmanship dissipate rapidly. He works hard and very efficiently, not even stopping for a tea break (I have several) and tidies up after himself, finishing just before opening time at the local pub. I'm slightly concerned about his colour change while he works, as he goes from a ruddy red to a kind of fluorescent puce over the course of the morning, but he assures me it is no more than "minor heart trouble". If we dont get robbed over the next week or so, Mike is a 'keeper' ( as long as he stay vertical).

Next up is Steve, plumber extraordinaire. In common with many plumbers, Steve is critical of the work done previously on the property, and while he stops short of describing this work as a 'kettle of fish' he does point out that it was 'probably done by an amateur'. He looks at me accusingly. After plausibly denying any responsibility for the mess of stealable copper we examine, Steve, makes a few suggestions and starts telling me his life story. Divorced once (as is Mike), he lost his business a few months ago and therefore, while he retains his licence and qualifications, he has had to find work as an employee. Anything he can do for us is therefore 'on the black', but certified. Like the plumbing itself, it is a tangled web we have woven, but seeing a kindred spirit in Steve (he is sueing a family owned company that refused to pay him for a massive job he had taken on and went out of business as a result) I agree to his prices and arrange to see him onsite later that weekend. Steve, like Mike, is cash only.

The third member of the team is 'Brains', a graduate student at Hull Uni whom I have never met. 'Brains' is a friend of Matt (another graduate student who I have met) who was suggested to me by Matt after it emerged that Matt wasnt able to do the work. The main reason for this is that Matt is on "Graduate Student Time", which means his working hours are 12.00 noon to 16.30 {web sudduko and read the papers} 16.30 to 19.00 {pub}, 19.00 to 03.00 {work}. Matt was slightly non-plussed to discover that the rest of the world did not operate on this timetable, so could not commit, but suggested Brains. I e-mail Brains, sexing up the project by telling him that the use of power tools might be part of the deal (once I have satisfied myself that he can do so without severing an artery). 'Brains' is psyched and wants to start immediately. I tell him to meet me on site (this was an e-mail conversation) and that is that last I hear from him.

So we have the makings of an elite squad. Mike, who may possibly drop dead on me at any moment, and who I dare not give anything too physical; Steve, who's life has fallen apart fater building a business for twenty years: Red Haired Boffin, who gets a 'hurty arm' after sanding for two minutes or longer and Mazzer, the mastermind, who's broken arm is still broken, and who only has the vaguest idea what we're doing. I only now need an Angelina Jolie analogue as a roofer, and a Brad Pitt equivalent as a hard-but-intellectual jack of all trades and we're good to go.

No comments: