I find myself doing this again today.

Our builder and project manager, having worked himself into the ground (and hospital) has gone away for a few days to celebrate his first wedding anniversary and attend his friend’s wedding. And, I hope, for a rest.

In his absence, work on our building project, which was in theory in its last week, has ground almost to a halt because the decorator has failed to turn up for three of the days. Until the decoration is complete, we cannot install the sound system or the awning or the internal doors or, well many other things. Apparently he was in hospital yesterday but promised to arrive at 7.15 today. He did not. I would have a lot more sympathy for this decorator if one of the other workmen hadn’t told me that this is a common excuse among tradesmen who simply can’t be bothered to turn up. In fact, it was given to us as an excuse for flouting the Sunday noise regulations by a contractor up the road, “I’m going into hospital tomorrow so I have to work today.” My eye! The lovely weather here is probably adding to their disinclination to turn up.

Our architect tells us that this is the culture among the building insdusty in this country, and it certainly reflects the attitude during our previous, botched, building project that lasted more than twice the time allotted. That company went bankrupt but not before that architect had signed off deficient work that we eventually spent scores of thousands of pounds to have redone. Pity the poor, naive client who thinks that the job they are paying for will be done properly.

The problem is that our lovely, hard-working builder was relying on this decorator and the project completion date has now been put back over a week. This isn’t helped by the fact that our granite worktops, which were scheduled to arrive yesterday are now not coming until next Tuesday (apparently) and this means that the appliances cannot be installed. The freezer is missing and some of the appliance housings are damaged. I am wondering why, if they have been waiting at Ashford for six weeks, they could not have been checked before they were delivered, and mistakes could not have been rectified in that time but, hey, I’m just the client and why should it matter what I think? Even more galling is the fact that the kitchen designer seems to have gone into retreat in a silent order for this week.

Our architect dropped by to draw up a “snagging list” this afternoon, but, in fact there were two pages in his notebook of things yet to be completed.

It is no wonder that people are giving work to Polish and other builders who are skilled, meticulous, polite and actually bother to turn up and complete the work. Part of me wonders whether this is the reason that some people are so keen to keep Europeans out of this country: they have better skills and a stronger work ethic and that would threaten the entitled lazy attitude and low skills of many here, but perhaps that is me being harsh and cynical. Or perhaps not.

Indeed, the only beacon of hope yesterday and today has been Tom/Bogdan (we are not quite sure of his name and he speaks little English.) This softly spoken young Romanian has worked a ten hour day for weeks, including weekends, quietly, meekly, just getting on with the job. Hats off to him. It must be lonely trying to do the right thing. He was probably a doctor in Romania. I have made sure he was well supplied with tea and biscuits and a smile.