Sometimes the hardest jobs to complete are the simplest ones.
In the summer of 2008, my work as a handyman was steadily drying up.
The skies were blue, the sun beat regularly upon the fertile English soil and my business was slowly, but surely, going under. I’d struggled for months leading up to the financial crash. Of course I didn’t see it coming, I’m not sure if anyone really did – still, when it hit I was not prepared for the complete and utter loss of business enquiries.
Luckily, I’d managed to tie down one last big job before the crash really set in.
An outdoor pursuits company in Wales just so happened to be looking to commission a decent-sized building on their land, for the purposes of housing the ever shifting bank of instructors that found their way into their employ over the course of each year. The job was large, but simple enough. A steel structure, one-storey with breeze-blocks and double glazed windows – it would be a lot of work for one man to do, but they didn’t mind paying less for work to be completed at a slower rate.
A number of things happened over that summer (some of them connected and some of them not so much) and I’m inclined to blame all of them on the corrupt bankers that caused the Financial Crash nearly 10 years ago – although I’m willing to take my fair share of the blame for a few of these things:
- My wife left me
- I had an affair with a kayak instructor
- A 6-week project was stretched out to 18-weeks
- I lost everything in the eventual divorce
- My building supplier went bust
- I discovered a new love for outdoor pursuits
Now, as I said, I feel like some of these things might be connected, some of them might well be my fault, but most of these things are pretty much the fault of those damn bankers.
Holly liked to kayak – it’s one of the first things that she told me, when we met on my first day in Wales. She showed me around the activity centre whilst I wondered how old she was.
I had trouble keeping thoughts in my head at the time.
That Summer was an eventful one for me.
Crooked steel beams meant that the project was delayed by a week, it would have taken a day to drive back and it was Monday, so I thought I may as well stay put and camp out in the temporary accommodation they had set up for the instructors. With nothing better to do, I found myself roped in to all sorts of activities that I’d never tried before. Rock climbing one day, caving the next, then it was kayaking and even white water rafting, with no phone signal in the Welsh valleys there could be no phone calls with my wife.
The instructors were all so…accommodating. I’d not experienced such friendliness or joviality in a long time.
When the manufacturers of the steel beams called through to the centre to inform me that they’d shut down indefinitely and that they couldn’t refund me the £3,000 for the steel – I didn’t find myself cursing or worrying about the future, I’d already started sharing a bunk with Holly and I had a stag party of 5 to take zip-lining.