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Lucy Sweet: Why I'm holding grout for a hero; 'If they're not acting like horrible boyfriends, tradesmen usually need a sit down and a fag'.

Byline: Lucy Sweet

I'M holding out for a hero, as Bonnie Tyler once sang. I'm a damsel in distress, with everything around me falling apart or turning into total chaos. And can I find a hunky man with a big toolbox and glistening pecs to make everything better? No. The problem is that I've had a leak for weeks. There's been a bucket and pans under the window, collecting enough rainwater to start a garden centre in the Gobi desert. On top of that, I've got a rotten floorboard and a mouldy wall. And there's a foul smell coming from somewhere.

The only solution to these kinds of problems, of course, is to get a man in. A real man. Someone who knows what they're doing, and will magically turn my festering flat into a palace - all the while displaying a fine pair of builder's buns.

Now, maybe I've been watching too many Diet Coke ads, but I thought builders, plumbers and carpenters were meant to be strong, silent types with smouldering eyes and hard hats. But all I get are hungover, red-faced plumbers in dungarees, who suck their teeth and say: 'Your flange has come loose from your guttersnipe and I cannae get the parts for a fortnight. Can I use yer bog?'

Really, you just can't get the staff these days. Most of the tradesmen I've met are about as heroic and good looking as a tub of grout.

If they're not acting like horrible boyfriends who never phone back, they usually need a sit down and a fag before they even get up the stairs, and then they rip you off.

The other day, a bloke came to give an estimate for repainting another of my damp patches. According to him, slapping two coats of emulsion on a four metre square wall would cost a staggering pounds 3400. For that I wouldn't just want him to paint it - he'd have to buy me a Gucci fur stole, ply me with wine and take me to Paris. It's like living in an episode of Watchdog.

After a week of dithering builders, blocked gutters and steady dripping of water, I was glad for a rest. All was going well until I stubbed my toe on the side of the bed and heard a crunching noise. My little toe soon looked like a black pudding.

Then things got really catastrophic. Nursing my wound at about 11pm, I heard a commotion outside. When I limped to the window I saw three fire engines and a bunch of firemen, all looking up at me.

Finally, I thought, something is working out. After sending me ugly plumbers, the universe has decided to deliver me the Full Monty!

But as I checked my hair and opened the door, I realised the close was hazy with smoke and neighbours were standing around in curlers and bathrobes. It was an actual fire.

OK, so it wasn't exactly Backdraft, but I felt sure someone in a helmet would dash up the stairs and carry me to safety. I waited for ages. Finally, I limped downstairs to 'investigate' (ie. chat up a fireman) and see whether anyone would ever come to my aid.

'It's only a small fire,' the fireman said grumpily, shuffling off to get his extinguisher, 'so you may as well go back inside.'

Before I could say: 'My, what a big hose you've got,' he was off, and I was left standing there in the cold with my my hero - an old-fashioned, Mills & Boon doctor with a good bedside manner and lovely, shiny stethoscope. Oh, and if he can unblock gutters as well, that would be a bonus.

wee toe throbbing.Well, it's official: chivalry is dead.

Anyway, I'm consoling myself with the idea that when I go to the foot specialist to sort out my injury, I'll find
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 25, 2004
Previous Article:Lucy Sweet: ABI SOLDIERS ON REGARDLESS.
Next Article:Lucy Sweet: Desperate to switch off from my costume drama.

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