Wednesday, 26 October 2011

More on The Gates.

Metalurgica Max arrived early to repair the gates and did a stonking job, in surprisingly little time (a couple of hours). He is not cheap but it is so well done that I asked for a quote for him to renovate the other parts, which the aggressive, salt-laden winds have corroded. It is just over half as much again as it was five years ago but then there is probably more to do. A less sensible choice than Buckingham Palace-style iron railings to bound a property forty metres from high tide mark, with a notorious Spring sou'-westerly, I cannot imagine and more sensible neighbours have wooden fences or concrete 'railings'; still they were not our choice as they are a part of the house as it was built for the original owner.

Skilled craftsmen in Brazil are not as rare as they have become in the UK (and, probably other parts of the so-called 'first' world), where most modern buildings comprise mixtures of pre-fabs of some kind and kiln-dried green softwoods, stapled onto thick cardboard; all contributing to the dull sameness of modern 'design', and more or less guaranteed to crumble and fall apart once the mortgage has been paid.

Brazilian trades and crafts run in families and Metallurgica Max's sons will probably become metal-workers. What is astounding about these people (and most admirable), is that they arrive with an exiguous array of tools and hardly any materials and achieve, in short order, extremely satisfactory results; they also give you a quote and they stick to it, even if the job turns out to be trickier than, at first, assessed. There is no knowing shaking of the head and apprehensive sucking of teeth, accompanied by the cynical, British: "OOh! I don't like the look of that Guv!" to exaggerate the extent of the job and to inflate the price. Moreover, it is satisfying to have reached the stage of being able to communicate reasonably effectively in Portuguese, and I am sure that this means that they no longer quote me a 'Gringo price'.

I strongly dislike being addressed as 'Patrao'
roughly equivalent to 'Master', something more than 'Senhor' ( a business-like 'Sir') and smacks of flattery; it can, sometimes, presage a rip-off but not this time. Incidentally, if tradesmen or business people here declaim that you are 'familia' after you have struck a deal with them, you just know for certain that you have been well and truly screwed. Again, though, not this time.

Well done! Metalurgica Max!

I have a friend who has a farm in Dorset and he employs a farm manager who, in best Thomas Hardy tradition, addresses him in a thick 'Dosset' accent as 'Maasterr' - and my friend seems to revel in this. I just cannot understand it and the offering or the acceptance of such a degree of obsequiousness in our age makes my flesh creep; after all, some people with real titles let them lie idle.

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