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Times, they are a changin'!


Chris Head

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This is about the fifth time I've written this, I keep deleting it 'cos I'm not really too sure what I'm trying to say.

I had a call a couple of weeks ago from a couple who simply wanted my opinion on the aesthetics of a bit of work they'd had done in their ongoing barn convertion and how they could move forward. This project and their location is their 'final' project. Well I spent a full day with these people, we had lunch and coffee and tea and looked through loads of magazines they'd collected and over the day they 'wandered' me through their dream, by the end of the day I'm so enthused by these people that I feel like getting my cheque book out and asking how much they want for me to do their work! I connected big time with these people, their requirements are not rocket science but they just couldn't find or communicate their desires....there is a HUGE hole in the market, honesty, reliability and originality really seem to be in short supply.

What struck home was how much they'd been let down by Artisans (back to the Artisan thread) and how disappointed and disillusioned they had become, to the extent that they had considered selling up and finding somewhere else.

To me, these people represent my dreams, but yet they get treated so disdainfully.

I'll just click on the 'post' button now and see what rolls, I was never too sure what I wanted to say in the first place.

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hi Chris

              first off merry christmass to you and all ,1st Dec tommorow and just had our first card today so looks in order to say it.

   ok

         my response,

                             I   think I know what you are trying to say but ... life is hard even more so when in a strange country and maybe never be fluent in the language, you are a careing person but "  did this day off work put bread on the table " if not ,  france is full of brits with dreams and empty cheque books , waiting for something to happen, someone to find them a job ,someone to.... ect .. ect .. people who have been here a long time have probable seen it all before . brits who donnot know what they want , or know what they want but donnot know how to ask for it . 

   donnot slag of the artisans there are more good than bad , they can only do what they are asked to do .

  can i quote from one of your first posting on this forum " the money was running out and i had to find some sort of income" unquote

 but if you think there is an openning for a " holding hand " side here then go for it ,but how much will they pay ?

       sorry if I rambled but just my  " tired " thoughts on your posting

            as soon as i get this urgent new job done  will start back on wood work posting

                      dave

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Yeah what the hell Robin....and the hell with it! D'ya reckon the Bricodepot/Ikea lot wanna lay into us? It's too late for me to talk much sense, AND I missed my siesta today so my mood has been declining since about 1500. Gay tells me to sit on me hands, she's got a helluva slap on her and I'm not messin'.

 

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Oh me gawd, this is one of those threads that I just know I shouldn't have started, but I guess it's like being a little bit pregnant, in for a penny and all that stuff.

SURE you should have posted Robin, you described in detail what the frustrations of our lives can be. I'm sure the consumer hasn't got the first idea nor really cares so long as the job gets done, it's on time, good and to budget. You've managed to identify what it is you don't want to do and have the balls to go there, like you said, it's 'my time now'.

Dave, work is not the problem...I know we're very lucky. The handholding is for free, we'd never consider taking money from somebody who needs help. Harvesting cash isn't one of our ambitions in life. If I wanted money I would have stuck to production chainsaw carving in the UK, money doesn't interest me, developing does.

I think what I'm trying to say is that having taken that huge risk of walking away from the treadmill and a lucrative income was the best thing we could ever have done, sure we have no money now, but we've become used to that, when we had money life was less comfortable than it is now. Sometimes I think you have to have the guts to forcibly close doors that at the time might seem crazy (and boy were we told that at the time we dumped it all!) in order to open new doors that lead to other journeys.

Oh I so wish I hadn't started this!

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[quote user="Chris Head"]I think what I'm trying to say is that having taken that huge risk of walking away from the treadmill and a lucrative income was the best thing we could ever have done, sure we have no money now, but we've become used to that, when we had money life was less comfortable than it is now. Sometimes I think you have to have the guts to forcibly close doors that at the time might seem crazy (and boy were we told that at the time we dumped it all!) in order to open new doors that lead to other journeys.[/quote]

Profoundly true for 'our' own lives here too. Could not have put it better.

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Chris, when we early retired we took a 50% drop in our income. We had a look at what we had and felt much better off than when we were both working. The only reason that we managed to buy the house we now have was because we got a decient price for the house we sold in the U.K. We don't have to live 'hand to mouth', but we have to be careful. A load of the things I make I give to friends. I am never going to be rich, unless Ernie gives us a BIG pay out, so why try to make money from others. People ask me, when they do pay me to do a comission for them, why it isn't going to cost more. Read above. I love what we have and I feel that if we had enough to be called rich then it would be spoiled.

You are in an enviable position in that you love the work that you do and so am I.. Long may it last for both of us, good luck mate!

I like your new avatir. You didn't change it specially for me I suppose???[:$][:D]

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You're one of the lucky ones Jonz. You and your good lady had the courage and foresight to realise your dreams, you should be proud of yourselves.You're very good at what you do Jonz, I have no doubt you could easily top up your income with your work should you choose to. There are more than just us woodies out there though, Meg & Mog is good at what she does and Hastobe has the patience to put together thousands of stitches...what I'd do to have that sort of patience!
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Chris, I truly emphathise with what you, Robin and others have written.

Most of my life has been a dichotomy of purpose.

The "Real" inner me only wants to achieve as near total satisfaction as possible, by turning out projects, with my own hands which accord to my basic precept, "When it's 120% right: it's almost good enough!"

Sadly, life today is all about money and wealth and meaningless trifles which soon erode and decay.

It is very difficult to preserve and maintain standards when all around one sees cowboys getting rich quick by screwing people.

Worse, when it comes to buying most things, perfectionists and craftsmen (and of course women!) have to compete on a level playing field with the cowboys: there are, sadly, no discounts for integrity and good intent! Oh that there were....................

I really struggled with these problems when I was running my specialist automotive business, back in the dim distant days of the late sixties and early seventies. most of what we did was routine maintenance, tuning and repair of high quality and performance cars, as an aside to my real purpose, racing and competition cars!

Inevitably, bread and butter - and wages - had to be paid by routine work on "Normal" cars, however, the same high standards were applied and maintained.

At times, it was soul destroying, as fellow garage owners used every naughty trick in the book to maximise profits and screw their customers. Even more so with car sales.

Sometime after I had sold out, I remember enjoying a beer with an old customer, who proudly informed me that he was still running the secondhand Ford Escort I had sold him, was still delighted with it and had had no problems. And insisted on buying me a beer!

That was, to some extent a nice feeling to retain.

Soon, I hope to move to La Belle France full time and then I shall start my planned craft business.

I won't make much money: I don't expect to, but I shall enjoy every second of exercising my creative abilities, small as they are, and gaining huge personal satisfaction from a job completed to the very best of my limited ability and high aims.

Which I cannot enjoy at present.

Chris, your work is amazing: keep on enjoying it and I'm sure, in the end, virtue will have its own reward. Won't be money, probably but recognition, which is far more valuable if you are able to eat!

Above, remember that to endeavour to educate idiots is pretty much a waste of time. And boy, there are certainly some British idiots who hae relocated to France, flush (thanks to their UK houses) with more ready cash than they have ever seen in their lives!

And delusions of grandeure; trying to recreate what they couldn't afford in Blighty and to me, totally missing the point!

Perhaps a quote from Oscar Wilde sums it all up.

"There are many who know the price of everything and the value of nothing!"

 

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That's a lovely post Gluestick, I've been pondering how to reply but haven't thought how to yet...I just wanted you to know that your life experience and people like you are one of the reasons that keep me away from the treadmill. With a young family the risks one takes seem selfish, but the inverse...to me...is to take the safe route and end up a bitter and frustrated old man with no money worries but a truckload of regrets.

Thanks for that Gluestick, you've been an enormous help, and I'll bet there are many who have read what you wrote and been moved by it.

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The "Real" inner me only wants to achieve as near total satisfaction as

possible, by turning out projects, with my own hands which accord to my

basic precept, "When it's 120% right: it's almost good enough!"

I won't make much money: I don't expect to, but I shall enjoy every

second of exercising my creative abilities, small as they are, and

gaining huge personal satisfaction from a job completed to the very

best of my limited ability and high aims.

Well said Gluestick........i know where your coming from.

Go for it, if your aiming high you can't completely miss!

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Many thanks, everyone.

I must say I have met some very interesting people, during the original property search phase and thereafter, who many times, shared a similar vision.

One charming chap and his wife were looking for space, in order that he could move his woodworking workshop: previously a director of the UK arm of Total, he thereafter made furniture: and not just any furniture! Vast boardroom and manor house dining tables and built-in units.

Another chum near us in France, is an early retired aviation engineer: very clever bloke, who sort of gave up in disgust! Having almost finished his house, he is now concentrating on his engineering workshop and getting it all together.

Perhaps I can leave you all with another of my favourite quotes, this time from the Henry Royce (of Rolls Royce fame): it sums it all up neatly, for me:

"The quality remains, long after the price has been forgotten."

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If you put something extra into every job, the pay -off isn't instantaneous cash stuff, it's where it counts, which is in your head.

So true Robin. The more time goes on and the more you think you know the less you know you know.

A good quote Gluestick, it's nice to know that with every finished project you know it'll still be going strong for generations.

Have a great day!

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Chris

You took the chance. Over the years I've learned that it's the things that we don't do that we regret.

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind. But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know. Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?

T.S. Elliot (1888-1965)

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I've always liked this poem although it does ramble a bit.  I worked with an Eliot fanatic in my first job and heard a lot of his work from them. I re-read it just at the time that we were trying to decide whether to buy our barn in France and that passage helped me make the decision so I've always connected it with France which is of course nonsense but means it is quite a favourite. You can hear him reading the poem here http://www.solearabiantree.net/namingofparts/audio-visual.html
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One of the problems with Eliot which has affected his popularity since the 60s is his evident anti-semitism.

He is also a difficult poet who refers back to times which, although admired in an earlier period, do not now have the same appeal. We do not believe, as he did, that a return to a fairly primitive, feudal, deferential form of Catholicism would solve all our problems, but then he was writing soon after the First World War and reacting to the modern horrors of that period.

I still have a tremendous fondness for The Waste Land, but it seems outdated.

DH Lawrence is merely poor, see Baby Running Barefoot or The Fox for examples of cringeworthy verse. They are not a patch on his short stories - I think that The Odour of Crysanthemums is the best I have ever read, including those of James Joyce.

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I am a great fan of Neville Shute Norway and have recently re-read - for the umpteenth time - his novels.

Shute captures the grace of an easier time, socially and, as a very clever engineer, encapsulates personal integrity and ability and expresses these as virtues.

Wonderful books to curl up with in front of the prototypical log fire or early to bed on nasty Winter days!

If there is a criticism, it can only be that Shute, like most of his contemporaries of the 1920s and 30s writes mainly about middle class people and effectively ignores the trials and turbulent problems of the working class: with certain exceptions. This focus changed after Shute first visited Australia, where he settled prior to his untimely death.

Perhaps, in a story, but not a literary sense, his social tour de force was Ruined City, the story about a Northern shipbuilding town decimated post WW I and the 30s depression, by the closure of the yard, the plate mill, mines etc, as the grasping owners naffed off to Bierittz or Monte Carlo with their ill gotten gains.

Good to read this after his autobiography, Slide Rule, wherein his various comments about bankers and financiers chime splendidly with today!

For those of us who take pride in making things with our own hands, his engaging novel, Trustee From the Toolroom, is a wondrous epitaph to the man and his ethos.

 

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  • 1 month later...

I don't know if this helps any,

I recently found an old door completely rotten under some old rubbish in an out building.

I am no carpenter but have built some doors for the outbuildings and needed hinges, I spent a lovely sunny afternoon with my daughter cleaning these seemingly worthless (to her) hinges up and explaining how they were hand forged possibly at the smiddy round the corner and explaining why the nail holes were punched....just the same as a horseshoe. We discussed the hammer marks and anvils we explored how the artisan may have produced these (by now) wonderful objects and how if possible it was our duty in this life to make sure that where we can we should preserve things like this.

To the many trades people (Craftspersons) or very gifted amateurs out there I sincerely hope that there are enough little girls and their dads out there to appreciate your work in years to come.

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Hi Chris,

On matters murderous presumably my burger namesake is the object of your intent?

I feel sure that I am likely one of the bodgists referred to, more through economic neccessity than anything else.

I am guilty of crimes against carpentry of the most grievous plasterboard kind, but when I do, I try to do it in sympathywith the building I am working with. Plasterboard is a good material for undercloaking roofs and hiding sarking and insulaton, however it would be a crying shame to box in purlins or crux frames so they get cleaned / treated and oiled in my book.

Learning as I go and loving it,

 

 

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[quote user="Mister Fluffy"]One of the problems with Eliot which has affected his popularity since the 60s is his evident anti-semitism.
He is also a difficult poet who refers back to times which, although admired in an earlier period, do not now have the same appeal. We do not believe, as he did, that a return to a fairly primitive, feudal, deferential form of Catholicism would solve all our problems, but then he was writing soon after the First World War and reacting to the modern horrors of that period.
I still have a tremendous fondness for The Waste Land, but it seems outdated.
[/quote]And he was foul to his poor wife !![:@]
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