A Kensington lady once tried to arrange
To freshen her flat with some paint for a change.
The baseboards were chipped and the doors were all scuffed,
And the door in the kitchen uneven and roughed.
The bookcase was stained and the wallpaper torn - -
It had not been renewed since before she was born.
So she asked around friends for a man with some skill,
Who'd resist the temptation of bloating the bill,
Who would quietly get on and not vanish for days,
Or have half an hour breaks for his café au laits.
Who would do little extras, be pleasant, polite,
And leave the house tidy departing at night.
The low cost of entry for this type of trade
Empowers the neglectful and lazy brigade,
Who live on a shoestring, want money upfront,
Chatter endlessly on, or else miserably grunt.
The minimal training for men with a ladder
Lets contractors grow rich while their clients get madder.
"What time will you start?" The perennial query.
"Oh, round about seven," (or that is the theory).
All over the world workmen like to begin
(Heaven only knows why) as early as sin.
So the great day arrives and the time as arranged.
No sign of the painter, his schedule has changed.
"I'll just finish a job, I will be with you soon."
But he comes, when he comes, in the late afternoon,
And fills the whole house with his sheets and his cans,
Moving furniture round and disrupting her plans
What's required is the patience and poise of a saint,
For I'll guarantee this: he will have the wrong paint.
So he came, asked for cash, and then went to the store,
And the outcome was that which I mentioned before.
After tea he commenced with a cursory wipe,
Which is called "preparation", the up-to-date type.
And once having started did just as she'd feared- -
Why, he left piles of dust and he then disappeared.
The runes were unfriendly, the prospects unclear,
Thought the Kensington lady, "I'm right out of here.
I can see we will quarrel, I must get away.
I'll buy an air ticket, be gone straightaway.
"I'm going abroad, you will be on your own.
You cannot contact me by email or phone."
"But here is the programme by month and by week.
Please get it all done. I'll be in Martinique.
There'll be someone to check on your progress and send
Some stage-payment checks to arrive by week end."
But such lack of patience must come at a cost,
For with no supervision, the battle is lost.
Yes, despite all the planning and infinite care,
She returned to discover her man wasn't there.
Instead there were dust-sheets and ladders and all,
But nothing was painted, not baseboard nor wall.
Instead a curt message, "I'm in Martinique.
Forgive all the mess, I'll be back in a week."