Wires jammed into the socketRecently, I’ve been considering getting some work done in my flat. Only considering it mind, as the people who’ll actually carry out the work are those same brave souls who did ten rounds with the wall as they hung a painting a few weeks back.

They’re also the same men who wired in the air con in the spare room using only gaffer tape and optimism. Please prey for me, that I don’t need to use that air con during the monsoon – water and electricity not mixing well at the best of times, but even less so when it is only gaffer tape holding the current back. Frankly that shows something of a Canute like belief in how current works.

So, as we know there is a charming disregard for anything even approaching basic health and safety.

And it doesn’t stop at gaffer taping connections – there’s this for instance – this is the wiring set up to plug in his drill from the ‘electrician’ we have permanently employed in our housing complex (and that means he’s one of the better ones).

Obviously the white and black plugs are mine. The wires jammed live in the socket are the ‘electricians’. The keener eyed amongst you will note that he has sensibly stopped down a gauge of wire to fit it more effectively into the socket. Obviously this is a man who has done this many, many times before. Personally I don’t find that in any way reassuring.

And it’s this element of wild chancerdom that puts me off doing what I’m thinking… which is having one of the light fittings changed to something slightly less hideous than the current mid eighties monstrosity in the living room. I dread to think how appallingly fitted it might be, what danger both the electrician and me as an end user might encounter, and frankly how ugly the end installation could end up – the light hanging off, a massive hole, nothing straight, not even remotely near where I asked for it…

All of which puts me in mind of from that old (slightly racist, well very racist really), joke told by the English, what’s black and charred and hangs from the ceiling? Answer – an Irish electrician.

I think you could probably get the same punch line, with a man who jabs wires straight into sockets.

So, light fittings; I may well wait.