“Where have you been?” goes Damo.
Fair question. I’ve been away and haven’t been through the doors of the Bottle Tower for a few months now.
“Eh, just been busy doing this and that” I try to go. But I can tell from the look on their faces they’re not having any of it. They tell me as much as well, but with lots of swearing and questioning of my general character.
“Lads, not that it’s any of yer business, but I’ve been away getting skilled up” I go.
“Skilled up?” says Jimmy. “Bud, if you needed advice about how to hold a bleedin hammer, my five year old could’ve helped you out. As for your general chippie skills? You’re either born with it or you’re not.”
“Modular homes” I kind of stutter. Not proud of myself, I’d pictured my glorious return being a bit more glorious or something. “Been over in Germany learning all about them. It’s the next big thing.”
There’s an eerie silence. You can actually hear the barman robbing the till in the background.
“Mod what?” goes Jimmy eventually. “Mods went out in the bleedin 70’s sunshine….keep going”
So I do. I explain to them that I was on a new build job a few months back where the house actually arrived on the back of a truck. All we had to do is put it together, kind of like flat pack furniture but with less screws? There was even a phone line to call if you needed help. Had some phone bill at the end of the gig. I ended up getting convinced and hitched a lift back with the German foreman to get trained up. I stayed for four months but only left after negotiating the agency for Ireland. Some trip.
“Yes, Joe” says Damo stroking his chin. “Modular homes are actually very popular in the US given their precision manufacturing process and guaranteed adherence to building regulations”. Nothing’s changed, he’s still a sap.
“Whatever, Damo” I go. “The point is that I’m now probably the most qualified tradesman in Ireland on Modular homes and I plan to make a real go of it.”
“One problem, Joe” goes Jimmy. “Nobody is building new homes and nobody’s ever heard of bleedin mod-ular gaffs. Sounds like a total waste money. But while you’re spending, get the pints in – German beers all round!”
We’re supping our beers and I’m pretty pee'd off. Not really in the humour after Jimmy’s fairly brutal assessment. They’re still joking about it and even I'm having some doubts now.
Just then I happen to glance up at the TV. The RTE news is on. Anne Doyle’s replacement – poor thing, she’s just about five years younger than Doyler and been waiting for her chance for about 30 years – is on screen. Some footage of a building site comes up with the Minister of the Environment, Alan “AK-47” Kelly on-screen.
“Oi, Georgie” I go to the barman, “can you turn up the volume bud?”
“….the minister today announced that modular homes will be at the forefront of the Government’s plan to tackle the housing crisis. An initial requirement will be for 128 in the Dublin area alone with more certain to follow as local authorities devise their own strategies”
“Ahh here” goes Jimmy, “you’re still the jammiest feicer I know.” He’s got a glint in his eye now, or they could just be bloodshot, either way. “How much money is in these modular homes?”
I’m grinning like a Cheshire cat now. Can’t help it.
“I buy them for about 40 grand and sell them for 65k plus installation”
“Feic that Joe, my son” he goes. “That was before the Irish Government came knocking on the door. It’s payback time for all the bleedin austerity. Sure, just look at the suit on that Minister fella – He’s gotta be good for 100 grand a pop minimum!”