The Secret Tradesman does an attic conversion
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The Secret Tradesman does an attic conversion

We’re heading over to Howth in Damo’s van to put the finishing touches to an Attic Conversion. We’ve been working on it for a few weeks either side of Christmas and we’re nearly done.

“I’ve always liked Howth” goes Damo. “It’s a bit like Dublin 4 but the people are a bit, I dunno, more real or something.”

“Not much real about Samantha I reckon. She’s got a pair of bazookas that look like they were manufactured in the Goodyear blimp factory.”

“Joe, for feics sake” he says. “That’s our employer there that you’re talking about. You should have more respect and shouldn’t always comment on people’s appearance like that.”

Damo hates when I talk trash at the best of times. Reckons it plays right into the stereotypical image of tradesmen and some other stuff that I just nod to. But he’s really having a rant now. To be fair he’s put on a few pounds himself over Christmas, so he’s obviously a bit sensitive about it judging by the reaction. As he lets loose I just switch off and pick up my blower to change my fantasy football team. 

We pull up outside the house and load all our gear inside. Just a few small things to finish like I said, so I’m expecting an easy enough day.

It’s coming up to lunch and we get a call up the stairs from Samantha.

“Lads, would you like to come down for a spot of lunch? I’ve food left over from Christmas that I’d like to share with you”.

I’m down in a flash. We’re talking goose meat, ham, veggies – the works. That and Samantha is a bit of a cracker herself plus I never really see the husband around. I’m getting seriously stuck in on all fronts when Damo eventually comes down himself. He makes a big deal of telling us both what he’s done this morning and then just asks for a cup of tea and some salad. Says something about the excesses of Christmas. I go to make a comment but see the warning look on his mug.  

We’re back on the tools when Damo announces that we need to pull some data cables through from the lower roof space to the attic so that Samanthas' fella can use the internet up here.  I look at the small access hatch to the lower roof space and offer my services straight away.

“Damo, I’ll get in there and try to pull the cables through if you just feed them up to me” I go.

“Don’t worry about it Joe, I have it,” he says.

Now I don’t want to be nasty but the image of a hippo going through a cat flap immediately springs to mind. There’s no way Damo is going to fit through that small hatch.

“Ehh Damo, seriously man. I’m not sure that that’s going to work out with the hatch being so small…”


So that’s that then. I shoot downstairs and, after reassuring Samantha that the shouting was just Damo congratulating me on lifting some seriously heavy stuff, I start to feed the cables through to Damo. 

Five minutes in and I hear the grunting.  

“What’s the story Damo?” I go. I’ve got a pretty good idea though.

“Nothing Joe….I’m just a bit, ehh, no it’s nothing”. He sounds a bit stressed. In fairness, he manages to hold on for another ten minutes or so before he comes out with it.

“I’m stuck, Joe. Ok. Are you happy, I’m stuck fast. I can’t get out. I can’t even move. I’m feiced.”

I get him to repeat it a few more times, telling him I can’t hear him. I even get Samantha up in the end, saying I can’t be sure what he’s saying. I’m pretty much cracking up - but only on the inside.

Eventually we head upstairs to the attic to check out the situation. It’s not pretty.

Damo’s lower half is sticking out and his legs are flailing around like Katie Taylor’s chopsticks. He’s gotten himself proper wedged in between his belly and arse. That and he’s not wearing a belt, so there’s more crack on show than in Temple Bar at closing time.

I grab his legs and start pulling. He’s stuck fast and it doesn’t help that this pants are slipping down. I put my back into it and really go for it.

He’s doing some serious groaning now and calling me some pretty filthy names that I’ve never heard him use before. I didn’t think he had it in him - but I guess our true nature really comes out in these kind of situations. I apologise to Samantha, who by the way is really encouraging to me.

“Damo”, I go. “I’m going to have to take off your trousers to get a proper grip here”

I take off his boots and I hear him kind of squeal as I peel off his trousers. To be honest, there was probably no technical reason why I had to take off his boxers as well, but I was on a kind of roll. He’s not a happy bunny at all but myself and Samantha are in convulsions at this stage, so it’s hard to hear him properly. It’s worth mentioning that she has a lovely laugh as well.

I try again but it’s useless. I’m seriously thinking about cutting him out when I have an idea. I reach for the toolbox and find the can of WD-40 lubrication spray. I give it a shake and go to spray it on Damo, but it’s empty. I curse under my breath and throw it back into the toolbox. Damo was meant to have bought more this morning but was probably too wound up to remember it.

“What was that for?” goes Samantha.

“It’s a kind of lubricant. I thought if we oiled him up a bit, we’d be able to slip him out” I say.

“Oh, I might have something that could do the trick. One tick while I pop downstairs”.

Now I don’t have to tell you that my mind starts racing a bit here. I really have no idea of what Samantha’s going to return with. I’m in a seriously good place – except for the muffled squeals coming from the roof space. Damo’s really ruining my buzz here.

Just then Samantha returns with what looks like an oven tray in her hand. I’m confused and disappointed all at the same time.

“Err, what’s that?” I go.

“It’s the fat from the Christmas goose Joe,” she says. “I’m pretty embarrassed as I just left the tray outside from Christmas day. Didn’t get around to cleaning it yet. It’s pretty manky, to be honest, I think the fox has been at it, but it’s greasy and should do the trick”

She’s not wrong. I peer inside the tin and see a layer of grease with a few pieces of potato and bits of fur in it. The buzz is officially ruined at this point. That and I’m reluctant to even touch the tray let alone what’s inside it.

Eventually, I psyche myself up to do the decent thing. Damo’s gone quiet by this stage but I decide to tell him what’s happening – making sure to include a full description of what’s in the tray and the fact that it could have been WD-40.  There’s a whimper but then he is quiet again.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but I end up covering Damo with the goose fat. There’s fat everywhere but mostly on Damo. He’s covered in it, along with bits of burnt potato and fox fur. From a certain angle, with his tackle hanging out, he looks like a baby woolly mammoth with mange. Just saying.

In the end, one big heave does it. He pops straight out and the two of us go flying across the attic. After a bit of grunting, we pick ourselves up and survey the situation. No real structural damage done.

After a few words of congratulations from Samantha, she tips downstairs to get a towel for Damo. Like I said, lovely lady. The room goes kind of quiet then. Damo glances down at himself and I’m pretty sure there’s a tear in his eye.

“Joe,” he says, “it goes without saying, not a word about this to anyone…..”

“Ahh Damo. You don’t even have to say it” I go. “I wouldn’t dare”

I have enough photos on my phone to tell the whole story.

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