They are sensitive creatures, builders, we have found. You have to treat them with care and approach them with caution. With their artistic temperaments, you cannot expect them to simply turn up for work when they say. Or even, in fact, to say when they will turn up for work. They are whimsical will-o'-the-wisps, living in the moment, social butterflies who flit in, create scenes of chaos followed by beauty and then they leave with no promise of return. We daren't risk upsetting them by badgering or criticising or demanding. We coax and wheedle and compliment and please them with tea, three sugars, cake and biscuits.
They arrived this morning to mend the lintel. Unannounced, they suddenly appeared in the front garden. Trying not to frighten them off, I quietly unlocked the front door and ventured out. They were twitchy but they let me approach. I managed to get quite close without them shying away and warned them of the suspected nest behind the lintel. One went up to check and, yes, there was a baby blue tit curled up in its nest, fast asleep. S, my husband, the ex-nuclear bomber pilot, would have had them remove the nest and get on with the job. After all, how much is that scaffolding costing per day? But the tender hearted builders could not inflict such suffering. It would upset their delicate sensitivities to murder a baby bird.
With pained expressions and a faint air of relief, they got back into their truck and trundled off into the June sunshine, not to be seen again until the blue tit has fledged.