Cafe Royal Press
In the past decade the number of contractors that have passed through this house is legion. Most, never to be seen again. We’re glad when they arrive, if they actually arrive - we've been given quotes and start dates and the builders haven't shown up. We're happy to provide flagons of tea when the do and mountains of biscuits, but invariably absolutely thrilled to see them finally go, too. All the work they do, leaves behind a rarely stated but profound and lasting impact on the quality of the life of our family. I sometimes mention this to builders, and they look at me like they’d never heard that said before. People, please appreciate your builder!
When it comes to hoped-for home improvement, you know the rules about getting three quotes for any job. We have our own additional and peculiar criteria too. I don’t like the contractor’s vans to be too new. Not too new is a big factor. If they have a new van, I immediately wonder where the money to pay for it is coming from. And it is not going to come from me.
Seeing Stephen McCoy’s Van Dashboards (Cafe Royal Books) put me in mind of another worry, another builder hiring criteria… How tidy the builders’ van is. There’s gotta be a little van pride at least or else what does that say about the amount of paint or plaster that is going to have to be scraped off the floorboards by me once they're gone? It’s the damnedest of worries. Oh of course... Untidiness is never an absolute dealbreaker. Cost is. Much to the frustration of ambitious artisan builders, we are value shoppers.
Some of Stephen McCoy’s Van Dashboards instantly put me in mind of my friend Walter (The Assaulter)’s ancient Olds interior. A mobile fast food wrapper mountain. How we would delight in rolling around in 90s in his 70s Cutlass, sitting deep in the unnatural comfort of those naugahyde barcaloungers upfront. And I rate any gear changer on the steering column as a definite sign of an advanced society.
Cafe Royal bundles Stephen McCoy’s Van Dashboards with another McCoy title, Failed Photo Projects and Stephanie Wynne's Stand In Steve (available here).
From a street where on any given day there as many builders vans as parked cars, Stephen McCoy’s Van Dashboards is an essential artefact, capturing and cataloguing not the World We Knew but the Word We Know. It's a good one.