The AA long advertised itself as “The Fourth Emergency Service” – that’s the Automobile Association, by the way, not Alcoholics Anonymous. I always found that a bit presumptuous.

I mean, we know that the three emergency services comprise of the Police, the Paramedics and the Fire Brigade, right? Well, I might be wrong here, but I rather think the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) qualifies for the title of being fourth in that list.

Taking in water and going down for the third time in a screaming gale with 30-foot waves is something you need rescued from. And not by a wee man in a yellow van.

But – good as the AA are – I think they may be even further down the list than that. I think I know who the “Fifth Emergency Service” is.

This week my washing machine stopped working, joining rank with the oven which had given up the ghost the week before. Also joining in the company of White Goods that had decided to give up the ghost was the tumble dryer. It had developed a screeching noise that conjured up mental pictures of steel bearings being ground into dust.

I mean, where do you start? To me, all that stuff works by witchcraft. Even if I attempted to take the back off one of the appliances I wouldn’t know which end of the screwdriver to hit the thing with.

And then, riding to the rescue, came “John”. No callout fee, all work guaranteed. A wee West Lothian tradesman with a big bag of tools and an equally big grin. First the washing machine: just a “dry solder”, whatever that is. Then to the oven: a trapped wire had been stripped and had shorted out. The tumble drier: a dry pulley belt. A quick squirt of oil and it was sorted.

He chatted while he worked, spilled out jokes as he deftly and expertly fixed everything, and put my life back on track again. And all for about the price of a family-sized fast food meal.

John is the Fifth Emergency Service, along with the army of honest, knowledgeable, expert tradespeople who inhabit our county – you’ll find a lot of them advertising in this newspaper. Hard working individuals who had the courage to start up their own little business, and who do a great job quickly and for a fair price. Our lives would fall apart without them.

God bless ‘em one and all.

Drew McAdam


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