Monumental effort

The Taj Mahal is something I feel I should know a lot about but, actually, don't. It would be easy, of course, just to look it up on Wikipedia but I think I'll simply write what I imagine I know and you can check the facts later yourselves to see how much I got right. That'll be much more fun and, potentially, could make me look wholly ridiculous in the process which can only be a good thing.

Mmmm, righty-ho, let's see.

The Taj Mahal was built in the sixteenth (no idea) century mainly from marble and near to/in the city/town of Agra in India. It took twenty (complete guess) years to construct and involved loads of blokes sweating like pigs, or, as Spanish people say, somewhat bafflingly, like chickens (got that bit right, anyway). It was a symbolic gesture of love and devotion offered by a chap whose name escapes me for his deceased wife and... er, well, that's about it, I'm afraid. Not a very good effort, is it, considering it's one of the world's outstanding monuments?

Sadly, Paco passed away this week. Paco was a gentleman who came to the rescue when we were building The Shakespeare and funds had become decidedly thin on the ground. There was still much work to be done, not least the shelving for the bar area which we'd been given several eye-watering quotes for. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Paco, together with his partner in crime (also called Paco - a fact which often provoked hilarious scenes on site) set about designing (with a biro on a serviette since you ask) all the necessary shelving units with the minimum of fuss and only requiring the occasional half of lager in return for his magnificent efforts.

Hammers flailed endlessly in the July heat until, after a week or so, the last nail was ceremonially tapped in and we all stepped back to gaze in awe at the precision of the construction before us. It was perfect. It's still there now, more than three years later, performing its humble function behind the bar, sturdy as a rock.

Hoards of people visit The Taj Mahal each year in order to take selfies and chomp on salmon paste butties. Paco's shelving, on the other hand, is seen by hardly anyone in comparison but somehow seems so much more moving, especially this week.

Let's not kid ourselves, then - it's in the little Taj Mahals that surround us every day that the real beauty resides.